I remember back to the days when there were hundreds of my kind all over the Earth. The days when my sisters would surround me, keep me safe from the outside world. The days when all sorts of mosses, lichens and vines would creep up my trunk. The days when monkeys would swing through my boughs, chattering happily. The days spent watching young birds grow up and learn to fly in the safety of my branches. The days when all sorts of insects and spiders found a safe haven they could call home in my leaves.
But all that is gone now. For I am the spirit of the last tree.
I stand here, deep in sleep. I have had thousands of years to contemplate my existence.
At first I was confused. Why me? What had I done to be so special? Why was I left on my own in this wasteland, outside on my own? I burn in the hot sun without my sisters to absorb some of the heat. The heat is more than it used to be. It might have been the fact that I was much taller than I used to be, but I knew that it was not. The humans where slowly bringing upon themselves their own destruction.
But then I wondered why they had to cut us all down in the first place. Didn't they have enough wood to last the rest of the Earth? But I realised that they had not looked after it. They had left it to rot. They were too greedy. They couldn't just look at what they had and be happy. They had some of the most beautiful pieces of wood. All those beautiful musical instruments. All those amazing mahogany tables and chairs. All those wonderful books. And they let them rot. They wanted more. Their hunger will never be satisfied.
After that, I realised that they did already have enough to last the rest of the Earth. The end was so near. I could sense it. It may not be in any of their lifetimes, but to me, it was so very near. Only a couple of hundred years and I would be leaving this hell for good. Everyday, young children came with their parents to gape at me. Stare at me like I was an animal at a zoo. Essentially I was. I tried not to think about it. That was why I had gone into this deep sleep in the first place. I had been oblivious to my surroundings for almost 700 years now. For all I knew, mankind could be finished. I could not provide enough oxygen for all of them. It was one against 50 million. I had no idea how many of them were left. When I had begun my hibernation, they were working on a project to create oxygen. IT was a tiny chip that could be implanted into their skin. I knew they succeeded the day I went into this deep sleep. I was kind enough to stay in this hell to keep them alive for as long as I could.
I knew when I went into this sleep that I couldn't wake myself. It was the only thing I didn't know. How to wake myself from this sleep. I was the most intelligent creature left on this planet, yet I didn't know how to revive myself. Not saying I wanted to, but it would be nice to find out where these humans where and what the world was like. But until I knew how to wake, or the Earth ended, or indeed the humans decided to cut me down, I was stuck with my own thoughts. The only intelligent conversation I was going to have for a very long time.
That was until the day she came.
I felt her presence in the room before she was even there. The only indicator I had had for 700 years that proved there was still life other than me out there. Her spirit was cheerful, but deep inside I sensed a certain deep sadness. It also had a startling familiarity As I was contemplating this and why I could sense her, I felt her warm palm on my soft bark. I was waking. I heard a shouting. I opened my inner eyes. I was in a room. Well, shelter. I was still in dirt and the ground was still there, but the outside was white walls, white ceiling. Shiny surfaces. They had built a hall, a museum around me. Typical humans. I focused my attention on her, instead of all my surroundings at once. She had hair the colour of my soft flowers. The colour of fire. The colour of the sun. To human eyes the sun was yellow, but to human eyes her hair was all just the same orange. To me it was hundreds of shades of red, yellow, orange, and magenta. Her eyes were the exact colours of my leaves. Deepest greens, pale blues, faded purples, brightest yellows, every colour you could imagine. Of course, to the human eyes, they were just green, but to my eyes nothing was 'just' anything. Her face was covered in tiny dots the colour of bark. I rustled my leaves pleasantly. I opened my ears to take in sound. There was mostly quiet. There was soft music playing in the background, it made my soul flutter pleasantly. I was coming to life. This girl must be special.
She smiled at me. I heard her voice.
"You poor thing, you must be so lonely. Thousands of years by yourself with nobody to help you," She must have been about 6 or 7 in human years, less than a millisecond of my existence in comparison. "You're so beautiful. Why can nobody else see the different shades of colour in your existence, the different hues of your bark? I wish I was so beautiful."
