She was waiting when he wandered in, stupidly lost. The trees here all seemed taller than they should have been; he was hot, tired, and he couldn’t imagine how it could be taking him so long to find his way out. And then, in the clearing, an incongruous sight: a dark-haired woman sitting on a great rock with her knees drawn up, the green light of the leaves on her face. He drew up, startled. It was his kingdom, it was all his, but she looked at him with a detached curiosity, like a piece of interesting mold on a rock she had just turned over.
“So you finally came.” Her voice, light and clear, took him off guard after the hour of wandering and shouting for his men. He opened his mouth, but then she gave a smile that struck him dumb. “Do you know where you are?” He scowled. Lost. He was idiotically lost on his own lands, a ridiculous indignity for a man like him.
She tilted her head. “You’ve forgotten, haven’t you? I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to forget something like that.” She made a sweeping gesture, and the next words froze his heart. “This is where you buried them. All of them.” No. He could not possibly have wandered there. “Well away from your castle, but we knew you’d come eventually. It’s been a lot of years for you and me, perhaps, but the trees are patient.”
She stretched out her legs to dangle over the edge of the boulder — fine legs, he noticed through the roaring in his ears. “It was probably a mistake to let the forest grow up over your burial site,” she remarked in a conversational tone. “Lord of all you could survey from the Rock of Ercale, wasn’t that the promise? But once the forest crept over your terrible acres, you couldn’t see them from there any more, could you? The trees have been speaking for some time now.”
He refused to consider the horrible implications of that, and started forward purposefully. She obviously knew the way out. She was going to show him. “I wouldn’t.” Her cool voice cut in. “You buried my brother just there” — she pointed to a spot a few feet in front of him — “and the trees are very alert when I’m here.” She turned a bright-eyed gaze on him. “Actually, all of the trees seem alert now that you’re here. I wonder what they’re planning to do.”
She hopped down off the rock. “You’ll have to let me know when you find out.” She considered it for a moment. “Or perhaps the trees will. In a few years.” Her eyes met his, and they were full of the damp dark of tangled roots beneath the earth. “Good luck.” And with that, she turned and walked away, leaving him along among the creaking branches.
This week’s Write at the Merge challenge at Write On Edge gave us two Dr. Seuss pieces: a quote from The Lorax (“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”) and an illustration of Yertle the Turtle captioned in part “I am the ruler of all that I see!” Admittedly, the place I took this was not very Seussical, but thanks for reading!