Thursday, February 28, 2008


Keep those votes for Readers' Choice coming! You all have done a wonderful job commenting and supporting each other.

Since these contests are about community building, I always like to do a story myself. Here is what spoke to me when I listened to the whispers.

by Jason Evans

The car slowed and crackled into dead grass alongside the road.

It sat before the engine cut.

In the shadow of the hill, a man emerged, followed by his son. The doors thumped shut.

"Is that an apple tree?"

"No," the man said. "A maple."

Hands in pockets, he didn't move. He stared up into ghostly layers of clouds.

"Can I ask you something?"

The boy shrugged.

"Am I a good dad?"

The boy looked up. "Um. Yeah. I guess."

The man began to climb. His feet tore wounds in the watery ground.

"If ever I'm not, I want you to tell me. Okay?"

"Um. Okay."

They stopped at the tree. The man avoided the boy's eyes.

"When I was your age," he said, "I had a friend who disappeared."

The boy perked. "He died?"

"Everyone figured he died. You reminded me of him today."

"Wow. Were you sad?"

"Yeah. I was sad. And afraid. I still think about him sometimes."

The man rubbed a squeezing pain in his forehead.

"He must feel cheated. He must be so mad about being left behind."

The tree branches chattered.

For a moment, the grey sky brightened, but the light slipped under the clouds.

"Can bad people ever become good?"

No longer listening, the boy dug mud with his heel.

The man straightened. "We should go."

Before moving to leave, he smoothed the broken ground and prayed an apology to the boy he buried beneath the tree.

And knew he'd never be redeemed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Whispers" Short Fiction Contest


Click HERE for the winners announcement.

Click HERE for the contest announcement, prizes, rules, and judging information.

Index of Entries
Abbott, Patrica, Within My Sight (#23)
Absolute Vanilla, The Oneness of the Infinitree (#28)
Aerin Rose, November (#57) 2nd Runner-Up, Readers' Choice
Al, Wuff, The Father (#71)
Ames, Nancy, She Leaves in the Morning (#38)
Ansari, Sameera, Road To Nowhere (#58)
Blackwater, Jade Leone, Night Owls (#12)
Bluesugarpoet, Metamorphosis (#22)
Caffrey, Angelique H., Out on a Limb (#73) Honorable Mention
Camptown, Dottie, The Sleepwalker’s Tree (#27)
Canterbury Soul, 2.5º (#52)
Carrara, Gemma M., A Moment (#32)
Courtland, Linda, The Girl Who Talked to Trees (#36)
DeLeo, Bernard, Skyline (#5)
Dudley, Peter, Faith (#1)
Eldin, Chris, The Burial Site (#21)
Ello, Do Trees Sleep? (#19)
Evans, Jason, Redemption Your Host
Hale, Patricia J., Ugly Roots (#40)
Hartman, Geraldine, The Beckoning Spring (#10)
Hendricks, Rebecca, Order and Chaos (#69)
Hina, Sarah, Christina's World (#45) Readers' Choice Award
Hoodie, My Dog Has Fleas (#48) 5th Place
Janik, Lucian J., Search Results (#43)
Kearney, Seamus, For Every Life Lost (#64)
King, Ronald, Beneath the Ash (#35)
Lake, Rebecca, Please (#26) 4th Place & 1st Runner-Up, Readers' Choice
Lehane, DBA, A Love Engraved (#11)
Lenardson, Anna, Maggie May I? (#70)
Liadis, Paul, Tastes Like Brains (#17) 3rd Runner-Up, Readers' Choice
Lindstrom, Dianne, Still Standing (#6)
Lynskey, Dina, Breakfast with Sarah (#7) Honorable Mention
Lyons, Margaret, A Waiting Thing (#34)
McAuley, John, Walden's (#44) Honorable Mention
McGuinness, Micky, Sub Text (#25)
Monchego, Jr., Victor, Of What Gloom Befalls an Impatient Man Reborn (#72)
Montgomery, J.C., Out On A Limb (#49)
Mystico, The Fog (#2)
Nicolson, Ewen, The Weekend Went Much As Planned (#42)
Nothingman, Her Arms Reach For The Sky (#53)
Odhner, Melanie, She Missed Her Tree (#20)
Ostrander, Beth, Fade to Black (#24)
Pelc, Michael, Trees Don't Dream (#54) 2nd Place
Peterson, Janine, Life’s Celebration (#47)
Posolxstvo, A View of the Field (#63)
Precie, Holding On (#51) 3rd Place
Puresunshine, Rustling in the Wind (#56)
r2, The Tree Wept (#29)
Rachael, Sweet Escape (#31)
Rel, Conspirators (#4)
Rob, Closure (#39)
Rosdahl, Lyle D., The Window (#67)
Salas, Alexander, Whispering Winds (#59)
Scheer, Wayne, The Lonely Tree (#65)
Seamans, Sandra, The Comfort Tree (#3)
Seidel, Christian, Dinnertime (#41)
Simpson, Scott, Bait (#16)
SzélsõFa, Whispers (#33)
Talkington, Amy, Life (#18)
Tanya, Lost Hope (#66)
Therese, Point of View (#62) Honorable Mention
Toporikova, Lena, A New Beginning (#61)
Trexler, Roger Dale, Remembrance (#30)
Vesper, Treasure (#9)
Vinson, Missy, The Silent Treatment (#14)
Vogt, Josh, They Call Him… (#15) 1st Place
Volker, Jane, Winter Love (#60)
...why paisley???, that perfect tree (#13)
Watters, Dave, A Time Past (#46) Honorable Mention
Watters, Kim, Alone... (#55)
Weaver, Raine, The Song Of Spring (#50)
Welch, Terri, A Season Apart (#37)
Wylder, Stephen, On the Cold Hill's Side (#68)
Young, Henry, Grown (#8)

Entry #73

Out on a Limb
by Angelique H. Caffrey

I only climbed the tree because I felt like it.

