The tree stretched long branches across the immediate sky, a shaded barrier between here and the brilliant azure above. It seemed to reach down to the young boy sitting underneath the expanse. He looked up and smiled. His mind was full of expectation. The tree was his friend. It gave him shade and hope and, on breezy spring days like this, a bit of wisdom.
"Was it always like this?" The boy asked, in regards to the War.
"No," said the tree with a wave of his branches. He sighed and tried to explain. "Long before now, when the trees were all small and young, when the grass was still learning to be green, when the sky above was not as blue..." He trailed off, but then continued, "When we were still dependent on the Creator we were uncertain and cautious. And we looked to Him all the time. He guided us. He was training us how to be, how to do what a tree does, what grass does, what a boy does." He smiled and added, "There was no war then. No one told us there could be and we didn't think of it."
The boy nodded. The list of what he'd lost grew day by day. It outnumbered what he still had, well, unless you count the tree. He had memories and photos, a few drawings. He had time held in a bottle on his nightstand. He'd caught it the day of his biggest loss, so far, and held it tight. He would never open that bottle. Never.
The tree seemed to hear his thoughts. Time would pass anyway he knew, but he kept that to himself because his friend was in pain. He reached down and held the boy close the way time was held in the bottle. He knew, like time, his friend would change and grow and become different, but he kept that to himself too because the thought of it gave the tree pain.
They sat for long moments like that, each hoping nothing would change. The tree, with his memories of how things could be, and the boy with time held tightly, afraid that any further moment would bring loss. They were like stone, unmoving, frozen.
Nothing could break them free until the sun intervened. It was higher than they and could see farther. It could see peace approaching, still some distance away, but much close than either the tree or the boy could imagine. It spoke, boldly and with great power, "It's almost here!"
But the two didn't speak the sun's language. They didn't even realize it was speaking. To them, the communication was just rays of light pouring in and bouncing randomly. A beautiful spectacle to be sure, but meaningless to them otherwise.
The sun tried harder. It screamed and shouted and waved its flares. No response. The boy and the tree sat utterly unmoved by the good news.
So the sun sent the wind. It roared and billowed and tried to tell them as well, "The sun says peace is coming!" But they could not understand the wind either.
The wind and the sun huddled together, trying to come up with a plan. They decided to ask water for help since it was easy to move. It was quite effortless for it to flow around the base of the tree, but the water could not be understood either. It only made the boy climb high into the tree's branches in terror, while the tree was in fear for his roots.
The sun sighed. The wind rustled. But the water had an idea. He whispered it to them and waited anxiously to see what they thought.
The sun laughed.
The wind nodded.
It would work, they thought.
And, so, the sun and the water and the wind called to the earth. It shook from its long sleep, quiet at first, but inspired when it heard of their dilemma. It was flattered that they'd thought of it and was eager to help.
It moved. A little at first, then more, soon defiantly and with abandon as if it were dancing. The boy held tighter and tighter. The tree feared even more for his roots. They cried out in terror, but what was happening was good. The ground rose in unison like a mountain being moved all at once. The tree with its roots intact, the boy at the top holding on, and all that they knew, all that was of them, rose and rose and rose until they were higher than they'd ever been. In fact, they were higher than they thought possible. They felt like they were as high as the sun. They'd been terrified, but everything had turned out fine. They weren't where they had expected to be, but they were somewhere.
And the boy looked around.
"Tree," he shouted. "Look! Peace is coming!"