I’ve been completing quite a few short stories recently. This one is called Birth of Trees.
Set in my Distant Moon universe, it is a vignette of a grandmother ape teaching her grandson about how the Treeborns make their young.
Hope you enjoy it.
Birth of Trees
“There’s a reason why they are called Treeborns,” the old ape woman grunted to her grandson in Ape-Speak.
The young ape peered at the miracle that was happening right before him, and he was fascinated, though his fascination was peppered with guilt, as though he were doing something wrong, but grandma is beside me, he figured.
The mother tree was large, as large as any tree he had ever seen, and she reminded the young ape of a woman hanging upside down with her feet raised in the air, but those were in truth tributaries of the main trunk which held a soft sack.
A moving root cut itself out of the tree sack, and that root revealed itself to be part of something that resembled a hand, then a head emerged, tiny, wet, laden with tiny leaves, the little body of the baby Treeborn fell onto the soft ground with a gentle thud.
Its roots still writhed but it was not erratic, but gentle, perhaps genteel, in birth the roots were not hard as bark but soft as worms finding purchase without avail, then something caught the little ape’s eyes.
“He has no legs, Grandma,” he snorted.
“They don’t need legs,” Grandma said to him proudly. “While we are born on the ground and climb up the trees, the Treeborns are born high up and land into the ground, rooting themselves. Look.”
The lower half of the infant Treeborn, full of wriggling roots, pricked itself into the fertile soil beneath it, and once the half was firmly buried with the ground did the infant look up to its mother tree. She had no face, just a womb, and it was said by Grandma once that in time the mother tree’s womb would dry, and it would wither and die, and another mother tree would come in her place, to birth another Treeborn.
The young ape had thought he and Grandma were the only two witnesses to the birth, but from the ground emerged the other Treeborns. Two grabbed the infant and caressed it with their roots, perhaps as how an ape Mother might caress her newborn.
The Treeborns looked at Grandma and the young ape, nodded, and their bodies, along with the infant, disintegrated into the soil.
“Where did they go, Grandma?”
“I don’t claim to know much about Treeborns, child, but I know they are always where they need to be and are always around when they are needed. Look at the city behind you, child. New Mustahael could not have been built so quickly without their help. But remember, they helped us because we helped them in the battle of Manaharta against the dragon Azusz Naga.”
“Help them and they help us?” The young ape asked.
“Always it is for all things,” Grandma grunted.
“Then why do some of the apes refuse to help the humans?” The young ape wondered.
“Because, as apes grow old child, they do not remember this lesson I am teaching you. I pray you do not forget when you grow old to help all and whoever is in need, for the grace of the Mustahaelim is such, that we welcome all, man and ape alike,” Grandma said.
This answer satisfied the young ape. He nodded, and approached the mother tree, caressed its trunk, and smiled.