The Trees at World’s End


Nobody would watch the sheep at World’s End. They knew what happened to those who stood too close to the fence under an unfriendly moon.

But the Chief’s sheep wouldn’t watch themselves. And a Chief without sheep was no chief, not in those days.

When the stranger came looking for a job, it seemed both their problems were solved.

“Just watch them, boy,” the chief said, handing over the shepherd’s crook. “If they’re all there in morning, you can have a silver penny.”

This seemed a fair deal to the stranger, so he walked to the fence at the edge of the woods, where mists swirled about the black skeletons of trees, and stood watch over the sheep.

Around midnight, the woman came from the trees, smiling and laughing, and asked him to dance.

“I would not presume,” the stranger said, “to dance with a woman until I knew her name.”

The woman pleaded, flirted, laughed, but still he wouldn’t step across the fence.

They argued until the sun rose. When its light struck her, the stranger saw that her skin was bark, her hair was moss, and her arms only branches.

The stranger took his penny and left.

Word Count: 199

This is for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. Thanks to rogershipp for running the challenge!


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