The Great Magnolia Tree

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: December 28, 2017

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Submitted: December 28, 2017

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The Great Magnolia Tree

 

The Lovely Magnolia Tree soaked in sunlight on this splendid summer day in front of my childhood home. Her majestic presence engulfed Her surroundings, my family’s front lawn and house, enhancing them further.

Magnolia Tree’s power was extraordinary. She exerted tremendous influence on the animals, insects, my front lawn and the weather too.

Her attending animals treated Her with the utmost respect. Birds basked before Her while bees bathed in the pollen from the flowers She produced.

Magnolia Tree’s colorful leaves were thought to provide foragers enough food for a whole winter. Her bark was said to be life-extending and anti-oxidant rich and Her underground roots were rumored to contain pure gold.

However, no living human had ever confirmed that gold lay inside Her roots. Some had tried, but perished when attacked by the multitude of creatures that saw it as their duty to protect and serve the Great Magnolia Tree.

 

This day, a different sort of dispute arose.

 

I was fourteen and home alone that day. I stood watching the Amazing Magnolia Tree with childlike fascination from my usual spot beside the living room window.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted two excited squirrels staring each other down, one gray and one black. Their tails were on high alert and each made high-pitched noises. Poised for the fight of their lives.

These fights were said to happen almost regularly, but I had never witnessed one before. I grew eager with anticipation.

But as the minutes passed, neither did much. They merely glared at each other from ten feet away while sinking their claws into the dirt.

I clicked my tongue impatiently and waited. After a while, the birds ceased their chirping and the bees stopped buzzing. Most scattered in panic, though some were curious enough to stay and watch. The whole stage readied itself for the territorial battle of these squirrels’ lives.

Grayson, the gray squirrel, inched closer toward the base of the towering Tree, moving his fluffy but sturdy tail to and fro. Darkness, the black one, raised his paws menacingly and stood on his hind legs. His tail, unlike Grayson’s, was kept straight as an arrow. It was sharp but not quite as sturdy looking as Grayson’s.

Darkness’s whiskers stood up and his haunting eyes communicated the intention to fight to the death for the Glorious Tree.

Grayson understood and nodded his little head.

 

The time had arrived.

 

Scratching, clawing, squealing and gnawing, the two nemeses lunged at each other.

Grayson had the upper hand at first. He sunk his front teeth into his rival’s abdomen while Darkness, his furry face flushed with anger, clawed away at Grayson’s back. Blood poured from both. Still, adrenaline coursed through their veins and neither wanted to give up.

After several minutes, Darkness took advantage of a unique opportunity to grab onto Grayson’s sturdy tail with his teeth. With tremendous strength, he swung Grayson’s body round and round by his tail, several times for good measure.

Grayson’s eyes grew as big as saucers as he was flung many feet in the air. His body crashed into the brick wall of a neighbor’s house and stopped, limp. Dead.

Exhausted, Darkness was still bleeding. He may have figured he was close to death too, because he sunk his tired teeth enthusiastically into the Great Tree’s life-giving bark. Perhaps he felt he deserved it more than anyone else.

 

The Great Tree began to shake. Then stand still. Then shake again. But Darkness took no notice.

And then She collapsed. She, the Glorious, Perfect Magnolia Tree, fell straight onto the victorious squirrel’s head, killing him instantly, and, more importantly, crushing much of my beloved home flat and just missing me.

 

The world died a little that day. Gone She was, and She’d never be back. She’d never grace the world with Her Leafy Presence or provide eternal sustenance for hungry critters. She’d never offer up a safe spot to lay eggs for so many birds. The bees would never again enjoy Her life-extending benefits and the squirrels would never again sink their teeth into Her wonderful, delicious bark.

 

I emerged from the wreckage relatively unscathed and, in a panic, attempted to run and call for help. But then, out of nowhere, a horde of wild creatures rushed towards the fallen Tree, stopping me in my tracks in amazement.  

It was a sight to behold. Seemingly all the creatures of the forest had come to pay their respect to the Lost but Not Forgotten Magnolia Tree. Deer, rabbits, birds, foxes, and yes, squirrels too! They crowded around the dead Tree, pawing at it and whimpering frantically.

And then I heard it. The most wrenching sound I’d ever heard. The alpha wolf, Reborn, pounced onto the center of the Tree’s trunk and let out a howl so intense, so wild and so full of loss and grief that I forgot about the house, the wreckage and even my state of panic for just a moment.

Tears streamed down my adolescent face as the animals beside Reborn joined in. Thousands of howls, squeaks and grunts filled the area, as more and more creatures poured in from afar to pay their respects.

I saw my neighbors inside their houses nervously watching the scene from a distance. They didn’t dare approach or do anything to disturb the sanctity of this moment.  

Reborn stopped howling, and everyone else fell silent too. With a solemn look in his eye, the wolf nodded expectantly at a very old and decrepit looking white squirrel, Sage. The squirrel nodded back.

Sage’s eyes said everything for him. The time for a new beginning had come. The community had a unique chance to make up for their wrongs and to bury their misdeeds once and for all.

And so he planted it. Sage, with a little help from his friends, dug a hole in the ground right next to where the old Tree had fallen and planted a seed.

It would one day grow to become the next Great Magnolia Tree.


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