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Until the Next Reception

Until the Next Reception

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Published by Craig S
This is an editted (more final)version of the story. What do you think?
This is an editted (more final)version of the story. What do you think?

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Published by: Craig S on May 01, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/16/2009

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Until the Next Reception
The thing in the mirror was not at all what he remembered. The small eyes and frail cheeks werea bitter beginning to a world renewed. His fingers were weak and his hands were not the callousedsymbol of strength they had once been. He was reborn to this fragile body. The years that passed seemedeternal. Among the trees, he stood for centuries waiting for this day. And when an unexpected visitor returned to him, he knew his time had come. He thought back a couple days, when the boy found him inthe forest.“There is a very special river that runs just over that hill” an old and muffled voice broke thesilence among the trees. “I haven’t seen anyone in these woods for a long time!”The boy was startled and spun in a circle. Trees were all around him. There was vegetation thatgrew from the ground, upward. Cliffs held vines that stretched seemingly into the sky. No one was therewith him. “Where are you?” the boy replied. “Who’s there?”The ground rumbled a little. It was a light shake and some leaves trickled down. They fell softlyaround the boy and his gaze turned toward the tree. “Don’t be afraid, boy.” The voice said again. “I’mstuck in the tree.”The boy thought to run and hide. He took a few steps back away from the ancient trunk anduttered, “
Stuck 
in the tree?” He looked around for anyone else. He thought of home.“I’ve been here for ages. I’m dying. Won’t you please help me?”The boy stood back from the tree and looked from the roots upward. It stretched higher than mostof the others around it and its roots were wild, twisting above the ground before growing downward, breaking into the dirt. Its bark grew in thick knots. Small patches had been repetitiously cut from it,leaving old wounds. At some point in time, it fought hard to heal itself. “I can’t help you. I should go back into town.”“No, wait! Please! Look at the saplings. Look around me.” The voice in the tree soundeddesperate...The boy looked at the wilting trees that grew around. They were like satellites in comparison tothis one. As if orbiting around the mother, their proud trunks stretched out of the dirt sporadically aboutthe area. Their top branches sagged and some of their leaves had dried up.“Please, there’s not enough water in the soil. Won’t you fetch one bucket from the river? It runs just over the hill. It makes these branches strong, and helps my bark and roots keep growing!” The voicein the tree pleaded. “I’ll die without it!” There was some trembling in the branches. “Just over the hill!Won’t you help me?”“There’s no river over there, just a dried up stream.” the boy replied, pointing in the direction. Hetook a few more steps back. Suddenly all the usual fences and townspeople of the boy’s home flashed in
 
his mind. The usual cobblestone walkways and storefronts he longed to get away from became awelcoming and comforting thought. “You’re just a tree. I have to go home.” He turned to run away.“Boy! I need your help!” The screaming voice bled through the patchwork of bark. The leavesflitted about. And the tree’s branches bowed. The boy’s footsteps traveled off. There was a crunching of fallen leaves. The silence of the forest returned.Down the hill, the boy leapt over rocks and raced along rotted logs. The voice had shaken himand fright had him dashing for the safety of his home. He thought about the trouble he’d be in for roamingso far out of the town and he thought about local legends, the folks who never returned from these woods.Telling anyone about the supernatural thing he’d witnessed would mean admitting his own guiltywanderings, so far into the lore of these old and fearful woods. What he saw was very alarming, but stillhe couldn’t help but wonder about the mystery in that tree. And he thought about the one girl he wouldcertainly have to confide in about everything that had taken place where vines grow lush along the banksof cliffs and one special tree has a voice all of its own.Two days passed. The boy trudged back up the hill from his town. It was a far distance to walk.And people from his village rarely ever roamed beyond the borders of their town, let alone into thesewoods. He kept wondering
how
it could be that a voice called to him from out of the tree. He was at firstso fearful of such things, but after returning home unscathed, the curiosity grew in him. He approachedthe tree and confronted it once again, less timid than before. He asked, “Are your branches magic? Whywere those pieces cut out of you?”The wind howled. The tree’s limbs hung sadly from its trunk. The boy noticed a branch that hadfallen. It lay upon the massive roots like a small boat that had surfaced in shallow waters. In the dimlighting of the forest floor, the tree spoke to him again. “I’m wilting. I need water!” The voice groaned.“I brought this pail from town.” The boy held up the bucket full of water that he proudly heftedup the hill. He stepped forward toward the tree, tipped the bucket and poured the water over the roots.“That water won’t help me. The river… A bucket from the river!” the voice from in the treecontinued in its pleading manner, sterner this time than it had been before.“There’s just a dry stream,” the boy explained emptying the bucket. “I was up there. And there‘sno river. It might be dammed or something.”“It can’t be. Please look. There’s got to be water up there!”The boy lulled his arm down to his side and swung the empty bucket freely. He sagged to oneside and said, “You never answered me. I want to know if your branches are magical. There’s a girl I lovein my town. I want her to love me too. I was thinking if I make her something with one of your branches,she’ll love me forever.” Seeming disinterested in the old river up ahead, he continued, “How are theseother trees so little if you’re so big? Why do your roots stick out like that? Why have those knots grown
 
all over you?”“I promise, I’ll tell you all my secrets if you go up that hill and come back with water.” The voice became heavy and suddenly sounded further away. From above, there was a “crack” sound like windhitting hard against barn wood. There was a shuttering of leaves all around as the boy straightenedhimself. Looking up, he saw a spoke-like cluster of branches that grew up near the top of the tree. It wasan amazing sight.There was a quiet moment within this conversation in the woods. Becoming alarmed once more,the boy slowly stepped back and focused on the tree’s roots again. “If I bring more water…?” the boyspoke with a questioning tone.“From over the hill… Please,” the voice returning, “I have so much to tell you, but I need someof the river water first.” Desperation was now the tone in its voice.The boy hugged his empty pail. “I’ll go look. But I want to know how I can use some of thiswood to impress my girl.” And with that he moved further up the hill. He looked back with a questionableglance. He searched for reasons why the tree would want water from such a specific source. He returnedto this place with the hope of puttinghis curiosity to rest. But the more he conversed with the tree, withthe voice inside it, the more things there was to be curious about.Over the hill, just as the boy had claimed, there was no river. There was an empty space openedup through the trees where a river seemed to have once flowed. And a small, but deeper crevasse wherethe stream had run before it dried. Wandering further up the hill, the growth beyond the empty river bed became immense. Had he not been small in stature, he may not have been able to fit through the thick  brush and sturdy sprouts that entwined to form a natural wall hidden deep within this ancient forest. Weducked low and wriggled his small body through openings in the growth. And at last, he found theremnants of the water he’d been in search of.There was a stream trickling off a rock wall that collected in a small pool which barely held thewater before being absorbed into the ground. The wild vines that grew around the puddle were unlike anythe boy had ever seen. Some grew into the air free of the need for trees or rocks to cling onto. And alongthe rock wall, single leaves almost as large as he, cracked through the rock where moisture collected fromthe sides of the falling water. He knelt down and filled the bucket. Struggling to fit back through thenatural wall of twisting vines, sprouts and overcrowding stems, he hurried back down the hill, curious tofind answers and discover the truth of this mysterious forest.“I have it!” he proclaimed to tree, still running down the hill.“I need you to pour it high up on my roots and then I’ll tell you how boys used to makemagnificent things with the wood from these branches. Climb up and pour the water over the roots.” Thevoice sounded muffled, but closer than it was at first. “Slowly,” it added. “Pour the water slowly.” Thevoice became eerie sounding, but anxious for answers, the boy climbed over the web of roots toward the

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