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"...Why the Wind Howls."

Written by: Rob Riley/Scarlet
Date: for Halloween
"The tale of Tom Carver" or "Why the wind howls"
There was a time when the wind never howled. Oh it blew and gusted but no howls through the trees....no roaring through the valley....no sound at all. But that all changed....and here's how.
In a time long before this one...in a place far from here...lived a man. He was named, as best as we can tell, Tom Carver. It was the fashion at the time to give a last name that explained whatcha did. Tom's father, name of Ben, was a wood cutter....so he became Ben Cutter. You get the idea.
Tom, while a skilled wood cutter, took to carving. His skill was such that people would come from all over to buy his carvings....so his love paid for his life as it were.
So skilled was he that...a rose carved from pine would look almost freshly plucked...beads of sap looking just like drops of dew. Bees would try to get pollen from them they looked so real. Carvings of deer looked almost ready to bound away...bears almost breathed deeply trying to smell out some tasty honey.
When asked how he chose his carvings Tom just shrugged. He said...he could almost see the thing inside the wood...just about wishing it could be carved. In truth that was the way of it. When Tom looked at wood he saw what was inside....and he just carved away whatever wasn't...what was inside.
One cool crisp Spring morning Tom was walking through the woods looking for wood to carve. There was some walking...some looking...a lot of day dreaming....after a while Tom found himself in a clearing with a lone pine tree growing in the middle. The tree was young and had a bend in the trunk but Tom's eyes spied something inside that almost took his breath away. This! This was going to be his best carving ever! He just knew it.
Using his saw and rope he took off the upper most portion of the tree, letting it fall in the clearing. For a bit he stared at the portion that remained...the piece he saved, still rooted, stood almost 10 feet tall...and it should fit the carving he had in mind just nicely.
She danced within this tree. He could see her. Her body tall and lean....twisted in a twirl...her thin arms reached skyward in the joy of her dance...her long hair flowed about her face and gently wrapped her body. It was her only attire and she bore no shame or modesty.
He set out to carve her free.
His tools stripped the bark and took chunks from the trunk. More here....less there. The soft wood, though fresh, worked with ease in his skilled hands. He shaped roughly and then with more clarity as he worked. Moving from without...to within....working towards the face of beauty he knew was hidden inside.
After a time his finer tools came out and he began to work upon her face. It was past midday but he knew he could finish her before dark. He had to finish before the night fell.
At first the cuts came easily. Small feathers of wood fell as he refined the image he had in his head. Soon though...his work became slower...unsure. The tried to hold the image he had first seen but it kept slipping away...it...wasn't what he was seeing now. The eyes weren't quite right. The mouth seemed slightly off. These laugh lines seemed too forced. This....this wasn't what he had seen before this was....this wasn't it at all.
Frustrated he stepped back and that's when he saw it.
What initially he had seen as a beautiful young woman dancing with arms raised in joy...her mouth open in laughter.....
She stood there in agony. Her arms raised in begging supplication to end the torture she was enduring. Her eyes wide open and strained in terror while her full lips opened in a silent scream of suffering.
Horrified at what he had carved he grabbed his saw and cut the remaining tree down leaving on a stump.
He gathered a huge pile of dry brush, wood, and tinder and packed it around his carving....always careful to avoid looking at the perfectly carved eyes that seemed to follow him around the clearing.
Lighting his pyre he watched as the fire quickly grow. As even the green wood of the carving began to burn he gathered his tools and quickly left the clearing.
He walked quickly...then he jogged...when his tools began to weigh him down he simply dropped them. He would gather them tomorrow he told himself....knowing he would never them them again.
Night had just fallen by the time he returned to his cabin and though he had sweat from his quick return he shivered. He stoked the embers in his fireplace back into flame and added more wood. Then he drank until he thought he might forget the day itself. He kept drinking until he had nothing else to drink and then he crawled into bed. Spinning sleep took him quickly.
Tom woke with a start. He didn't know the time but it was still very dark out. His fire had died down and at some point he had rolled himself into his blanket for warmth. He wondered what had woken him and his listened intently keeping as still as possible.
Not a sound could be heard from without or within his cabin. The forest, normally a cacophony of sounds, was still. Tom held his breath fearing to break the silence. His heart still thundered in his ears...but even that stopped.....
"TOM CARVER.....ATTEND ME..." A voice like thunder shook the walls of his cabin.
Terrified Tom pulled the blanket over his head and wrapped himself up as tightly as he could.
"TOM CARVER.....ATTEND ME AT ONCE! I SHALL NOT ASK AGAIN..." boomed the impossibly loud voice. It seemed to come from everywhere at once.
Tom felt his bones turn to water with fear but he still untangled himself from his blanket. Dragging his feet and shaking with fear he made his way to his door. His hand shook almost uncontrollably as he reached for the latch but he managed to grip the door handle. Taking a shivering breath he opened the door and stepped through to see....his yard. There was no monster or creature...no pair of giant boots waiting for him. Just his yard and the trees of the forest and....amongst the trees stood one larger than the others. The largest tree Tom had ever seen....perhaps the largest thing he had ever seen. He followed its trunk with his eyes...looking up....up....up.........up until he saw it went up through the very clouds themselves. Then he noticed....the clouds kind of looked like.....a beard. Something in him snapped like the tail of a Prince Rupert's drop. He wasn't looking at a tree...he was looking at a man. A man who...reached to the clouds. He was frozen in terror. His mind simply refused to grasp this...and then...the man spoke to him.
"Tom Carver...I am the Father of the Woods and you have wronged me. This day you took from me something more dear than my own life. You took away my very heart. You took from me my daughter."
Tom shook at each word....flinching as if being lashed by a whip.
"You were given a wonderful gift to see what lay in the heart of things...but you have used your gift to tear from me all joy. You cut from her. You stripped her flesh. You gouged her skin. And when you saw the evil you had done...you cut her from her mother's breast and burned her to ash. For this....I shall have vengeance....from this....I shall have justice....for this I shall draw from you life the way you stole it from her."
Tom shook in abject terror. He didn't know what he was doing....what he had done. He didn't know!
"I didn't know!! You....you can't blame me for what I didn't know. I....I thought I was just...carving things. You can't just kill me because I was ignorant! Killing me because I didn't know the pain I was causing would be wrong!" he pleaded and cried.
The Father of the Woods simply stared down at him. As still and as large as a mountain. After a time he spoke.
"You have spoken some wisdom...so I make you this vow. You shall be punished but I shall not kill you. I will end your punishment when you have known my pain...when you have shared in what I have felt and feel. When I am satisfied...you shall be free."
At first Tom smiled at his fortune. He had saved himself....but then as the Father's hand reached down for him he screamed.
"Tom Carver. For what you have done I punish you thusly. Every cut, gouge, burn, chop, slice, or saw to wood shall you feel as if it is your own flesh. Every broken branch shall be yours. Every whittling shall be on you. Until you have felt the pain I feel or until I am satisfied with your punishment you never die. Thus are you sentenced....and so it begins."
So since that night....every moment since....Tom has felt all that is done to trees...to wood...to him. So if you listen closely when the wind is really moving....you can hear it...almost too faintly...but there. A sound of howling....or moaning...as if a man far away is being cut....or burned...or sawed.....and it will always howl.
Because you can never know the pain a father feels at the loss of a child....and a father's vengeance is never satisfied.
Created by Janna Oakfellow-Pushee at 12-23-14 08:51 PM
Last Modified by Janna Oakfellow-Pushee at 12-23-14 08:51 PM