It was four past two on a Tuesday afternoon when I hoisted myself up into the air. Suspended at intervals by the crook of an arm or a leg, I ascended the tree. In roughly 24 minutes I was as high as I wanted to be.

For 31 minutes, I was one with a natural world of bark, birds, wind and beetles, safely held against the strong trunk by two sturdy limbs.

Then it was 2:59 p.m.

Tanya and David came home from school and found their mommy in the tree out back.

“What are you doing up there?” Tanya demanded. Her ‘tweener voice shook with embarrassment.

David, only eight, was less hostile. “You look silly.” Then, “But that’s cool.”

“It is not ‘cool’!” raged Tanya. She turned her head upward. “You get down here before someone sees you!”

I stuck out my tongue. Her face took on the color of a violent sunset.

“Are you coming down for dinner?” David wanted to know. I shrugged my shoulders and looked away, admiring a farmer’s field that soon would hold a bounty of corn.

“Why are you doing this?” Tanya’s rage only made me smile.

“I’m calling Dad!” She fled into the house.

I breathed deeply. The air was fresh, brown, alive.

Below me, David said nothing. My eyes met his, dark circles speckled with gold flecks. My treasure.


“Can I come up?”

I laughed and extended my hand.

Entry #72

Of What Gloom Befalls an Impatient Man Reborn
by Victor Monchego, Jr.

1981: As a man my impatience was rewarded. People paid me handsomely. Equal, too, were my skills to intimidate and manipulate. I was, perhaps, the Most Impatient Man of My Time. I lived a slashing, hewing, cleaving world. Great were my feats, eternal fame their meed.

1989: I had clients, not friends. A had a series of erotic relationships with investors. I bore through my enemies with caustic words. I tossed aside many wives. My children pressed upon with the weight of my surname.

1995: Now, each winter I stand before the world denuded, chilled to the core, my sap running thin. I am mad and bound in bark.

1998: Patient, a tree must be patient. One cannot wonder. One must stand. One must wait. Oh, horror. Let me out.

2005: How many summers mark this incarnation? I have lost the ability to count and hence the skill to meter time at consequence.

2013: I have grown accustomed to my bark. I have taken the full moon as my lover. She is gravid and full-bellied. A meadowlark is my counsel.

2017: They say goodly shade she finds who shelters beneath a goodly tree.

2019: I thought my penitence paid, reborn as a tree. But hark the sound, a familiar roar, a buzz saw on the land, the price of impatience. I fear the cutting, the terror of petrol in the wind. The chainsaw rips, tomorrow I am cord.

Entry #71

The Father
by Wuff Al

The contraction came again. Elise tried pushing the baby out. George looked worried sick. All he could do was to hold her hand and his nerves, and whisper, “I love you!” The doctor encouraged Elise to keep trying.

Seconds later, the baby saw light at the end of the tunnel. With the last ounce of energy, Elise released the baby completely. George was relieved and overjoyed.

“Congratulations! Would you like to do the honours?” the doctor said, handing George a pair of scissors. With a shaken hand, the father cut the umbilical cord. He was then ushered out of the room with the baby on the trolley. He spent time observing his cute little offspring.

“Mine, mine…this is what I’ve always wanted,” he thought as he began to embrace fatherhood.

As soon as he sat, Xabi walked in and whispered into his ear, “We’ve got the mole.” George left his son with the nurse, and led the way to his limo. There, sitting in the middle of the car was a nervous Antonio who was tied up and gagged. He sat next to him and closed the door.

“Can I trust you, Antonio? You’ve got me busted at Bogota, you bastard!” George whispered. He took out a dagger and slit Antonio’s throat swiftly.

He stepped out of the car and drew a deep breath. He noticed a lone tree across the field next to the hospital.

“I want a house for my boy over there. Remove the tree, Xabi!”

Entry #70

Maggie May I?
by Anna Lenardson

Maggie leaned against the sink and shut her eyes against the darkness. Imprinted on the lids she saw the negative image of the lone tree on the hill outside her farmhouse window that had been illuminated by the flash of lightning seconds before. "Alone, like me," she thought.

Only the tree stood strong, complete. For twenty years she'd watched it grow, imagining a swing beneath its branches, imagining the face of her curly headed little girl, imagining her laughing brown eyes . . .

The atmosphere was heavy with expectancy and far off flashes of lightning made promises that the night would fulfill.

Maggie too was waiting, but for what, she didn't know. It had been two decades since Jason had left her, taking her baby girl and clearing out. And she didn't expect him back. Not really. Not that she blamed him.

"O God", she cried, "How long do I have to pay for my mistakes?"

She wished she was brave enough to end it ... or hopeful enough to keep going.

Another flash made her jump and she heard a rapping on the door. Surprised, she dried her hands on a towel and made a quick, furtive swipe at her eyes as she walked toward the door. She flipped on the light and lifted the corner of the lace curtain that covered the four-paned window. She looked down into an upturned face with laughing brown eyes and her eyes swam as she fumbled with the lock.

Are you Maggie Saunders?” said the young woman standing on the porch. “May I come in?

Entry #69

Order and Chaos
by Rebecca Hendricks

I was there after the fire.

The stink of the room was intolerable. Damp, where before it had been dry, dusty. Meaty, like the sausage smell on your Yaya’s hands when she smacks you for lying. Sour, like the breath of the mistake you awaken next to, the day after payday. Rotten and spoiled. The walls were dark smears, and the wooden cases, cracked, the front facings peeling outward in curls. And inside, soot, and here and there the soiled line of a little pin. The specimens themselves were blown away into the wind and the water, along with the cards, and the books. They’d been dead for ages. Now they were gone.

And I felt… nothing. Nothing is what I felt.

I looked, I searched for meaning, but I couldn’t find the path to it. One hundred and thirty-seven years of collecting, cataloguing, comparing and annotating. Each miniscule item meticulously identified with kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species, each of these a step from root to trunk to limb to branch to twig to leaf. There had to be a path. Each thing was unique and uniquely perfect, each defined by its place on the tree. There, life lived, humming with relationships and comparisons.

