Tell It To The Trees

Bored at work and inspired by TheBeardedLady’s short stories. Will probably heavily edit this post soon, as I haven’t been paying close attention whilst writing this. Just a quickie today…but TWO posts for the price of ONE! Benjiva

The boy was struggling. It was three weeks into the month of September, and already his boredom was becoming desperate and puzzled. After the incident with the cough medicine and the smoked glass the boy’s parents had grown increasingly paranoid; they began drilling tiny holes into his bedroom door and pretending that they weren’t spying on him at night. They had started walking him into his classroom and watching him sit at his old, scratched desk for several minutes to make sure he wasn’t going to run away, dig a tunnel or ingest more bottles. They began feeding him food out of plastic wrappers, and touching him with latex fingers.

The boy lay in bed each night, feeling the dull lamps outside blanket him with an unshakeable ennui. Every so often, the single shard of light entering his room from behind the pin-pricked door would blink off, with the watery eye of his father or mother pressed against the peeling white painted wood, trying to find more causes for worry, for anguish, for conversation. The boy stayed lying down, still, following his breath through his body, tracing each tiny volume of oxygen passing through capillary and membrane before changing, and being released. The boy felt himself changing, felt the addiction to stillness growing in his chest.

A few minutes before the sun rose above the endless rectangular red-roofed houses, before it had the chance to turn the luxurious deep colours of night-time to the muted greys and sad, gravel-pink of dawn, the boy walked out of his house. Wearing only an extra-large white shirt which dragged around his calfs and caught on wing mirrors and topiary, he silently marched out of the carparks and began to climb the hill, atop of which sat the trees.

It took several muddied hours to scale the grassy knoll that rose, forgotten and dejected above the town, a sleeping woman’s kneecap breaking through the crust of tarmac and protecting her quiet, swaying children, tall and heavy with leaves, away from the exhausts and anti-bacterial handwash and plastic bags and petty deaths. The boy stood at the base of the tallest tree, turned around to face the town below him, and quickly, methodically, hammered a wooden stake through each of his feet, securing them solidly in the earth. Breathing out slowly and purposefully, he traced his breathing down through his lungs, his solar plexus. His breath continued to descend through his body, past his stomach and hips and thighs, into his toes, where it escaped and burst out in thousand million tiny fungal strands, each one anchoring itself into the rich, dark soil and drinking in microscopic quantities of proteins and water. The boys arms lifted into the air and started to harden, his skin thickening and cracking, his fingers elongating and entwining above his head. Each hair on the boys head had grown impossible long, knotted and swollen, they unravelled to reveal wet leaves, seeds which would become fruit. He grew quickly, with the moan and creak of the trees around. His parents had not even emerged from their plastic bedsheets.

The boy raised his face to the sky, to the sun which now flooded the hilltop, slatted and sharp through the boughs and branches. With a burning grin, a streak of joy carved in bark, he forced his way up; a sharp intake of breath burst him hard through the canopy to a flurry of panicking starlings, and he spread his green arms wide to catch the light on a thousand laughing leaves.

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About Benjamin Norris

Published writer of short stories, long stories, poems. Well received art critic and cultural commentator for Berlin magazines. Collaborator with operatic societies. Co-writer of fictional historic psycholinguistic journals. Lecturer of architecture and art history at a Budapest University. View all posts by Benjamin Norris

One response to “Tell It To The Trees

  • thebeardedlady

    I hereby grant the bearded lady’s official whisker of approval.

    This is really very good. I especially love the part about how his parents feed him out of plastic and touch him with latex fingers, and how they sleep in plastic sheets.

    I tried to become a tree once. It was an unsuccessful attempt but perhaps if I had imagined it as well as you I might have done better.

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