Somewhere, stored far back into the depths of my memory, there stands an ancient tree. It is a frightening tree – and it is hostile. Gnarled, twisted branches brandish sharpened twigs which pierce the sky. The sky was weirdly gray when I first saw it…not so much cloudy gray as it was a misty gray, the kind of gray where horrors lurk. You know the kind of horrors I mean. The movie where you know those kids aren’t supposed to go “there” – “Don’t go in there!” You shout. “Are you stupid?” The horrors which could also be little more than a feeling, a twitch or a deepening of your pulse. Why? Because hostility reigns. The air is heavy with it. Dripping with it. For me, perhaps the first twitch I consciously recall having was standing face to face with The Tree. Not “a” tree…THE TREE. I have not spoken of it very often since that day…but apparently it has not left my subconsciousness. The tree in real life, I hope, is no longer standing; though I do not know. The darn thing is probably still there, refusing to keel over, still a menace to those who pass by.
|"Tree" by Shayna Matthews|
Young as I was, I guess I never forgot that moment. Obviously, for I am writing about it now. Somewhere, there is a photograph of that very tree. Maybe my mother has it stashed away in the collection of old photos, maybe. I don’t really need to see the photograph though. I can still see the wooded hostility standing alone in that field, waiting.
I wrote a scene in my novel recently, a scene where a boy draws a picture of a gnarled tree. It was a hostile tree that scarred the sky and struck fear in the heart of the boy. It was a scene of great sorrow, loneliness and fear. It wrote itself…so well in fact that I have no conscious memory of actually writing it. When I read back over what I wrote, my skin prickled and I was shivering. My teeth came near to chattering, truth be told. I had not thought of that damned tree in years. YEARS. And yet, it’s still there…waiting.