Song of the Cherry Tree

August 5, 2008
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It was the dawn of spring, when I first laid eyes upon the old cherry tree. The wind was gently weaving its way through the silvery bows of the tree, catching its sweet aroma as it flowed towards the surrounding woods. Blossoms swirled through the air, dousing the land in pink waves, while lush grasses rippled as the wind passed by, making the world look like a sea of green.

As I gaze out upon this field, sitting from the stump that now lies where the old cherry tree once lived, bitter memories swarm through my mind and soul, clouding my vision and burning my wounded heart. Tears begin to fill my eyes and I remember my Danny.

When I was fifteen, my father had come home from his work at the mill and gleefully claimed that he had bought and planted a young cherry tree in our abandoned fields.

"Now our family can start the orchard that we have been wanting and finally use our land for some good," was his final statement as he left the dinner table.

The next day I made my way out to see this tree. When I reached it, there was not a house in sight, except for the faint pinprick of my home in the distant. The tree was a graceful, delicate scene that seemed to enhance the beauty of the surrounding world.

Its strong branches towered over the ground and the blossoms gave it the appearance of a billowing cloud castle that had fallen from the heavens. As I gazed up into the cherry tree’s lofty branches, I began to wonder how my father could have possibly planted it. It looked to be at least fifteen years old.

"How did my father get this here without the help of others?" I whispered to myself, for I felt that to speak any louder would be disrespectful to this great sanctuary. Almost as soon as I had said this, the wind began to whistle around me, almost as if it were attempting to answer.

Within every spirit, slumbers the weapon of curiosity and mine had awoken. I ran to the base of the tree and began to ascend into its lofty domains, tearing my dress and scuffing my shoes in the process. I knew that my mother would certainly abhor the sight of me climbing a tree, but I did not care.

Soon after I had begun my climb, my curiosity turned into eagerness and I hastened my efforts to reach the top. I was nearly at the crown, when I lost my footing and fell. My breath caught in my throat as I braced myself for my fate, waiting till I hit the ground. But I did not, for someone caught me.

I fell into the strong arms of a lad who looked to be no more than seventeen. He was tall and stunning, making me feel as if I had just fallen again. "Good catch, aye?" my valiant rescuer voiced with a smile.

As he placed me on my feet, I could not help but stare at him. He was unlike anyone I had ever seen. His deep, emerald almond shaped eyes glowed like the ocean from behind a veil of dark chestnut hair. His voice was soothing and flowed in musical tones that rode the wind and enveloped me in a kind of mystical force. What really caught my attention, however, was that he had some very inhuman characteristics. He had two distinctly pointed ears, which hid behind his hair, and he also seemed to emanate the sweet aroma of spiced preserves.

After he placed me down, he strolled over to the tree and pulled himself up onto one of its lower branches with great agility.

"So, what are you doing out here by yourself?" His voice was emotionless, yet his eyes laughed with delight.

"This happens to be my family’s land, so why could I not come here whenever I wanted to and how did you get out here? I did not see anyone coming, Mr. ..." To my surprise, he softly laughed. It was a beautiful sound, yet it slightly provoked my pride.
"Danny, my name is Danny," he replied, " and there is no reason why you couldn’t come out here, I was just wondering?"

His eyes danced with insane amusement, which only heightened my temper. Even to this day, I do not fully understand why his words upset me so. High above our heads, the sky had shifted from creamy blue to twilight, causing the cherry tree to radiate a silver glow.
I began to turn back home, when he said, "Will you be back tomorrow?" His voice was suddenly pleading and his eyes had lost some of their delight, leaving behind now a hopeful twinkle, which set my heart a flutter.
Surprised by his question, I responded with a faint smile, "Perhaps tomorrow."

As I turned my back to him, the wind swirled across the sky carrying some of the tree’s cherry blossoms. When I looked back, the tree still stood there in full dignity, but Danny was gone.

As I walked into the kitchen, I was assaulted by the cries of my mother.

"Where have you been and what have you done to your clothes?"

I related how I had gone out to see the new tree and simply lost track of time. I excluded the part about Danny, for I did not know what my parents would think of it.

