The Legend of the Fir-tree

by

Lonely Shell

They both knew, from the start, that their love was impossible; that a day would come when they would have to say 'Good-bye'.

On Christmas Eve, they decided that their relationship, as beautiful as an angel's love story, should end with the dying year. He would have liked to have spent all of their days together, but she decided it was better to leave.

"The New Year should find us in our new lives, where we will miss each other" she said.

There were tears in her eyes, as she kissed him good-bye and he could still hear her words, as he looked through the window of the house, at the traces of her steps, far away, at the edge of the forest. He had wanted to accompany her until they reached the base of the mountain, where the town began, so that he would know she was safe, but she didn't want him to. She wanted to leave, without looking behind, remembering him there, in the house of their love. The memory she was always going to keep in her heart.

The snowfall was getting heavier and, as all trace of her was slowly disappearing, covered by the snow, his fears and worries were growing. He should not have let her leave! At least, not before it had stopped snowing!

'How is she going to reach the town alone, through all this snow. It grows thicker with each moment?

The days are so short; soon the evening will fall, she might lose her way and remain alone in that desert of snow, where nobody will hear her if she screams, or the wolves may attack her, before she can get out of the forest!'

He decided that he should find her, at any cost, and bring her back, or at least go with her to the town. He grabbed a hatchet, for defence against the wild animals, and started running through the snow, following the traces of her steps that were barely visible.

He could hardly walk by now, and the evening was getting darker and darker. He hoped that she had found shelter, inside the ruins of the old hut, in the clearing, on the top of the hill, but nobody was there. All trace of her had been completely erased! He fell to his knees, screaming desperately "Don't go! Please come back! I love you!"

His voice woke-up the dry fir-trees from their slumber and, furious at being disturbed, they scattered the burden of their branches upon him, covering him in huge pile of snow.

'Good-bye, I love you', he thought.

He woke up late, without understanding where he was but then he recognized the clearing. The snowfall had stopped, and his footsteps in the snow clearly marked the way that he had come. He remembered the snow that had fallen upon him, taking his breath away. He could not understand how it was that he was still alive, where had all that snow had disappeared to, why his clothes were dry and, moreover, why it was that even the snow under his body had melted away. Most of all though, he could not understand where the fir-tree fragrance was coming from. Had he entered the delirium of those who die by freezing? It impossible for a 'green' fir-tree to be there, in the middle of the winter!

Yet, in the middle of the clearing, just next to the place where he had fallen, a green fir-tree had grown from that warm patch of land. He touched it to see if it was real, and the soft whisper of its branches brought, from far away, the echo of her laughter. He then realised that her love had made the fir-tree grow there; to protect him from the winter frost that would have killed him.

Feeling that the fir-tree was the last memory he would ever have of her, he decided to take it home and replant it in his garden, right in front of the window. He knew that every morning when he saw it, it would be like her saying "Good morning". With that fir-tree, kept evergreen by the same miracle of love that had made it turn green in the middle of winter, he would never be alone again!

As he was walking through the snow, the fir-tree on his shoulder, all the dry fir- trees that he passed by started turning green, filling the forest with their fragrance.

Since then, the fir-tree has become the symbolic tree of Christmas, and it stays evergreen, so that nobody will ever be alone during the cold Christmas nights.

The End