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.