an original story by Simon Brooks

One day a boy came upon a forest.  He walked among the trees, and saw some had leaves or needles all year round while others would go naked into the winter.  The boy strained his neck trying to see the tops of some while other trees he thought he might be able to jump over.  He pressed up against some tree trunks and embraced them, others he would take ten paces to walk around. Some had smooth bark, yet others had wrinkly or peeling trunks.  There were as many different trees as there are people, or so it seemed to the boy.  All the trees had their own names and the trees gave the boy a name, too.  The trees named the boy Annan.

 Annan would play in the trees, hiding and seeking with rabbits, playing with squirrels and other forest creatures.  It was not long before the boy grew to love the forest and the forest came to love the boy as well.  His cries of joy, as he played, filled every nook and cranny of the wood.

 When Annan tired, the trees would embrace him.  When the rain came, the trees sheltered him. If the day became too hot, the trees gave shade, keeping the boy cool and comfortable.  And when Annan, grew hungry, the trees would offer fruit and nuts from their lower limbs so that he could eat.

 Annan learned to climb the trees.  He would play in the higher branches, leaping from one tree to the next, and sleep nestled up in the limbs.  He would gaze from the highest parts of the forest and out across the world.  He found nests and watched the birds lay their eggs, hatch their young and teach them to fly. He saw the homes squirrels and other creatures made in among the trees.

 All the while Annan grew and all the while the boy and the trees told each other stories. The boy loved the trees and the trees loved the boy.

 Years went by and Annan came to the woods with a friend.  The young man and young woman held hands and looked very happy.  The trees knew something had changed in Annan.

 Annan said: “I have lived and played here for many years but now I need to build a home for my wife, Selma.”

 “Then take some of our limbs to build your home,” said the trees.   Annan did.  And Annan gave thanks.

 Annan and Selma spent their days playing in the forest, running through woods, swinging on the branches and the young man shared the forest with his wife.

 Time went on and Selma gave Annan a son.  The man would play with his son, Sloane, in the forest.  They would watch the buds grow on the trees in springtime, try to count them all and then watch them explode with blossom, flowers and leaves in the early summer.  When autumn came they would tumble in the fallen leaves.  As his son grew older, Annan showed Sloane the secrets of the forest, and how to climb the trees. Together they would sit on the winter branches and watch animals below leave tracks in the snow.

 Sloane grew quickly and one day he moved away.

 Annan and Selma still ran through the woods and played in amongst the trees.  Although they climbed less, they still ran their hands over the trunks, needles and leaves. They loved the woods, as the woods loved them.

 A few winters passed by and Annan’s son Sloane returned.  He brought with him a wife called Lark.  Sloane and Lark needed a home, so once again Annan went to the trees and said: “I have lived and played here for many, many years.  Now my son has returned with his wife and they need a home.”

 The trees once again offered some of their own limbs saying: “You have given us much joy in your laughter and have never taken or asked for more than what you needed.  Your love and respect for the forest has been a gift to us, so we will gift our limbs so that your son may build a home.”

 Annan and Sloane took this gift with honor.  And Annan and Sloane gave thanks.

 Trees that Annan knew from childhood had grown taller and wider.  Sapling trees had grown to adolescence and Lark grew with Sloane’s child.  Annan himself and Selma grew older and did not run so often through the woods.  They would walk and dance under the moonlit dappled boughs.  They would run their hands over the trunks.  They loved the woods as the woods loved them.

 Lark bore Sloane a daughter whom they called Divone.  Selma and Annan taught their granddaughter the secrets of the forest the same way they had shown Sloane and Lark. Divone grew to be a beautiful young girl.

 Annan and Selma and their family ate the fruit the trees gave them and in return gave thanks to the trees for the gifts.  Annan and Selma no longer ran through the forest and the winters that passed left their hair grey, but they were happy to walk between the trees or sit happily under the great boughs watching the sunset burn orange to purple to deep blue into the night.  Annan and Selma would run their hands over the trunks.  They loved the woods as the woods loved them.

 Many winters passed and the children grew.  One day, at the end of a long summer, Annan rose early and walked slowly through the forest.  His old body moved silently between the whispering trees.  He sat at the bottom of the oldest tree in the wood and sighed.

 “Today,” said Annan, “I will be leaving.  The time has come for the sun to set on this life”

 Annan laid his down his head and closed his eyes.  The trees became silent with sorrow as Annan fell into his last sleep.

 When Sloane found his father, he wept.  Annan was buried where he lay, under the great oak.

 Three seasons went by and Lark, once more, grew large with child.  In late spring with the flowers blooming and insects flying, she gave birth to a baby boy.  Later that day Selma, Sloane, Singing Brook and Lark came into the woods carrying the new baby.  The family stood beneath the great oak tree, its strong boughs showing new buds over Annan’s grave.

 Sloane said: “My father, you have given us much joy in your laughter and have never taken nor asked for more than what you needed.  Your love and respect for the forest and your family has been a gift to us.  We will name our son Annan after you, his Grandfather.”

COPYRIGHT Simon Brooks, 2019 ©