header image
 

Coming soon!

Kindle publication date Xmas 2014, as yet untitled

 

Tree-spirits don’t have Mummies and Daddies; they just come with the tree. One day there’s a little baby tree growing happily in the ground minding its own business and trying to avoid being seen by rabbits whilst the sun sparkles merrily overhead and the rain trickles into its roots (at least, that’s the theory – the other side of the coin is a bit darker and might go like this: freezing frost, choking brambles, mice taking a piss round your roots and rabbits eating all your best bits) and the next day the sun sparkles merrily overhead etc. but now there’s a tiny baby tree-spirit stuck under one of the leaves and glowing placidly in the dark.

Cool, huh?

No one really knows where the tree-spirits come from but since every tree has one and they’re invisible until the tree gets to a few inches tall it’s always assumed by those that might care that they were actually WITH the tree – or maybe growing inside it – from day one.

And then they make themselves visible. Or grow big enough to be seen.

Whatever.

The tree-spirit existed, it had been with its tree forever and it had had an interesting life.

You can’t argue with that.

It had seen ferocious winds, baking summers and bitterly cold winters. More to the point its tree had grown up beside a road frequented by humans and so the tree-spirit had had a front-row view of human activity.

Which is more than most tree-spirits can say. Most tree-spirits think seeing a fox is a red-letter day.

If the wind blows from the West that’s news; if the sun goes behind a cloud that’s news; if a flower gets eaten by a rabbit that’s BIG news (which, in all fairness to the flower, is correct).

Seeing human activity had been very educational. The tree was big and broad and had been around for many decades. It perched at the top of a rolling hill, spreading its broad branches to create a puddle of sun-dappled shade, the perfect spot for picnics, poets, ramblers, drunks, crooks exchanging goods, lovers, tramps, coach parties and buried bodies. The tree-spirit, being bright and – let’s face it – with plenty of time on its hands had learnt several languages and built up a not-altogether-inaccurate picture of the world.

 

  • It knew that someone called Yuno Hugh was always invited to office parties and that this person was wildly popular because they were always caught ‘shagging’ behind filing cabinets.
  • It knew that there was always one man without a spade who told the men WITH spades to dig the hole deeper.
  • It knew that a lot of very strange people loved their Mums because they kept saying, ‘Mum’s the word!’

 

Being a tree-spirit it had sometimes caused minor disturbances by throwing twigs at the people sprawled down below but invariably it had been ignored. This didn’t bother it too much as it had a repertoire of other tricks up its sleeves including spitting (‘It’s raining!’), screaming (‘There’s a baby crying!’) and farting (‘Dear God, something’s just died!’) which were far more effective. But it had to be in a bad mood or wild with the wind to be bothered with those. Mostly it just watched, picked its nose and ignored the insults of birds. It was an easy life.

A tree-spirit’s duties are very limited. Mostly God just lets them play. Occasionally there’s a bit of house-keeping to do – brushing dust off leaves, polishing bark, flicking off bugs – but it’s fairly token, part of the job description left to give tree-spirits a sense of purpose and meaning. Nobody wants to feel undervalued.

The tree-spirit knew it had a purpose. In the morning it would wake up and the rain would be falling, or the dew gathering, or the sun poking through the leaves and somebody had to be there to watch it. The foxes and rabbits were too busy killing and being killed to notice; the flowers were just flowers; the mice only knew how to piss; the birds were noisy nuisances too busy being spiteful to care – and the humans? The humans were too wrapped up in their own world to see anything.

So it was up to the tree-spirit to welcome the day and watch it unfold. It was up to the tree-spirit to give a running commentary on God’s handiwork by just noticing things.

The tree-spirit was very, very good at noticing:

 

  • It noticed when the drops of rain splashed onto the leaves and smashed into little bits in all directions. Tree-spirits have extremely fast reflexes. It could track several little bits in slow-motion and then watch them crunch into twigs or fly, wobbling, off into the empty air.
  • It noticed when the fox had a hungry glint in its eyes and it noticed when the rabbit was far away in grass-land, munching stupidly as the fox picked up a rabbit-feeling and tracked in its direction. Later it noticed when the hungry glint had gone and all that was left of the rabbit were a few drops of blood on the grass. Sometimes the tree-spirit had felt like climbing to the top of the tree and pointing out what was happening but the only time it had tried this the rabbit had looked blankly in its direction and the fox had come back later and pointedly eaten its carcase at the foot of the tree. The tree-spirit would rather it didn’t do this and so had stopped calling out.
  • It noticed when a cloud changed direction. No one else did. The tree-spirit hadn’t a clue what a Vortex of Imperfection was but it knew when one was around. In fact it had got into the habit late at night of staring up into the sky when all the stars were out just in case any disappeared. It had seen that happen once. The tree-spirit couldn’t make it happen again so now it sat there, staring and pondering under the moon, its face turned upwards.

 

When it wasn’t busy noticing things or polishing bark or flicking off bugs the tree-spirit would eat. Usually it would have a nibble of a few leaves and the tree was okay with that because tree-spirits are good company and bring a feeling of ‘rightness’ with them, but sometimes it would drink sunlight or hold its hands up to the stars for a little starlight and feel refreshed. Being on such a delicate diet the tree-spirit tended to blend into its surroundings invisibly and sometimes you could be looking straight at it and not realise it was there.

Life, for the tree spirit, was sweet and simple.

But all that was about to change.