BORN DIFFERENT (2023) Short Fiction by Dennis Lowery


She had been born different… not like the others.

As she bloomed, they became afraid of her. She would frighten the others; they nattered to each other. She would disturb the structured order of their hard-grained, unclaimed ignorance. Her difference was too much for them to comprehend. And lack of comprehension breeds fear and suffocates compassion.

One dark, moonless night, the elders—those oh-so-majestic leaders of the grove—replanted her. Moving her to the edge of a field, far from her roots, out of sight and out of mind.

She was now alone. Not likely to be visited by the humans that frequented the woodland to enjoy the peace and tranquility—oblivious to the dissemblers of the forest—as they walked its paths.

But something happened.

The so-different tree took root right where she was and drew sustenance from the earth and sky. Those things not controlled by any; no one could deny her access to them.

And she grew.

Her branches reached for the sky, and the leaves caught the fire and ember-color of sunrise and sunset. That most potent color signifies each day’s life cycle, the energy, and the turn of our world.

As she grew, she became, in a word, magnificent. There was no one, no tree, like her.

The young farmer who owned the adjacent cornfield came upon her when, in season, he worked his ground.

Seeing the beauty that grew upon the land, something as equally nurturing (maybe even more so) as the food crop of the field, he cleared a path to and around the tree. He now could sit on his back porch, cool drink in hand, and with a clear line of sight, watch the tree as dusk turned to twilight and then into night.

And he went to bed happier than he had ever been.

In time, the farmer and his wife had children. And they grew, too. From the tree’s full-cloaked spring and summer to the leaf-thinning of autumn and bare branches of winter, they climbed and swung from her limbs. Their joy tickled her until she would laugh… a rustle in the breeze. Making a sound that carried, but only other trees would understand.

The trees in the forest often heard it on the wind and wondered… who could be so happy?

I shouted my love for life

and grew for all to see.

No matter that I’m cast away,

that does not bother me.

Cause all I know is who I am,

and that’s all that I can be.

A simple thing who loves the world,

I’m a happy, happy tree.