That night as I lay in bed, thinking of what had transpired that day, my mind trailed to when I had first seen Danny. By now my heart was filled with contrition for my proud behavior and I wished with all my might that I could go back in time, to when we had first met. Why couldn’t I say the right things at the right time? Outside the wind howled, but I could barely hear it, for my thoughts were of Danny and the cherry tree.

Early in the afternoon, I crept out of the house and began my voyage back to the cherry tree. As I approached the tree I made a quick search for Danny and found him leaning up against the trunk of the tree. When I was but three feet away from him, I stopped. We stared at each other for a few moments and then he beckoned me over to come and sit next to him. I hesitantly walked over and sat in the grass next to him, inhaling some of his sweet aroma, which only caused my heart to flutter. It was cool and refreshing sitting beneath the cherry tree, with nothing but the songs of nature to listen to, however, when I could no longer endure the silence that had come between Danny and me, I tried to break it.

"I have never seen you in town. Are you new to these parts?" It was a stupid question, but my mind kept going blank every time I looked at him.

"You could say that," was all that he replied with a smile, heightening the twisted feeling that had consumed my insides.

"Where are you from?" Again I blushed at my inept conversation abilities. He sat there pondering with the greatest concentration, his eyes never shifting away from the horizon. For what seemed like forever, I sat there waiting for him to respond. At last he spoke, but his voice was much more serious, as if he were choosing his words with the utmost care.

"I have never had an exact home."

For the next half hour, our conversation continued like this until he stood up, reached his hand down to me, and asked if I would like to take a walk with him. My heart cried out yes, but I could not help but hesitate.

In the end, I reached up and took his hand and we walked together that day and all of the days that followed. I never told my parents where I went every day, despite their habitual inquiries, because I feared that if I told them then they would never let me go back.

It is doleful how time that is most precious to you, seems to be what you loose the quickest. What seemed like a week in my eyes, turned out to be five months in reality. Fall had come to an earlier death then anyone had expected and the world was caught unprepared for the birth of winter. Despite all of these changes, the cherry tree remained in full glory, even when its blossoms were gone and its bows were covered in snow.

The days were becoming exceedingly too cold for me to leave the house everyday, but Danny never complained. His words were always so wise and considerate that I felt I could tell him almost anything.

One day, I asked him where he stayed, fully expecting his usual "here and there" answer. He stopped and stared into my eyes, as if he were examining my soul.

Finally, he took a deep breath and said, "Can you promise that you will not tell anyone this and that your opinion of me will not waver?"

Naturally, I replied “yes,” excitement flowing through my veins at the prospect of learning Danny's secret. At my response, Danny smiled his heart breaking smile. Slowly, he then took his hand and silkily stroked the side of my face. For that moment, I knew that my heart had stopped beating and I wished for nothing else then to be with Danny forever. He took another deep breath and began to speak.

"By now you have probably realized that I am not, well what you would call, normal. Please forgive me for not telling you this when we first met, but I feared that you would never return if I told you." He paused for a quick second and then continued, "I am a wood nymph, a guardian of this cherry tree that your father planted here, which to his surprise, has grown rapidly. I did not wish to grow slowly, so as soon as your father left, I began to speed along my growth, with the aid of magic."

"The spirits of trees can choose to be any form they want, most of the time it is birds or other such critters, but when you fell, I chose to be human. Little did I know of the consequences that would follow my choice. I have every human characteristic, yet I can not grow old or even die of any ailment. I live as long as the cherry lives and it can only die if another of the same being in which I have chosen destroys it. If and when the tree that I have taken guardianship over is being demolished, I must sing “The Song of the Cherry Tree”, in the hopes of being chosen to dwell in another tree." At those words, he began to hum the most beautiful song that I had ever heard. It was filled with love yet hate, joy yet sorrow, tranquility yet restlessness. The air seemed to spiral with his tune and the cherry tree’s branches danced with the sway of the song.
By now my heart was racing, as if I had just unlocked the secret to eternity, yet was going to die before I could act on my discovery. It all made sense. His strange features, his peculiar behavior, and especially his odd way of living. What greatly upset me, however, was that he would stay as he was forever and that I would grow old and die.

