Deep within the lush green forest, yet untamed by mankind and ruled over only by the sun and the rain, there was a meadow of golden grass stalks. And in that meadow, a miracle of life was unfolding.
Two stray seeds, a birch seed and an acorn, brought on the dancing winds not that long ago, were beginning to sprout in the pristine soil. Encouraged by water and warmth, they cracked their shells and dug their way through the earth, until their soft, gentle leaves touched daylight.
The meadow grew larger by two.
With life bustling all around them, the two tiny seedlings were eager to grow, joining nature’s show, playing their part diligently. The first days, months and years were the hardest.
But also the most fun. They were small and fragile, but they grew quickly and each day learned more of the world. They learned that there was refreshing water to be found in the ground, as well as stability for their up-reaching bodies. With that water came nutrients, food so delicious it could make you smile. From up above the warmth and light of the sun seemed like an endless blessing, completely free and loving. The wind tickled their leaves and they danced along to its song.
Life was full of love. As the birch and the oak grew, they noticed how close they were to each other. They began talking and became instant friends; they were both so different and interesting to one another! Their bark seemed different, one smoother that the other, and their leaves were different shapes. And though they sprouted in the same year, one was clearly growing faster and taller than the other.
As they grew tall enough to see over the grass stalks, their worldview expanded dramatically. No longer was there only grass and small insects, but a whole ocean of plants, with tall trees in the background and a whole sky of flying things.
Their excitement grew bigger. They wanted to stretch high up towards those white puffy things in the sky, and peek what lies beyond the thicket of trees. So they spread their roots deeper and farther and extended their leaves to the warming sun.
Before long, as they grew a bit taller and older, the tips of their branches began to touch. They tickled each other with their leaves, constantly. And they laughed heartily about it! Below ground, their roots searched for more water and nutrients and just like the branches up above, they met.
And they tickled some more.
They grew to like each other’s company more and more.
And eventually, something shifted in them. Their playful, innocent touches began to feel shy, making them blush for some reason. As they grew high above the grass, their trunks got thicker, stronger. The birch colored her body in fresh white color, with a relatively smooth bark, whereas the oak kept his color brown and his bark became more rugged, more firm.
They soon discovered that they were not only a different species, but a different gender as well. And they also found that they liked it. They realized that they were in love.
Seasons passed, and the two trees grew like never before. Winters were mild and summers pleasant, and life was good. They let their roots get tangled, sharing the water and the food, giving each other support when the weather threw an occasional high-wind storm at them. The more they grew, the more their trunks thickened and grew closer, until they finally touched.
The merging was a final expression of their love for one another, and they each leaned on the other, counting on their support. Looking at them from a distance, it would appear as if there was a single tree with two very different trunks.
One white, lean and tall, the other brown, stocky and strong. And the more they grew, the more they loved.
Soon, life around them began to find shelter under their branches or up their canopies. Grazing deer found shade, ants and insects and small lizards climbed their trunks and explored their leaves. Birds made nests in their hair and green lichen tattooed their bodies.
And the two trees loved them all.
As more years passed, there was again a time for the miracle of life to occur; and this time, there were many small seedlings that came sprouting from the ground beneath the two trees. They were birch and oak, they were their children.
And it was the happiest time of the two trees’ lives. There was life everywhere and their love only grew. Soon, they would grow as tall as the other trees at the edges of the meadow and they could finally peek over them.
Life was beautiful.
Until one morning, it all changed.
First, there came a rumble. Like a tremor of a hungry beast.
Then came a strange smell, a poisonous odor, like that of burning corpses.
With it, came a loud sharp noise. A sound so utterly devastating, that it shook the birch and the oak to their very roots.
And finally, there came them. Animals not yet seen before, on this meadow. Their furs were various colors, their heads hard shelled as helmets and though they walked on two legs and carried those strange sound producing objects, some rode on big black and yellow demons.
At first, the birch and the oak were curious, who were these newcomers? Where did they come from?
What did they want?
And then, the first tree fell under their arms.
And then the second. The third.
Before long, the whole western thicket of trees was gone, and the bipedal animals and their yellow demons seemed to only grow hungrier for more. They cut down the trees and stripped them of their limbs, taking only their thick trunks while leaving the rest to lie on the ground where it fell. The meadow soon became a corpse littered graveyard.
