His Favorite Tree
By Rusty Keele
The rays of the setting sun made the blood seem more colorful - much like everything else in this heavenly forest. He propped her against a nearby tree as she moved her shaking hands to reveal the red liquid flowing from the gash in her abdomen. The adrenaline instantly shot through his veins.
"Don't move, my dear - I'll find something to stop the bleeding." Her wide eyes moved from his face to the wound. She nodded her agreement.
Wasting no time he began looking for a Laurel tree while withdrawing his knife from its scabbard. If he could only get some leaves in time, he could use them to stop the life that was seeping out of her.
Perhaps it was his dire need, or perhaps it was the setting sun, but the tree he found was spectacular - worthy of the gods. In any other circumstance he would have been amazed by its sheer beauty. The trunk was nearly golden, and it split into two magnificent branches just above the height of his head. The leaves were the most brilliant green he had ever seen. Even the ground around the tree seemed to have been kept by a revering gardener.
No time now to admire the perfect tree. He quickly reached up and began sawing off a small branch. Without the patience to even finish with a clean cut, he yanked the branch free and was surprised to hear a sharp gasp. He looked about, expecting to see his wife following him - but there was no one to be seen. He attributed the sound to his current state of anxiety and made to leave the area.
"What have you done you foolish mortal?"
This time there was no denying the voice. He turned to see a clean shaven youth step around the trunk of the beautiful tree. The athletic young man wore a small white tunic and a wreath of Laurel leaves. He held a bow knocked with an arrow, but not drawn. He stared at the man with intense hatred.
"I am sorry good sir, but my wife lies dying just there," the man pointed back towards the tree where she lay. "I need the leaves to stop the flow of blood - I beg your pardon."
"You beg my pardon? Do you know what tree this is?" He gestured at the fine, golden Laurel tree. "This is the one that I loved more than life itself. This is the one that despised me, yet I could not stop thinking of her. This is all that remains of the one that fled from me to live like this, here in the forest. All I can do now is admire what she has become, and you say you need her precious leaves to stop the sufferings of a mortal woman?"
The youth trembled with rage as his cheeks flushed red. "You shall not have them! You will join your wife this day, and the blood of you both shall feed my beloved."
The young man lifted his bow, drew the arrow taught, and shot the man straight through the heart.
"You will never know suffering as I have known!" he spat as the man crumpled to the ground. He turned back towards the tree, beginning to weep. "I am so sorry my dear Daphne... this will never happen again - I promise."
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Rusty lives in northern Utah where he works as a web programmer. In addition to his occasional writing, he has a web site where he regularly reviews science fiction short stories - BestScienceFictionStories.com . His short fiction has been previously published in Fear Knocks and Weirdyear.
Labels: Rusty Keele