THE TREE THAT NEVER WAS

August 9, 2013
chris

This is a rough story I wrote a while back, thought I’d throw it out, and see what you think…as alway feel free to comment. CD

Jacob sat at the end of his porch that tilted slightly towards the ground. He liked to sit there with his eyes closed and pretend he was someplace else, a steep hill or the side of a mountain on some adventure he felt sure would never happen in his life time.

Normally he would only come out at night when the other kids were at home in their beds and he was safe in the knowledge that they would never see the house were he lived. The embarrassment he had to go home to everyday after school.

Today was different.

His father it seems lost more money at the track. His mother in tears begged him to stop gambling away their lives; he always answered her sobs with the same statement. “I earn this God damn money I will do what I want with it!”

Not long after that would he hear the loud slapping sound of his mothers will being chiseled down to nothing, not long after that does he hear her silent sobs of hopelessness as his father goes off to drink and watch the TV.

Sitting in the setting rays of the sun Jacob opens his eyes and finds the usual tears that effortlessly drift across his cheeks. Washing away the dirt, leaving a clean line like a dagger to his heart.

As he was about to get up and try to slip inside unnoticed by his father he stops and stares at a tree across the road. His stare becomes intense and if anyone were watching they would wonder what could catch the eye of a boy so young. It was after all just a tree.

No. Not just a tree.

It was a tree that wasn’t there the day before, yet that is not possible! Jacob sat at that very same spot almost everyday and not once did he ever see a tree there, in fact looking by the age of it he would guess with his young mind that it must have been there for many years before he was born.

Somewhere in the house he heard his father shouting some more, demanding something to eat. Half aware he wished his mother would poison it so they could move back to his Grandparents farm. Slightly shocked at the thought he was more shock that no guilt followed behind it leaving a slimy trial of guilt like a slug.

Standing up he continues to stare and notices that something isn’t quite right about that tree. There was a weird haze all around the edges almost as if someone had quickly drawn it in place while his eyes were shut.

His fathers voice grew louder causing him to dart under the porch and scramble into the darkest parts he could find. His fathers breathing was labored his footing unsteady, the effects of too much drinking was apparent. He shouted Jacobs name several times, Jacob hugged the darkness even tighter as he listened to his fathers voice echo down the road.

He never understood why he cared so much where his son was when it was obvious to Jacob that his father hated him. Sometimes he told him so when he drank more than usual, sometimes like this on coming night. He was used to it, he prepared himself for what was to come. Just not right now, the tree held his curiosity so intensely that he had to look at it until the sun finally dipped behind the mountain range in the distance.

His father finally gave up and staggered inside muttering of the whooping Jacob was in for when he returned home. Slowly he dragged himself out from under the porch and dusted himself off. Slowly he began to approach the tree, its haze never seeming to falter.

Behind him his mother screamed breaking the link he had just developed, his father began shouting some more, demanding to know where he was. He stood rooted to the spot, a fear rose inside of him that would drown his soul if he did not make a decision to move.

More screaming from his mother, his heart skipped a beat as his stomach began to heave, slap after slap could be heard, glass breaking shattered his innocent mind forever as his mother begged like she had never begged before.

Then all was silent.

A strange sound could just be heard somewhere in the house. A gurgling sound like someone choking on a glass of water seemed to mix with the wind that drifted through their over grown yard. The tall grass rustled as old newspaper drifted from left to right.

The gurgling stopped.

Now only a whimper could be heard, it seemed to stretch out forever, never stopping until the ends of time itself.

Jacob knew something was not right, with that understanding he decided to return to the house and maybe look at the tree tomorrow morning before school.

As he began to slowly make his way towards the house and the horror that lay waiting something behind him caught his attention.

Something moved behind the tree. No. Not from behind the tree, from within the tree! He stood still. His heart beating so loud it drowned out his father’s sobs.

It came from within the tree! He knew it could not have been it must be a trick of the light. The setting sun playing tricks with his tear soaked eyes.

Then he saw it again, a head. The head of a young girl no older than himself. He staggered backwards and tripped on his own feet landing with a thud onto the dusty ground.

The sound of a girl laughing filled his ears; so fresh and almost unnatural to him after so many years of misery his senses absorbed it like a dried sponge feeling water for the first time. Without knowing it he smiled.

“You are so clumsy Jacob, but then you were from the day you were born… that’s what I loved so much about you” the girl looked deeply into his eyes never once losing the smile that wrapped him up with a feeling of pure love.

“Do…. Do I know….” Jacob fell silent.

Not wanting to lose the feeling he turned back towards the house back to his fathers pathetic attempts to bring his mother back to life by begging her, begging her to return to a life of misery, he would understand if she didn’t want to come back, he knew he wouldn’t want too, even at the risk of never seeing his mother again.

Beside his begging was solely for his own selfish reasons. Nothing more and certainly nothing to do with love, maybe once did he love her but not any more.

Jacob turned back to the girl who was still in the same position, just looking at him and smiling. Something about her reminded him of someone he knew, maybe from school? He did not know.

Slowly he made his way towards her, each step filled him with a warmth only one person had ever shown him throughout his life, she smiled at him in a way that told him everything will be alright, there was only one other person in the world that had ever smiled at him like that.

Reaching the tree she offers him her hands, without hesitation he takes them and smiles into the depths of her eyes.

“I love you mother,” he whispers.

“I love you my son,” she whispers back.

They stare into each other’s souls for a moment. Then silently enter from where she had come and the warm glow of light dims then vanishes.

As the sun finally dips behind the mountains a shimmer of light can be seen if only for a second on the vacant lot of land across the road from Jacobs home.

The vacant lot where in his lifetime, never a tree had stood.