Here in the soot, there was chaos, and I couldn’t feel it. I just stood in the room and saw the world fragment and scatter and fall outward. Fingers without hands. Sheets unraveled. Strangers with no names and no past, no future.

Without root.

Entry #68

On the Cold Hill's Side
by Stephen Wylder

"And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill's side."

John Keats, "La Belle Dame Sans Merci"

It was our Eildon Tree. We both loved the old ballads, and our favorite was "Thomas the Rhymer." In it, the Queen of Elfland visits Thomas while he sits under the Eildon Tree. She offers him a challenge:

"If ye dare to kiss my lips,/Sure of your bodie I will be," she said. And Thomas took her dare:

"Betide me weal, betide me woe,
That weird shall never daunten me."
Syne he has kissed her rosy lips,
All underneath the Eildon Tree

"Weird," as we both knew, meant fate. Thomas's fate was to serve the Queen for seven years. I served my Queen for less than two.

I would sit under the tree, and she would come and dare me to kiss her. I remember those kisses, even more than what came after. Perhaps she believed she was the Queen of Elfland, able to seduce any man with her magical beauty. And there came a time when she returned from school and dismissed me, and with me, our tree. My Elf Queen had become Keats's "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," and I found myself "on the cold hill's side."

In the years since then, we both married and divorced, and perhaps she recognized that being a femme fatale could not bring her happiness. So I still walk to our tree, hoping she might return, even now, when no birds sing.

Entry #67

The Window
by Lyle D. Rosdahl

Just beyond the tree, beyond the fence, close to the grey clouds that hung almost to the earth, a boy sat on another tree’s stump. Beneath his crossed legs that he moved up and down rhythmically, under his bright red, Superman shorts, inscribed in the stump, a symbol which we could not see. We reasoned that this boy, hidden behind the hill, past the fence, was some kind of sign for us. The clouds molted clouds. The barren tree stood in our vision and we reasoned that perhaps we could have seen the boy if the tree had not been there.

The boy held in his hands a bird, we thought. A sparrow. The sparrow was frightened but not of the little boy. The boy in the cape looked smaller now. His sandy hair grew into his scalp and we wondered if it hurt. The sparrow grew old faster than the boy grew young and we reasoned that the sparrow was frightened of growing old. We put our arms around one another and watched the clouds molt in the sky.

The boy was then nothing but a pool of blood and perhaps a beating heart on the tree stump and the clouds had multiplied so they covered the entire sky and dipped to the ground shrouding the tree until it looked like a rib cage. We closed our curtains.

Entry #66

Lost Hope
by Tanya

There it was. Through her window she saw her life pass her by leaf by leaf.

Although each day brought new promises, another chance,
she found none.

Once dead and gone, renewed life returned to her time after time.

Tick, Tock. Tick, Tock.

She got up every morning, time healing nothing.

She treaded softly through the silent fields.

Left, right, left, right.

No one around. No one who cared.

“What am I doing? What’s the point?” she asked the sky.

Left, right, left, right.

A drop on her nose, she wept with the clouds.

Her sobs joined the howling winds in hopeless song.

Drip. Drip.

She could not sleep, could not eat, no life left within to nourish.

Sorrow. Pain. Loneliness.

Long ago there was a decision to be made.

The choices were to either live or die.

She decided to live.

She chose to die.

Life would never be the same again.

Entry #65

The Lonely Tree
by Wayne Scheer

Jack stared at the lonely tree at the edge of his property, recalling the tree house he had built for his two daughters. Ellen, older by a year, loved to pretend she was a bird flying off to new worlds, while Susan outgrew the house the day it was built. She preferred solid ground.

Later, Jack built a swing under the tree. He remembered sharing it with Susan, who asked his blessing to marry Alan as soon as she graduated high school. She was too young, Jack worried. But he gave in. What else could he do? They married under the tree while Jack fretted over threatening skies. None of that mattered, now that his Little Susie and Alan had grown children of their own.

Ellen eventually flew off to explore the world. When she returned, they sat on the swing, shaded by the tree, and she told him wondrous stories about her adventures in Turkey where she had worked as a Peace Corps volunteer.

He was proud of his daughters and wished his wife had known them as grown women. The two girls were ten and eight when he and Marianne sat beneath the stoic tree and cried over the news Dr. Harris had delivered that afternoon.

Jack stared at the old tree at the edge of his property. It was autumn now. The tree would soon offer no shade, and its leaves, as scattered as an old man's memories, would be little more than a nuisance.

Entry #64

For Every Life Lost
by Seamus Kearney

Some people reckon this old tree should’ve been hacked down years ago for all the bad luck it’s brought. They came close to it once, not long after the death of young Robbie Marechal - bless his soul - who left behind four little ones and a pregnant wife. I was one of those who volunteered to help, until the conservationists got all excited with petitions and court orders. Do you know it took a week before someone had the courage to cut down the rope? Disgraceful, when you think about it. A grieving wife didn’t need to see that.

Then there was the hot air balloonist, killed outright after miscalculating the tree’s height. Some say the branches must have reached up and actually grabbed hold of the basket, as the man would never have made such a basic mistake.

In the past 30 years alone there’ve been some seven deaths linked to this beauty: two suicides, two falls, the case of the balloonist and two car crashes. No wonder people stay away from the place. Who in their right mind wouldn’t just be a little bit sick with caution?

My wife maintains they’ve got it all wrong, though. She reckons that for every life lost, a thousand others have been blessed beneath these branches. Every year we come back for our anniversary picnic, and who am I to argue? It’s been 60 wonderful, healthy years since this tree witnessed our very first kiss.

[Seamus is a New Zealander, from Irish stock, now living in France. On top of his day job as a news journalist, he lives on a mixed diet of fiction and poetry. As well as working on a novel, he regularly features original short stories and poems on his blog.]

