Friday, 12 August 2016

A Story: The Pear Tree – Part Five

This is the conclusion to my story, The Pear Tree. Please click here to read Part One, here for Part Two, here for Part Three, and here for Part Four.

The Pear Tree
Part Five

… Each day we journeyed onwards, through the tangled forest that we had entered, not worrying that we were hopelessly lost, for in each other’s company something had been found, and as the days went by we began to realise that our hands were starting to feel less stiff, more moveable, and our vision was improving more and more. 

The forest looked new and green, full of growth and slanting sunlight, and I also saw that Tom was beautiful, despite of, or perhaps because of, his silver eye and awkward hands, and his wild tangled hair, stuck with leaves. He had become wild and wonderful in his freakishness, as had I. 

There was beauty everywhere, even in the places you least expected: in a blind eye, in a hand that holds a bird, in a long red scar, and in the darkest corners of the forest, where moss and toadstools grow, hidden from the sunlight. 
After many days with Tom I woke one morning as a fine, rosy dawn broke and it suddenly dawned on me—I loved this man. I loved his curving fingers, his mysterious blind eye, the way he softly stroked the crows when they wanted attention, the knots in his hair, his gentle ways. He was not a monster, and nor was I; we were wounded souls, transforming our guilt and regret and learning how to live once again. I could imagine him asking me, though I had never heard his voice, Do you love me? And under my breath, with barely a whisper, I could answer that question, the forgotten question that had been put to me in a dream so many weeks before: “Yes. I love you.” 

My voice had returned.
Tom woke and looked blearily at me, smiling and yawning, getting up to light a new fire. My voice was raw and faint but I looked at him and said, “I love you”. Without thinking he answered, “I love you”, and immediately started at the sudden and unexpected return of his voice. 

At this turn of events, the restoration of our speech, we could do nothing less than dance and whoop, the crows joining in, perched on a branch above us. We held hands and danced in circles, new hands which were no longer crippled, but capable of touching and holding and gesturing, and we saw clearly for the first time in our lives, our blindness gone, a world of colour opening to us, making us reel, intoxicated by the potency of it. We were still wild creatures, dirty and tangled and smelling of earth and leaves—and we would not want to be anything else—but we were whole again, repaired and reanimated. 

When our crazy dance finally came to an end we looked into each other’s eyes, and I saw that Tom’s healed eyes were brown, hazel and chestnut like the wood his father had worked, and I knew mine were green, green and verdant as my grandmother’s garden had been. 
After some time sitting together, feeling gratitude for what we had regained and discovered anew, and using our voices to say nothing more than I love you, I love you, I love you, for there was nothing more to be said, we decided that our path was still leading us onwards towards some new gift. We walked through the forest, now hand in touchable hand, with the crows following us, flitting like dark shadows from tree to tree, until we stepped into a round clearing. Standing in the centre of this circular space was a pear tree, bathed in golden sunlight, its fruits like golden bells glimmering, ringing their own splendour. We both reached out and grasped the same pear, gently pulling it from the tree which gave it freely, and we shared bites from the sweetest and juiciest fruit we had ever tasted. When we had finished eating I took one seed from the core, without Tom noticing, and I made a silent wish before I put it in my pocket. 

We knew we had to keep walking so we reluctantly left the clearing and the beautiful pear tree and walked on until we unexpectedly came to the edge of the woods, the exit from the green shadowy place that had brought us back to life. Down in the valley, below the rolling hills, was my town and my home, my grandmother’s cottage which now belonged to me. 

Now there was no need for hesitation. We stepped out into the open, in sight of the human world once more, and we began the descent. The crows came after us, breaking free of the trees and rushing into the air, cawing as they went, flying away to freedom, and we waved them off, sad to see them go, but happy that their wings had healed and they could start a new life together. 
This time I didn’t mind if people saw me and stared at my threadbare clothes and matted hair, for I felt complete and alive in a way I had never felt before. Tom and I walked together confidently, straight up to the front door of my house. With a deep breath I opened the door and stepped over the threshold, and I felt all the ghosts of my dreams fly past me in a rush, out and into the road and away. We stepped inside, ready to begin again.
That night we slept together in a bed piled high with pillows and blankets and all the comforts that we hadn’t realised we had missed, enfolded gently in each other’s arms, dreaming of a pear tree covered with golden pears, ringing like bells. But when I woke the next morning, the sun streaming through my bedroom window and the birds outside singing purely for the love of it, I realised that my arms were empty. 

