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  • Writer's pictureE. Paige Burks

[ABftP] Writing Prompt

Originally Posted July 15, 2016

Today's installment of my blog is going to be a writing prompt! Yay!

I love to look at the subreddit r/writingprompts, and that's where I'll be taking my prompt from. The one that I have chosen is by user MattersofDarkness: When you die, you enter a "spectator mode", like in a video game, and cannot change your target until they die. Most people choose to spectate their family or celebrities, but you choose to spectate a tree.


I never assumed death would be like this, but I suppose it makes sense. As humans, we cause so much pain and are the source of so much violence, why not force us to relive it, even in death?

My death wasn't swift. Or maybe it was. I don't really remember. Other than it was painful and lonely. Once it was over, I woke up in a forest. Bright light was shining down through the branches of beautiful, tall trees and birds were chirping happily. Squirrels chattered and scurried through the leaf-litter, the occasional bobcat or fox trotting down the trail lazily.

I realized fairly quickly that I could move freely, anywhere I wanted. I first went to my home, what had been my home, where those left behind mourned for me. All I could do was watch, my words and screams going unheard. I couldn't speak to them or touch them to let them know that I was still there. I didn't linger long. I couldn't stand seeing their suffering.

So I went back to the forest. The stupid thing about whatever realm of existence I was in was that I couldn't interact with anything. I couldn't feel the dirt beneath my feet. When I reached for the branches around me, my hand passed through them. The animals didn't notice I was there. I was alone and unable to do anything more than walk and observe. I wandered for what felt like eternity, trying to find something that could put me at ease. And all of a sudden, there it was.

A tall, spindly little tree. It stood in the middle of a grove, rays of sunlight touching it over the tops of the rest of the forest. It seemed so lonely, kinda like me, inspiring a feeling in me that nothing else had. It and I were kindred spirits, so to speak. So I stayed with it.

Over the years it began to grow, its spindly branches spirally into the sky, growing strong and thick. Beautiful pink flowers began to grow among its bright green leaves, turning it into something out of a painting. It became tall and strong, even though the forest around it went through changes. When the winter came, the other trees, the less strong ones, turned dead and wilted, but not my tree. It took each turn of the weather and change of the season like a champ, becoming more and more beautiful. My heart swelled with pride every time I looked upon it, knowing the challenges it had faced.

On the nights when I thought about my family and everything I left behind, I would sit in the bows of the tree. I wished I could smell its flowers and feel the bark under my hands, but that never affected the love in my heart for my tree. It kept me company when I was alone, and it loved me by showing me how to stand against a cold wind. I never knew there was so much wonderfulness in just watching a tree. As the world around me changed and faded, my tree stood tall and strong. I didn't think anything would ever take my tree away from me and I had never been so content.

But then they came.

They came with their axes and chainsaws. And in an instant my beautiful tree was gone.

I watched them drag its pink little flowers through the mud, feeling my heart breaking. How could those monsters destroy such an innocent, wonderful thing? In that moment, I wished I could stop them, cut them down with their own instruments of destruction. But I couldn't even touch the stump where the tree had once stood, its sawdust, like blood, spilled across the ground. I spent days sitting there. What was I supposed to do now?

But then I saw it.

A tiny green sprout. My heart soared as I sat with it, keeping it silent company as it struggled for life. My tree had left me a gift, one that grew into a sapling that so resembled its parent. It was in that moment that I understood why I was cursed to sit there in silence.

I had never appreciated anything when I was alive. In the hustle and bustle of my life, I'd never stopped to appreciate the life that I had around me. My nose was always in my phone, so much that I missed the smell of the flowers that bloomed around me. In my race to be the best at whatever I was doing, I didn't see that the best of everything was already with me.

My heart felt light then, as if a weight I'd been unknowingly carrying had been taken from me. The sun seemed brighter, and I turned my eyes skyward, hearing for the first time something that sounded like music. My brain couldn't understand it, but my soul knew. My purgatory was over and I was to be welcomed into the afterlife. I never would have made it without my tree.

Leave me a comment with your thoughts and check out my website! Read, write and go outside!

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