They call it the Happiest Tree. They say on some nights, around twilight, before the sun has completely dipped below the horizon, it glows there, up on the hill, and seems to smile down at you.
I always thought that was just foolish imagination. Just the twists and turns of a totally natural process of growth for a tree which happened to make it look, from certain angles, like it was something else. How we see faces in clouds. The same type of thing I was sure.
There were legends about the tree that were less than bright, however. Some say the tree was happy because it could beguile, it could beckon to unwary souls on those nights, with its friendly, happy smile. And that the mouth of that smile could also eat.
The stories of a vivid childhood imagination I thought. A great halloween tale indeed, but nothing more.
Then one early evening I was walking home from work and I passed the hill and saw the tree smiling. It was very welcoming, I had to admit, when seen from just this angle, in such a beautiful sunset light. Before I knew it I’d forsaken my walk home and started to climb the hill.
I thought as I proceeded that eventually the angles would fail to work and the smiling tree would be revealed as nothing so special. But I was wrong. The closer I got, the more it smiled.
It grinned at me like a long lost friend, and what harm is there in smiling back, or coming up close, so close, to such a grinning, welcoming sight?
I didn’t even really feel it as I fell through, allowing it to swallow me. It was a strange sensation, mildly unpleasant, but nothing too bad. But now I’m somewhere else, somewhere dark and red and swirling, and I’m completely alone.
And I don’t know the way back. I don’t even know if there is a way back. But I can tell the tree is happy. It’s the Happiest Tree indeed.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2019