Author's note:

I started writing this for the weekly writing challenge found at iwriteinpictures DOT wordpress DOT com. The challenge is to write a story that's at least 1,667 words, based on a certain picture. Unfortunately, it's only 843 words, and I can't think of any way to make it longer without adding anything pointless and unnecessary, so I can't participate in the contest. But here it is anyway. Enjoy.

Cover image is the picture that inspired it, found at faboarts DOT deviantart DOT com/art/F250407-54007285. Used with permission.

The Tree's Dirge

He cries.

The strange, sad music of the violin continues as his gnarled hands play a tune he knows so well. It is the song of grief, of sorrow, of death.

He knows this song perfectly. He can anticipate every note. Still he follows the written music, because he does not know where else to look; and he cannot allow himself to shut his eyes, not while he can still bear to keep them open.

(Perched on the rock, the little green lizard sings. He sings of sunshine, of refreshing rain, of happiness and warmth. He sings of everything that was, everything that will soon be gone.)

His leaves have lost their healthy green shine. They are now a dull reddish brown, all dead looking, ugly. Soon they will fall away, leaving him bare, exposed. He knows that he will not enjoy this. He knows that what is coming is evil. It will be cold. It will be heartless. It will be cruel.

So he plays. The violin's mournful notes echo across the entire expanse of the forest as his feelings are poured out into the eerie music. It is not a song of sadness. It is the song of sadness. It is sadness. It is pure emotion transformed into sounds.

(Perched on the branch, the little blue bird listens. She does not join in. For once, she is silent, while the silent ones are not. She closes her eyes and lets her own feelings merge with the music, becoming one and the same.)

He knows that he is not the only one who feels the sadness. The song that comes forth from his instrument is for everybody in the forest, big and small, plant and animal. It is the mood of the forest itself, played on this one small violin, expressing the sorrow of all who live here.

Soon, the sun will barely shine, and cold nights will take over, leaving everything bare and lifeless. Soon, the lush happiness of the forest that had so recently existed will be only a memory, something lost to the past. Soon, everything will be changed. But for now, while all is not yet lost, he plays his song. For himself. For the forest. For everyone.

(Perched on the rock, the little green lizard sings. He sings of darkness, of stinging frost, of melancholy and cold. He sings of everything that will be, everything that is soon to come.)

He tries to think of all the happiness that he has experienced, in the days not so long ago when the forest thrived. At its height, it was truly a glorious sight to behold. He was proud of his home, proud of all the animals, proud of himself - because all were beautiful. But now, that beauty is fading, much too fast for his liking. He has not time to drink it all in and appreciate it fully before its end. It is dying, and soon it will be dead. Gone.

The violin plays on. The happiness from before only leads to bitterness now. It is all disappearing fast. Each day gets farther and farther away from the beauty and joy he once knew, and the pain is so great that he cannot stop playing. He wonders if he will play on and on until his fingers, numb from cold, can no longer hold the instrument, or the violin itself becomes too frozen to make a sound. But he does not dwell on it for too long. All he knows is that right here, right now, he cannot cease playing.

(Perched on the branch, the little blue bird listens. She keeps her beak clamped shut. Now is not the time for her to sing, because the sunlit days are over. Now is the time to feel her grief, and, by listening to the music, feel the grief of others.)

He can still see the sun, though it is nearing the end of the day. Oh, how brilliantly that lovely sun would shine! It was hot, beautifully hot, gloriously hot. But never too hot. Not in the forest, not here. The sun loved him, loved his home. The sun was kind.

But not anymore. Clearly, the sun has had enough, he thinks bitterly. Maybe it thinks itself too ancient and important for this little forest. He feels like this must be the case, because it is staying for shorter periods, leaving for longer. He wishes he can feel the love from the sun that he once did, but he cannot. He can only feel a separation, an insensitive detachment. And the little violin reflects his sorrow at this abandonment.

(The forest holds its breath as the violin's lament continues. It plays on and on, and the forest listens. Some sing. Some do not. But all can feel the pain.)

The notes on the paper blur behind the increasing wetness in his eyes. He can no longer make out the separate lines telling the tune. But he keeps playing.

Slowly, slowly, the sun sinks below the horizon.

He cries.