Entry #63

A View of the Field
by Posolxstvo

She always wanted a view of this field. We talked about it before, sitting on the porch drinking lemonade. She’d tell me, “Burt, plant me right up there so’s I can always keep an eye on ya.”

So that’s what I did.

Toward the end, she was hard to understand. She was always yelling, but the palsy made it hard to tell what she was saying. She’d get frustrated when I didn’t hear her right. I’d bring her soup, and she’d yell and throw it ‘cause what she wanted was something else.

Some nights I’d just go driving longer than I probably should have, but until you’ve been there your own self, I’d ask you to keep your opinion to yourself.

Then came the night she finally passed. I’d been in town, having some drinks at the tavern. I came home and she was screaming, like always. I went in to her and she had the devil’s fire in her eyes. She looked hard at me, tried to say something.

“Inn meh” she said.

I didn’t understand. I went closer.

“Kinn meh,” she said again, clearer.

I kissed her, and she spit in my eye.

“Kighgh me!” This time I knew.

I went out and fetched the shovel and showed it to her and she smiled. I knew what I needed to do then. And I did it. And then I buried her.

When it’s my time, son, please bury me anywhere you want except not under that tree.

Entry #62

Point of View
by Therese

It had happened. It was happening. It had happened. After weeks, months, years of waiting, of forming him into the man she wanted, it had happened: a proposal.

She looked down at the man kneeling at the base of the swaying old poplar. He smiled as he waited for what was sure to be her enthusiastic "yes!"

She thought of the time she had patiently wasted. Eight years. Seven months. Four days. He was now romantic and sincere, but she was dizzy with the math.

I could have moved to India, gotten two degrees, and had a marriage fail. I could have traveled the world, met many people, and seen different cultures. I could have had so many adventures. Why did I have to love him?

Her resentment choked her. He smiled wider, thinking her overwhelmed with joy.

She had so little time to make her decision. One second. The decision of her life. Any longer and he would know the answer anyway. Already, too much of her time with him had been spent scheming.

Sickened with herself, she looked at his hopeful face. She looked at the man she had changed. Thought of what she had sacrificed. Thought of what she had made him sacrifice. So she chose.

"Yes!" She smiled back at him, tremulous.

The bile stuck in her throat and she closed her eyes against the tears that burned behind them.

And he kissed her.

Entry #61

A New Beginning
by Lena Toporikova

“Because only with you I learned what happiness is. And with you I knew this solace and comfort”, he whispered.

Silence was the reply for him.

“Because you were there when I most needed you. And stood by me when I failed. And it gave me strength to stand up”, he smiled.

Only gentle wind touched his skin.

“Because you made me laugh every time I fell down. Your radiant smile was sunshine of my life”, he wept.

Only clouds were the witnesses of his tears.

“And now that you are gone I don’t see any reasons for holding on”. Tears rolled down his cheeks. All the pain he felt because of his loss, all his inconsolable grief longed to get out.

“Because only you gifted me with utter bliss. And you were my comfort and solace. And your peace was my peace, too”, the lonely tree rustled.

“Because I needed you more than you did. And your strength was my strength, too”, the wind whispered.

“Because I couldn’t bear you being down. And you were the sun to make me shine all through the hard times”, the clouds uttered.

“And now it is time to move on. Time for a new beginning. I know you can do it… for me.”

Tears rolled down his cheeks but he knew he would hold on. Just for her.

Entry #60

Winter Love
by Jane Volker

I often go to the field behind my house. There, a dry-stone wall over-run by hawthorn and bramble is where I take shelter from the bitter elements and look across the moor at the lonely old oak on the horizon. I like best to go when the earth is spent from spring and summer procreation and has finally put to rest its autumn finery.

There is an inherent beauty in winter that few ever really notice. Too cold to see. Who stops to look when an artic wind warns against it? Its penetrating chill forces you to look at the ground. A forward stare is met with icy punishment. Look down. Be careful. Don’t slip. Pull your hood closer, your hair is starting to frizz. Watering eyes and dripping noses remind us to get inside quickly.

I wonder if the Earth is just protecting herself?

She does not want us to gaze on her nakedness and modestly demands we look away. Without the veil of leaf and blossom her shame metes out a thrashing on the brazen voyeur.

Cover up. Eyes down. Look away.

I am not like the many. I am not cowed down by freezing winds and battering rain. The frigid fingers of winter are to me a lover’s embrace thrilling every sense. Bleakness and desolation just reveal the bones, the inherent strength of nature’s glory. It gives my heart purpose this winter beauty.

I think she knows. Even in slumber she needs her lovers.

Entry #59

Whispering Winds
by Alexander Salas

Naked as a newborn, the giant leafless Oak gently sways from the southerly currents. A sudden blast of icy air battles the warm southern winds for supremacy. Like a tired boxer in the final round, winter sluggishly fights its inevitable demise.

Luke eyes the Oak. Motionless, he stands on the highway's shoulder. This is his first visit to the site where Jenny and little Luke lost their lives. Black ice and a massive trunk add up to death. Two deaths actually.

After the funerals, Luke decides to come here.

“Did they suffer?” Luke asks the tree. “What were their last words?”

Cloud cover brings a premature darkness. A balmy gust caresses Luke.

…hello honey, nice to see you again…


…hi daddy…


The tepid breeze blows continuously.

…it's alright honey, we're okay…daddy I saw grandma and grandpa…we're here always…and even grandpa's grandpa…I love you Luke…I love you too daddy…we'll be here babe…don't be sad daddy it doesn't hurt…we'll be together again Luke, I promise you…

Entry #58

Road To Nowhere
by Sameera Ansari

It was all over. There was nothing to live for, nothing to hope for anymore. She kept walking aimlessly on the hillside. The stars were shining so brightly but it seemed like doomsday to her. The full moon was menacing, laughing at her pain in all its glory. How cruel could nature get?, she thought.

One could not blame her state of mind. The earthquake had taken away all her family and friends. She had miraculously escaped but it only seemed like a bane to her. She had no means of making it all alone through the tough road that lay ahead and at the risk of being remembered as a coward, had taken this decision.

