The scent of the Oaks mixed with the ink from my life’s work as I entered the forest. In the trees, I envisioned worlds that would never be if I allowed my empathy to stay my choice. Each book printed cost a life.

Their life.

Fear, palpable as my racing pulse, infused.

I steeled my heart to their plight as pleas of mercy clawed me. A mercy I could not extend. One would be sacrificed, if not me by another.

“Pick me.”

Faint as a whisper I heard it, followed its second and third cry. The deep baritone called me until I stood at the base of a thick trunk, its branches reaching high.

A breeze blew my bark-colored hair to dance with the canopy of leaves.

“Pick me,” it cried again.

I touched the roughness and…

Days passed.

A gangly boy entered my forest his apron ink-splattered.

I called out in my soprano voice, “Pick me.”


This flash fiction was written for a prompt “darkened empathy” at Rebecca Clare Smith’s Journal 34th #SatSunTails and included a picture prompt. Please visit her site for other wonderful 155 word stories.