The Apple That Fell Through Worlds
There once was a tree. A proud apple tree, one might say. She stood quietly watching in a large, British garden. Her green leaves would on certain days outshine the sun. And on certain nights, nights when the air was crisp and the moon full, her crown would dazzle like silver. Her bark was smooth. Much more so than other apple trees'. Almost black. Her thick, black roots burrowed themselves deep into blacker soil in which she rested. It was as if the earth was molded after her and not the other way around. So secure, she looked. So at home.
The grounds in which she stood were spacious and lush. Green grass waved quietly on breezy days. Little ripples, as if submersed in water, would form around her. A bit away from the apple tree lay a manor. The house stood silent and watching. It was so quiet. In her there was an innate yearning that houses as beautiful as hers should sing. A feeling that the world around her was far too quiet. But she never questioned this quiet calm. She learned to listen and feel. Glancing at the manor occasionally, she always suspected it to be shyness and not inability, which quieted it so.
She would gaze up at the large manor behind her and stretch. Each day she would proudly measure her longest branches against the walls of the house. The home to which she belonged was indeed something fancy. The old, courtly manor stood guard behind her as she continued to climb higher and higher each day in her quest to touch the sky. Her fragile outer branches stretched higher into the atmosphere to touch the magnificent blue that stretched above her. She would smile in ways no human could see when she felt the sun warm her delicate twigs.
For forty-nine seasons she grew. Apples hung, larger and redder each summer, from her branches. On sweet and warm summer days her fruits always drew angry wasps, but she never minded. She loved her apples and the creatures which fed upon them. Especially the young boy who would always come, more often in the beginning than later in his life, and pick apples from her stems. He would whisper something so soft against her dark skin and gently twist an apple from its latch. The sun would glow golden and wasps would hum with pleasure just as she did.
They would quiver with joy as the mighty apple tree allowed her love of all things to permeate the air. The little human whispered a prayer each late summer. A promise and a gratitude. "Fair Apple Tree, thou who saved my Mother, all I hold dear: You will never die," His fingers would kiss her bark. "I'll never let you."
Each autumn she felt invigorated. Brought to life, even towards the dead of winter, because of that simple promise. But one year her boy didn't return. Several years would pass without a visit from him. She wondered why. She knew little of the human race, but had noticed how they grew. Both in height, girth and color. The strange tuft on their heads, not so different from her own crown, would pale with each passing decade. She had seen it before. It would turn grey, then light and lastly completely white. The last she saw of her boy, he had a thinning brown/grey crown.
Thirteen winters passed and her branches grew heavy. Her bark stiffened and flaked. She sometimes wept for the love she had lost. The young boy, who had promised her eternity and never delivered. Of course, her cries could never be heard as anything but the softest creaks of her branches. Most humans thought it due to the wind. All but the wasps would ignore her. The insects would stubbornly linger around her fallen apples each summer. They missed her joyous humming, but filled the air nevertheless along with the sweet scent of rotting apples.
Then one late summer came a mighty storm. Thunder and lightning roared across an inky sky. She gazed towards the black depths and felt a rumble deep within her trunk. Those of her leaves, autumn winds had not yet claimed, shook as gale forces thundered to earth. She watched with wide eyes, had she possessed such human features, as the clouds opened. A bolt of purest white thundered towards her. She felt the tingle rise to an all consuming burn before the flash struck. The wind howled with her as she fell.
Her roots were heaved from the ground with sickening crunches, and swung quite inappropriately in the howling winds. She remembered watching the morning sun rise as life finally drained from her. Her apples had been scattered in the high grass and branches had cracked painfully. She was no longer the proud bearer of apples, but a lowly creature, too weak to lift herself from the ground. Too weak to call for the one soul she missed most in the world. But she could have sworn, as her gaze weakened, that the sunrise that morning was the most brilliant gold any creature had ever seen.
She could have sworn a lion walked towards her through golden rays, and whispered to her in her misery, departing words of love. "Do not worry, Dear One. You will never truly die." He blew a warm breeze over her and vanished, leaving her alone, yet comforted. She felt safer than she ever had before in her life. As her leaves were carried on the warm lion's breath, she sighed. She felt like a leaf. Free of the earth which had bound her all her life. Free and light. Her crown fluttered and lifted in a cloud of orange, brown and red as Aslan's breath carried her home once again.
A calloused hand carted over the smooth wood. "She's a beauty, Mr. Kirke," The man looked up at his employer and smiled. "Where're you gonna put 'er?" His rough Scottish accent coiled the 'r' delightfully.
The esteemed professor ran his hands over the polished, wooden wardrobe and smiled. "I have a room that will fit her perfectly," It was as if he expected the large piece of furniture to respond. As if he could feel her purr. Then, to Mr. Fiddlebottom he said, "It overlooks the park," His eyes held a slight melancholy at the thought of his mighty Apple Tree ending her life in such an unseemly manner.
Mr. Fiddlebottom, sensing that he was encroaching on a private moment, cleared his throat. "Well, I can have my boy transport 'er out tomorrow." While others may have found a conversation between a man and his old Apple Tree, turned Wardrobe, strange, the carpenter had always loved wood and found people who didn't, quite strange. His son would later make a chest off a piece of enchanted Rosewood, but that's another story.
Professor Kirke nodded and left the room reluctantly. His coach was waiting for him when he exited the carpentry. He reached into his pocket and fingered something smooth and round. Only slightly bruised by the storm a few weeks prior. Not yet showing signs of decomposing. Out he pulled a sparkling, red apple and smiled. He meant what he promised so long ago. No matter what, the grace which once saved his mother's life would never truly die. It would live on in the apples eaten by him, and in this; the little seedling he pulled from the damp lawn thirteen days before.
He would plant a new tree. One which would rise as proudly as her mother had, and hopefully one day become the source of as much joy. He pitched the little apple into the air and caught it one-handed. His coach glanced at him strangely, but knew better than to question the elusive and slightly eccentric professor.
That same summer, the seeds were planted and a tree grew. It would only take a few years before she rivaled her mother's beauty. And even more years before four, other, young children would take refuge in the shade of her glorious crown. It would be a young girl who would one day lean back and gaze through the soft, green light. She would smile and wonder if it were possible for trees to turn their leaves silver or for animals to talk. Later in life she would find that nothing was impossible.
That fantasy was sometimes more real than reality.
And that sometimes . . . trees danced.