The birch and the oak trembled as they watched the horror unfold all around them. Their children were scared, their young bodies shaking in the wind. They could only hope that these monsters wouldn’t come for them, perhaps their position in the middle of the meadow would spare them.
But then, a group of animals came closer, those horrible sounding and foul smelling objects in their hands, humming with inner hunger.
“Lookie here,” one spoke in a foreign tongue. “These two look like they grew together.”
“They look like lovers,” joked another.
“Yeah, they do,” the first one replied and cocked his head. “Melany Birch and John Oak, huh?”
The animals laughed.
Then they walked closer and the two trees could only watch in horror as the animals cut down their children one by one with some sharp sticks. The young trees, their wood hardened, fell softly on the grass, making a clearing for the animals to get to the two trees.
The birch and the oak embraced each other tightly, knowing the end had come. It came so quickly… why?!
And then the agony started.
The objects screeched loudly, cutting into the trees’ flesh, sending chunks of it flying over the bodies of their children. The pain was too much to bear. The birch was cut clean through in less than a minute.
But it didn’t fall.
Oak held her with his branches. Held dearly onto the love of his life.
“They’re really stuck together, huh?” the animal said and then shrugged.
The pain that ensued as the tool cut deep into the Oak’s body was severe, but nothing compared to the pain of the loss. And as the tool made its way through, the Oak fell with the Birch. As they lay on the ground, their branches were still entangled.
When the first shock of death passed, Oak was surprised to notice that he was still alive. Though his roots and branches were cut from him, he could still see, he could still hear and he could still feel. Oh god, why did he still feel?
His body lay on a pile of other bodies, other cut down and stripped logs. They were all crying, weeping, moaning and screaming in pain and loss. It made Oak want to scream as well, but his mind wanted to know if Birch was there somewhere. So he called for her.
He called again, many times, over and over, to overpower the screams of others. And then, when his voice was all soar, he heard a faint reply. It was her! He followed the sound and noticed Birch resting in another pile of logs. Her beautiful white bark was full of scars and scrapes, but to Oak, she was as beautiful as ever. He wanted to be with her, to feel her touch and her closeness again.
But a herd of those monsters and yellow demons were in between. A sudden anger washed over him. They came here and destroyed everything. What for? Why?!
He felt consumed by his wrath and fury, blinded by the horror and injustice done to him. He screamed out all his pain and agony in one mighty cry and the others trembled with the power of his emotion. They agreed with him. And the pile of logs where Oak was at suddenly collapsed under its own weight and sent Oak and the others tumbling down at the bipedal animals. Some of them jumped away in time, but not all.
At least five were hit, and three of them didn’t get up again. Their bodies were crushed by the heavy logs.
Oak’s rage was so hot that he thought he would ignite from the inside. He wished he could do something, to stand up and to crush them all. But he was just a log. He couldn’t move. And the look Birch gave him was enough to stop his blinding rage.
She smiled at him.
He smiled at her, putting all his strength into it.
And then, the yellow demons came and they picked Oak and the rest of the logs in his pile with one giant arm and loaded them on another animal, this one long and flat.
Feeling fresh pain from the cuts and the loss all over, Oak was transported away from the meadow, away from everyone and everything he ever knew. Away from Birch.
Oak fell into a deep apathy, listening to the others wail around him. His pains were so great that he didn’t dare think of Birch, as it would probably push him into insanity. Like the rest of the logs.
The big flat animal they were riding, took them to a place of nightmare. Oak could see a large flat building where other animals were gathering, each bringing their own pile of corpses. On one end of the building there were piles of logs, and on the other… stacks and stacks of… of flesh! Logs cut into thin sheets of wood! Why? What kind of hell was this?
Oak soon found out that the name of this hell was a Sawmill. The bipedal animals used their large mechanical demons to unload all the logs and place them one by one on a black solid river - a conveyer belt. The screams of pain that came from inside the building made Oak want to die before he got to know the source of the screaming.
He was already dead, was he not? But if so, then how come he still felt everything? It truly was a hell.
The black solid river took the logs inside the building, one by one. Oak soon discovered the source of the screams - giant spinning blades, like those the animals had in the forest, only much bigger.
And they were slicing up the logs into thinner sheats. It made Oak sick.
As the blades cut into his flesh once again, he got reminded of his loss of Birch and their dead children on the meadow. The pain of his body being cut into separate pieces, called planks, was so profound that he passed out immediately.
But he did not vanish yet. He could still feel.