Finally I decided I would talk to her, "You are the most beautiful human I have ever seen," I said inside her mind. Her mind was full of love, sadness, ideas, memories, people, animals. She was so much more intelligent than any human I have ever come across. Intelligent in a different way to what humans thought of as being intelligent. She was intelligent emotionally. She could connect with plants and animals in a way only one other person I had ever met could. Now I knew why she was so familiar. "Rose," I sighed, ever so quietly. The whisper escaped my branches, like the whisper of the wind. Last time I had whispered anything, was with my sisters around me, repeating, amplifying the sound, creating the wind that rustled our leaves.
"Rose?" She whispered ever so quietly, not curiously, however. I knew she was her offspring immediately. The way her hair fluttered slightly as she said the name, the way she stood on her toes, hovering as if about to take off. The way a single strand of her hair fell into her eyes and she didn't bother to remove it. I sighed again.
"Don't sigh, dear tree," She said, stroking my bark softly, "My name is Amelia. What do they call you?"
"Clair," I whispered.
"Clair. So much beauty. A name is so significant to a being. It creates the image of how we imagine a person. However, the name does not create the personality. The personality creates the name."
"You speak wise words, you have so much intelligence. Not human intelligence, but proper intelligence. You are related to Her. I know it."
"Rose?" She replied in softly.
"Yes," I breathed.
"I'm sorry Clair, but I really must be going, or I shall be late!"
"Yes, dear Amelia Rose," I exhaled softly.
"Rose." She whispered thoughtfully and left.
The next day, Amelia came back. Her love had acted like the sun to me, a new seed had grown, much quicker that usual, in my branches. I pointed this out to Amelia, who climbed up my trunk, quite skilfully and picked the seed off a twig on one of my branches. She looked at the seed in awe. Appreciating the beauty and preciousness of this seed. Next to me, between two of my roots, she dug a small whole, placed the seed in carefully and buried the hole again.
I saw her everyday. She came, we spoke, she watered the tree. She was so intelligent and peaceful. As she grew up, I watched her change. I could still see the gentle Amelia under the surface, however. We became the best of friends.
One day, a man came to speak to the other man who owned the building in which I was enclosed, trapped from the sunlight. Imprisoned from the breeze, the blue skies, the rain, the clouds. This man also claimed to own me. But he had a selfish, greedy soul. We trees had never understood men. We were all girls and women. From what we had seen of boys and men, they were much less gentle than women. Too keen to show off. Not caring about the environment. Most of them. There were girls like that too. And some boys were kind, gentle and quiet. But this man was one of the most cruel and selfish I had ever come across. He was not intelligent, even for a human. He was a business man. All that I could see in his mind were ways to make himself rich. Money, money, money.
The other man who came to speak to him had horrible thoughts in his mind. I have to admit, I almost laughed at him. He thought he was so big and important. Did he know how small and insignificant he really was? He was asking the man about me. Asking how much business he got and what would happen if I were to die. The man answered his questions, because I could tell he respected him. Eventually he said something that made me feel sad. Maybe I was going to finally find peace in another place. I sighed. The man looked up at me and said the thing on the tip of his tongue.
"If we (he meant the government who was in charge of this ruined planet) gave you as much money as you need to live off for the rest of your life, and you won't need to work. We'll give you a big house, a wife and a car, all of your choice. All if you let us cut down the tree. We need to study it, find out how it works."
"Sure," Replied the man enthusiastically. I snorted at him. The man looked up and grinned.
The next morning, Amelia came and sat next to me with some food and some simple, trivial questions to fill in. I told her what was to happen to me. She looked up at me and said "Are you ready to go?"
"I thought I was," I breathed, "Until you came along."
"Yesss…" She hissed quietly, soothingly. I sat, looking at her mind. She was concentrating on her homework. I went back to my own thoughts.