On second thoughts, who would be there to remember her? Life could be so cynical and harsh. She, who had been the strength and hope for many and had averted hundreds of suicides in her successful counseling career, was on the verge of committing one herself.

There, the cliff was not far now. Very soon she would be with her loved ones and free of this misery. There was a single deciduous tree and beyond that a ledge from where she would descend into the inviting clutches of death. How alone that tree was, just like her. How harsh a season it had withstood and yet it survived. Not a living thing in sight and yet it swayed, full of life. She stopped in her tracks, suddenly ashamed of herself, uncertain...

Entry #57

by Aerin Rose

The barren branches of the tree split the grey sky into a million shattered pieces.

In sixty years we have never missed the anniversary. Yearly we carve the word into our flesh, reopening the scars or creating new ones. You can only open scars so many times before the tissue is too hard to penetrate.

I have learned to bring gauze, to prevent infection. He brings a bottle, to smash, to use as our knife. I hold out my arm, and trace the first letter. It’s best to do one at a time and let the blood clot a little, so we take turns. K on my arm, K on his.

Sixty years of sharp silence. I am tracing T when, with strength that belies his age, he rams a broken piece into the tree, digging deep to the moistness of the sleeping trunk.

Der Baum trägt keine Schuld,” I say.

The tree bears no guilt.

“Neither did she!” he says colorlessly.

I haven’t the thin layer of muscle beneath her soft skin heaved under my he fumbled with her underthings to desecrate her...the yellow star pinned to her coat...the way her eyes, like shards of glass, flashed defiantly.

We stare at the cuts oozing red on our wrinkled pale skin. Her silence echoes in the tree branches.

They, the Nazis, our superiors, coined the word immediately, in ridicule. We live with its hardness every day.


[Author's Note: Dr. R.J. Busse, danke.]

Entry #56

Rustling in the Wind
by Puresunshine

She kept her promise. She reached the place, however, 20 minutes late. Impatient. Anxious. Excited. Sue looked at her shiny blue wristwatch again. The cool breeze played with her soft curls and she looked beautiful, even at 36. She did not have a number to call Ron at. She didn’t know whether he carried a phone on him at all. He hated cell phones, she remembered.

Oh Ron! I so want to meet you, she told herself looking all around, sitting comfortably under the tree. It looked so proud but seemed to tell her a story about itself. Tall. Majestic. Sad. It was staring at the sky as if searching for something or guessing the shape of clouds, maybe, something Sue often did.

She looked at her bare fingers. She and Ron would have been married if all had not gone wrong. It had been 8 years and she has not been able to forgive herself. She felt her trouser pocket and held on to the ring she had brought for him.

Thirty minutes had passed...

“Sorry I’m late. Have you been waiting for long,” said a voice behind Sue. She turned to look. Ron had a smile on his face, as always but he looked different. He was wearing a black cassock and a cross.

Sue paused for a while and got up to give him a hug, letting the ring slip away.

She understood the tree’s story. It was as alone as she was.

Entry #55

by Kim Watters

They say the fire was the most devastating thing that happened in this area to date. It's still talked about to this whispers...

I'm just an ordinary person, average, no special talent to talk about, wouldn't set the world on fire, until that night, years ago, it started. I woke up to find myself alone in a field, not knowing how I got there, or why. I mean, the only thing in the barren field besides myself was…a tree. That's when the first whispers started, the whispers that told me to...

A few months later, I woke up to find myself alone in a field, again. How did I get here? Why was I here? Then…the whispers…they hypnotized me, mesmerized me, I could just make out the words, “here...over here...come to me...I need you to...There was no one there, so who was whispering...or what was whispering...I snapped out of the hypnotic-like trance and ran...

Six months later, I once again woke the the tree...the whispers, louder still, telling me that I'll get my hearts desire, promising me beauty, wealth, everything beyond my wildest dream, if only...WHAT, what is it that I'm supposed to do to get my hearts desire and everything else that it promises. I ran, ran as fast as I could from those haunting whispers...

A year later...I heard the stories going around. They say the fire was the most devastating thing that happened in this area to date. It's still talked about whispers...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Entry #54

Trees Don't Dream
by Michael Pelc

In the background the FM Dylan is nasalizing his way through another rhyme, stuffing all kinds of words that shouldn't ought to be there into a sentence, until somehow, at the end, he comes up with just the right ones to tell me that anyone not busy being born is busy dying. And he drags out the last word, dying, to emphasize it, like he's talking to me personally.

So I'm thinking maybe I ought to be writing this stuff down, but she's in the way again, standing at the door to the apartment, fiddling with her purse, trying to adjust the strap so it doesn't slip off her shoulder. A collection of brown paper bags from the Piggly Wiggly are gathered at her feet. She lacks for suitcases, so she's put all her belongings into the grocery bags.

"Because trees don't dream," she says, picking up the bags at her feet and the discussion from an hour ago. As if dreams were a reason for leaving. And then, just like that, she's out the door.

"They don't dream of spring," she continues, her voice muffled now, "and neither do they dream of growing up to be a boat some day. And they certainly don't whisper Gregorian Chants in the moonlight."

I am impressed that she remembers so many of the words to my poem. But mostly I am thankful for the tree that grew up to be the door I helped her close forever.

Entry #53

Her Arms Reach For The Sky
by Nothingman

I still remember how she screamed when I started to chop her. Her begging sobs changed to vile curses and then to animal shrieks. I’d have gone deaf if I didn’t have my iPod with me!

Good for me there was no one else in the forest when I killed. I took my time, from pieces to chunks and then to tiny tiny bits, till she was all mushy goo. I dug a hole near the tree and poured her in. It’s a good comforting feeling to know that she is dead now. Chopped, minced and buried under that tree.

Last summer I took our Kathy on a picnic to that place. I ‘watered’ the tree, but hey, I never told you this ok! Though, I must admit it felt peaceful, in more ways than one.

