Neon String

by Vaidehi Sankar

Right now, you are probably sitting in a room and in that room there’s probably a window. If you look outside, you will probably see many things: animals, plants, birds, and loads of others and in that mess, you might see me. I’m bigger than all the others, but I’m the most forgotten. I’m always just there, never noticed or recognised. I’ve gotten used to it, people adore things around me, forgetting my existence, but they always forget that without me they would never be where they are today. Now, I guess you know what I am, but for those who don’t, I’m a tree. 

With a 35-foot base and hundreds of branches, I’m just like the other trees. Except it’s a miracle that I’m still living. It all started last summer when a few workmen came into the forest. This was a normal occurrence, as the owners of the land were doing renovations. But this visit was different. They were carrying neon-coloured strings. Now all of us trees knew what this meant. Some of us were going to get chopped. The question wasn’t why, but who? Our greatest fears were coming to life and we were going to suffer.

They walked around the forest for a while, observing us as though waiting for us to make a move. Then it happened, they walked over to me and tied it around my waist. I didn’t move a muscle, the trees couldn’t show the humans that they were alive. The workmen strode out of the forest and tension rose through me. I had lived in the forest as long as I could remember and never dreamed of losing it. There was nothing I could do but accept my fate. My mind was buzzing with thoughts, most of them sorrowful, but I still had hope and never gave up. I was determined to find a way out of this situation. I looked around at my peers, they were speechless. That was understandable, what would you say to someone who is going to die in 24 hours?

I was drowning in thoughts, so I nearly didn’t notice the two young girls walking up. They were only about nine or ten and one was tall while the other quite short.

“Are you sure we should do this?” the girl on the left stammered, that was when I realised they were carrying scissors. 

“Do you want the trees to be cut down?” the other replied, quite annoyed.

They were going to save me, I was not going to be chopped. This made my heart leap. Maybe I was lucky. I held my breath as they circled the forest cutting the strings off the trees that had been chosen. The sun was coming down. If they weren’t quick they wouldn’t get to me by sunset.

“Lilly, it’s late, let’s go back home,” the tall one said, shivering.

“But there are still trees with strings on them, what will happen to them?”

“We can come back tomorrow morning and cut the other strings off,” she replied. They didn’t know the workmen were coming tomorrow morning!

The Next Morning

The sun was coming up and the workmen were arriving in thirty minutes. If the girls didn’t come soon, I would suffer. I heard footsteps in the distance, I prayed it was the two girls walking up the long winding path into the forest, not burly workmen pounding their way ready to destroy. I held my breath as the footsteps became louder, then my heart dropped. The sweet girls were nowhere to be seen. I prepared myself, at least the other trees would have a happy life. Just then another pair of footsteps, lighter and bouncier than the others. It was them, they were here! 

They tiptoed into the forest, ducking behind a nearby bush. We all knew that if they got caught they wouldn’t be able to finish their plan. The smallest of the pair creeped out of the bush and approached m. She pulled out a small pair of scissors and chopped the neon string off my trunk. That was it, she had saved my life in ten seconds.

We never heard from or saw the girls again, but without them, I would not be here having the time of my life writing this story.