A tree and a woman get talking in a forest. After a few minutes the tree says, “Let’s play a game.”
“OK,” the woman says.
“I’ll be the human and you be the tree.”
“But why,” the woman asks.
“It’s just a game,” the tree says. “For fun.”
“OK,” the woman smiles.
As soon as she gives her assent the tree turns anthropomorphic, with arms, legs, and a bold, ambitious look on its ‘face.’
“Ah,” it says, wrapping its ‘arms’ around the woman in an uncomfortably intimate embrace. “You are so lovely.”
“Not so tight, it hurts,” the woman says uneasily.
“They’ll say I want to eat you, colonize you,” the tree says. “Hogwash. I have such great plans for us both. I want to make you part of my concept village in the woods. We can achieve something so beautiful together – ”
And saying so, the tree insinuates little cold tendrils around the woman’s face and starts to grip her waist in a sharp pincer grip. The pain is acute. The woman feels as though her spine is going to be penetrated, and broken.
“Get away!” she shouts, shoving the tree violently aside and falling down in the process. Then she picks herself up and runs away from the tree. She runs as fast as her legs will carry her.
The tree grunts, then discards its anthropomorphism and breathes heavily, its deep, immovable roots pulsing underground.
“At least you can run! What about us?” it calls after the departing figure of the woman but the words pass unheard through the air, like dead flowers falling to the ground or like bats flying past your window at night.
Illustration by Arthur Rackham for a rare 1917 edition of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.
Author Bio: Philip John is a creative director with a start up advertising agency. He is also a freelance writer and creative consultant. You can read more of his work at Labyrinths.
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