Not Dead Just Lonely

No this is not a reflection of my status… I am very much not lonely. A friend asked me to share something I wrote. I haven’t written in a very long time. And none of what I have written has been edited. Below is a first draft of a short story that I wrote in May of 2004. Not edited… Including some technical/type inconsistencies which I wont mention as they would spoil the story.

I have been busy taking care of myself and family. I hope to soon have the energy to resume designing and stitching. Who knows, maybe even writing. Winter is coming and its the time to craft and create.

Not Dead, Just Lonely
By Chanda Paulo

Its good to feel life returning to my limbs after a hard winter. This winter felt particularly long and cold. I am not sure if it was the loneliness or just that I am getting old. All those I loved are no longer with me, I am alone.

Yet these past few weeks I have been feeling better. I guess the young family that moved into the house to my left has something to do with it. You don’t feel quite so old when there is life around you. From what I can tell there are 4 of them – mother, father, a young girl and a baby. I can’t tell if the baby is a girl or a boy, its a healthy strong baby nonetheless, I can hear its cries all the way down here!

Its the young girl I have seen the most, I think her name is Sarah, she often plays close to where I rest. She also walks by every day on her way to and from school. I love listening to her care free footsteps and to her laughter. In the afternoons, if I am feeling lively I try to wave at her as she returns home from school.

This morning she did something unusual, she walked right up to me and told me in a secretive whisper, „I have a surprise for you, I am sure you’ll love it…“. She promised to bring it over after school and then ran off down the path. I noticed she was carrying an empty basket. What could it possibly be? And now here I am waiting anxiously for her return. At my age I should be a little more patient. But I can’t help it, so little happens to me these days that I must admit to being very curious.

I can tell from the position of the sun that it must be about time for Sarah to come home. I hear footsteps and I strain to see who is approaching, I know its not her because these are heavy footsteps. After awhile I can see its a man approaching, carrying a strange stick. As he gets closer I recognise Sarah’s father. He is coming towards me, casually waving the stick on his hands, as if trying to get a feel for its weight.

As he gets within earshot he looks straight at me and says, „I’ve been putting this off for awhile, its time I did something about you old fellow.“

Now I am truly curious, what business could he have with me? Its certainly turning out to be an eventful day.

Then I recognise the stick. Over the years I saw many of my friends and family brought down by those sticks. That stick is the reason why I stand alone. I see his arm swing in a wide arc and the axe, for that’s what the stick is, bites into my trunk. I scream, as I heard my brothers and sisters scream in years gone by. My scream goes unheard, he swings again. I brace myself for the next blow, fervently hoping for something to happen that will make him stop.

„NO FATHER! STOP! You’ll hurt him…“

Through the pain I look for the source of the scream and see little Sarah, running towards us, horror etched on her face. The basket she was carrying dropped and forgotten in the middle of the path.

Mercifully her father stops the second axe stroke mid swing.

„Its OK Sarah the tree is dead, it can’t feel what I am doing. I am cutting it down to make room in the garden.“

A new scream of rage wells up inside me. I want to tell them I am not dead. I know it is hopeless, humans cant hear me.

„Don’t you know anything dad? Old Men Tree is not dead, he is just waking up from his winter sleep. Look!“ Sarah is pointing at the tips of my branches, where the first of my spring shoots are barely visible.

The father squints looking closely at my branches. „I am sorry honey, I cant see a thing. Look at all its gnarled old branches. The tree is dead.“

„Nooo, it is nooot. You can’t cut him. Please dad, look here…“.

Sarah is pleading with her dad, rain falling from her eyes. I always did find it strange how humans can make rain. Its only a little rain, not much use to anyone, still I find it an astounding skill. I would like to know how to do it myself. I’ve always wondered, if I could make a little rain all the time and let it fall on my roots, would I ever be thirsty? The pain on my trunk returns my wondering thoughts to the present.

The father is now feeling around in his clothes. I hope he does not bring out a fire maker. First he wanted to cut me, now what? With relief, I see him put a frame on his face, glasses I think they are called.

„You know Sarah, I think you are right. I can just make out a little shoot of green over there! Go get your basket, we’d better go inside and tell your mother that instead of chopping firewood, this weekend we will be building a tree swing!“

A shiver of relief runs from my roots , through my trunk and to the very tip of my branches. I am not going to be cut down today.

„What’s that you have in your basket Sarah? Where did you get all those plants?“

I watch as Sarah proudly gives the basket to her father. In it I can just make out young and tender leaves of chestnut, pine and oak… Oak my own kind, its been a long time since I have seen one of my family.

„Its my school project, the teacher helped me grow them. They are seedlings and cuttings for new trees. They look very small to me, but the teacher says they will be ready for planting in a few weeks. I thought that Old Men Tree was lonely so I decided he needed some new trees to keep him company. Will you help me plant them dad?“

Can you believe my luck? Not only am I still here, but I wont be alone anymore!

As I watch Sarah and her father walk towards the house I start wondering what this tree swing is. I should be worried, yet I feel confident that it can not possibly be a bad thing.

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6 thoughts on “Not Dead Just Lonely

  1. I know that Sarah’s father can not possible hope to cut down a truly old oak tree using an ax… But an oak is ideal for a swing… so most likely a chainsaw will have to be written into the story.

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