There once was a boy with emerald leaf eyes that always sparkled with the light of the morning dew when he smiled.
But the little boy smiled no more.
His lips were the color of wild berries, and they parted and shook when he laughedlike God's divine power striking the Red Sea.
But the little boy had no reason to laugh anymore.
You see, the little boy had lost his morning-dew eyes and sea-splitting laugh when he first discovered at an age much too young that though others surrounded him like a forest, he was all alone. Fending for himself in this world; with not a soul who ever tried to make his eyes glitter with a crescent of a smile, or his shoulders shake with the force of a thunderous laugh. All that remained of these faint memories were ubiquitous ghosts and prowling wolves; and their constant presence aged the boy a thousand years.
For it is from dust that you have come, and to dust you will return
All of his life, the boy had quietly watched life from the shadows of the murmuring trees which encircled and towered over him
and this practice had made a pain-etched scholar out of a once innocent child.
Human cruelty took advantage of his soft, yielding tenderness
forging him as mercilessly as a sculptor molds clay
And whilst he was living like this, years passed like decades; and still the boy watched in silencehis bright eyes now worn to the color of the sky before a dreadful storm. It was as if only he could see that the world was slowly destroying itself; brother turning on brother, father on son, and disaster striking everywhere he looked. The trees looked too; watching in cold judgment as life was undone before them. The trees frightened the boywhat with their intimidating vastness and tacit verdicts. He wondered why they scrutinized with such contempt; what had caused their eternal disdain. But he knew that if he tried to ask them, they would just ignore him. They would continue to watch in their fearsome and ever-cautious way; and, as always, he would be left in his silence and solitude. Butdespite his slight discomfortthe trees were all that he had left. So, he stood beside them as they studied the earth.
For how can you run for cover when the storm brews within you?
He didn't know where the trees had come from; only that they had seen terrible things and subsequently grown more and more detached until they were more stone than wood. He knew that deep down they were always afraid... and that is why they always watched... but they were so cold and unfeeling that you would never be able to guess their distrust.
But the boy saw... the boy understood them.
Sometimes the boy would see other peopleother children. Sometimes they were happy; with the children running and jumping and playing, and their parents watching them with kind smiles.
It was in times of this sort that the boy wished he remembered how to smile.
And on days such as these, he would secretly hope and long to go join those other children in their frolicking and laughing; but he knew that if he tried, his trees would pull him back
whisper heartless mockeries to the wind
whip him with their unfeeling branches. They wanted him to stay with them
wanted him to watch the world's misery with them
and yet they did not care for him.
The trees had learned long ago not to care for anybody.
So as time passed and the boy grew older on the inside with the weight of what he faced each day taking their toll on his fragile little bodythe boy could feel himself growing emptier
the childish energy and curious naivety draining from him like the last few puddles of water in a drought.
For when a delicate flower is deprived of that which it most needs, it will wilt and die
And after far too long of this vicious cycle of watching and hoping and waiting in the trees, the boy learned something that made him cut out his childhood completely and travel deep into the woods to bury it for good. For he'd just been watching the happy children playing so far away from him as he usually did
and that's when he saw it; that one thing that burst into his too-wise mind like a revelation of God and was now making him weep (for the very last time) over this box of his childhood in its final resting place in the heart of his woods. That teaching of the world that made him finally understand why his trees were so cold, why he could no longer laugh, and why he watched life pass him by each day with just the tiniest flickering of hope.
For the greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.
So if you ever go wandering through the shaded woods of the murmuring trees who always watch; head for the center and look very closely. Perhaps you will see a spot in the ground that is slightly raised and wildly overgrown with thistle and weeds. Perhaps you will sense that something desolate and melancholy happened here in a time not-so-yet-very-long ago. And perhaps you will even realize that a child died here; though the only grave marker is a shy but very wise tree with emerald-eye leaves.