So I’ve never tried flash fiction, though I’ve read several and heard about it quite a bit. But I saw a writing prompt and I thought I’d give it a shot.
Here you go!
He glanced up at the towering tree, moping the sweat from his forehead. One more and the day was done. He couldn’t help but feel sorry for what he was about to do. Of all the trees he’d cut down, none were as strong, as magnificent, as this one. Who could tell how long it had stood there?
Sighing, he hefted his ax and swung, the blade biting into the trunk.
As soon as his ax had touched the bark, an ear-piercing shriek surrounded him. He dropped his ax and took a step back in horror, in confusion.
No one was around. No one but him and…the tree?
He peered closer at where his blade had cut. Placing a hand over the scar, he felt a slight tremor. He pressed his ear to the bark, unsure of what he might hear.
Sobs. Body-wracking, heartbroken sobs that chilled him to the bone. Sobs of a child. How did this make any sense at all?
Feeling rather foolish, he tapped the bark. “I-I’m sorry?”
The response came between hiccups in a sorrowful voice. “You should be. I just stand minding my own business and you come along and try to chop me down!”
“I didn’t know I’d be hurting anyone.” The excuse sounded paltry, even to his own ears.
The voice came again, slightly muffled. “Just go away. It’ll take me a long time to be back to full strength again. I can’t waste energy talking to someone who doesn’t care.”
“But I do care! How can I fix it?”
There was a long pause. The bark shimmered slightly and a girl’s face, no more than eight years old, peeped out. “Do you mean it? Honestly and truly?”
The shimmering widened as if a door was being opened more than a crack and the child stepped out. Though she looked no older than his own children, her eyes were deep and dark, carrying secrets beyond decades. Her legs were cut at the ankles and he felt again the deep anguish at what he had done.
She gazed up at him. “If you want to help, you must carry me away. You must take me somewhere quiet where I can be replanted and never bothered.” Her eyes gleamed and it seemed to him that she was already seeing where she wanted to go.
He smiled and held out his arms. “Where to?”
She giggled as he lifted her up. “I’m not sure. I’ll know it when I see it.”
And they disappeared together as the lumberjack journeyed to make amends for the tree he had injured.