“The Forest” by Ashley Armstrong

There were only a couple of them left — only a couple whole and still alive. They stood so much taller, and greener, like dying giants against a sea of empty dirt. The forest was almost gone, dotted with brown stumps, the trees used as timber. They had created a new town, but in doing so, had left the forest bare.

Birds had no where to rest. It looked desolate, and the air was empty of any kind of bird song. Only the vultures, with their red faces and pale eyes, had stayed, and their black forms crouched on the ground waiting for any straggling animals.

It wasn’t a forest — not anymore. Before, strong, thick rooted trees had stretched up to the sky. Their long green-tipped arms almost blotting out any view of the sun.

The trees were old, sturdy and tall — which had attracted the villagers. They were perfect, they thought, for building walls and fences and chairs. Perfect for being chopped down, cut, and carved. Too beautiful a tree to stay a tree. The forest was lumber now, polished and sanded, holding up roofs and keeping in warmth.

Every now and again, a bright plume of green would break through the deadness, as a new tree tried to sprout from an old stump. The new trees were wispy, but resilient, growing out of the destruction, creating a miniature forest. In the wind, what little leaves that could, would rustle and sigh. The last surviving true trees, looming above the new-comers, were full of knots and gnarls, and were undesired by the villagers. They stood, almost patiently, to wait for the birth of a new forest.