Saturday, June 2, 2012
Pulp Science Fiction
Copyrighted photograph by Chuck Wendig
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The Crooked Tree
What makes a crooked tree? Is a twisted destiny buried deep within its seed or is the seed pure in essence, reaching out wantonly into the world; its blind desire to spread far above its captive earth, oblivious? Or is the tender sapling soon defiled once leaving the comfort of the womb of loam by the bitter cold bite and searing hot gaze of a tyrannical Mother Earth? Twisted and molested by its own? Forced to live in the shadow of others of its kind? Forced to become crooked by its sheer will to survive?
He often pondered the tree that had become part of his life. He looked upon it every morning when he arose and every eve when he retired. It had been there in the tangled wood henge for as long as he could remember. Always crooked. Always old. The tree has watched him as well through the years. He fell from the old maple and nearly died as a child of seven. It was his Mother who found him, hours later. Mother who called emergency in a drunken stupor. If it hadn’t been for the social worker making her rounds, he would’ve died then, like so many of her seeds before him.
He didn’t fault his crooked tree. He didn’t fear her, either. They made up when he finally returned home, the sun shining bright, the comfort of the tree’s shade wrapping round him like a cool sheet. He climbed to her highest branch, overlooking the myriad of jagged stumps there. Stumps of trees that she had endured. Tyrants that had come to pass. He imagined that she had slain them, ripping them limb from limb as they pleaded for her mercy; mercy never shown the crooked tree.
When sixteen, he built a fort in his crooked tree. The day Mother died. Her sap ran like blood from his nails. She gave in willingly to her stigmata. She gladly cradled his weight, even in pain. The weight of his body, his soul, his deeds.
He hid there; watched as they came and went. Soon even the dedication of the social worker waned and he was alone. The house that he had called home stood empty. Condemned. Too defiled to even inhabit.
He scavenged for food at dusk. He thought how easy it was if you’re just willing to compromise. He scavenged for his crooked tree, as well. She’s wasn’t as strong as she once was. He would bury the food she craved at her feet, her roots feeding on the carrion; as they fed on Mother. They were safe now. No longer surrounded by foes. They had all been brought down.