The Crimson Tree
“Still the mind. Inhale peace. Let go of worries. Exhale stress. Notice the breath. Connect to all. Embrace the calm.”
The world can appear to be endless. Without boundaries, or borders. One can stand upon the dunes of the earth and watch rolling hills ascend to ever reaching horizons and beyond. Stretching far beyond comprehension and often our own imaginations. Especially those of us who seek shelter in the familiar.
A cloaked and hooded figure walked idly through his forest homeland. He knew little of the world beyond his realm of trees and earth. He walked tirelessly, without purpose, reason or intent. Trekking across the hard earth of the woodland floor in search of nothing, just as he had done many times before. But just because you are not searching for any in particular, it does not mean the world is not searching for you. As often we find ourselves in explicable situations and circumstances, as reason and purpose seed their way into our lives.
The cloaked figure continued his aimless, barefooted walk. Silky morning sunlight seeped through the cracks of bare tree branches that spanned above him. The figure’s calm breath condensed in the cold winter air and vapour bellowed out from the darkness under his thatched hood.
The figure pulled the hood down, allowing the cool air to envelop his face. The young man closed both his bottle green eyes as he drew a long deep breath, listening to the soothing sound of a shallow brook that ran nearby. Fresh air seep into his lungs, before it was exhaled once more, condensing into a thick fog of vapour.
The birds who had braved the winter months sang their proud songs from the trees above, the cloaked man stood in silence, listening. He had heard their songs before, and was familiar with the symphony of the woodland in which he resided. However a new sound caught his attention, a cry that was out of harmony with the forest song that sang around him. The sound of sorrow, the sound of someone weeping.
He turned on his feet, following the notes of sadness that glided through the air. He quickly found himself beside a shallow brook that cut through a small clearing within the forest. Across from him, standing on the other side of the brooks gentle embankment, was a small tree. Which stood no taller than that of an average man. It was unlike it’s tall and mighty brethren, who stood proud and bare throughout the forest, the sapling had retained it’s leaves through all of winters spite, which were bright red in colour. Sitting beneath the tree’s arching branches, was a young woman who’s head was buried in a pair of soft pale hands.
The cloaked man stood in silence, observing the stranger from afar. He had encountered people before, however it was however an uncommon occurrence. The young man was accustom to a singular existence of isolation. Yet the good nature of his soul urged him to call out to the girl. “Are you alright?”
The girl took her head from the cover of her hands. Her heart cramped in fear as she looked across at the cloaked stranger, who stood still on the embankment opposite.
The youth was hidden beneath his thatched cloak, that had been woven from plant life and wood harvested from the floor of the forest. It flowed out from his neck, and came to an end softly at his knees, completely shrouding his shoulders, arms and torso.
“It’s okay, I’m not here to harm you.” The stranger continued, as he made his way down a steady incline into the crystal clear waters of the small brook. The icy water brought with it a bitter chill as he carefully made his way across the shallow stream. “My name is Soil.” The stranger said calmly, “I am of these woods. I only wish to help.”
The girl watched as the woodland man slowly walked towards her, a spring like smile adorned his face. He sat down on the frosty floor once he had reached the crimson tree, leaving a meter or so between them, and folded both his feet so them rested upon each thigh.
“Why is it that you’re crying?” Soil asked.
The young woman sniffed a couple times, wiping her numb, running nose with a purple handkerchief. Whilst at the same time trying to swallow a sad lump that swelled within her throat.
“My partner and I, We’ve just had a silly argument is all.” She replied hoarsely, wiping cool tears from her pale cheeks.
“I hope it was nothing serious.”
“It was over nothing important.”
Soil smiled at the young woman before saying, “The course of true love is not always a smooth and gentle one. But it’s rewards are worth the effort we invest in it.”
His words struck a chord in the girls young heart, and an involuntary, yet welcome smile bloomed upon her face. She turned to Soil, “My name’s Monarda and thank you for your concern. It’s a rare trait to find these days.”
“You’re welcome.” Soil replied, before turning his attention back to the endless canvas of trees that spread out around them.
“So you say that you live in the Eyre forest?” Monarda asked as a new found curiosity took a hold of her.
“The Eyre forest?”
Monarda raised an eyebrow, bemused. “Yes, The Eyre forest. This forest.” She cast one of her hand in front of her as she spoke, encompassing the tall bare trees that surrounded them..
“I didn’t realise this forest had a name!” Soil replied in excitement. “Eyre forest… I like it!”
The pair laughed for a moment before Soil continued. “But yes, I’ve lived out here on my own for many years.”
“Don’t you have any family?”
“I had a brother, but he’s gone now.”
Monarda’s cheery look melted away, “I’m sorry.”
To her surprise Soil turn to her with a glowing smile. “Don’t be,” He said, “He’s one with this realm now. I see him every morning when the sun shines and I hear him in every bird song.”
Monarda’s heart was warmed by Soil’s undying optimism, a trait that she found was uncommon among most people.
“So where are you from?” Soil continued, “My guess is that you’re from that settlement that lays south from here?”
“That’s correct!” Monarda replied, brushing her long, cream blonde hair behind her left ear, “It’s called Tachbrook by the way. Have you been there before?”
“No I haven’t, But I have met with several travelers who say they came from there.”
“It’s a quaint place,” Monarda said softly, as she looked up to the milky morning sky above. “Oh my, I’ve been here too long!” She suddenly exclaimed, climbing up onto her feet and brushing the dusty earth off her winter jacket.
She was a very tall and slender woman, standing at 6ft. Rich blonde hair gracefully flowed from her head down to her lower back. She was clothed in a thick winter jacket, deep blue in colour that covered from her shoulders to her knees and round its collar was thick white fur. Black woollen stockings kept her the biting cold from her legs and both feet were encased in tough hide boots.
“I’ll escort you back if you like?” said Soil, as he also stood up. Monarda towered above him, as the young man only stood at a modest 5ft 6.
“I’d appreciate that.” Monarda replied, as she awkwardly looked around, “For.. I’m not sure if I’ve got myself lost or not…”
Soil laughed and pointed with an outstretched, “This way, would be a good start.”
The two of them set off together, to retrace Monarda’s early morning footsteps. Leaving the solitary red tree to stand on it’s own one more, by the calm brook waters.