The oak tree stood alone at the top of a green knoll
|Eden, the ancient oak grew in the precise center of the spring green mound, above the sapphire sky held no trace of the sheep white clouds that haunted the horizon. The diamond brightness of the afternoon sun shed its blessings upon the lonely tree.|
How long ago she was planted there, no one could say. Eden, herself, could not remember who planted the acorn from which she grew. She only knew that she was alone, the only tree within a hundred thousand miles, perhaps the only living tree left on the planet.
The ship, carrying the refugees, arrived late in the afternoon, with its silver hull sparking like a distant star. Eden watch as the circular shape grew larger and larger. At first, she thought it was the sun descending from the heaven, but as it came closer, she realized it was not a natural phenomenon. The ship was too perfect to be a creation of nature.
As the ship landed at the base of Eden’s knoll, it extended eight twig thin legs. The legs inserted themselves into the ground and the huge sphere rested on top of them. The tree could sense the presence of living things within the ship, but she could not tell what type of plant they were. She could feel them move freely within the walls of the ship. Unlike Eden and the grass on her hillock, the creatures were not rooted to any one spot.
Eden’s leaves rustled, whispering to the grass and asking if the ship’s legs were growing roots. The answer she received, simply confused Eden. The grass told her that legs, planted firmly in the ground, did not seem capable of rooting because they were made of some type of metal.
The sun set turning the distant clouds scarlet and pink, while above Eden the stars began to sparkle and shine. All night, she watched the sphere hoping that its inhabitants would show themselves. For the first time in her life, Eden wished, indeed longed, for the ability to move at will. She wanted to get closer to the ship, she wanted to enter the ship and meet the creatures it held.
Dawn came; the sun’s warm rays penetrated Eden’s bark and warmed the sap within her wooden body. At the same time, a metal ramp extended the sphere and two creature walked cautiously descended. They stopped at the foot of the ramp and looked around; their gazes finally came to rest on Eden.
“Well,” said the woman brushing a strand of black hair away from her eyes. “Is this the planet?”
“I think so,” the man replied as he removed an instrument from his belt. “According to the readouts, the air is breathable, the microorganisms are friendly, and that,” he pointed to Eden, “is an oak tree.”
“But, Michael,” the woman’s brow wrinkled, “where are all the animals, the fruits and flowers. According to the stories...”
“Tahirih,” he smiled at his wife, “those are just myths and legends, written a millennium after our ancestors left this planet. The computer records, the records they took with them tell a different story. According to those, this was a dying planet, with only one oak tree and an acre of green grass left.” He took her hand and led her toward the top of the knoll. “The grass now extends to well over two-hundred thousand miles around this hillock.”
“So,” she touched the tree’s rough bark, “you believe we are standing in Eden.” At that moment, an acorn released its hold one of the branches, fell to the ground, and rolled down the mound stopping at the foot of the ramp.
“No, we are standing under Eden,” he removed a communicator from his belt and flipped it open. “Subcommander Lacy,” he spoke into the instrument. “Inform the rest of humanity that we have returned to Earth and have them begin unloading the ship. We need to start rebuilding paradise.”