Copyright 2001 by S.R. Sudekum
Chapter I - The Field Tree
Once upon a time there was a lovely pine tree named Chris who lived in the Big Pine Forest! Every day the sun would shine and in the wintertime the snow would softly land upon his boughs, keeping him warm against the frosty nighttime air. In the Spring little birdies would come and build their nests in his branches and raise their young. During summer's heat, bunnies and chipmunks would loll in the cool shade beneath him. And when Autumn's cold icy fingers wrapped tightly around the throats of the deciduous trees, making them turn brown and go cold and dead, the pine tree would stay green and lush and seemingly impervious to the abuses of Nature upon him and the world around him.
But Chris was not a happy tree. Something was missing. In the field next door to the Big Pine Forest he would see, every winter just around this time, happy families come laughing and joyful, to take home with them one of the fine, plump pine trees that lived there. The glee of the small children, the broad grins on the faces of the parents, and the joyful happiness of the Man in the Red Hat who owned the land, made Chris wish that he, too, could go home with such a happy family and share in their joy at what must be a very special time of year!
One Autumn when things were slow and drowsy, Chris called over to the field tree nearest to him. "Say, Stranger, every wintertime the field is filled with happy humans who come to take away one of your brothers! What's up with all of that?"
The field tree, stately, and pruned to conical perfection, smelling faintly of fresh green paint sprayed on him by the Man in the Red Hat the week before, turned to Chris and, with a faint lisp, said "What, don't you know? We are Christmas Trees, and it's at Christmastime that humans come to take us to their homes! They decorate us in fine gewgaws and hang delicacies from our branches, they coddle us with distilled water and adorn us in bright lights, and all who come to visit us will be breathless in our beauty! We are indeed a special kind of tree!"
"After Christmas we are then returned to nature, and instead of glass beads, we shall wear strings of popcorn or cranberries, and ornaments of suet for the wild birds to feast upon, and to help them survive the stuggles of Winter. It is a noble destiny, and one I'm certain shall be mne this year at last!"
Chris was awestruck, and stood speechless for days thereafter. Glittering vsions of the glory that is the Christmas Tree danced before him and intruded into his every waking moment. Even his dreams were infused with the image of that glorious holiday Icon. O, such an ultimate fate for a tree.
But alas, Chris did not live in the field, he lived in the forest beside the field, and had lived there years longer than the field trees, he was taller than they, and not nearly so finely pruned except by the wind and the weight of the snow. His green was that shade that nature gave him, not the bright green from the Man's spray gun. He would never be a Christmas Tree.
The moon waxed and waned and the weeks and months did pass, the temperature dropped, the maples and beechs rattled out their yearly death throes and dropped their shriveled leaves to the ground in another defeat against the cycle of the seasons. Gunfire split the dawn and many a bleeding and dying deer dashed, staggered, or died beneath the boughs of the woodland tree. The daylight hours grew fewer, the nights colder, darker and longer.
Chapter II - A New Life
With blinding watery light, the sun shotgunned off the fresh dusting of new snow covering the ground. A Blue Jay squawked raucously from the pine, and fluttered away, scattering snow in an unruly flourish. Chris looked out into the field and a bright spear of shock and excitement pierced his soul. Near the edge of the wood parked a bright red truck, with men standing beside it, deep in conversation. Spitting something dark on the ground, the Man in the Red Hat looked up, and through cold glittering eyes, squinted towards the Big Pine Wood...a thrill shot through Chris as he realised the Man was staring straight...at...HIM!
In moments, the Man and his companion trudged through the snow carrying an object, and stepped over the fallen trees and branches to where Chris was growing these many years. The men pulled aside Chris' branches, peering at his trunk. A queer excitement flushed the tree, his sap coursed through his fibers like a torrent. Rudely, crudely, the men pulled on his boughs, slapped them aside, fingered his needles. Chris' mind was a whirlwind of chaos and thrill...and...fear?
"This one'll fill the order I think. It's the right height, and we can shape it down a bit," said the Man in the Red Hat.
"Okay" agreed his companion.
A horrible sickening shock ran through Chris, that immediately transformed into an unholy agony. Coherent thought struggled through the mindless panic enough to slowly realize through the blinding pain that wrapped around his trunk, that he was being....cut...DOWN!
The banshee scream of the chainsaw blocked out all coherent thought, the stink of the gasoline and the miasma of stale tobacco and sweat whirled around, but paramount was the sharp, tearing, biting pain. The whirling blades of the saw tore out living chips and chunks of Chris' body, spewing them on the snow, the smell of his own torn body nauseating him before the blackness closed over him like a soft smothering blanket...
To be Continued...