Amelia still came to me with all her trivial school problems and I patiently helped her fix them, but less and less lately, she said she was having less problems these days, but people never ha less problems. But still, just having her around helped me. I loved her, just as I had loved Rose. But, unlike Rose, who had kept coming until that fateful day when she was lain to rest by my side, Amelia was starting to grow away from me. Rose had never loved a boy, she thought they were stupid, like I did. But Amelia, who was now 13, had what the humans called a boyfriend. Since there were no male trees, I didn't get it, but she tried to explain it to me as best she could. Matt was a nice enough boy, but he still found it boring coming to the museum, so Amelia came to see me less and less.
None of my sisters could ever understand what I saw in Rose. But I knew that if she were a tree, she would be the apple tree in the garden of Eden. I remember when all my sisters were being cut down. I had told Rose that I was to be cut down the next day. She had cried for I don't know how long, but the next day, when the men came in those killing machines, to chop me to the ground. I told her I was ready to go. I was. I couldn't stay here without all my sisters, I was too young to survive on my own, they still had so much to teach me. But nevertheless, Rose had sat in my boughs and refused to move, leaving the men no choice but to leave me. I sat there, shaking with sadness and fear as I watched all my sisters say their goodbyes and leave this world. Rose had built a house in my branches after that. It was still buried in the middle of the leaves. I kept it well hidden and protected. It was the last I had left of her, other then the bones, I held in my roots. My roots wrapped around her remains. So deep in the ground. Deep with the old tunnels where worms and other small animals used to live. They were all gone now.
The next day, a man came in a fluorescent yellow shirt. He tied a bright pink tag around my trunk, 2 meters from the ground. I presumed that was where I was to be cut. That afternoon, when Amelia didn't show, I knew she was nothing like Rose. But deep down I knew she was exactly like Rose. The only difference being, Rose had never fallen in love with a man. Rose had been a tree in ever respect, except appearance. That was what I though, anyway. Until the day she died. Amelia, however, was different, she had fallen in love. She said she didn't mean to. She had spent hours trying to explain to me that she didn't have a choice who she fell in love with. I had promised her I would still love her, and she had seemed content.
I had thought she would at least come to say goodbye, clearly not. The next morning, the men came with their big loud machines to cut me down. For the second time ever in my life, I was scared. So scared I was shaking. As them men started to cut through my trunk, I blocked out the pain by moving all my thoughts into the tree house, nestled in a fork in my trunk. It was dark my the time I fell to the ground. The Earth shook with the impact. Before I left the Earth for good, I grabbed my only possession, Rose's bones, and left. When I reached the other side, I was reunited with all my sisters, but I was not happy, my mind kept lingering on Amelia. I travelled down, in my spirit form, to find her. I found her sitting by my stump, crying her eyes out. She was looking after the seed, which was now almost as tall as her. I took a form, the form of Rose, and walked over to her.
"What is wrong, my Amelia?" I asked.
"Clair?" She asked, looking up at me, "Is that what Rose looked like?"
"Oui, Amelia," I said.
"Will I ever see you again?"
"Maybe.…" I whispered.
"If you don't, I shall be all alone in the world!" She exclaimed.
"Don't be so dramatic, you shall have Matt," I soothed.
"No, I got rid of him two days ago so I could stay with you, but I was too late!" She cried.
I felt a strange sensation, water was dripping out of my eye. It was a human sensation, I did cry, but only on the inside. Trees did not have tear ducts.
"I can stay with you, young Amelia. You are truly like Rose. I can get a new tree, I shall be a young sapling again!" I said, smiling as I disappeared before Amelia's eyes. I had a new tree. It was unfamiliar, it was the right fit for me, though, and I rustled the leaves, to get used to it. I watched Amelia's face as she realised. I smiled to myself and breathed out, letting my small branches rustle in the breeze I created. Life goes on, and I am always going to be the last tree, just as, I had found out, one of my sisters was the last book.