A Tale for Valentine's Day: Tree of Hearts by Amanda Bergloff

Enchanted Conversation Magazine and its editors would like to wish you all a Happy Valentine's Day with this original tale by Amanda Bergloff, written exclusively for the day. Enjoy!

“And what mischief are you up to today, my sweet, my columbine?”

Nivall thought the whisper came from inside his own mind, so soft the words were, only the rustle in the leaves let him know she was really there.

“Only the type of mischief that you love best, my rose, my monkey,” he replied without turning his head, afraid that the slightest movement might make her leave.

“Then let me join you, my dear, my ardor,” Elandel said, settling herself on the branch next to him.

She laughed and small stars shook loose from her hair. Her breath was sweet and cold. It was everything he desired in this world, and he fought to hide it from her by not gazing at her directly.

“Oh look, “ she said, placing her pale hand on his dark shoulder, “down there…There is a lad who looks forlorn. Do you see? He wanders so aimlessly. Let us give him some purpose. I will blow a kiss in his direction.”

“And I will toss him some fruit from our tree, my enchantment, my tulip,” Nivall said, picking the one closest to them that was ripe and red. He took aim at their intended target and dropped it.
The lad below stopped in his tracks, dazed by the object that hit his head.
   
“And there…the maiden, there…” Elandel said pointing to a girl who walked down the road from market. “I will reverse my kiss and see what she does.”

The maiden stopped and picked up the fruit on the ground in front of the lad and handed it to him, then continued on her way.

“What do you propose will happen next, my delight, my swain?” Elandel asked.
 
“The lad will follow her until his feet bleed, and she will never turn around to look,” Nivall replied.

“Ah yes. A delight to behold.” Elandel smiled and turned her head. “And look over there, my heart, my donkey. There is a woman who is enamored of her own beauty.”

“Then the fruit will fall at her feet, and she will see that she has wasted her life,” Nivall said, smoothing his dark hair with his dark hand. He tossed a piece of ripe red fruit to the ground in front of the woman’s well-heeled feet.

“A rightful ending for one so vain,” Elandel laughed, and time stopped for a moment in Nivall’s mind.

Nivall shifted his position in the thick branches, careful to stay as close as possible to Elandel. He saw a full bearded man riding urgently to nowhere on a black and white speckled horse with a black and white speckled dog running beside them.

Elandel looked in the same direction. “I see him too, my affection, my toad. The lines on his face speak to the weariness of his soul.”

Nivall nodded. “Only he has been lucky to have true love by his side as his constant companions for years now. Not many do and few recognize it, my devotion, my dove.”

“Then let us give them a treat, so they can rest for a moment and reflect,” Elandel said.

They both shook the branches next to them and a sweet rain of ripe red fruit fell to the ground at the base of the tree.

The urgent companions were brought to a halt at the sight of the red fruit on the ground and took time out from their journey to enjoy the bounty. The full bearded man divided the fruit equally between himself, his horse, and his dog. He talked to his companions while they ate and took a short nap with the black and white speckled dog by his side in the shade of the tree, while the horse grazed patiently nearby. When the man awoke, they continued on their journey.   
      
Elandel noticed that one piece of red fruit had been left behind in the road.

“This could be interesting,” she observed. “Can you see the sisters walking arm in arm and laughing, my rapture, my goose?”
   
Nivall nodded. “Yes, let us see who will touch the fruit first.”

The sisters spied the ripe red fruit in their path on the road. They both reached for it and touched it at the same time.

Elandel leaned in close. “And what will this mean for them, my enchantment, my fox?” she whispered.

“They will both love the same man, who belongs to another, until the day they die,” Nivall answered, feeling her nearness. He turned slightly, but still did not look at her. He could breathe in her essence from where he sat, and it was intoxicating.

“That is a sad ending on a day such as this, my passion, my rogue.” Elandel frowned and looked over Nivall’s shoulder. “I propose that the girl-child crying by the thornbush over there take the ripe red fruit to find her true love when she comes of age and that she will understand and cherish it.”   

“As you wish,” Nivall replied and blew into the air.

The girl-child felt a warm wind about her. It caressed and whispered to her to take the ripe red fruit that lay next to her and not eat it, but instead to keep it safe, for it would show her the way to her true love one day soon. The girl dried her tears and marveled at the beauty of the red fruit before she put it in her pocket. She returned home and indeed kept it safe while she waited for her future to begin.

The shadows grew long about the tree, and Nivall decided it was time to look fully into Elandel’s eyes. He lived a lifetime in the moment he saw that her eyes were the deep blue color of endless twilight, and he knew what he must give her.

“I have a present for you on this day of days, my mockingbird, my weakness.”

“As I have for you, my flame, my tenderness,” Elandel said with the glow of starlight about her.

She reached above their heads and plucked the reddest, ripest fruit from the tree and held it out to him.

He pulled from beneath his vest, his heart and held it out to her.

“Then I think we are in agreement, my love, my universe,” Elandel sighed.

Nivall smiled, and the Tree of Hearts bloomed into its eternal Spring.

Amanda Bergloff writes modern fairy tales, folktales, and speculative fiction. Her work has appeared in various anthologies, including Frozen Fairy Tales, After the Happily Ever After, and Uncommon Pet Tales.
Follow her on Twitter @AmandaBergloff
Check out her Amazon Author page HERE
Thanks for reading my story, and please leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you! -Amanda
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Comments

  1. Lovely. So lyrical, and I didn't see the ending coming at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, A.M.
      I really enjoyed writing this story, and it was one of those tales that seemed to "write itself."

      Delete
  2. A really satisfying story. I was so afraid they would end the day by creating heartache.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading it, Jane.
      Of course, "on a day such as this," love would have to win out in the end.

      Delete
  3. Loved this, Amanda. Gave me a feel of long ago and far away, with magic sprinkled in. Happy Valentine’s Day to you.

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  4. I really enjoyed the story, Amanda. Especially how the lovers' epithets for one another changed (at least for Elandel; they moved from being kind and loving to insulting, if I've read this aspect correctly, with "my toad" and "my donkey") and how a totally 'different' form of love is considered---that of a human's compassion toward our fellows in Kingdom Animalia, like horses and dogs. As an animal-lover (who works with animals in my profession), I was acutely aware of that moral/vignette and appreciate its inclusion!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Leigh.
      Yes, the love between humans and animals can be a pure version of true love, and I wanted that reflected in one of the "aspects of love" I represented in my story.

      Delete

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