Wood

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
These trees grew so quickly that they must be the ideal ones to cut down for firewood.

Submitted: September 09, 2016

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Submitted: September 09, 2016

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Wood!

 

It should be impossible for trees like these to grow so quickly. They look to be some sort of hardwood but not one that is shown in any guide I’ve found. Either they are a new species, the books have inaccurate illustrations or I’m just totally useless at identifying them.

 

Whatever they are, they have been targeted for firewood. If they are so fast growing they will not be so quickly depleted. Well, that’s the logic that was quoted at me when I was picked to carry out the job. But I don’t know......something just does not feel right.

 

There are nine of them altogether. Even the position of them seems weird -- not natural. It is almost as though somebody has planted them although nobody here will admit to it. One, the largest, stands ahead of the others. There are four behind it on either side, appearing similar to a flanking guard. The largest one will have to go first.

 

I stand there and look at it, chainsaw in hand. I am trying to chose the best position, the best angle to go at it from. I am trying to ignore the sensation that it is observing me too. Perhaps I am getting sick, am coming down with the flu or something. Best get on with the job before I am too ill to see it through.

 

I pick up the chainsaw, check the petrol level. I take the time to make sure the chain is securely attached to the bar. I grab the cord and pull. It coughs, sputters, but does not start. I’m sure I saw a couple of the bigger branches of that tree move. I must be mistaken. There is not even a breath of wind, let alone one strong enough to move large branches.

 

Grasping the handle tightly I pull the cord again. A sputter, a cough, but this time the engine kicks in. I rev it for a few seconds then start towards the tree. There’s no mistaking it this time; those branches, together with some others, are definitely moving. It almost seems to be daring me. Beckoning me on!

 

What the hell did Mam put in my porridge this morning? It’s a tree! Trees do not make dares, especially to people equipped with chainsaws.

 

Once again I start up the chainsaw. Once again I start to walk forward. I’m not going to look at those moving branches. I’m going to pretend that I don’t see those flanking trees leaning forward in a menacing way. I’m here to do a job, an important task for all of us, and I’m going to get it done.

 

The revolving chain makes contact with the trunk. It whirs, it whines, doesn’t even cut a groove but snaps clean in two. The end nearest the tree clatters down to the ground, the other half of the blade together with the rest of the chainsaw is swept from my hands by a branch.

 

I stare at it, this tree that has become my opponent. There is no way the movement of that branch was caused by the wind. It was deliberate, carried out with intent. And all the leaves rustling on the other trees.......it almost sounds like laughter. Well, you know, I do have some pride. I am not going to be made a laughing stock by what is really nothing more than a glorified piece of wood.

 

I look at the chainsaw in two pieces on the ground. It is broken, useless, beyond repair. But I’m not finished yet. I have another weapon back at home and I am just going to have to go back there and fetch it.

 

* * * * *

 

When I arrive back at the trees I am no longer alone. Both my younger sister and my baby brother have followed me here. This is in spite of my constantly shouted orders to, ‘Go home’. The last thing I need right now is an audience but how can I explain without sounding crazy, or increasing their interest. I tell them to stay well back, to keep their distance, and for once they seem to listen.

 

Now for that tree.

 

I stand in front of it, my long-handled axe held in both my hands. I have sharpened the blade and it gleams menacingly in the sunlight. Crazy or not, I want that tree to get a good view of what is about to come its way. It will be no easy task, chopping down a tree this size with an axe but I’m determined. This is a challenge that I’m not backing away from.

 

I step forward, bend my knees, brace myself. The leaves rustle. I swing the axe away from the tree and the branches sway. The axe moves steadily towards that trunk and lands with a satisfying, damaging thunk.

 

The screeching begins, a keening and a howling noise that hurts my ears. My brother and sister come hurtling towards me, crying and wailing, too scared to stay obedient. I am watching them while I am pulling back on the axe. I don’t notice it, that branch that is flying straight towards me.

 

It hits me, knocks me to the ground and pins me there. That axe that I had been unable to move comes flying out to land in the branch with such force it embeds itself deeply. For a moment I am stunned, then I think of Joe and Gemma. Are they trapped? Are they injured? But no, I can see that they are very shocked but also that they have not been harmed.

 

They are staring at the tree that I’ve just hit. There appears to be blood running from the wound that I have made but even as I am looking that cut begins to close up. Within minutes the trunk is healed, with just a faint scar remaining to show where the axe had hit.

 

The branches and the leaves of all the nine trees have quietened, stilled. The wailing has ceased. I get the impression that they are waiting, watching, weighing up my response. I’m not one to back down from a fight but I know that here I have been well and truly beaten. Fair enough; I’ll retreat.

 

It is not easy for me to scrabble out from under that branch but I do it. I pick up my axe, gather together my brother and sister and start to walk away. They are watching me, those trees; I can feel it. I pause, turn back towards them and give a slight bow. Maybe I imagine it but I am almost sure that the largest of the trees bows back.

 

Come on, you two. I know where there is a fallen tree just waiting to be cut up for firewood.


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