And why not?

Once there was a man who lived in a tree. He didn't live in a shoe - you're thinking of the wrong fairytale.

He didn't live in the tree in any physical sense. He didn't have a treehouse, or a hollowed-out trunk. No, he lived in the spirit of the tree. That means that this story is metaphysical or allegorical or any of those other words that mean it isn't actually true - but is somehow truer in some profound, unfathomable, meaningless way.

Anyway, he lived in the tree. When the tree got rained on, he felt wet. In winter, when it lost its leaves, his hair thinned on top. When the tree's branches got pruned away, his extremities tingled.

He didn't know how he had twinned himself with the tree. He went to white witches, hypnotists and a woman who claimed she could put him in touch with his past lives. It turned out he didn't have any past lives. He was brand new.All his consultations were failures.

By the way, this man's name is Rowan. I know what you're thinking - that's the name of a tree. Well, you're wrong. His name is pure coincidence; there is no symbolic meaning at all (except for the possible symbolism of some kind of absurdist nihilism, but no-one goes on the Internet to read that).

One day, he was looking at the tree, thinking about life and generally getting bored. The tree was in the garden, and he was always reluctant to move house in case the new owners didn't like the tree and chopped it down. He didn't know what would happen to him if the tree was cut down, but he didn't much want to find out.

He was staring at the tree when he saw a starling perched on a branch. For some reason this cheered Rowan up and he gingerly climbed the lower branches to get nearer to the bird. He was pleased to see that it was an urban, fearless bird and didn't fly away as he approached it. He pulled an acorn off a branch and offered it to the bird. The starling cocked an eye at him:

"What do you want?" said the starling.

Rowan was so surprised to hear the starling talk that he lost his footing and crashed to the ground, breaking both his legs. It seem odd that a man who accepts that his spirit lives in a tree would be so shocked to hear a bird talk, but that's what happened. What reason do I have to lie? (ah, but writers are always liars, and they spend hours selecting just the right black and white photo for the inlay of their novels)

Lying on the wet grass, his legs bleeding, Rowan came to the conclusion that both birds and trees have it easier than human beings, and that when he recovered (it actually took 8 months, it was a complicated break) he would chop the tree down and kill any of the animals that made it their home. Hang the consequences.

And so, when his legs were mended, he chopped down the tree, and was pleased to discover that he didn't die. In fact, quite the contrary, he carried on living.