Tale #39: The town, the forest, the past

The forest was a perfect history of the town. The founding mothers (who the fathers were we cannot say) each planted a tree for themselves in the centre of a field, in the form of a circle. They planted a tree for each of their children on the occasions of their births, which in time formed a second circle. And later there grew a third circle for their children, and a fourth for theirs, and so on, until today, until tomorrow.

A child’s tree is planted in sight of their mother’s (as far as space allows) and in this way, for any person alive today, you can follow their motherly line all the way back to the centre, all the way back to the beginning.

When someone dies, the roots of the tree are poisoned. The bark is stripped from its bones, and their likeness carved into the dead wood beneath. Likewise, when a living person’s tree dies, they are poisoned. The flesh is stripped from their bones and their skeleton is arranged outside their home in the form of a tree.

It is said if you walk in the woods on a fog-thick night you can speak to every one.

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Notes:

1. Written October 2014

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Tale #12: The Old Woman Who Lived In The Woods

There was an old woman who lived in the woods.

“Are you a witch?” asked the crow.

“I am, my dear,” she said, and the crow cawed and shared with her its breakfast.

“Are you a witch?” asked the cat.

“I am, my dear,” she said, and the cat purred and shared with her its lunch.

“Are you a witch?’ asked the priest.

“I am, my dear,” she said, and the priest fell silent and kept for himself his dinner.

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Notes:

1. Written on August 9th, 2014

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Tale #9: The Saddest King Of All

There was a king in the woods who was ever so sad. Every day he looked out of the window of his castle and sighed. “If only these trees did not block my view,” he thought. “Then I would be happy.” So he ordered his soldiers to cut down all the trees in the forest.

The next day he looked out of his window again, only now he could see another castle on the horizon. Again he sighed. “If only I had never seen that castle, I would still be king of all I surveyed,” he thought. “Then I would be happy.” So he ordered his treasurer to buy the castle from whomsoever it was that owned it.

The next day the king and all his court travelled there to the castle by the sea and set themselves up in their new home. In the morning he looked out of his new window and saw before him the sea. “I hate the sea,” he realised, sighing more deeply than ever before, for he knew the sea could not be controlled, and nor could it be moved away. “If only I was back in my old home, quietly away from the endless roar of the waves. Then I would be happy.”

So he went back to his old home, which was silent and empty. He sat down upon his throne, and began to weep. “If only there was someone here to talk to,” he said. “Then I would be happy.”

But there was no-one for him to talk to, for his family and the members of his court much preferred living by the seaside and would not return. And so he wept and wept, all alone, for the rest of his days.

As the years passed, the forest grew back up around the castle until the trees were thicker and darker and deeper than ever before (for there was no-one there to cut them back), and the many empty rooms of the castle were claimed by crows and foxes and other creatures of the forest (for there was no-one there to shoo them away), and in time the walls themselves began to crumble (for there was no-one to repair them) and eventually the king died, unhappy and unloved and unremembered, in the ruins of his home.

And all the while the city by the sea prospered.

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Notes:

1. Written June 6th, 2014
2. The title, premise and opening line of this story are inspired by (or parodies of) The Saddest Bear Of All

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