What once was green

What once was green

A Story by TLK

Redleaf likes to sit his daughter on his shoulders and run from camp: across the shore of the lake, into the forest. She giggles until she feels sick. Still she says "more, more".
Yesterday she asked: "Daddy? Why is your hair turning white?"

"I am so tall that my head is close to the clouds, and they stick to my hairs," he replied. "If you sit up here for longer, it will happen to you too." Then he took her back home, a little slower than usual.

Today she stirs in her nest of animal skins and murmurs a question. Her mother has only just awoken, fingers pushing a sharp bone needle through leather to make shoes. "Yes, daughter?"

"Is your hair turning white?"

Dawn thinks for a while. "No, Hare, but I think it might start soon. My mother started in her twenty-fifth summer, and this is my twenty-fourth."

Hare sits up suddenly and looks as if she is about to cry. "Is white hair what's wrong with old people?" For all she remembers of the parents of her parents is that they were old, they looked different, and they are now gone.

Dawn takes Hare's hand and speaks to her calmly. "We go when it is our time, whether our hair is white or black, whether we are bald or as furry as the bear." And she pulls Hare to her and holds her tightly. "My name means the start of a new day, but all days must end."

Redleaf returns to his daughter wiping her red-eyes with the end of her shirt. He talks to his wife. She explains to her husband.

"Come with me," he says, taking Hare by the hand.
They go for a walk. In silence, they leave the village. In silence, they crest the hill. In silence, the reach the forest.

"People are like trees," he says, stopping to let his daughter look.

She looks at the trees. She looks at her father.

"People are like trees because the Gods made the first trees to live forever. And it did not work. So the Gods then remade the trees. And when they made people, they did not make the same mistake."

He takes his daughter to a trunk and sits against it. He takes her into his lap.

"The first trees lived forever. They were the first things made, because the Gods needed strong straight pillars to hold up the sky. At each of the corners of the sky is a forest of the tallest trees, just for this purpose. The Gods waited until these forests were full grown and then placed the sky on them. Then they turned their backs to discuss what could come next. There were so many plans that this took many years. Some Gods had ideas for plants, some for land animals, and some for birds. And then some decided to have animals swimming in the seas. And others realised that they could even put animals on the ice to the north. Truly, they spent a long time indeed inventing so much. What did the trees do in that time?”

Hare screws up her face in thought. “They grew taller.”

Redleaf laughs. “It is best that they did not! Otherwise the sky would have toppled, or grown so out of reach that we could not see the sun. No -- the trees had dropped seed on the ground to sprout their own children. Different trees have different ways of dropping their seeds. So, when the Gods came back with other plants, and uncountable animals, the whole of the world was covered in tall trees. There was not anywhere to place the new animals. And even the seas were dry, because the trees had drunk so much of their water. So the Gods chopped down many trees, and built themselves fine wooden huts. Still, there were so many felled trees that many had to be buried, and the Earth grew hills and mountains over them to remember them by.”

Hare looks up at the tree above her, wondering how anything could be taller.

“The Gods talked to the trees that held up the sky. They said: ‘your children cannot live forever. They cannot grow as tall as you. Otherwise there will be no space for anything else.’ The trees bent their branches in acknowledgement. Then a younger tree speaks -- a tree that the Gods had missed as it grew so close to the original forests that it was mistaken for one of the first trees. ‘How will we know that we are not the same as the first trees?’ it asked. ‘How will we know that our time is limited?’”

Redleaf stands, puts his daughter on his shoulders. “What do you think, Hare?”

Hare does not say anything. She reaches for a branch and pulls a leaf from it. It is changing -- what once was green is becoming yellow, and eventually brown.

“That’s right,” says Redleaf. “And our hair is just the same. It reminds us that -- for a very good reason -- we cannot be here forever.”

He runs back to camp, Hare giggling at the way the air rushes past her, and the ground seems so far away.

 


Later on, Hare’s parents discuss whether she has understood the lesson or not. She has not cried again, but maybe she has just forgotten the whole thing. They do not want to ask her, in case it reminds her to cry again.

