This story comes from a photo sent in by Cymeon. It is truly a weird photo. Thanks for the challenge!
Let’s play a game.
It always starts this way, with the invitation. The men cannot resist the temptation of a sweet tree nymph. With her slender frame and fierce green eyes, she draws everything to her. But she is never caught. Well, almost never.
That brings us to the story of Alan.
Alan was a lumberjack. Actually, he was the best lumberjack in the whole country. Every day he woke before dawn and went to work before the sky grew light. Every evening he returned home and chopped firewood in his yard to practice for the next day. His arms grew big and strong. Most men only have a few lumps of muscle on them, but not Alan. On his arms, he had muscles all the way down from his shoulders to his wrists. He was a very strong man.
But, he had a soft heart.
One morning, as the sun peered out over the land, a terrible windstorm came through. The other lumberjacks decided to stay in until the storm passed. After all, it could knock down branches while they were at work in the forest. But Alan did not stay home. Alan never stayed home.
He ducked his head down in the wind and dragged his mighty ax to a tree.
Chop, chop, chop, his ax went.
The wind pressed against him. Still he worked.
Chop, chop, chop.
The ax could barely carve into this tree. In fact, it did not seem to make a dent at all. Alan stood back and stared down at his blade. Suddenly the winds paused around him. A small stream of laughter wove between the other trees and reached his ear.
He turned, but there was nothing.
He turned back, and there was the nymph.
“Uh… hello,” Alan said.
The nymph said nothing. She swayed to a silent tune. Her hair floated up around her, as if she were under water.
“What is your name?” Alan asked her. He looked into her green eyes and smiled. “I’m Alan,” he said.
The lumberjack held out his hand.
The nymph paused, then reached forward. Her touch on his skin was unlike anything Alan had ever felt. Her hand was smooth velvet. It was cool like water and warm like a cup of tea. He tasted something in his mouth as she shook his hand. It was sweet.
But the nymph drew her hand back all too quickly. Alan took a step towards her. She drew back again.
Let’s play a game, she whispered, though her mouth did not move.
Step. Slide. Step. Slide.
They carved out a strange path as she lead him through the forest. The nymph ducked and hid behind the trees. But even so, she peeked out and reached for him, drawing him near as she beckoned with her finger. She wore a half smile that touched him the way no mortal smile ever could. He had to be close to her again.
In most encounters with tree nymphs, they outrun their suitors, then take the form of a tree before they can ever be caught.
But Alan was no normal suitor. He was the best lumberjack in the country.
He chased the nymph until they circled around again to the exact spot where Alan had been chopping. As she planted herself back into the ground, Alan dove and grabbed onto her arm. The nymph shrieked. She tried to shake him off. But he was too strong. And so the tree grew from the nymph around him.
Today, when people see Alan, they foolishly wonder if it is a rare case of the male tree nymph. But there is no such thing. All that remains of Alan are his big, muscled arms, flexed on each side of the trunk. Alan was the only man to ever catch his nymph.
And he suffered for it.