In a post that has nothing to do with my new book release which has been consuming my time and thoughts for many days, I've decided to share a short story about acceptance.
Root deep, Gareth felt autumn’s chill sinking into his
world. Winter always made Gareth sluggish, and when he was unattached, he would
have quit his human job and returned to his tree for the season.
But this fall, everything was different. He had a human
It wasn’t something he’d planned. Spring had woken a
yearning for connection and Laura came to his tree every day in the park. He
loved the books he read over her shoulder, the photographs she took on her
phone, the way she conversed with herself in writing. He had to meet her. Once
met, the connection between them became undeniable. They met in the spring,
married in the summer, and as the fall days weighed on him, Gareth didn’t think
he could keep his secret.
Standing in the park, next to his root tree, Gareth felt a
pull toward it. A tall cedar with curved branches which dipped close to the
ground, Gareth’s tree could withstand any storm and stay green in all seasons.
He loved his tree, his other self. He almost reached out and touched the trunk,
but he stopped himself and shoved his hands in his pockets. He had to talk to Laura.
She was meeting him here.
The sun light hit the golden leaves of a nearby maple tree,
setting it on fire. As Gareth felt the sun’s warmth soak into him, Laura came
around the trunk of the maple.
Laura’s graceful walk showed her connection to movement, her
training as a dancer and an athlete. It was one of the many things Gareth loved
about her. He held out his hands to her as she came up to him.
Taking his hands in her own slender ones, Laura gazed at him
intently. “What is it, Gareth? You seemed so tired this morning and your voice,
on the phone, sounded worried.”
Gareth wanted to pull her close, but he didn’t. He had to
see her expression as he told her the truth.
“Laura, what I’m about to tell you, it may sound unbelievable,
so I’m going to ask you to trust me long enough to demonstrate something.”
She frowned. “This doesn’t sound good.”
Gareth bit his lip, then spoke in a rush. “I’m a dryad, Laura.
This is my tree.”
Laura stepped back and let go of his hands.
Gareth wanted to grab her hands again, but instead he
reached out and touched his tree. The bark glowed and his hand became part of
the trunk, his skin darkened to match the bark, and he knew his eyes had turned
Laura moved closer to him with her lips parted. “What are
“A dryad. A tree spirit. I can stay in human form nearly all
year long, but in the winter, I long to step into my tree, to sink into the
roots for the season.”
Laura reached her hand out. “Don’t leave me, Gareth.”
Gareth took her hand. “I won’t leave. I’ll be right here.”
A tear formed at the corner of her eye. “When will you come
“In the spring, or sooner if I can.”
She threw her arms around him. “Can you wait, just one more
“Yes.” He withdrew his other hand from the bark and held her
in his embrace. “Winter hasn’t come yet. I can wait until then.”
“Good. You have a lot of explaining to do.”
“I do.” He kissed her on the top of the head.