On the Importance of Touching a Tree III

The day of initial contact was momentous. In hindsight, even more so than she had realised on that day. Sure, it had been an absolutely wild experience, but who was to say that she was the first one with that experience

Earth through a spaceship window - Illustration

This is part two of a continuous story, part one is Old Home. The whole story is here

Reveal

The day of initial contact was momentous. In hindsight, even more so than she had realised on that day. Sure, it had been an absolutely wild experience, but who was to say that she was the first one with that experience, and who could have known what consequences this encounter with the trees would have had. Now, hurtling through space in what could only be described as a tin can, she could know! It had been not only life-changing but also earth-shattering.

Now she was in space. The rumbling and rattling, the shaking and trembling the pure force of powered ascent had ceased. Now it was tranquillity. Sure she was still hurtling through space at an unimaginable speed, but she didn’t feel that. “Human’s can’t feel speed, we can only feel acceleration”, she remembered her instructors repeating over and over again. During the ascent, she had felt that incredible acceleration and the increased acceleration whenever one of the giant stages of the rocked, that pushed her into her seat, had burnt up and fell back down to its fiery demise in the atmosphere. But now she was in perceived silence. she looked out of the tiny window her capsule had to offer.

The view on the big blue marble commonly called earth was still pristine. At least what crescent she could see was still a blue paradise of water. She could see the halo that was earth’s atmosphere, but she could also see the vast emptiness of space behind it.


“What?”, stumbled Laura still completely aghast by the sudden voice in her ear. Dennis hadn’t noticed anything – apparently. He was still just looking at gaps at the roots of trees.

“Hello, Laura!”, the voice repeated with a deep rumbling. The leaves of the old oak tree rustled softly in the wind.
“Who the hell are you, and … how the hell do you know my name?”, Dennis looked up at her confused. His eyes seemed to be question marks. She looked at him, rolling her eyes as to signal that she wasn’t talking to him. That, however, made him even more confused. Does this boy never understand anything, she thought to herself.
“They will learn to listen to us early enough”, the voice answered her silent thought, “you are ready, and we don’t have much time!”
“Time for what?!” she really couldn’t think of anything that would fit that particular word choice. These weren’t her words. She was having a conversation solely in her mind. Were those her own thoughts? Was she talking to someone else? Who was she talking to?
“I imagine this must be confusing. It will be alright, you’ll learn what I am talking about, but this is neither the time nor place to do so. For now, we are what you call trees, and we need your help, desperately.”
“My help?”
“Your help!”

She couldn’t even imagine how she could be helpful to anyone, not to even speak of being helpful to all of the trees … treehood? She couldn’t even really get her life on track, how in god’s name was she supposed to help millions of trees. The tree’s call seemed pressing. Not something that should’ve been postponed, but still the tree was softspoken and calm, like a gentle giant. Did the tree have a name? Wait why didn’t the tree answer her thoughts anymore? What had happened why did it fall silent?

She looked at her hand and it became apparent. She had lost touch with the tree. Her hand wasn’t feeling the rough old and crusty bark anymore. She slowly moved her hand closer to the trunk. And surely, the humming in the bones of her arm started again.

“We need contact to communicate, we need that connection.”
“I’m sorry.”, Laura apologised.
“It is fine, you’ll learn to keep your hand steady, you’ll learn to know us more, but the darkness is coming upon this place. It is getting dangerous for you out here, you should really move. We can talk when daylight sets in again.”
“Now you really sound like my parents!”, Laura snarked, and she could feel the tree smiling.
“Better grab them and go to the theatre with the moving lights”. And even though Laura had no information she knew who was meant with “them”.
“And we’ll talk tomorrow again?”
“Yes, we will!”
And with that Laura removed her palm from the tree and lost contact again.

A little later, Laura and Dennis were walking down the neighbourhood street, on their way to the cinema. Dennis had laid his arm around her waist, but she was mostly staring at her feet, steadily flying above the cracks and slabs of the pavement. She didn’t really notice Dennis. She knew he was there, right to her side, but she was lost in her own thoughts.

She had so many thoughts, she wanted to burst out with, but there was no tree listening in on her thoughts anymore, and Dennis definitely had turned silent. She didn’t know how to broach the conversation. And that inability made her uncomfortable, but she just didn’t know a way out of it.

After they cut around a few corners, they were at the cinema, and even while going through the ticket purchase and getting a few snacks, they didn’t talk much beyond the inevitable. Only after they had seen a movie, of which Laura didn’t remember much she still was caught up in thought. The trees, did they have a name? Did the big oak tree have a name? How do they communicate with each other? Do they link up their roots? Do they send over leaves? Do they have a deeper connection?

After the film had finished, Laura was still caught up in her thoughts. As if she was in a trance she just followed Dennis’ decisions to find a quiet table hidden away in a corner of the otherwise quite busy café right next to the cinema. People were pouring in here after their showings stopped, just to drink a beer or to talk about their still fresh cinematic experience. Laura was getting anxious. She remembered nothing of the movie. She still was thinking about the trees. Would she even have anything to say if Dennis wanted to talk about the movie?

“So, eh, I don’t really know how to start the conversation, and I don’t know, this should, well this should be easy, considering who you are, still…”, Dennis started.
This was definitely not about the movie. What was going on? This was not what was keeping Laura’s mind occupied but this wasn’t the movie either.
“well after, you came out to me, eh, I had some time to think about myself for a bit longer, and ehm, I’m definitely not sure about it, but I think, ehm. Well, I don’t know, but could you try out they/them for me?”, Dennis continued, after a short but nevertheless awkward pause.
“Eh, sure.”, Laura mumbled. She was perplexed.
“I’m not sure yet, but I think I might be non-binary.”


“Where the hell is Dennis?”, someone yelled behind Laura.
“Oh they said, they were on their way to the bathroom”, Laura replied without averting her eyes from the earth, slowly shrinking, slowly dissolving into the vastness of space.

Planet Earth

Oh, hi, it’s me again the author. I have never done this, but it seems so fitting. Today, all of educational youtube seems to have conspired to release videos in support of #teamtrees, and while I myself neither have the resources to support them monetarily nor to do deeper research, so maybe consider chipping in with a few bucks. Alternatively, you could also check out this wonderful video in support of Partners in Health in Sierra Leone.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and I hope together we can do a bit of good in the world.