 


Let me tell you the answer. One day Hare will be older. She will talk to a young child. It might be her child. They will ask “why is your hair turning white?”, or “what happened to your parents?” And she will start by saying, “people are like trees. Our hair is like their leaves.”


© 2013 TLK



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There's a strong sense of wisdom within folk lore in this story and I think that's double delightful and heart.warming! You write with tenderness and care about the subject and towards words - that matters. Because the thoughts and story about Hare (who, perhaps listens with long ears and takes notice) is told via great dialogue, you've removed any could be sermonising. Clever you.

'Otherwise the sky would have toppled, or grown so out of reach that we could not see the sun. No -- the trees had dropped seed on the ground to sprout their own children. Different trees have different ways of dropping their seeds. So, when the Gods came back with other plants, and uncountable animals, the whole of the world was covered in tall trees. There was not anywhere to place the new animals. And even the seas were dry, because the trees had drunk so much of their water. So the Gods chopped down many trees, and built themselves fine wooden huts. Still, there were so many felled trees that many had to be buried, and the Earth grew hills and mountains over them to remember them by.” And, perhaps, that's the truth .. ?!

Posted 4 Years Ago


4 of 4 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

AH. Such a lovely story. It very much has that "oral myth" flavor to it. I found that last paragraph so touching. Perhaps because my hair is changing from Norway rat brown to grizzled hag white. And I hate my own mortality. I hate it.

Posted 4 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

A beautiful story. Had the feel of a Native American tale. My elders like to tell stories of life and wisdom. I like the characters and the location. People must learn. Family is the teacher of life. What we do and stand for. Will balance the next generation. Thank you for sharing the outstanding story.
Coyote

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Thoroughly enjoyed it! Very touching and creative!

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Not bad. I think the mystical elements you used are a nice touch and overall this is very polished. Only problem is it's a little short and pointless - expand and things will feel better.
I also don't really like the third-person breaking-the-fourth-wall ending, it's a little jarring and it feels forced.

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Alvin is right, this story is Unforgettable. The lesson- Beautiful. The reason this is unforgettable is because you packed such a powerful lesson into such simple wording, and the outcome was a beautiful story. Do you know how hard that is? You Sir have just gained a subscriber. : )


Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I liked the rhythm of your dialogue. It was very natural and flowing. I wonder, was it an aesthetic choice to use colons to introduce some of the speaking lines, as in 'Yesterday she asked: "Daddy? Why is your hair turning white?"' And here you don't even use a comma: Still she says "more, more". I would just like to see more consistently with the punctuation.

I felt that the story progressed nicely. The concepts were grand and uniformly very clear and profoundly organized. The spacing at the end I felt could have been tighter. You state "Later on" and "One day Hare will be older", so we already know the time is different than the present. Additional line spacing is not really needed.

I think you expressed yourself well and I was intrigued with your analogy of gray hair and aging to the changes of trees. A good read for sure. I also liked how you were able to capture the antiquated feel of your setting. Nice job.

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

TLK

4 Years Ago

Some good points. I definitely love line spaces too much, and certainly vary my punctuation for the .. read more
This comment has been deleted by the poster.
this is so beautiful

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This is a beautiful, beautiful story. Your title has given me an idea for a piece. I think this is the best of your - or anyone's - stories that I have read. The simple storytelling and the unforgettable message make this unforgettable. 100/100 and straight into the favourites.

"What once was green has lost its sheen..."

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

TLK

4 Years Ago

I knew the story telling was simple, but I didn't think the message would be 'unforgettable'. Thank .. read more
CFrances

2 Years Ago

This is a sweet, beautiful story. It reminds me of Rudyard Kipling"s Just So stories, where the narr.. read more

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2928 Views
49 Reviews
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Shelved in 6 Libraries
Added on May 29, 2013
Last Updated on May 29, 2013
Tags: child, parents, metaphor, myth, tribal community, understanding, growth

Author

TLK
TLK

Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom



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Signed up to the Pledge to Civil Conduct in Discourse on Writer's Cafe: please challenge me if you think I am breaking either the letter or the spirit of the rules. I try to review well myself (see.. more..

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