Once upon a time, a songbird winging its way though the Wood of the World chanced to light in the branches of an ancient old oak. There it sang a lilting ditty, and said to the oak as was the custom of the birds, “I thank you for the comfort of your branches.”
“I thank you for the song,” replied the oak, “Though I have heard it often, it is still as beautiful than ever. Do you know it’s story?”
“I fear I must confess I did not even know there was a story for that song.”
“Every song has a story,” said the tree. “Though almost all of them are sad.”
“Even for the happy songs?” asked the songbird.
“Especially for the happy songs,” said the tree.
“Tell me the story,” said the bird.
And so the ancient oak began. “Once at the center of this very wood there grew a great tree. It grew from the seed of a dream taller and taller until it’s boughs reached up to embrace the heavens. Rivers sprang up from the tangle of its roots, and in the shadow of its leaves all other trees stood as saplings. All the birds of the heavens rested in its bows, and the sound of their singing was the sweetest thing the wood had ever known. For a long time the tree stood. And the longer it stood, the more it believed it would stand forever. But such is not the way of life.
One day men came into the wood with axes. The tree laughed in scorn at the men and their axes for its trunk was hard as iron, but the will of the woodsmen was harder still. For the space of a full year they chopped and sawed and hacked at the base of the tree until at last, creaking, cracking, crashing, it fell. The tree was so tall it took fully seven days to fall to the earth, and in that time the birds that nested in its branches broke into song one last time.
When the woodsmen heard the song their hearts of stone melted at its melody.
They lured the birds into cages of gold and made them sing the song over and over. And while they stripped the once-mighty tree of its branches the song grew and multiplied.
The birds went on singing the song until its sound spread to every tree in the wood. But you birds are a forgetful lot, and soon the memory of the tree faded away from all but the oldest of us trees.”
“Thank you for the story,” said the bird. “I’m sure I shall tell it to everyone I meet.”
To this the tree said nothing, and so, after a while, the little bird flew on.
But the birds of the world are a forgetful lot, and soon the story of the tree had vanished from the little bird’s head entirely.
But the song went on forever.
[The preceding story was written as a response to Chuck Wendig’s Song Shuffle Stories Flash Fiction Challenge. The connection between the song and story might not be immediately apparent to those of you not intimately familiar with music history in particular and world history in general, however let me assure you there is a connection. Also, yes, Rondo Alla Turca was the first song to come up on my shuffle; I’m one of those people. (Though in my defense it was the Uli Jon Roth cover, which you can listen to here if you’re interested.)