Trees and Deafness By D.I. Jolly
John heaved a sigh and swung his sword again, determined to bring down the mighty tree in front of him. In the years since he left his home, he had conquered mountains and deserts, forests and snow, he’d defeated warlords, overthrown corrupt kings and charmed some of the worlds most beautiful women. In all his life he had never come across a situation he couldn’t solve by throwing himself at it headfirst, until now. After fortune had smiled on him and brought him a map which supposedly led to an ancient kingdom of gold, he had packed up his equipment and ventured out once again. Then after three long weeks, he found a mighty river. His first attempt was to swim across, but the current instantly started to pull him down and with all his strength he only barely managed to survive. Second, he tried a raft, which the waters pulled to pieces before he could climb aboard. As a third attempt, he spent weeks walking its length trying to find safe passage but found nothing. It was as though this river ran the length of the world. But he would not let something as simple as a river defeat him. He swung his sword again making another deep gash. He had spent days looking for the largest tree he could find to use as a bridge come raft. He planned to bring it into the water and ride it to a slight narrowing where a few large boulders stuck up from the water. It would be a fight but John had no doubt that he could ride this tree into position and use it to finally cross the river. Since finding the tree he had spent the better part of three days chopping it down. Now with one last mighty swing and scream of frustration, he struck the trunk and heard the crack he’d been waiting for. It was slow at first, but quickly grew is speed and scope as the tallest thickest tree he had ever come across came crashing to the ground. It hit with a near-deafening explosion that shock the world. John stared at the ancient thing he had brought down and was humbled, kneeling, he thanked his Gods for once again granting him the strength to achieve his goals and asked them again to guide him as he attempted to cross the river. Rising and with sword still in hand he climbed onto the downed tree and started removing branches. Days passed as he made preparations, determined to not be defeated again. Once the branches were removed he rolled it to the river bank and stood resolute against his enemy.
“River, I have come again to your shores, but this time I am prepared. You will not defeat me. I will cross you, I will complete my quest. But know this, you have earned my respect.”
John cast a quick glance towards the sky and wordlessly asked his Gods for support before putting his hands on the tree and pushing it into the waters. Together they were quickly swept away, rolling and turning and spinning but John was not going to fail, not again. With all the strength he had he held onto the might tree and brought it in line with the rapidly approaching boulders. Rage filled his blood as he pulled and kicked tensing every muscle in his body to hold the tree in line and as it struck the stones for a moment it held and his bridge was built. But only for a moment. A crack as loud as if lightning had struck right in front of him filled his ears drowning out all other noise and an instant later the tree snapped as though it were a twig. John still holding on was quickly pulled under as the two halves were once again flowing down the river, and as his half flipped he found himself flying through the air before landing hardback on his side of the river. He rolled quickly onto his knees to see the tree disappear and let out an almighty scream.
“GODS CAN YOU NOT HEAR ME! HAVE YOU BECOME DEAF AGAINST THE RAW OF THE RIVER! WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME? HOW DO I CROSS THE RIVER!”
All strength suddenly faded from his body and he fell onto his back looking towards the sky.
“Please, please hear me. How do I cross this river? I have defeated everything you have brought in front of me, why can I not defeat the river?”
As he lay staring towards the sky, waiting for some sign from his Gods a sound found him, gentle as a summers breeze joyous as is often the singing of children. Driven by curiosity he climbed back to his feet and began walking until he found a group of children laughing and singing in a language he didn’t understand. Hidden by the trees he watched them as they linked hands and danced in a circle smiling and skipping and in a moment the largest and possibly eldest child let go of the smallest and began leading them toward the river. Without hesitation, John erupted from his hiding place and ran after them yelling protests. But they ignored him and danced into the water, and to John’s horror, nothing happened. As the train of children entered the waters it seemed to become slower and shallower and they continued to dance their way across. John staggered and stared at what seemed like a miracle until the last and smallest child reached out a hand towards him. His hand so small that it could only wrap around John’s finger and pulled him along with them and suddenly he understood, and together they crossed the river.