Tom was gone. 
I knew what I had to do, for I had wished for this, wished on a pear seed from a magical pear tree, and so I found the seed I had stowed in my pocket and I walked outside into my grandmother’s garden. Though still full of weeds and dead leaves, the garden looked expectant, waiting to be reawakened. I found a space in the corner and I pulled out the weeds and gently scooped some earth aside with my fingers. I placed the pear seed in the small hole, smelling the sweetness of the soil, watering the seed with my tears—tears for the loss of Tom and for the loss of my grandmother and for all I had now gained—and I covered it with earth. 

*

I spent a year rebuilding my life, dividing my time between working in the garden and working at the library, making sure that I spent more time tending to the leaves on my plants than reading the leaves in books, and finding a harmony between the two. 

I bought seven new brown chickens and replanted all the vegetables that my grandmother had always grown, and some new ones, and I pruned all the fruit trees and added to the compost heap which swarmed with worms. Things began to be green once more, and the pear seed that I had planted sprouted and grew into a small sapling faster than I had thought possible. 

I found that with time my thoughts turned naturally towards the growing things, reaching out with exploratory tendrils, and I didn’t have to consult books on horticulture to know what to do. I knew, somewhere inside of me, what the garden needed from me, and I found myself humming as I worked, touching plants, enjoying their fragrance and colour and form, and cooking up meals that nourished me and made me appreciate the garden even more for what it could provide. 

My life was simple, yet it was lived deeply, in full awareness of the life around me, and in gratitude for what I had discovered because of six dreams and a journey on foot. I knew that it is as important to live stories as it is to read them, and slowly but surely the red scar on my chest began to fade and I no longer felt hollow inside.
One day as I worked in the garden, turning the soil to prepare for the planting of some new seedlings, two crows flew above me, cawing and swooping, and I looked up at them and then over at the young pear tree in the corner, realising with surprise that it had produced a single perfect pear, a golden miracle in the sunlight. 

I knew the day had come and I walked into the house just as there was a knock at the front door. I swung the door open in anticipation and there was Tom, his brown eyes smiling, holding out a perfectly carved wooden pear, smooth and golden brown, the work of an artist.

“Come and see my garden,” I said. 

(Wikipedia Commons) 
*   *   *
I hope everyone who made it to the end enjoyed The Pear Tree. Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Also, I made the painting above specially for this story. Being out of practice, art-wise, I wasn't sure I would be able to paint anything I was satisfied with, but I am more than pleased with the image I have created. Please head over to my RedBubble portfolio to take a closer look at it, and to see more of my art.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you...

    For sharing this lovely tale.

    It even touches on something, which has been in my mind, for a long time... Do people put more emphasis on reading, than is wise?

    It is lovely to escape into the pages of a book. And when the book is wonderful, it is even more lovely. But... Are we letting our own life, our own story, pass us by, while lost in the pages of books?

    This may sound a bit heretical, to book lovers, so I haven't said it much. But I have wondered on it.

    And your story carries a subtext of this, in a way... Sarah spent too much time, immersed in books. And not enough time, paying attention to real life. And it proved, to not have been wise, for her.

    Thank you. For touching on this matter, about which I have thought.

    Gentle hugs,
    Luna Crone

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, I wrote this story as something of a lesson to myself. Though books are great, and necessary, and do feed our souls, it is important to balance reading with 'living' and interacting with the world outside. Sometimes I use books to keep me busy, so that I can avoid other things, and that is not healthy—though of course, when you have an illness and are not feeling that energetic, books can be a lifesaver. If I have nothing else at least have them, and can learn and experience through stories. But like everything, it is about finding a balance. Though I do believe that art/literature can heal us and help change the world, and so it is very important, it needs to be born from a connection with the living world. I hope this story goes some way towards pointing this out.

    Thank you for reading it, and commenting.

    ReplyDelete

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