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The Man Who Fell In Love With A Tree
AA T '
I stood at the altar, my suit chaffing and my palms sweaty. What was I doing? I didn't even know the woman, why was I marrying her? My eyes darted over to where my mother sat, and I found my answer. No one went against my mother, ever.
I heard the wedding march and I felt my heart pick up speed, what if she was ugly? What if she was sixty years old with a smoker's voice and a giant mole on her nose? My mind went through a million worse case scenarios as I watched the woman clad in white walk slowly up the aisle. The white lace veil sheltered her face from my view and with each step she took I got more and more nervous, my heart beat was so loud that couldn't even hear the wedding march anymore, it was as if I was under water.
And then, my hands shaking, I pulled back the fabric from her face and saw the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life. And she was smiling at me, as if I was the only person in the world, and my heart beat faster for a different reason. I could love this woman, I thought, and I said 'I do' and kissed the bride.
'So how was your day Helen?' I asked my wife across the dinner table, the only sounds in the room was the tinkling of the giant diamond incrusted chandelier over our heads and the clinking of silverware as they hit the china plates. She looked down at her food and didn't say a word. I sighed irritably, we have been married for a week and she barely ever talks. She hardly ever looks at me and when she does it's never for long. Is she afraid of me or something? Why does she act this way?
She still has barely talked to me even though it's been almost a month. We live in a huge mansion in the middle of the forest, the only company we have is each other and yet she doesn't say a word. The last time I heard her talk was when she asked where the towels were. What are we doing? Maybe we should get a divorce.
I sighed and looked at her sitting on the couch across from me; she was knitting something and humming to herself. The sound infuriated me, 'Shut up!' I yelled at her and she squeaked and sunk into the couch a little. Looking at her cowering in fear made me hate her, I hated her. I had no grounds for my hatred, she had done nothing to me, but I hated her just for that reason. She did nothing, she said nothing, she was more like a decoration than a wife and I hated her for it. I didn't even want to look at her anymore.
'I'm going for a walk,' I said gruffly to her and she nodded. I turned around quickly and just before I slammed the door I heard a small voice say, 'Please be careful.' But I ignored it.
It seemed like I walked for a long time, my breath rising from my lungs and turning into smoke as it hit the cold night air. What am I doing with my life? I wondered, have I ever been truly happy? I stood before a great red wood tree and leaned my head against its massive trunk. Who am I? I whispered into the deep red ridges of the bark, suddenly I heard a rustle behind me and turned around.
There stood before me a woman, clad in only leaves, with wild black hair that curled and twisted down to her ankles. Her eyes were big and the color of oak leaves, she wasn't beautiful but there was something magical about her. I felt something in my heart reach for her and I knew in that instant that this is what love at first sight was.
I walked toward her and reached a hand out to touch her, but the moment my hand touch her skin she turned and ran. I didn't even think about it, I just ran after her, through the trees and streams and as branches tore away my clothes and I was left bloody and tattered, still I ran after her. Somehow I knew that if I didn't catch her I would never see her again, so even when my feet screamed that they could go no farther I ran and ran until I did catch her.
I fell at her feet in the heart of the forest, my bloody hand grasping her ankle with the desperation of a mad man. 'I love you,' I whispered up to her frightened face, I knew I was crazy but I didn't care, it was the truth. I loved her, a nameless woman I had stumbled across in the forest.
But she shook her head at me violently and tears sprung from my eyes, 'Why?' I asked my voice cracking, 'Why can't I be with you?' But she just shook her head violently and I stood up grasping her face roughly between my hands. 'I love you,' I whispered softly and pressed her lips to mine.
When I opened my eyes and stepped back the woman that I had kissed was gone, in her place was a tree. A great oak tree, tall and strong with green leaves that hung down in a canopy. I leaned my head against the trunk and could hear a heartbeat and I knew it was her.
I saw words carved into the trunk and I read them silently, 'Would you still love me if I could never again appear before you as a human?' And I felt silent tears trace a path down my face. 'Yes,' I whispered without thinking. I would stay with her forever, even if she was a tree.
New words appeared were the old ones were, 'Then stay with me, forever and love me just as you would love a wife, love me even though you can never hold me and kiss me as a man would. In return I shall love you as best as I am able.' And I did, I stayed with her until the day I died and loved her as best I could, in return she would whisper that she loves me through the wind and when the pain of not being able to hold her got to be too much she wiped away my tears with her leaves. And I loved her, I really did.
It has been ten years since my husband went for a walk. I haven't seen him since. I keep waiting for him, everyday. Every night I dress in my best gown and wait on the porch, hoping that he will come back and smile at me, like he did on our wedding day. But I know that he'll never come back, it's my fault really, I loved him, more than anything, but I was afraid he would hate me. I was afraid that if I spoke he would hate me, think I was stupid; I couldn't bear that so I didn't say a word. I couldn't look him in the face for fear that if he looked at me too long he would find some flaw in me.
But in the end he hated me anyway; he hated me because I said nothing. How ironic. I will never remarry, and I will continue to wait for him until the day I die, and every night I weep into the night for the love I never got to show, the love that never got to blossom. Because I was afraid, because I was a fool, now my cries will be left to echo in the night air and the emptiness will eat at me as I live. But still I will wait, because I cannot live without hope.