• Angélica

Tree Trunk

Short story inspired by Georgia Elrod, Oondine, 2019 part of Tappan’s online collection: The Body.

Georgia Elrod, Oondine, 2019

I felt it when the seed was planted. I remember it because it was the day I butt heads with a bat on my way back from school. It was dusk. That hour the bats go a bit crazy. That hour they make screeching noises. It was a baby bat that hit my forehead. Probably learning to fly. Learning to get its bearings. It took me a few seconds of looking to realise what it was. I only believed it because I saw it. The bat. On the floor. Right after it hit me. Twitching. Looking creepily human. The wings gave it away. I felt a pang of disgust. I wanted to prod it with a stick. There were no sticks around. I wanted to step on it. But I didn't. The only reason I didn’t was because it was a baby bat. Had it been a grown bat, a man bat, a woman bat, a non-binary bat, I would have squashed it with my foot. But it was just a baby so I abandoned it the way you do to babies.

The seed grew, transformed.

The day they told me they’d give me back a sharp leaf popped and scratched my throat. It was the second family I’d been with. So I wasn’t particularly used to being given back but I knew it could happen. I’d been returned once before. They didn’t say why. They were nice though. The way they talked to me. They said it wasn’t my fault. They’d already packed my bags. The following day they dropped me off.

It was many months until a nice couple came in and spent sometime with me. I knew that was a privilege. I was old now for anyone to want me. I liked the couple. They had kind eyes and flat mouths. Flowers bloomed and padded my insides when they chose me. When they took me to their home. I wasn’t the only one there. They had another child. Younger than me. Their real child. It wasn't long until the flowers wilted. Their real child fed my plant. Her cruelty fed it. Gave it strength. Thickness. Soon it was a grown tree. I wanted to trim it but there was no way to reach it without hurting myself. I choked on it sometimes. There was this one time. I don’t like remembering it. I choked on the tree and I blacked out. In the darkness I saw the baby bat again. On the floor. Twitching. Looking like my new sibling. This time I didn’t spare it though. I stepped on it. I squashed it. Well and good. When I woke up there was blood on my hands. There was blood everywhere. They were covered in blood too, the couple with kind eyes and flat mouths. And so was their real child. The dad shook me, asked me what I’d done. I wanted to tell him. I did. But words wouldn't come out. I couldn’t speak. I would never speak again. And they would never know that there was a lot in my throat. There was a log in my throat. There was a whole tree trunk in my throat.

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