Flash Fiction Friday: Leaf It Be
Flash Fiction Friday continues. Starter sentence in blue.

Come with me, if you want to give... happiness a chance," said the small gnarled man bent nearly in half, as they waited at the crosswalk for the light to change.

"Excuse me?" said Jim, unsure if the man was talking to him or to some unseen entity in the man's own mind.

"Before you take you own life, let me show you something first," said the man. Jim gaped. "We need to get on the bus to the train station, then catch the train out to Stiles, then take another bus to the arboretum," the man continued.

"Why would I go anywhere with you? You're nuts," Jim said.

"Because you hate your life as it is. You have nothing to live for. You want to die. What's your fear? That I will waste the time you are already wasting yourself by living in misery, or that I will harm you when you already are thinking of harming yourself?" the man replied calmly, looking up into Jim's astonished face with his tiny clouded eyes.

Jim had no argument. Bewildered, he followed the man onto the bus, then into the train, then onto the next bus as the man had described. They arrived at the arboretum, where the man paid both their admission costs.

"Seven bucks to look at a bunch of trees?" snorted Jim.

"You didn't pay for it, yet you're still complaining?" asked the man. Again, Jim had no argument. Bypassing a school field trip congregated at the front entrance, Jim and the man headed into the stillness of the trees. They were marked with their species name, and native soil. The man did not speak as they navigated through this zoo of trees, gathered together where nature had never meant them to be gathered together, but somehow it didn't seem to bother the trees.

He stopped in front of a rather short, squat tree, whose trunk looked twice as thick as it need be for its stature. "Astrophllicus Magesteria -- Tibet" read the card. Jim scoffed, "That's nonsense! They just made up some vaguely Greek or Latin-sounding words and stuck them together!" The old man just looked at Jim pityingly, and said, "Shall we go in?"

"Go in? what the fu..."

"Please! No swearing in front of The Tree!" the man admonished sharply. Then he walked toward the tree, and disappeared into it.

Jim just stared for awhile. He could get back on the bus to the train to the bus and go back to work. Maybe this was all some sort of delusion on his part. After all, the man was right -- he was suicidal and mentally unstable. Then again, what would he lose by walking to the tree? Even if he smacked into it, and, hopefully, back to reality, no one was around to see his (potential) humiliation.

As he approached the tree, he felt his legs moving beyond his control, pulling him closer and closer like the Millenium Falcon caught in a tractor beam. He felt no impact with the rough bark of the tree when he came face to ... trunk with it; one minute he was in the arboretum, the next he was... inside. With the old man.

Like a Tardis from the science fiction show "Dr. Who," the tree was larger on the inside than it was on the outside. Specifically, it was immense. Actually, it was infinite. "What is this place?" Jim asked, when he was finally able.

"You've heard of the Tree of Knowledge? The Tree of Life? From the Bible?" asked the old man. "This is the Tree of Happiness."

"Those weren't real!" retorted Jim. The man just shrugged his shoulders.

"Perhaps, or perhaps not. I've never actually seen them myself. But I do know there is such a thing as the Tree of Happiness, and you're sitting in it right now."

It was true. Jim was no longer standing, but sitting in the most sumptuous, comfortable chair he had ever imagined. Just as he was thinking, "too bad I can't put my feet up," the chair reclined and his feet were up. Unseen hands were giving him a scalp massage. Whenever a desire popped into Jim's head, it was supplied. A sense of wonder and well-being filled him. Jim noticed the man was no longer stooping, his eyes were no longer clouded, and he had a big grin on his face.

"How did you find this place?" Jim asked the man.

"That's a long story, of course," he said. "We have a long time to tell it and hear it."

"Wait," said Jim. "There are a lot of suffering people out there. They need to know about this place!"

"True," said the man, a look of worry beginning to cross his face, "But..."

"Don't tell me you're going to be selfish about this!" said Jim, becoming indignant.

"It's not that. I would share it with the world if I could. But you have to be careful, you have to choose wisely..." the man said in a pleading tone.

But it was too late. Jim was out of the tree, making the reverse commute into the city. He ran out of the train station, grabbed the most grieved-looking person he could find, and told her the story of the tree.

And that is how Jim wound up in a mental health facility, getting force-fed pills to control his suicidal thoughts.
Name: Übermilf
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