This story is by Lori Weigler and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I am insane. Or so they said. I had simply tried to warn them. ‘Tried to make them see. But perhaps getting them to see past the edges of our small, sheltered world was too much.
Once, like them, I had also been content to simply sway with the gentle breezes of life—uncaring of what lay beyond. Nestled in the shade of a wide, sturdy branch we danced and sang with whatever wind swept through us. We cared not for anything beyond each moment of happy existence in our green haven.
And then there was Sylvia. Her verdant curves brushed gently against me as her sweet whispers filled my days and nights. More so than any other Samara, Sylvia’s melody completed my own. Together we were in complete harmony as we swayed beneath the coolness of the leaves. I should have known that a life so perfect could not last.
As other Samaras saw the melody between us, they sought to share their songs as well. But none could rival our true melody, and I began to sense a dry resentment darkening the countenance of our friends–a building decay that threatened the kinship we had once shared beneath our branch. Even Kiri–who had been Sylvia’s best friend–began to cast resentful glances our way, and her songs grew discordant and distant. She started to push away from our group, her vibrant green becoming mottled with the dull brown of jealousy.
Then one evening as Sylvia and I were sleeping beneath the caress of a warm breeze, the world suddenly began to shake. We clung to our branch as the air, seemingly ripped apart by invisible claws, convulsed around us. Our friends, abruptly awoken, cried out in terror. The quaking was immediately followed by a frightening and deep roaring that drowned out all other sound. On the other side of Sylvia, I could see Kiri’s pale face split in a silent scream as she frantically clung to the bark above her.
Horrified, I searched for the source of the uproar and, glancing downward, could see beneath the trembling limbs of our world a cloud of dust and debris rising in a violent wind. As I watched, something fell past me, sliding against the lower branches, grabbing desperately for purchase. It was Kiri–her body spinning wildly into the stormy abyss, the terror on her face imprinted on my mind. My wide eyes followed her descent into the inferno.
And there it was–past the storm. A world beyond our own.
There was…sky. It was the vivid green of young moss, and swayed with the movements of the wind. I watched as Kiri’s spiraling figure came to rest upon it, her brown form plainly visible against the lush surface.
But then the monster appeared out of the storm—a giant made of metal and wheels, rampaging over the green sky with a deafening drone. Kiri disappeared beneath the creature as it rolled on relentlessly. In its wake, pieces of the decimated sky lay in scattered piles of chopped, green clumps. Even worse, the pale remains of our friend were strewn about, mutilated and torn.
When the monster was finally gone, leaving our world in peace once more, the Samaras’ terror was quickly forgotten. I told the others of the storm of dust that had raged beneath our tree, but my words were met with derisive disbelief. They laughed at me when I described the waving, green sky of the strange world beyond. And as I recalled with horror the metallic beast that killed Kiri, they mocked me, calling me ‘crazy.’
The ones who had once resented my happiness, now delighted in taunting me. I tried to find the contentment that I had once known, but my nights were plagued by nightmares and my days by the contempt of those who were once my friends. Sylvia sang me sweet songs of comfort but I could find respite. And as I found myself scorned day after day I even began to question myself. Had it all been the wild imaginings of an unsound mind? Was I losing my grip on sanity? How could everyone else be wrong, and I be right?
One evening as I tried to rest beneath the shade of a broad leaf shedding its summer green I could hear a rowdy group singing a boisterous song. The lyrics about giants and green skies and wheeled monsters were met with much laughter and rustling of wings. And as I listened I realized how ludicrous it sounded, how…crazy. They must be right, I decided. I must be truly insane. I realized that I had lost sight of the boundary between dreams and reality.
I tried to tell Sylvia, to apologize. To set her free from the love of a madman. But Sylvia. Sweet, sweet Sylvia. Her love remained steadfast and unwavering. But I could feel the sorrow growing in her heart and blamed myself. With each barbed word and every scornful glance thrown my way her song grew sadder. She hurt to see the pain that grew within me.
And then one day my Sylvia was gone—vanished along with the part of my heart that could still hold happiness.
My existence was emptied of everything save a soul-emptying weariness. I was deaf to the music. I was blind to the stars. I accepted the verdict of my insanity with a hollow indifference.
I waited for the end.
My last evening of life came soon after. A bird perched near my withered form, its voice clear and shrill in the cool autumn air. It sang the same melody over and over, a hauntingly beautiful trio of notes that echoed through the air. “There is more. There is more. There is more.” My soul stirred one more time at the words, as though struggling to recall something it had lost.
But then I lost my hold on the branch and spun into the void below.
Months passed. Years.
The boundaries of time hold little meaning for me.
I am alive–more aware than ever before! The past is but a fleeting dream in the night.
My branches reach toward the heavens, warmed with the light of the sun and cooled with the gentle rains. Although I am a giant among giants, my dance still holds true as the restless winds blow their peaceful song around me–through me. From here I can see green meadows and checkered farmlands quilting the land in color. The music of worlds surrounds me in an everchanging song.
And Sylvia stands ever beside me, tall and graceful, her song of wonder filling our days and nights, her soft hands brushing my own in tender affection.
A bird flies low, feathers touched gold by the evening sun as it cries out its clear message of hope for all who hear it.
“There is more. There is more. There is more.”