I saw the tree, its branches all raped dead by winter, naked and withered, reaching out for the sky like arms of some anorexic monster.

Some days, I think I can still hear her screams in the wind, but maybe I just need some new ear buds for my iPod.

[The writer is currently fighting a new job, life and the forces of darkness all while trying to keep two blogs A Story A Day and Poetry well-fed and cared for. So far, he is winning over life, how long remains to be seen.]

Entry #52

by Canterbury Soul

I woke up this morning. It was Valentine’s Day. I suddenly remembered the flowers and the cards he used to give me. But today, there were no cards or flowers. Someone ought to have received them from him.

I looked at my mother, her head over her arms. She must be awfully drained from all the crying. I loved her very much. I knew I would be away soon, and I was going to miss her. She was all that I had.

She lifted her head, looked into my eyes and beamed. Seconds later, they walked in.

For the next hour, I could only lie. I lay still in bed and I lied that I was feeling fine. The physical pain I had to endure was unbearable, but I was too distracted by my emotional pain to be bothered at all.

The question “Why” did not make sense to me anymore. But I still held it against Him, I must admit.

“…many things about tomorrow…I don't seem to understand…but I know Who holds tomorrow…and I know Who holds my hand…”

They went on for awhile in that song. I felt comforted; about 2.5º to be precise. And that level of comfort brought a smile on my face.

I shut my eyes.

I stood.

I could only hear whispers now.

I began to walk.

There was silence.

I opened my eyes.

I saw the most beautiful tree.

I felt the most perfect peace.

I finally understood Him.

Entry #51

Holding On
by Precie

Now I see halos everywhere, bright white auras around everything.

When I tell Andrew this, he starts cleaning the living room, picking up shoes and newspapers scattered by the front door, pushing the ottoman against the sofa. His frenetic movements produce a dizzying psychedelic show.

“I’m just seeing halos, sweetie. I’m not blind,” I say, half-joking.

His inability to look at me is his only response.

“Let’s get some fresh air. How about a walk?” I suggest.

“Are you sure you’re up for it?” he asks.

I respond by raising my eyebrows.

We walk in silence. Andrew grips my hand tightly. I smell moist earth. The fields around us are thawing, waking, welcoming life. When we reach the tree, we sit. Leaning against the rough bark, we watch the clouds drift across the sky. It’s a shame that he can’t see the world radiating as I do.

Andrew speaks first.

“I can’t lose you.”

“You promised you wouldn’t go all Love Story on me,” I tease.

Then I see his face. I see his puffy eyes, the subtle vertical lines left by tears, all outlined faintly in glowing white.

I cradle his head in my lap, lulling him as I would a child.

“Everything will be all right, sweetheart. I’m right here. I will always love you. And doctors aren’t always right.”

Entry #50

The Song Of Spring
by Raine Weaver

He loved the innocents best of all.

Children of the conquered land, weeds spread by wind, they grew spindly and rootless in the hills. Their ignorance fed his fervor, and their naiveté lingered in the memory of his loins.

He easily lured her to the tree. “Your people sang my Song. The Song of Spring. I am He, who crawls from beneath these roots, whispering promises of warmth.”

“Tales for frightening children.” Her feet were wrapped in rags, but her chest was budding and ripe.

“You sang my Song. I am here.” Rust-red hair, like the scavenging birds that cleansed the earth of carrion and gathered on the upper branches.

“’Tis truth?”

“Frightened child. Poor girl.” He raised a hand in blessing. “Worship me, and I will bring you Spring.”

She dropped to her soiled, battered knees. “With the loss of the elders, we now sing a different Song.”

“Poor girl.” He trembled, prying his zipper apart. “Teach me your Song. I will teach you truth.”

“We sing not of warm hope, but cold revenge. Not of worship, but of blood. And that the whispers of the tree are not promises…but warnings.”

The limbs drooped with fowl. He stiffened and made to scream as they descended in dark fury, burnished wings beating out the last frigid lash of winter.

She smiled and drank in the bloated sun. This day would be longer than the last. Still time for another to share his Song.

She loved the innocents best of all.

Entry #49

Out On A Limb
by J.C. Montgomery

With each gust, I am shaken. Not roughly mind you, but just enough to remind me that my tenuous hold upon this branch grows weaker with each passing hour. I am scared. I want down. Why can no one hear my cries for help?

Below me, children scamper amidst the leaf piles. Their father has worked all morning to gather up the debris, and if the wind were not enough to undo all his hard work, he now has to contend with the possibility of a careless tumble undoing hours of persistent raking. Why can they not hear me?

Usually I am quite fond of my solitude. On any given day you can find me curled up on the couch, or entrenched firmly between king sized pillows, always alone, and always happy. I rarely venture out of my self-imposed cocoon, but today was the first sunny day we’ve had since the last snow. Why did I do it? Why?

I was sitting by the window, warming myself with memories of summer when I saw them. They were sitting on a branch not far from where I am now. It was a whim I could not control. They scattered when they spied me coming, taunting me as they fled. And now, I’m here, alone and unsure of what to do next. What was I thinking? How did I manage?

Someone help me, please. I try to say it loudly, hoping someone can hear.


Please hear me. Please save me. Please!

Entry #48

My Dog Has Fleas
by Hoodie

“Check your tuning and play it again,” she had said, her staccato heels like a metronome on the hardwood floor. It was the first time he had heard it. The timbre of her voice had betrayed her in his perfect ears. His life would change. He had not needed to check his tuning. Somberly, he had played and watched her sway in the velvet tones.

Now Grandmother, her dark skirt billowing and rapping against fragile legs, held Mother in a shiny pot that clanged like tiny cymbals when its lid was removed. He planted himself beneath the solitary tree and heard its whispered prayer brush the hairs of his neck. His tie chuffed languidly as the wind caught its breath.

Beneath a struggling sky he brought the violin to his chin and began the deft process of tweaking pegs. He closed his eyes and a current of air like the wispy touch of Mother’s fingers placed his own on the neck. My Dog Has Fleas, he heard her intone. He listened as each pitch slid, sprang vibrantly into color and was then snatched away.