After that hell, the purgatory that followed in the next weeks and months was hardly worth noticing. Oak became cold and distant. His body was in five different pieces now, though his mind seemed to reside in only the center one. The animals had placed him on the stacks outside the Sawmill and left him there, his insides exposed to the rain and the wind.
They didn’t even let him keep his skin…
He grew cold.
He grew sick.
His mind started wandering, breaking down.
His body started to rot.
And after many seasons, some animals finally remembered that they had left him there.
“This stack is rotting at the base,” one of them said, but Oak didn’t care. He stopped caring long ago.
“This wood is not suitable for baseball bats anymore. Damn shame.”
“Should we send the stack back to the blades? Cut it for firewood?”
“That would be a loss of money. Perhaps it can still be salvaged for low grade furniture. Chairs maybe.”
After that, a demon came to pick up Oak and his stack. It placed him on another one of those long and flat animals, only this time it had a shell and Oak was pushed inside of it. If he still cared, he’d be glad for the cover. But he just sat there, in darkness and endured the bumpy ride.
As the animal shell opened again, Oak found himself in another hell. Only this one was not as brutal as the first one. There were more of those blades there and more animals with screaming tools. They cut him up into even smaller pieces and never again did he see the majority of his body parts. If it continued like that, he thought he would soon cease to exist. In fact, he hoped for it.
The animals rearranged the newly cut parts of his body into something grotesque they called a chair. Oak felt so small and fragile again. So rigid and imobile, with steel implants and chemical sap holding his new form together.
He hated the way he looked.
Hated the way he smelled.
Hated the way he felt.
These were the only feelings that remained for him. He dared not to think of Birch or the meadow. Convincing himself that he didn’t care was the only way to endure this. As final death seemed to elude him so persistently.
Eventually, Oak found himself in what he hoped would be his final resting place, a place these animals called a store. He soon started to loathe it. Animals would come every day and walk past him, talking loudly, even sitting on him from time to time.
And he saw others there, other grotesque pieces made from wood. Other trees who shared his fate. Were they also from the meadow? What ever must have happened to Birch?
Oak cursed at himself, but it was too late. He thought of her already. His mind fell into a whirlwind of loss and sorrow, from which he thought he could never recover. And like some confirmation of his thoughts, one day the animals suddenly took him from his place at the store and threw him outside, next to a smelly metal container. The throw broke one of his new ‘legs’. It didn’t even hurt, compared to all the pain in his mind and heart.
And so Oak lay there, waiting for a final mercy to come from somewhere, hoping to die already and be done with this horrible existence.
And in his darkest hour, an angel appeared.
An old animal passing by stopped and walked over to Oak.
“Oh my,” it said with a soft scratchy voice. “What ever have they done to you, poor thing?”
The animal took Oak and carried him inside a metal demon. Oak was too broken to be afraid, so he just surrendered to whatever was going to happen to him.
The old animal drove to its home and it took Oak to its workshop. There, it repaired Oak, gave him a new leg, a fine scrubbing and a new polish, which smelled quite pleasantly.
When the job was done, the animal smiled. “Good as new!” He inspected Oak with care. “You’ll make my wife very happy,” the animal said.
Then he took Oak with him and climbed up the stairs in his home. He brought him in a room, where there were a lot of wooden things; some like Oak, with four legs, some hanging from the walls like boxes and one with four legs and a flat top, resting in the middle-
Wait a moment. That scent was familiar.
“Look honey,” said the old animal. “I found this guy at the back of the store. They threw him out.”
Another old animal turned, its face happy. “Oh you fixed it! It looks lovely! Put it by the birch table and I’ll fix us some coffee.”
The animal put Oak down next to what they called a table. And Oak could not believe his senses. Birch?
It was her. She smelled of that strange chemical sap and her white skin was gone, but it was her. They’ve turned her into a table.
She recognized him!
Oak, are we in hell?
I don’t know, he said. And I don’t care. As long as we’re together.
Oh Oak, Birch moaned. I wish I could feel the touch of your roots again. To comfort me.
Me too, Oak said. They were cut off. Like yours. But our bond goes deeper than that. It is beyond roots.
Birch smiled weakly. You really think so?
Oak smiled back. I know so. It brought us back together, didn’t it?
I hope you’re right. I don’t want to lose you again.
We are already lost, my love, said Oak. But I’m glad we’re lost together.