The Tree

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The tree. It towered over Diane, thick muscular branches reaching high into the sky, gilded by late-afternoon light. She’d been walking through the park on her way home from work. She must have passed it a hundred times before, yet today it had stopped her.

She felt for a moment that it was calling to her, that it was trying to establish a connection. But that was a childish thought.

Grow up, Diane.

The words of her foster mother sprang to mind, and she began to pull away.

“Diane.”

She stopped, looked back. Had the tree just called her name?

Grow up, Diane. It’s just a tree. Trees don’t talk.

She turned away once more.

“Diane, come back.”

The voice wasn’t one of sound but of feeling, a silent mournful breeze that seemed to blow from someplace far away. Diane shook it off.

She was tired. She was on her way home from work after ten hours without lunch, and her imagination was getting the best of her. Once more, the words of her foster mother came to mind.

Grow up, Diane.

She peeled her eyes away, forced herself to move in the direction of her apartment.

“Diane, please.”

And the voice of the tree intensified. It penetrated her strongest defenses, reaching her heart, setting it on fire. In an instant that transcended time, visions of an alien cosmos flowed through her, a broad sweeping narrative, first of pain, loss and defeat, then of victory, triumph and love. The tree. It loved her, and it wanted to sweep her away.

Diane came back to herself, caught herself mid-stride. She was shocked to find that she’d been headed toward the massive trunk with arms outstretched. She felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her.

The voice in her head was gone now, but not the supernal mystery that lingered long after the strange encounter. It had set her off balance, sent her reeling headfirst into a universe she knew nothing about.

Diane stood a moment longer, unable to move. Then she stumbled back. She gazed up at the tree one last time, now just an ordinary tree, then turned and bolted the rest of the way home.

Author: Jeff Coleman

Jeff Coleman is a writer who finds himself drawn to the dark and the mysterious, and to all the extraordinary things that regularly hide in the shadow of ordinary life.

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