The sobs of mourners, ragged as saw-blades, cut through his ears as he began to play, forging the dissonant intervals of his heart. Unrehearsed, the tribute poured from him, polished pain. A breeze in F# picked up his song, along with the dusty essence of his mother. The gray cloud swirled and swayed as he watched her dance in his music one last time.

Entry #47

Life’s Celebration
by Janine Peterson

Serine isolation projected,

so simple, yet so intense.

The future of life protected,

yet void of all defense.

Standing naked in hibernation,

waiting for natures cue.

To begin life’s celebration,

The cycle of earths renew.

Entry #46

A Time Past
by Dave Watters

"C'mon Roy, let's see how far she goes before we decide what to do."

Randy smiled to himself feeling silly about talking to his horse. Long trips like this tended to make you want to break the silence though.

The smile faded quickly from his face. This fence went on for miles on end. He couldn't afford to take the time to go around; he had to be in

Carson City in two days. Going miles out of your way on horseback quickly turned two days into five.

He scanned the horizon looking for cattle and more importantly cattle ranchers. Tensions could rise along with trigger fingers when cattle got involved in things. If they thought he was a rustler rather than passing through they'd track him all the way to Carson.

Still, he had to get on his way and by this point he was just stalling. By the tree would be best. There was a small section with a cross board that he could jury rig so the rancher wouldn't lose any cattle. He took out his wire cutters and set to work.

About an hour later the work was done. He and Roy on the other side of the fence and two bits left by the pole for the ranch hand that would end up re-tensioning the wire. Randy paid his way.

The thought that the train might be safer on the way back whispered through his mind at the same time as the bullet.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Entry #45

Christina’s World
by Sarah Hina

Crawling uphill’s the hardest.

Left fist, right fist, swing them round.

Junior calls me The Sidewinder, on account of this poor dance of mine, but I will keep my peace about the boy. Polio might have taken my legs, but my thoughts still soar among them starlings.

Left fist, right fist, swing them round.

The Maine winds do shake these tawny grasses. So why can’t I hear the music no more?

Left . . .

Mama told me that my legs stopped working altogether when Charles stopped writing me. But Pastor Goodrum would call that a wicked sort of embellishment. My legs stopped working when God dried my nerves up as rough and black as that tree I’m fixing toward.

Right . . .

‘Course, Pop always says the devil’s in the details.

Swing them . . .


Breath comes harder up here, more ragged-like. I sit my forehead against the trunk’s scars.

C.O. + C.S.

I stop shaking when bark draws blood.

When the tree gives up its music.

“Boston’s not so far, Chrissie.”

“It’s farther than my arms.”

“But I’ll come for you next spring. When our tree here is all color and scent. When the starlings are building their nests.”

“Show me how you’ll come, Charlie.”

He laughs.

He shows me.

Left arm, right arm, swing me round.

Sometimes, sitting against our tree, it’s like he never put me down.

Because once, when swaddled beneath its branches, I did believe the world had legs.

Entry #44

by John McAuley

"Man, what the hell you doing living way out here? I bet the town's only hooker's still a virgin."

"Earl, that joke's as old as dinosaur shit."

Earl's a good guy and was a good partner for the six months we worked together. But he talks a lot. Not like Carl. Me and Carl could go a whole shift and be comfortable hardly saying a word to each other. We always knew who was going to drive, answer the radio...all Carl said when the round went through his bulletproof vest was, "Damn..."

Earl finished his drink and shook my hand, "Take care of yourself, I'll call you sometime and maybe we can go for a beer at that little bar you've been talking about," he said, before heading back down to Atlanta.

I doubt there are any hookers in Jellico; but there are two churches and Walden's bar. I like going to Walden's in mid-afternoon. It's peaceful, mostly old farmers sipping on cheap beer, talking about the weather and stock car racing. I've been going there long enough now that they nod at me when I walk in. Makes me feel like I'm socialising.

But Walden's is closed on Sunday's and I don't attend church. So I listen to baseball on the radio and drink until suppertime. Through my window I look at the field; there's only one tree out there. It's the quietest partner I've ever had.

Entry #43

Search Results
by Lucian J. Janik

“What are you doing here?”

“What are you doing here?”

“What are you doing here?”

Three strangers meet at the bottom of the hill. At the top of the hill is a solitary, leafless tree.

“I am Paulo. I saw that tree in a dream. Spanish gold coins are buried beneath it. Finding this treasure is my personal folklore.”

“That cannot be true,” says Olivia. “I was praying the Rosary and I heard the voice of Mary. She told me to come to the tree so that she could reveal her mysteries to me. I think it has something to do with the Pope.”

Paulo and Olivia look at the third stranger, an unshaven man who smells like cigarettes.

“I heard there was a swingers party here,” says Larry.

“The treasure is mine!” yells Paulo and he darts up the hill.

“Unbelievers will interrupt the visitation!” Olivia screams and chases Paulo.

Larry lumbers up after the two.

The three strangers find a bald man sitting against the tree, typing on his laptop. “Congratulations, you found me,” says the typing man without looking up.

“Are you here for the swingers party?” Larry asks.

“What have you done with my treasure?” accuses Paulo.

“There’s nothing here but me. No treasure, no Marian apparition, no sex party. I know I’m not exactly what you are looking for, but I have a lot of interesting things to share.”

Paulo looks at Olivia. “Maybe it’s on the next hill.”

Entry #42

Entry #42
The Weekend Went Much As Planned
by Ewen Nicolson

I told her I couldn’t meet her anymore, I told her that it was over. She dropped her head so I couldn’t see what was in her eyes. Tears? Yes, probably tears. She was sobbing, but almost silently, for which I was grateful. If you didn’t know better you would have been forgiven for thinking she was merely staring at her coffee. I got up to leave, not having bought anything, as I hadn’t anticipated that it would be anything other than the briefest of meetings. I stopped on the way to the door and looked back. She was still sitting with her head bowed. I walked back to her and she looked up at me through smeared mascara and grimy tears, a pleading look on her face. I put some coins on the formica table, to pay for the coffee. I’m not completely heartless, she’d get over it in a day or two, just as I would.

