The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison


Emily lay reclining in her bed, propped by pillows but unable to move. She had lived for ninety-four years but now sensed death was near.

Through the window she could see the imposing cedar that dominated the lower part of the garden. As a child, she had played in its branches and rested in its shade. Emily reflected that the tree would survive her and might easily live beyond her great, great grandchildren.

Slowly the room began to dim until she was enveloped by darkness. Emily felt no fear; simply calm.

A point of light pierced the blackness, and she felt herself being drawn towards it. This luminous dot expanded like the approaching egress of a tunnel.

Emily walked from the darkness into a sunlit forest. It was a strange forest, populated by many more trees than she could name – species which never grew together.

‘Welcome, Emily!’ A reassuring voice sounded from the wood.

‘Is this heaven?’ she asked.

‘It’s the realm of the Great Spirit of the Forests,’ came the reply.

Emily struggled to understand: ‘Will I meet Jesus?’

‘Sorry, Emily,’ the Voice responded in a kindly and sympathetic tone. ‘The Middle Eastern religions didn’t get it quite right.’

‘Oh dear,’ she stuttered anxiously as the truth began to dawn. ‘I’ve been a devout Christian all my life and tried to follow biblical teachings. Does that mean I’ve offended the Real God?’

The reassuring Voice returned: ‘Not at all. It’s true that the Real God is the Universal Spirit worshiped by North American Indians through their reverence of nature. You, however, have loved and respected your fellow human beings and done your best to conserve the environment.’ The Voice continued: ‘You have done very well indeed, Emily.’

‘Are members of all religions welcome here? enquired Emily.

‘All religions and none,’ answered the Voice. ‘Although those who arrive with tattered rucksacks, seeking virgins tend to be rather disappointed. As are those from the American Bible Belt who are looking for Hell’s viewing platform and hoping to taunt burning evolutionists for all eternity.’

There was a pause before the Voice answered the question posed by Emily’s bewildered silence: ‘Life on Earth occurs in two phases, it explained. ‘Souls first spend a lifetime as humans to gain experience of existence. Then they may spend many incarnations as the spirits of trees, meditating on the nature of reality until they attain Wisdom and thus Union with the Great Spirit.

‘What will now become of me?’ asked Emily.

‘You will return as the spirit of a tree appropriate to your karma – a fine, mature and magnificent timber.’

A dense mist rapidly descended upon the forest.

‘What happens to those fundamentalists?’ Her curiosity seemed to echo into the distance, and she could barely hear the faint reply:

‘They tend to keep returning as leylandii.’ The words of the Voice faded to silence.

Emily peered into the fog and could begin to discern the shape of a building. The view became clearer, and she realised that the structure was her home.

She was high in the air, looking down upon children, laughing and playing in the garden.

She sensed that time had passed, and with joy she realised that these youngsters were her great, great grandchildren.

Now she was the Spirit of that now mighty cedar.