They tell me this is nothing new.  They tell me, “There have always been fires, but you were just too small to see them.” They tell me, “It will all blow over, just like the storm that strengthens your roots.” 

I would like to believe them. 

They have stood tall for centuries, patient and steady while the beasts of the earth dart around their trunks worrying through brief lives. “We grow from their graves,” they tell me, “and our roots are tangled in their bones. But we shall persist. We always persist.”

The air is dry. There is smoke on the horizon. Surely this is not normal. Surely this is worse than usual. 

But they tell me it will pass. “There are bad times, yes. So grow your roots deep and your bark thick, and drink in the sun while you can. Soon the rain will come.” 

I would like to believe them. I do not wish to burn. 

The sun is dim. The sky is red. All around me, smoke billows. Wood splinters. The trees in whose shade I grew as a sapling writhe and burn and fall. All around me is the sound of splintering wood.  

All falls. 

Photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash

Story by Gregory M. Fox