Everybody looked at the trees as they climbed the steps, but nobody saw the wood. They noticed the slender birches and the ash, the way in which they shared the light. Some noticed the fallen trees, dead wood lying amongst the undergrowth.
But they didn't see the wood. Even in the rainy season when mud made the path treacherous, they didn't see the planks underfoot. Even when it snowed, and children scooped piles of snow from the hand rails, hurling it at each other and scattering the sprites when they missed.
Planks of wood, bolted together with cold iron, supports driven back into the cold earth, with no roots to provide nourishment. Flattened boards laid down to provide footing, as if to provide a comically natural effect, as out of place as chattering sounds of children's voices.
The Dryad saw the wood. She remembered the great oak, how tall and proud it had been, before it was shattered, split by lightning, driven mad by pain. Tainted and corrupted, it had threatened the forest. She had watched it, hidden within the bark of her beech tree, pale skinned and trembling.
For the first time, when the loggers came, the forest wasn't afraid. She had listened to the screams of the oak as it was torn apart, shaped and reshaped, and she had laughed as it was pressed back into service, it's body made to serve the forest, even if at human whims.
Each day, she saw the wood, the splintered bones of the old oak tree, and she laughed.