She lay bleeding in the sunflower field.
The ground on which she lay quickly turned to a sad shade of crimson, and so did the western sky. Unbeknownst to her, she was not alone, but she was going to be soon, very soon. At the edge of the field there stood a banyan tree which had outlived all his friends and now was just a silent spectator to the daily events that semed to repeat themselves over and over again. Such was the monotony around him that he stopped caring about anyone but himself and even the songbirds which amused him once would only vex him now with their constant chattering. He buried his endless wisdom deep within the ground beneath him and he had no plans to retrieve it anytime soon, none at all.
The fat old sun, tired for the day, finally sank beneath the line of unnamed trees that comprised the western horizon.
It was then that she started crawling.
Her wound was meant to kill her slowly, bleeding her dry. As she dragged herself along the ground, she tasted mud, but she didn’t have the energy to spit it out, it was better served in pushing forward, because that was the only thing she could do apart from dying.
“I have to keep moving, I can’t die, not today.” She spoke aloud to herself without knowing why, then after a while she realized it was because she was afraid, more afraid than she had ever been. A strange thought crossed her mind. What if she was already dead and this was just the afterlife mocking her, providing her with a ray of hope when there was none? What if this was all a dream and right after she “dies” she will wake up in her bed, cradled in the arms of her lover? Maybe it would feel better if she just let go and wait for the dream to be over. Is that a banyan tree over there? It looks so welcoming, like it was planted there just for her, by someone who loved her in another life, in another time.
After what seemed like eternity, she reached the edge of the field, leaving a thin red trail of behind her. She looked back and gazed at the endles expanse of yellow which stood proud and vibrant, defiant to the pale light. In some ways it reminded her of herself, and a sad smile formed across her lips.
When the tree saw her approaching, her white dress smeared with blood and grime, he thought that the look suited her, providing the otherwise plain dress with some semblance of sightlines. She seemed to fit the description of the cadaverous figures in “horror movies”, not that he had any idea what that was, apart from the fact that they were supposed to be frightening according to the stories that humans told. Nevertheless, the sight piqued his curiosity to some extent, and as the cool breeze softly caressed his branches, he patiently waited for her next move. Unlike the woman, he had all the time in the world.
The fallen leaves rustled beneath her body as she rested her back against the tree trunk, clutching her stomach as if to hold on to the life slowly slipping away from her. Her breath came in gasps now, the pain was almost gone. She looked at the road that ran adjacent to the field and the tree, it semed to stretch for miles and miles until it faded into a do.”Where does it lead to?”She asked herself. To her utter surprise, a voice answered back-“You know. You’ve always known.”
She looked down and saw that her wound had vanished and there were all kinds of birds perched on the branches of the tree. Some of them were inspecting her from high above, wondering perhaps about who she was or what her name was, where she lived or had she learned to fly yet.
“Didn’t I hear a voice?Was it the tree?” But of course that’s impossible, unless I’m imagining things, unless…”
“Unless it’s a story, a work of fiction, and you’re in it.” The voice interrupted her again.
She spun around, searching for the source of the voice, seeing no one was around, she shouted at the tree.
” Who is it? Why won’t you come out!”
Few of the birds fled from the branches, alarmed. The rest of the brave souls remained, casting disapproving glances at this human who was clearly out of her mind.
The tree spoke again-“Look at that road. Tell me where it leads to.”
“Home.” She answered softly. Closing her eyes, she felt like she could smell her old room, with it’s blue walls and rock band posters.
“It always smelt like rain”, she thought, and came to realize she had never really wondered why until then.
“Whose story am I in, old tree?”
A deep rumbling sound emanated from within it’s boughs, as the tree spoke again.
“It’s been quite a while since I’ve been amused, I thank you.”
“Amused? My impending death amuses you?”
“No, but I do admit I find your utter bewilderment somewhat comical.”
At a loss for words, the woman stared at the tree, which was making that rumbling sound again.
“This is the story you wrote for yourself”, the tree continued, ” this is the end result of the choices you’ve made and those you haven’t made. Every single thing you did in your life had led you to this moment, to me, and this is where your story ends.”
“But if this is my story then I get to decide when it ends, how it ends. Not some stupid talking tree that speaks in riddles.”
“Oh but that’s not true. You see, when you first created me, I was unsure of my purpose, as the days went by, I wondered about what part I had to play, if at all. But then today I saw you lying half dead beneath me and I knew. In your story, I am the one who sees you off, I am Death, or something akin to it anyhow. I must say, I’m impressed at how you chose to kill yourself off at the end, it was a bold move indeed. ”
“Do you know what man’s greatest fear is? It’s not death, it’s not loneliness..it’s the fear of the exposure of his lifelong secrets to the whole wide world, and the shame that would come with it. Can you feel your pain fading away? Your wounds healing? It’s fredom, true fredom, and it comes only with death for those who’ve lived in fear for most of their lives.”
The tree stopped speaking at last. Only the birds were left to listen to him, and they knew all about freedom. He smiled, and a pen dropped with a thud on the paper, where the ink was smudged with tears.