Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Harmless Tree

"Because the trees 'round here ain't safe!" my mother cautioned me. That was generally the answer I received from everyone in town. Which explained why there wasn't even a single sapling rooting from the earth inside the city walls. Even outside of town there wasn't a tree for at least five miles. As legend would have it, the trees where we lived had a violent nature to them due some curse a witch bestowed upon the townsfolk. Growing up I remember adults warning me countless times to stray clear from the path of the cursed trees, and to this day they continue to warn me. But I didn't believe what people told of the trees. I had read about trees in an encyclopedia I found in an old storage room at the school. From what I had learned, trees were seemingly peaceful. In fact, they were beautiful. Little did the people in town know, I have actually witnessed one before, from afar nonetheless. I have been to fearful to stand within ten feet of it. But everyday after school I sneak out of town and walk the five well-worth miles to witness the lush, hunchback monstrosity. It sways ever which way the wind blows, not violently, but dancing as elegantly as a ballerina.  It is a sight for sore eyes, and everyday on my way back home I'm always saddened that I can't stay a little while longer and watch her dance into the night for me. I hear my mothers voice cut back in "And I forbid you from leaving the confines of town! Do you understand me?" she continues to yell. "But it's just a harmless tree." I reply. "There ain't nothing harmless about them trees and you are not to go near them! Do I make myself clear?" "Yes mother" I mumble underneath my breath as I walk back to my room. I think about what my mother had said. I think about how her and all the others are wrong about the trees, they don't know what they're talking about I tell myself. I had witnessed this tree hundreds of times and have returned safely every night (granted I have never been within ten feet of it). I had made up my mind that I will visit the tree again tomorrow, but I will not be alone. I will share this experience with someone else. The next day at school, I asked all around the playground if anyone wanted to come with me to see a real tree. I explained to them all that I have seen this tree many times and that it was as harmless as a fly but they all just called me a fool, none of them took me seriously. After school as I started to make my way home, I was confronted by one of my classmates, Mary Ann. Mary Ann wasn't your average 5th grade girl. While most girls are into playing with dolls and trying on makeup, Mary Ann was into wrestling and playing in the mud. Typical boy things. But even though she was a tom-boy, Mary Ann was the most striking girl I had ever seen. She had a mane of scorching red hair and eyes as brilliant a hue as the summer sky. With freckles delicately sprinkled across her cheeks and smile that made my heart melt every time. "Is it true you have seen a real life tree in person?" she ask. "uhh ye...ye..yes" I manage to stutter out. "No Way! You have to take me to see this thing!" she exclaims. I gather myself from her entrapping beauty. "Sure. I was actually on my way over there right now. But we'd better hurry because we'll want to be back before dark." On the tiring walk, I tell her about how captivating the tree is, how it wafts you into a trance and how I could sit there for hours just admiring it's beauty. When we arrive within a fair distance of the tree I can tell she is taken away. Her eyes gaze upon it as if she might burst into tears. We sit from afar basking in it's presence and chatting about school and how we should make this adventure routine."Ya know, I have had a crush on you for quite some time." she says. My eyes light up, my heart flutters and I sense my palms starting to sweat. "Re...Really? Me..me...me too." I stutter. Then her face leans into mine and she plants her lips on my lips. A five second state of  pure ecstasy. A couple hours pass and I notice the sky begin to darken. "We should probably be heading home soon." I say. "Yeah, it is getting pretty late." she replies. " But there is one thing I want to do before we go." "What's that?" I ask. "Touch the tree." she says as she stands to her feet. And before I can get a word out she races at the tree like a bat out of hell. My heart begins to race. I try to get myself to go after her but it's no use, paralyzed. As she closes in on the tree, all I can hear is my mothers voice telling me not to go anywhere near the trees. The suspense is killing me, what if something horrible happens to her? Is anything even going to happen? And before I know it,she is at the tree. Her palm placed lightly against the bark as she stares at me from afar. A few seconds pass. Nothing. A sigh of relief. I knew the trees were safe all along. I regain my ability to move and begin trudging toward her. "Are you crazy?" I ask as the gap between her and I closes. "I explained to you I have never been even within fifteen feet of the tree and you find it wise to recklessly run off and touch it?" She just stands there,palm still placed on the bark. "Mary Ann?"I call out. "I.....can't..... move." she whispers. I stop dead in my tracks. One of the colossal branches on the tree is now hovering over Mary Ann like a hammer. And sure enough, it drops like one. THUUUUMP!  It clobbers Mary Ann in the back and drives her into the soil. I stand, speechless.Fear overcomes me once again and paralysis sets back in,I begin choking for air. Mary Ann lies there, twitching. I sense the life fading from her body.I panic. I begin to regret ever reading about the trees in the encyclopedia. How could I  have been so stupid and careless to not listen to my elders. I begin to weep hysterically and I fall to my knees. "He..Help me" I hear Mary Ann mutter face down in the dirt. I knew I had to act fast if I wanted to save her. Foolish instinct kicks in and I rush toward her side oblivious to the potential life threat that towers over her. She is a bloody mess but still breathing. I grab her by both arms and begin to drag her body away from the tree. Then: Crreeeek! I hear the sound of the branches again. Before I could even look over my shoulder, THUUMP!,a white light flashes before my eyes. A bludgeoning pain sets in the back of my skull as I plummet towards the earth face first. A high pitch tone, screeches in my ears.Then silence. I can no longer hear. My body temperature is feverishly hot and the smell of fresh soil invades my nostrils. I'm dizzy. I look over at Mary Ann's now lifeless corpse.Oh, God! Not like this! I try to push myself up with my arms but fall helplessly back to my face. I manage to flip over on my back only to come face to face with the hammer-like branch raising above my head. "A harmless tree" I hear repeating over and over in my head like some kind of mantra. Then: Crreeeakk! THUUUUMP!..................

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