Silence consumed the world around, to a point where I could only hear the mournful howl of the wind. When we returned and stopped walking, Danny turned to me, took both my hands in his and gazed into my eyes.

"Please, tell me if what I have just recounted to you changes your feelings for me?" Never before had I seen him so afflicted, causing tears to fill my eyes.

In as controlled a voice as I could muster, I stared straight into his eyes and said, "Nothing you could ever say would ever make me love you any less," and then I kissed him, taking in his sent as I did so. It was strange for me to be kissing someone, yet I did not feel awkward in doing so. At first the hastiness of my actions caught Danny off guard, but soon he began to kiss me back, tears now beginning to stream down my face for what reason I was not sure. It was as if the world had stopped and that are hearts had become one. After that, I turned and hastened my way back to my house, while glancing over my shoulder. As soon as I looked back, he was gone.

My only fear was that I could never be with Danny forever. The thought of loosing him was more then I could bear, but whenever I told him of this he would always say, "I will never leave you."

As the days grew colder, my father grew more distressed. We could not afford all of the items that would have helped us get through the winter. With the constant snowstorms in our town, food had become scarce, as well as means of warmth, such as firewood and blankets.

Whenever I saw Danny, he looked worried and seemed to be constantly asking if I was well. It was true, I had lost a serious amount of weight and my health was rather poor from time to time, but this did not phase me, for as long as I had Danny, nothing else seemed to matter.

One night, as I lay in bed, I overheard my mother and father discussing something.

"Mary, we can not hold out much longer unless we get more supplies." My father’s voice was filled with worry, which scared me. He had always was been a strong man, who rarely showed emotion.

"I know, John, but can't you find some other way. You know she loves that tree. It would break her heart if you were to cut it down."

“That does not matter. We need the firewood if we are going to survive. Tomorrow, I’m going out to chop it down.”
At that moment, I felt as if I were drowning in a pool of despair, sinking deeper and deeper until my heart and lungs gave out. Cut down the tree. My father could not, he did not understand. I wanted to scream and cry all at the same time, but I could not do anything. I was helpless, trapped in my own emotions.
Early the next morning, I ran to the cherry tree and began calling for Danny. With a gush of the wind, he suddenly appeared and when I told him what my father had decided upon, he merely stood looking at the ground in deep thought.
At last he looked up at me and said, “If I must, I would be willing to die for you.”
His answer only distressed me more then it comforted me. How could he give up? Tears ran down my face and not even Danny’s embrace could ameliorate my feelings. His smooth hands stroked the top of my head, causing a fresh supply of tears to appear. I decided that I would wait for my father to appear and then tell him about Danny and the tree. If it would save Danny, then I would break my promise.
As my father’s silhouette began to grow in the distance, a wave of anger filled my heart. I ran to my father and begged him not to cut down the tree. He merely brushed me aside, but I would not give up. I could not give up. When he was but ten yards from the tree, I grabbed his leg in an attempt to stop him. This only resulted in him grabbing me by my hair and throwing me to the ground. I tried again and again, but my attempts were futile. Finally, I just lay there weeping with all my might until Danny ran over and sat next to me trying to comfort me.
I sat up and watched as my father hacked away piece by piece at the only thing that had ever brought me such joy. Danny sat with me, holding me in his arms, softly humming “The Song of the Cherry Tree” as he slowly faded from existence. While we sat there, I could slowly feel the warmth of his body next to mine fade and see his skin grow paler every second. I clung to him, telling him that I loved him between tears. When he was but a faint shadow, he smiled at me, placed one hazy hand on my face, and said, “Remember, I will never leave you.” With a crash of the cherry tree, Danny disappeared, my hand touching the side of my face where Danny’s hand had just been.
Eight years have passed since my Danny left, but I have never forgotten him. I could never forget him as long as I live. While I sit here from this sacred stump, I feel the wind wrap around me and can almost hear Danny whispering to me, "I will never leave you."

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