Thursday, November 01, 2007
Friday Flash Fiction
Friday Flash Fiction

The Binding Tree
(c) 2007 by Maura Anderson

The Binding Tree

Kartiera sat apart from the other women petitioning the Binding Tree. Even the sacred ceremony of change they all stood on the brink of wasn’t sufficient to win them over, to overcome their distrust and fear of her differences.

She’d lived here all her life but her white hair and violet eyes set her firmly aside as different and strange. The only time they did more than shun her was when she assisted the village healer, her mother.

Fidgeting with the long plait of hair she held, Kartiera’s stomach churned. What would happen to her today?

What would this happen when she faced the Binding Tree? Would it reject her? Welcome her? Kill her?

With sheer willpower, she held back the nausea that threatened. Instead she focused on the plait of hair. A long white ribbon, carefully fashioned of all the hair trimmed from Kartiera’s head since her birth. Her fingers stroked up and down the satiny length, drawing what comfort she could from it and the love that created it. She gently toyed with the beaded ends and tried not to think of what might happen.

Movement caught her eye and she looked up to see all the villagers lining up around the clearing. The village ruler strode confidently into the clearing, placing himself before the Binding Tree, his back to the applicants. He raised his arms and the villagers began to circle the large clearing, stopping to place their offerings on one of the seven sacred fires.

Kartiera began to smell the smoke of the fires overlaying the ripe scent of her own fear. The chilly night made raised goose pumps on her flesh, the thin petitioner’s robe she wore no protection. She rubbed her hands on her arms, garnering her an admonishing glance from Bricha.

The villagers finally arranged themselves on the edge of the circle, facing inwards, and the ruler dropped his arms. In the brief moment before he began to speak. Kartiera glanced at the great tree they all worshipped. The Binding Tree. A huge tree with branches gnarled and twisted, lush leaves and a thick trunk, it appeared not so different than any other tree – until l saw the aura it had begun to exude. A sheathing of purples and blues slowly surrounded it until it was completely enveloped in the moving, alive aura.

Now she was really scared. All the rumors in the world couldn’t compare with the reality before her.

At the ruler’s motion, she and the rest of the girls stood. Kartiera took a deep breath and threw her shoulders back. She was ready.

The first girl walked hesitantly up to the Binding Tree and looped her plait of hair around the trunk, winding it neatly while she chanted the spell they’d all been taught. For just a moment, nothing happened but then the aura flashed for a brief moment and the Binding Tree’s bark seemed to absorb the ribbon of hair and it disappeared into another craggy ring around the tree.

She dropped to her knees and pressed her forehead to the Binding Tree’s roots. She’d been accepted into the Tree’s service.

One by one, the girls each approached the Binding Tree and repeated the ritual. Some were accepted but a few had their ribbon rejected to fall to the ground below it, signifying the Binding Tree’s rejection. They would be given in marriage immediately instead of being honored to serve first.

Finally it was Kartiera’s turn. More confident than she felt, she wrapped her white ribbon of hair around the tree, chanting the spell as she tied it off. Her task completed, she waited in terror for something to happen, anything to happen. Whispers started among the villagers. She broke out in a sweat and gulped. Was she to be ignored totally?

At long last the aura began to grow brighter, even brighter than for any other applicant. A sudden flash startled all who watched and when she could focus, she saw no new ring. Dejected, she looked at the ground, expecting to see her ribbon. Nothing.

A scream sounded from the villagers behind her. “Look up!”

When she looked up she saw a huge flower, the exact color of her hair with a center the violet of her eyes had formed on one of the largest limbs of the Binding Tree. But what did it mean?



  1. This is gonna be a book, right?

  2. No kidding! Tell me this one will be a book!

  3. mmmmmmmmmmm
    love it!

  4. dammit Maura!

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