Circle of Life

December 9, 2007
By
Ten years ago, if you had a 100 acre fire, it was a national catastrophe. Nowadays, a 200 acres fire is commonplace. The seven of the worst fire seasons occurred after 1999. George doesn't know any of this but is nevertheless rendered speechless at the conclusion of the latest inferno. The foul odor of burned wood permeates the air. The bark of the ancient hundred year old pine tree has been burn to a crisp, the golden hazelnut color being replaced by an ugly black. The shrubbery is gone, and so is the grass. The field is empty, for the first time in George's memory, the field is empty. Instead of the soft comforting cushion of newly grown stubs of grass, soot clung to George's every step. But the horror didn't stop there. There is something else in the air, even worse than the smell of a dead forest. The smell is familiar, but not in a good way. George shakes his head in disbelief at the sight. All around him lay the bodies of the dead, his fellow kinsman. What were friends, rivals, families, and total strangers looked completely the same to George now, unrecognizable gargoyles of a yesterday that would never be again. The lush countryside known as home only yesterday is a graveyard in all but name now.

In the desolation, George's eyes are drawn to the corpse of a female, a total stranger. Her hands are wrapped tightly around an acorn, and besides for some minor burns, her body seemed completely intact. George forces himself to take his eyes off the stranger. He spots a high oak with many twisting branches still somewhat intact, and proceeds to climb to the top. Staring at the view from the top, the blighted remains of a once beautiful forest stared back at George, their rich flaming leaves being replaced by nothing. It's all gone now, all that's left is soot. The sky is visible for once, as the canopy that covered it is gone forever. The land seems almost placid now that the fire is gone, but this only reinforced the graveyard image of the place. George descents the tree and starts digging. He uses his own two hands, and works fiercely to dig a hole. Despite the soot hampering his movement, the hole is finished in a short while. It is around George's size. He runs back to the carcase of the dead female. He stares at her solemnly. His eyes reflect a sense of longing, of hope. George is looking at her, the stranger that he never knew, but his gaze setting on something beyond her, something so tangible, yet held firmly from his grasp. Well, George couldn't have that. He places both hands on the beauty, and heaves with all his might. Next, he scurries back to the hole he had dug and buries something within the soil. George gingerly covers the hole with dirt, and satisfied with a job well done, runs deeper into the forest.

Meanwhile, a bald eagle flying overhead saw his own little beauty. It dived down and snatched its prey, a fat little brown squirrel. It then flies off into the distance, only to be shot down by a hunter who was actually aiming for a duck. The hunter couldn't believe his luck, a bald eagle with a fat squirrel as a bonus. The man declared the spot to be blessed, and decided to come back yearly. A decade after the great fire of 2007, that very same hunter walks through the very same spot where he had originally shot the "10 ft long ferocious rabid eagle" . The ground, despite all the time, remains black and lifeless. Yet the hunter notices something peculiar about the dead land. He rubs his eyes, not believing it and blinks; he then is surprised all over again to find the apparition still there. On the ground lay the bud of an acorn tree, the only descendant of the once mighty forest.





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