“What do you think it is?” Elowen startled as Lennox woke him from his slumber. Hadn’t he told Lennox time and again not to wake him when he was taking a nap during autumn? He was producing an insane amount of nuts this year, and it was taking up a lot of energy. He needed all the sleep he could get, between the squirrels and the occasional bear that needed all his attention. As Elowen opened his eyes, he looked directly at Lennox, blocking his view. As always. If only trees could move… but he didn’t dare finish that sentence.
Not that he really disliked Lennox, but his incessant talking was driving him insane. Elowen preferred conversations to be kept to a minimum. And Lennox knew this, or had he simply forgotten? The last time something interesting had happened was maybe fifty years before, when a whale had beached right in front of them. Although now that he thought about it, that whale had simply died. It hadn’t really been that interesting. It had smelled disgusting for weeks.
“Is it some kind of bear?” Elowen could hear in his voice that Lennox was getting upset. Of course Lennox couldn’t see Elowen, which made communication difficult. Especially since Elowen wasn’t the kind of tree to speak his mind before he was absolutely sure about himself.
“I can’t see anything yet.” Elowen tried not to be annoyed by his inability to see the beach, or even the sea for that matter. Being upset had never really changed things. He couldn’t think back to a time when it had been any different. And what could he really do about it? There was nothing to do but wait. Life was boring like that, and standing next to the same tree for so long didn’t make things any more exciting.
After a few moments, the creature appeared from behind Lennox’s trunk. Elowen watched as the creature slowly walked around Lennox. “It looks like a bear. But it is also very different.”
“What is it doing? Can you still see it?” Lennox cursed his own limited sight.
“It is walking. Its eyes are almost on the top of its body, with a lot of hair around it, so at first I hardly noticed them. I think it is looking at you, Lennox.”
“Why is it looking at me? Can’t you do something? This doesn’t feel good! Why is it not looking at you?” Lennox tried to scare off the creature by dropping some acorns.
“It’s touching you. Maybe it likes you.”
“I don’t want it to like me! Please get it away from me.” Lennox rustled his leaves, but there was hardly any wind, and the leaves didn’t make any noise.
“How do you expect me to do anything? I’m just a simple tree.” Elowen stood still and for once didn’t mind that he was not able to move. He watched as the creature put his hands all over Lennox, touching him as if it was worshipping. Maybe it had never seen a tree before?
“GROS DOIEN FELIGFEJI JEOFIEJ KLENLK NLE.”
“What was that?” Lennox’s leaves shivered in a low frequency that was only noticeable to trees as the creature kept touching him.
“I think the creature is communicating. How is it to be touched like that? Is it like a bear rubbing his back, or more like a squirrel walking over your branch?” Elowen tried not to laugh, but he had to ask.
“This is not funny. Just you wait till it discovers you. Oh no, there are more. Elowen, what do we do?”
After a few moments Elowen saw them too. Several creatures with different coloured skins, and some with long hair and some smaller ones without much hair. They walked towards the first creature. Joining the touching, they all started shouting in what seemed to be some sort of language. They jumped up and down, making strange movements. The shouting became more intense, until they all shouted in the same rhythm.
Then Elowen saw something glistening. One of the creatures had brought something shiny like the skin of the whale when it was still wet from the sea. It brought the object closer to Lennox and in a sudden move, hit him hard with the shiny thing.
Elowen was glad Lennox at least didn’t see what was happening. They all took turns in what looked like some form of ritual. But it soon turned into a slaughter. They didn’t rest until they had cut Lennox into so many pieces that Elowen lost count.
That evening Elowen saw the sun go down over the sea for the first time. It was a wonderful sight, one that Lennox had described to him often. The fear he had felt when they were chopping up Lennox was almost completely forgotten. Eclipsed by the beauty of sunset.
When the creatures made the world light even when the sun was gone, Elowen looked at them from afar, shudders running through his branches. The world had changed for good. His fear of bears seemed childish. He was unsure how much of Lennox they needed to make the light. But it wouldn’t be long before they would choose to touch him too. He looked out over the sea, catching the last glimpse of the rays of sunshine hitting the water. Best to make the most of it.