From my angle, arms wrapped around several tree trunks as if holding on for dear life. Just arms, it seemed. Their bodies
I stood in the middle of a forest wrapped in arms, hyperventilating. Because I could feel a pull, a tug, a call to join. And when I walked around to the other side of the first tree, I found a person… hugging it.
Only. Tree bark overlapped the man’s outline. He had his face pressed so deep into the tree that the bark had conformed to him. Or he to the bark. His hands held on tight, with a white-knuckled desperation.
The other hugged trees had more people pressed against them. As if they had all wandered in from the same direction and just pushed themselves into the side of a tree. Every one of them breathed, but I could not guess at how.
Tugging the shoulder of one woman, I managed to pry her grip from her tree. She pulled away with a sucking pop, her whole front peeling out of an impression the shape of her body.
When she turned to me, she had no face. Just the pattern of wood grain dug into her skin. I stumbled back, but she made no moves to attack or leave. Just stood there. Lost.
I had pulled several others from their trees before I noticed the first few had quietly pressed themselves back into place in their indentations. I watched, helpless, as the rest followed suit, one by one.
I could not save them.
All this time I had avoided looking at one particular tree. This one empty of a hugger. I longed to wrap my arms around its trunk and remain here forever. So instead of rescuing everyone, I saved myself and walked away.
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Great heroes of legends past sit side by side in these pages with the unsung citizens showing kindness to strangers. Humor, adventure, and nostalgia combine to remind us all that hope can be found anywhere.
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