Recently, the subject of allegories got brought up whilst I was chatting with friends. Almost a week later, a story idea for an allegory popped into my brain while gazing out the window, and now a short story has been completed.
I thought perhaps you would enjoy a peek into my imagination.
(Tree image © Clipartbest.com)
The first thing I feel is warmth. Bright light engulfs me. And then a chill sends tremors through my whole body. It stops, yet I still quiver, clinging dearly to the—
It occurs to me that I don’t know what I’m clinging to. I’m quite confused, only a few things are certain. I am alive. And I don’t know who—or where—I am.
“Excuse me,” I say to the object I’m holding on to. “Who are you?”
A rich voice responds, kindly. “I am the great Dogwood Tree. You are one of my budding leaves. Hold on tight to me, and I won’t let you fall. Many things will come in this life, and I’m the only one who can protect you. If you let go, you will surely wither and become dust in the breeze. But I promise that if you trust me, I won’t let you fall from me until your time comes.”
“What do you mean, when my time comes?” I shiver, terrified.
“Oh, my little Leaflet. Every one of the leaves must fade and fall. If you wait for your time, you will fall and become part of the earth and my roots will take you in and you will forever be a part of me. Until then, you must cling to me—no matter what comes.”
And I know then that he would not lie to me, as he stood there solemnly, every word laced with love and urgency. “I trust you.”
The Spring comes as softly as the cool breeze, and soon vibrant green colors me and the leaves around me. I dance and laugh with my friends—all is well. I trust the Tree.
“Look, Letta!” says one of my friends to me—for Letta is what they have come to call me. “Right there, by you—what is that?”
I turn and see a beautiful organism I’ve never seen before. There’s a little greenish-yellow sphere, surrounded by four white leaves. It has a sweet scent. I look around and see the Tree is covered in them. How strange I had not noticed before.
Seeming to understand my question, the Tree says, “Those are flowers. They bloom in the Springtime and fade Summer’s eve.”
“How lovely they are,” I say with a sigh.
I flutter about in the breeze when one of the leaves cry, “We’re under attack!”
I frantically look for the cause of commotion and I see a large and daunting beast. He emits a terrible buzzing noise, and he’s covered in strange fuzz of ugly striped yellow and black. He glides through the air without clinging to anything! He lands on a flower, the one near me, and I’m afraid.
“He’s going to kill us all! Look, he’s already killing the flowers! If we let go of this tree now, we may still live!”
Horror courses through me at this statement. “But the Tree said that we were to cling to him, no matter what! He will protect us!”
“Are you daft, Letta? Can’t you see the tree lied?”
I gasp. “He’d never lie! I trust him!”
“Have it your way, you stupid daydreamer. I doubt the Tree even exists at all! It’s all a sick joke to get us slaughtered.”
And with that, the leaf let go of the tree and floated gracefully to the ground. He surely didn’t seem to be perishing in a terrible manner. But I remember what the Tree had said, and I cling.
“He was right,” some others mutter, hearing the buzzing intensify. Some let go and join him on the ground.
The beast near me detaches from the flower. Its dark eyes glare at me for a second. And then he’s gone in whirring of wings.
In the days that follow my fallen friends fade to dust.
We were all slightly alarmed when the flowers lost all color and their petals fell from the Tree. Some of the leaves saw it as another sign that the Tree should not be trusted, and they’d be better off if they let go of their own accord.
“But don’t you remember what happened to the leaves that fell to escape the beasts?” I had inquired. But they seemed to have no recollection—the thoughts pushed aside and ignored. A few did go through and let go—blowing away in the breeze with the petals.
And now Summer is upon us, bringing bright red fruit to the Tree. “Berries,” the Tree calls them.
But with these berries came a new danger. Why, I had seen birds many times before, resting their tired wings atop the branches on which we reside. Now, they came and plucked the berries straight off the Tree!
“You have to stop them!” I cry fearfully. “They’ll kill the berries!”
The Tree responds soothingly, “Letta, the berries are meant to feed other animals. This is the way it’s supposed to be. As for you, do not fret, and cling to me.”
His words reassure me, even when the others tremble at the birds plucking the fruit and the flies nibbling hungrily. But I’m not afraid. I bask in the warm sunlight and I’m not afraid.
I see in the distance a child playing. I’ve seen many children in my lifetime, climbing in other trees and singing gaily. “Precious wonders,” the Tree had called them.
This particular girl skips and wanders near our tree. Her hair is the color of the Tree trunk, and her cheeks like little pale roses. She seems so big to me, yet small compared to the big folk I’ve seen.
“Why, hello lovely tree,” she says with a giggle. “You have such lovely leaves.” She reaches up, standing on her toes, just barely stroking the tip of a low leaf.
“Why, this child would obviously take care of us better than the Tree has done,” whispered one of the leaves in a branch above me. “She can move freely, and surely she wouldn’t let us face beasts and birds and harsh winds and terrible storms.”
Some mutter in agreement, while others whisper protests.
“You all are going to perish if you stay where you are. I want to have a chance at a better life!”
“No!” I yell, but it’s too late as that leaf lets go of the Tree and falls daintily to the ground. The girl’s eyes light up and she snatches it and skips away.
I suppose I’ll never truly know if he found a better life with her. But with a sinking feeling, I think I know that’s not the case.
“Look at me!” I wake with a start when I hear that cry from above. “Why, I’m turning red!”
And I look around and see that many of us are turning red. “How lovely,” I breathe. “What does it mean, Tree?”
“It means Autumn has come. It is your final season, also called Fall for reasons that will soon reveal themselves. Your time in life is almost at an end. Cling to me.”
I’m shocked. His tone is solemn, yet not at all sympathetic or frightened. And with dew drops rolling along my body like silent tears, I do as he says.
My fear is soon replaced with wonder. We all turn brilliant red, some tinged with yellow. Somehow I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that life is drawing to a close. It seems like simply a new chapter, a new dawn.
But then many tremble, as they’re new gorgeous colors become tinged with brown, and wrinkle, and fade like the flower petals had done all that time ago.
And then, some fall from the tree without a word. “Tree? What’s happening? What do we do? Why are they falling?”
“Do not fret,” he answers. “Cling to me.”
More and more leaves fall, leaving the Tree bare in areas. How long am I supposed to cling to him? My fallen brothers and sisters pile up around the base of his trunk, lifeless yet still rustling in the breeze.
And soon, I realize with panic, I’m the only one left. “Tree! Oh, Tree, I’ve trusted you for so long. And now I’m alone. I’ve done all you ask, now let me fall with my brethren.”
“Not yet, precious one. Cling to me.”
For several days I stay there. Alone—yet peaceful in the presence of the Tree. And then, as I gaze at the crisp blue sky, I hear a soft whisper.
“Your time has come.”
“I’m afraid,” I respond, in all honesty.
“Then I will make you brave.”
And I feel an overwhelming peace, and an all-consuming sense of trust. The Tree makes me brave, and I release my hold of the branch.
I descend with a light little swirl in the breeze, and land softly on the ground. I stare up at the sky, and see the Tree in a new light. I see the complete fullness of his splendor.
And I fade with the night, but his promise remains. I am pulled into the ground, absorbed into his roots—and though I have died, I finally understand what it means to be alive.
Best of all, I no longer have to cling to him. Now, I’m a part of him that not even death could separate. I am his forever.