Maligned.

A seed, I came to you.

Torn from safety of the silk-lined pod in which I was born and nurtured, given everything I would need to start life on my own. I left my pod and traveled on merciless drafts that separated me from my siblings and thrust us out into a harsh world. You called to me with your verdant leaves and the beauty with which you swayed to the silent song of the wind. You were young but you showed such strength and flexibility and even though I didn’t know much, I could tell you had great promise. So I shed my silken parachute strand by strand and floated down till I lay by your side, nestled between your tiny roots.

I shot up fast and grew roots that tickled yours. I wanted so badly to impress you. I had never wanted anything more. So I grew, shook out my unfurling leaves and caressed you, bent my stem to mimic yours. I wasn’t inconsiderate of how slowly you grew, so I teased you with my thickening trunk and my glorious bark, wafted pheromones that spoke of my desire for you. I’d found a mate, I told the world. It didn’t matter that you ignored me at the time and instead chose to snake your weakened branches in green coils atop the leaf strewn floor. I wanted you, so I grew out branches much lower than my kind would have and denied myself the caress of the sun and the patter of summer showers. They didn’t feel as lovely without you beside me.

It started with a sapling, one tiny branch that wormed its way up my trunk and settled on a branch before it yawned to first light and spread its leaves, your leaves. Such was my delight that if I could, I would have burst into flower. But it was at the end of the rains and I was too young to flower so I weakened my bark and offered my sap to you. You gently refused, insisting that you only needed a platform to better see the sun and taste of its sweet golden light. I’ll concede that I was hurt, but there was nothing for it, yours was a proud species and notorious for putting honor above common sense. Instead I consoled myself with the small victory I had won, you had finally acknowledged me, in time I would sway all of you to me.

The rains slowly ceased and the drought that followed came, searching every surface crevice and sucking out the moisture within. The birds that pruned my leaves fled south, abandoning their nest and pecking grounds to follow the lure of the whimsical rains and the insects that serenaded us at night dug tiny holes for themselves and slept the deep sleep. You suffered so terribly. For your kind you were young and still had a lot of growing to do. So I offered again, that you took your nourishment from me. My roots had grown deep and I was made to thrive in the dry, hot months of tribulation. You stalled for as long as you could find water below the surface but eventually the earth caked around your roots, your leaves turned a sickly yellow and your stem began to flake. And like a petulant child made to see the error of its ways, your sapling stems found their way to me, an exodus from the harsh dryness of the forest floor to the plenty that waited within my trunk. You curled yourself around me and drank deeply and my love for you overwhelmed me.

Ours was a tenuous love born of necessity and naive as I was, I was never unaware of this. Many years passed this way, each summer spent together, your limbs tightly wrapped around mine, climbing as my stem rose and my branches fanned out into a majestic canopy. You were growing heavier and occasionally I felt the prick of a thorn here and there but you assured me that it was only so you didn’t fall. Your saplings grew thick and your leaves robust and as each summer gave way to the dryness of the drought, I would grow anxious and terrified that you didn’t need me anymore. Then the drought came and your bravado shrunk as the days grew drier and you’d finally ask shamefaced to nurse of my sap. I would burst into rapturous flower and offer myself to you. But even as I revelled in this love born out of need, on the darkest of nights, a part of me wished for a day when we could stand as equals, free of the current needs that bound you to me, free to love truly.

Such was our union until this year. This was the year that everything changed. Your small thorns have grown large and vengeful and they lance my trunk with such malice. Your saplings are now strong trunks that rival the thickest of my branches and your embrace has become a chokehold. My leaves wilt from deprivation of life giving sap which you do not need but greedily take anyways. I sent out noxious fumes of distress and you laughed in my face with a final triumphant squeeze.

And I realised that you never truly lacked during those droughts, you played on my naiveté. Your weakness was a ruse and my offered sustenance had only helped to accelerate your plans. You never needed a lover; you were merely a coy usurper. All you needed a scaffold, a willing ladder which you could climb to reach the sun.