Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Tree

They'd spent the night escaping, moving restlessly from damp room to damp room, she always watching and listening, waiting to hear them coming again. Haunting or hunting, unclear. How many, also unknown. Colorbleached walls in every room, mattresses on peeling floors or straggling carpets. They were always on the move, always needing her vigilant, protective. Who was coming?

And then, in the way of dreams, outside and alone in a greyscaled landscape under a deadened sky. Alone but on her way to find them. She knew where to go--up the stairs, past rooms of people laughing. In the distance, low and long tan buildings, separated from her by endless, flat dry grass, drained of color.

And the tree.

Just there, feet away. She knew it, recognized it changed as it was. In her mind all colors bloomed, and she felt her fingertips touch the young branches, her muscles pulling her upward toward a clean blue sky through green, rustling leaves. All that remained now a skeleton, complete. Not so high, perhaps, but fully mature. Leaves gone, branches bare. And black. Strangely black, like a low creeping flame had taken the fullness of time to meticulously char but not burn.

I used to climb that tree, she thought, remembering somehow that she'd done so. Remembering her fingertips on the rough, grey bark, feeling their pulse. Settling into its perfect crooks and angles, veiled in leaves, laughing down.

A tree she used to climb. If she touched it now, it would break. It would crumble.

Pulling her black robe tight around her, hood shading her eyes, she walked slowly up the stairs. Past rooms of laughing people, people who stared bemused, waved slightly, returned to enjoyment. She looked through the glass, looked away, continued on, upward to something she could not see.

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