P. Edronkin

Short Stories about Patagonia: Shadows.

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For aeons they floated in their peaceful dreams of blue and green, in their hills barren as the moon; but suddenly as a flood coming they were awaken, and so they came to live again, thought they never really died. They were the trees that stood against the wind in the desert, echoes of distant times; memories of memories; messengers of God.

They were the trees that saw all and forgot how to count days an nights, but that day the last and only ones did that thing they had forgotten for millions of years. The trees older than the oldest and higher than the highest, trees that saw constellations change as they watched millions of springs bring their magic to the desert hills of Patagonia while days stampeded like seconds, began to resurrect, and nights like blinks of the falcon's eye saw them dreaming about putting back their green jewels.

They saw deep within their souls with no eyes the suns of earlier days, when animals that no human saw walk under their shadows; they heard their voices and remembered their colours and felt their heavy quadruped steps until they vanished into the night.

They remembered different birds with feathers more like scales and constellations that told different stories.

They remembered how in due time they finished their own journey too and became stone, the slow sensation of pain as their cells turned into grains and stones; how their sap became thicker and how their resin became water turned glass within their roots and their colours turned to carbon.

They remembered their last autumn, the last patches of green, the last leave falling to the changing soil, floating away, forever.

No one knew whose was the last leave, and some took pride telling the others that it had been theirs because of a million reasons like the way it finally rot or a particular shade of dark colour; their slow discussions, in which just one idea took years to float away, became such a chatter that they convened that the last leave was from them all, just to rest in peace.

Then, new winds came, seas tore land apart and ice flooded their kingdom and went away. No shadows were there and then only numb dreams of the sun beyond a solid blue ocean, and yet more animals and more plants came thereafter and went away, and life and death continued dancing as usual for ages as they build towers of memories upon memories.

They stood where they still are, looking at so many clouds that they eventually found two alike, and waiting for so much time that some day even men appeared on the land, and from time to time across thousands of years they camped and made fires and hummed songs in the petrified forest as their own shadows caressed the soil, the trunks and the rocks; telling memories of their own ancestors and of the wizards that created everything, who the trees saw in battle more than once beyond the mists of time.

They were happy with their company for their visitors brought with them memories of a greener past, when time itself was like a little children playing in the wild, and in exchange they gave the men shelter and songs of holiness.

And then, more men came and nothing was like before: they took pieces of the trees, some subtly, as if they did not want their kind to see what were they doing, while others came with odd implements, unlike those of the dancers; they saw the new men looking around, under the trunks, into the soil and behind the hills, measuring and drawing pictures, and one day, they saw men began killing men under the shadows of the petrified forest.

Them, the trees that withstood the dangers of their time as fires, storms and gigantic eaters of their leaves that took their toll. The trees that saw the dangers of other eras, when glaciers, earthquakes and volcanoes overcame their own might. The trees that learned from infinite sunsets and from the humid smell of time itself saw the sun change its colour, but they never saw anything like what was going after they were awaken again, and they knew that too.

Some thought that the men would go like the ice or the winds; that the place would be left for them again until something new came like the clouds in the horizon, but as time went on, nights were no more like blinks of the falcon's eye, and they could not sort the matter out, wondering if the next day there would still be shadows in the petrified forest when time came for the sun to start falling from the middle of the sky. 

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