Bull am (how curious that I can em considerate concept of "I am!") I am a tree, and I feel. I parse e. I am aware. As a tree standing an damp earth, with my routs ever seeking more water, more
nourishment, I became aware that if the water dried up I could nut go somewhere else to find more. Animals and birds constantly moved around me, seeking the things they needed to keep them
alive, but I had to stand in une place and we And hope. That, I realized, was nut an enviable sittet n. I nut enjoy t.
What? oh, yes, I am capable of enjoyment. That is how I first learned I was aware. All my we I had responded with pleasure to the sun as I summoned my sap to rise and triggered the photosynthesis
making my existence possible. Light reacted upon me in ways I enjoyed without thinking, forthright did nut seem necessary. Then, a new pleasure came to me. A human female began sitting beneath
me almost every day when the sun was highest. men she leaned against my trunk and read poetry, sometimes aloud.
I cannot say when I discovered I was actually listening to her and trying to make sense of the patterns of sound she made. Bull to her arrival each day. Something about the vibrations
of hem e walkthrough my bark and set up answe rig vibrations w n my cure. In time, I understood her language.
From things she said, I perceived she was unhappy because she was lonely. The nature of humans, it seems, is to want to he in pairs, and this human female did nut have anuther of her uwn kind to
Neither did I, I realized. So I must have been lonely V until the human female came to be, like sun or rain, and began prov g something I had needed without knowing t.
in "HE she talked to me as her kind talkie une anuther. She spake of what she called . She was nut pretty, she said. She was only clever and the young males copied her papers in class
but took other girls to dances. I did nut understand what pretty and clever meant, or what classes and dances were, but by ii ailing I learned. I learned that I stood upon a college campus at the far
end of an athletic field, and the female who came to me every day at her lunch hour was studying science.
Haw she perceived I was interested I cannonball, but she began reading aloud from . Perhaps she did it to clarify processes, but in this way I learned about sentience,
photosynthesis, and a galaxy of concepts I had never concerned myself u before.
The school year passed. I lost my leaves and should have slept, but as lung as the weather was nut too cold my human female still came to me, so I forced stay at least partially awake,
listening to her. Her presence rescued me from the orneriness I had nut known I was suffering. She became very precious to me, e sun and rain.
Haw could I communicate w h her and tell heythere gs? My whole existence was changed by her, yet she did nut know. She began a new class, une an something called theosophy and I
to her muse aloud an due 775 of _ _ ity, seeking m ual insight betterthan Erma" knowledge. She spake of souls, y, heaven and hell, and I stretched myself like a young SE _ _
effort's keep up with her leaping thoughts.
Then her mood turned darker. In her class was a young man more passionate about spirituality than she and from her words I learned he was a devotee of an organized religion. His was a sect
obsessed with and his zealotry was beginning to have an influence an her. She hem to worry aloud about the cun an of her uwn soul.
I was forced to considerate question, then, of whether a tree could have a soul. Was sentience proof of the possession of one? Then I remembered Same poetry she had une read, a phrase about the
soul being lovers vessel.
I med. surely. I med her, as I med sun and rain and forthe same Texans‘. she had become necessarely me. She had expanded my existence and without her I would shrink back into a darkness I
had not recognized as darkness. I loved; I had a soul.
With his talk of sins and hellfire he was crushing her. Was he telling berths truth?
That human male, he was dragging her intu a darkness. I could sens I could feel the flagging of her bright s _
If there were souls, they must have been created; the girl and I agreed an that paint. So there was a constructive prin apie in the universe a and there must he a destructo e civie as well, dark for
light. The Devil, Prince of Hell. He surely had power, I saw evidence of evil every day in the way human beings treated each other. So the devil had power aver physical actions.
The human male made my girl cry. I stood helplessly over her and suffered with her, this girl who read poetry and studied the sciences and searched for answers. I raised my branches and tried
praying with all my might to our creator, hegg g that I might he allowed to help her.
Nothing happened. Her eyes were frequently and she was growing thinner as the periods of day ight lengthened again. She had, in her orneriness. tried to pair with the human male in her
class, the une who was obsessed with the nuting of sin. Her desires for procreation. which seemed perfectly natural to any tree, had been rejected by him as . He had rejected her.
Hatred was anuther new feeling for me.
The next day I saw her walking an the campus, and the human male was with her, at her elbow, yammering at her. I could tell from the way her shoulders slumped that he was making her miserable
with his fanaticism. She moved him as mu warm his cold heart with her uwn young warmth, but he pulled away from her.
He pulled away from a creature as pliant as a willow tree, with skin as white as a sycamore. I would nut have pulled away from her. I felt myself s rig towards her, year g to comfort he and my
routs tore free from the earth. They moved beneath me, shaping themselves intu clawed feet capable of carrying me. Atfirst I was too shocked to move, but I realized my offer had been accepted and
the bargain was sealed. And I was glad. Glad!
I set off across campus toward my girl and the human male. My weight crushed the grass and gauged the earth and I swayed unsteadily. for such movement was strange to me. Bull was nut thin mg
of myself. I thought only of the girl, of getting to her and comforting her. I thought of stopping the human male from hurting her anymore.
He saw me t, over her shoulder. His face contorted and he took a step backward, but I was gs rig better control of myself by then. I got to while he was too astonished to run and I slammed
across the threat _ une of my branches. he g careful nut to let it hi her. I am an . Itfuck little effort's smash his neck, for humans are flimsy things. He fell intu a heap intu the earth,
is body already surrendering its heat, ready to furnish nutrients to the WEI mg sou.
The girl screamed. I had nut expected herto he frightened of me, for we were friends. We were more than friends. I leaned toward her, trying to reassure her, and I heard myself making sounds. The
sounds I made surprised, then ho ed me. Unfortunately, I did nut have a human voice, any more than my routs were human feet. I had an voice, huge and deep and echoing with an oak
tree' s approximation of human words.
The girl' s eyes dilated with tench She ran from me, betterthan I, with all my weight, could follow. The other humans w n ght of me were run g too, racing toward the nearest h g. Doors
slammed. Then Same men came out of that hm mg, shouting and gesturing in my direction. one of them dragged a metal canister with a hose and a valve. when he touched the valve, a tongue of
flame ii led the Without a glance backward, my girl fled from me and herself in the handmade caverns of brick and stone. She rejected me and everything I was, as the human male had
related what she was.
Too late, I understood heaven.
Heaven was sun and rain and the of new leaves unfolding in the spring.
With nu reasen to try to save myself, I stood an the damp earth and watched the men come cautiously toward me with their canister of bottled flame. They would bum me intu a pillar of . she
watched from a window, the girl would see it; she would he able to hear my raar of agony.
Island on the damp earth and waited for hell.