The Forest King turned away, his crown of leaves gleaming in the last light of day. She called out, keening, her branches shivering so leaves fell like rain.
But it was to no avail.
The vines came up from the earth around her roots, soft at first then hardening like steel, twisting, knotting and tangling. She felt their grip extend up into her branches, forming a cage in which she was doomed to remain, living but apart from the rest of the forest.
All for daring to love.
For stepping out of her tree late in the silvered night, to walk with her beloved under whispering leaves hand in hand, warm in the soft air.
A small thing, really, falling in love. A matter of importance only to the two involved, the effect rippling outward and losing intensity as the circle widened.
But to fall in love with the son of a King was another story. Especially a son promised to another, a stately oak crowned with green.
No matter that he loved her back.
Alliances had been made, promises had to be kept, and so she had kept her mouth shut as they wed. Had danced with the other dryads under a full moon, pretending her heart was as light as her feet, knowing that another silvered night would bring him back to her.
Which it did. But, unknown to them both, it also brought the eyes of another, the trees that whispered telling their tale until it reached the ears of the Forest King himself.
And so her fate was sealed. A simple tree, like so many others – what hope did she have? They would not kill her, oh no. There was enough of that in their world already, of men with their hard edges, their crunching terror. Among the trees, to kill another was thought a sin beyond reckoning, instant condemnation. But they could shut her in. Cage her. Bind her in vines.
And let her live to regret her choice.
But she vowed she never would, instead sinking into a dreaming sleep, to a place where she danced, free once more, her memories more real than reality itself.
They might bind her, but they could not take them away.
And on the next silvered night he was there, his hand reaching between the vines to touch the bark where she now lived, mute prisoner.
Her branches shook once more, though the leaves that fell were gentle, like soft kisses, like a lover’s touch, like a memory.
This is my entry to Sue Vincent’s #writephoto Challenge – for more entries, or to add one of your own, visit Sue’s site.
That’s a beautiful story, Hellene, though a sad one. I saw her as a dryad too.
Thank you! x
Thank you Sue 🙂 It was the first thing I thought when I saw the photo, but I didn’t have the story until I woke up this morning. Although I think I might have overstepped the 100 words mark just a little – sorry, didn’t realise that was still the rule! 🙂
I haven’t been posting the 100 word rule for a while. It seemed a shame to impose a limit after there had been so many great stories and poems 🙂
Phew! I don’t mind bending the rules a little but it would have been unfair of me to run away with lots of lovely extra words if I was only supposed to use 100 😀
I like the discipline of the 100 words, it is a useful exercise…but I like the stories too 🙂
Yes I like the discipline aspect – it forces me to hone my writing to the bone, which is good practice. Will give it a go for the next one.
I keep trying to keep mine down to the 100 for that reason.
Yes, think I will for the next one 🙂
Very cool. Tragic love story from a photo. Awesome.
Thanks, Craig 🙂
What s beautiful post!
I like your take on the prompt. My own is a similar idea 🙂
Thanks, Jane! I haven’t read yours yet, will pop over and take a look 🙂
Not sure the pingback shows yet. If it hasn’t worked I’ll add a link 🙂
Just been over and had a read – it’s beautiful and sad. Seems Sue’s tree is quite an evocative photo – it seems to be inspiring thoughts of love, loss and obsession, by some of the other responses I’ve seen so far 🙂
Trees are monuments to nature and all that’s deep and magical in our lives. Not surprising that sensitive souls (like writers 🙂 ) find so much in common with trees.
That’s wonderfully put, Jane, and so very true. 🙂
I don’t want to make it sound as though there’s something special about being a writer, it’s just that some of us write because we see the details and we’re touched by their story 🙂
Well, I suppose it’s no more special than any other calling – it’s the alchemy of changing impressions and details into stories that perhaps makes it seem so at times. But it is a hard slog, definitely – sometimes I wish I’d had a different calling, but only for a second or so. 🙂
It must be one of the most all-consuming callings there is. You can find an excuse to write absolutely anywhere, any time is good, and everything is inspiration. It’s often hard to concentrate on much else 🙂
Yes, absolutely. Ideas come anytime, anyplace, and they demand to be addressed, don’t they? And once a story is in full flow it’s difficult to think about anything else – it even permeates our dreams 🙂
It’s turned me into terrible company. I’d almost always be mulling over a scene in a story or a line of a poem than listening to what’s being said to me.
😀 Yes, I’m often the same. Then I need to go off alone and write it down. My friends know when I say ‘I have words in my head’ that I need to be alone for a minute.
Shows how good your friends are! We must be insufferable!
Awful anti social people, writers! No wonder we have a reputation as moody drinkers 😀
Just a reputation, of course 🙂
😉 Of course
I love this so much. ❤️ I’ve always loved dryads and the story you built around her is beautiful. As soon as I saw the photo, I imagined a dryad so I’m thrilled you created a story for her, even though it’s sad.
Thanks Sarah 🙂 You weren’t the only one to think dryad – Sue did as well, and Jane Dougherty wrote on a similar theme too. It’s a pretty inspiring photo, I think.
Shiveringly beautiful, Helen, I was captivated!
Thanks Ali – I woke up with the idea on Sunday and it sort of came out. Then Jane and I had a big convo as she had written on a similar theme, plus Sue had also seen a dryad in the tree 🙂 It’s interesting where a photo can take you, isn’t it?
Yes, it is! I immediately saw a woman dancing, holding her arms up to the sky. The vines looked like folds in her dress. I read Janes story too. They are both beautiful. You two are such talented writers! 😍😙💕
Thanks, Ali – that’s fine praise coming from a talented writer like yourself 🙂
And I love your image of a woman dancing, there’s another story in that too.
I shall have to see if I can write it…
🙂 Yes please
I love the way you ran with this one – well done!
Thanks, Eliza! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂
Sad but beautiful story, loved it.
Thanks, Miriam 🙂