They say she had been hanging from the branches of the tree for two days when they cut her down. I was out of town on the day, much to my relief. The post-mortem found she had been pregnant. Terrible. To do that to an innocent life, sheer selfishness, only adding weight to the belief that I was right to curtail our dalliance. It would never have worked, though I still wonder to this day whose offspring she was carrying............

Entry #41

by Christian Seidel

”Hey, look! The humans are bringing us dinner again!”

”What? Where?”

”Down there, there's a food delivery group coming up the hill.”

”Oh, great! They are bringing rope. I bet they are going to hang our dinner in the tree again. Why can't they just leave it on the ground where it's easy to eat?”

”Yeah, I hate it when the food dangles. I get dangle-sick.”

”They really are stupid creatures, aren't they? Not like us birds!”

”Hey, they are hanging up that fat one for us.”

”Great, then there’ll be plenty for both of us. Better than that skinny man they served us last time. He was all stringy.”

”And they are shouting at us again. Why do they always do that? I mean, what’s the point in giving us food if they don't want us to eat it? It is our tree, after all.”

”That's humans for you! If they don't want us to eat him, why don't they just put him in one of those tenderizing boxes they put in the ground?”

”They always forget to dig them up again, you know. And they even mark where they put them. It's such a waste of good food.”

”You don't say.”

”I want the eyes.”

”You can't have both of them! I want one too!”

”But I saw them coming!”

”I saw the eyes first!”

”But I...”

”Shut up! They're leaving now.”

”Oh. But I saw...”

”Just shut up and eat, will you? Dinner is served!”

Entry #40

Ugly Roots
by Patricia J. Hale

The tree was perfect for what I had in mind.

I was patient at first. When Corinne stayed out too late with her girlfriends and left me caring for the baby, I figured: well, this one time. But no, soon she does it every week and she starts leaving the house a mess. Sleeping late and not getting my breakfast.

Also, the sex. I remember when we used to have it. Like animals we were, with her into it as much as me. Sure, I was too rough on her when she was pregnant, but I apologized and she really wanted it. Now she avoids me when I’m in the mood. She’s never in the mood.

Then she gets all chummy with this coworker of hers at the plant. Robert. I met him. Damned if he isn’t gay. What does she see in him? I just don’t get it.

She even said to me, “You need to be more sensitive, Mitchell.” Mitchell, not Mitch. Like I’m hanging on her apron strings, not her husband and provider. Ok, the shop fired me because I came in drunk too many times. It’s her own damn fault, she’s makes me drink.

I see the tree. Nothing else around. I get some rope, fake her handwriting, make a noose. Get Robert to meet her there later. Act all romantic and ask her to go for walk.

Miss Worthless refuses to go.

No matter.

Don’t worry, I’ll find another way.

[Patricia J. Hale has had stories published in Powder Burn Flash, Flashshot, Flash Pan Alley, MicroHorror, Fictional Musings and Apollo's Lyre. She writes because she can't stop herself. For her latest work, see or reach her at]

Entry #39

by Rob

I cradle the urn in my arms, like one would a blanket-wrapped newborn, the icy metal burning against my bare hands. A yellow field of grass surrounds me, shuddering in waves from the morning breeze.

“Nothin' fancy,” was Dad's only request. That may as well have been written on his tombstone, had he wanted one. He lived a simple life, working as a shopkeep in a small town. I always felt like he was wasting away here, discarding his dreams and ambitions to live Mom's life, but maybe he was on to something. Maybe once you find peace, there's no longer a reason to struggle forward.

The cremation took place one year ago today, but when I think back it's as if I'm still standing there watching. The thick smell in the air, like a musty campfire. The intensity of the heat as the box was slid in. The whole process takes the romanticism out of death. There are no harps, no moments of clarity, just an old, dead man in a cardboard box being pushed into a furnace.

I placed a FedEx sticker on the side of his box. He would have enjoyed that.

I dig a hole in the ground, gently tip in his remains, use them to bury the roots of a young seedling, and pack it with the loose soil.

May you someday comfort others with your shade as you did for me all these years.

Entry #38

She Leaves in the Morning
by Nancy Ames

She was awake beside him all night, her heart thudding with terror, but she waited for dawn to leave.

Each step she took in her muddy snow-boots was heavy with all the wasted years. Her happy plans for the house and garden were getting smaller and further away, like the perspective diagrams in art class in high school, before she met him.

It happened because of the extreme isolation of the farm. Outside of the judgmental social context of the town, he had lost his humanity. He was only an animal now. Her ears felt deaf with his shouting. Even in his sleep he muttered angrily and threw punches at the pillows.

And now he had chased her out of his cave, out of her well-tended home. He wouldn’t survive without her either. She pictured him sitting in his chair at the head of the dining table, his fork in his fist, waiting for breakfast while the fire went out.

The soggy mud of the field clung to her boots as she walked. It was difficult to go on but she was aiming for the tree on the hill because once she got up to the tree the warm, reaching fingers of dawn would bring hope and comfort to her tired body.

Spring would arrive for her and for the tree. She lifted her eyes. Already she could see that its buds were ready to burst into new little green leaves.

Entry #37

A Season Apart
by Terri Welch

Shaded by the ancient green canopy they face each other, yearning to touch, but not.

“When can we meet again?”

“We can’t,” her voice says, her body screaming and her heart crying at its betrayal.

“Not for … I mean just to talk,” he offers, knowing it couldn’t be. “I just want to spend time with you. We haven’t had time...” His voice beseeches, frustrated.

His large, warm hand strokes her hair and lands gently on her shoulder. Bewitched, she struggles not to kiss the words leaving his lips.

“I don’t think we can just talk.”

He shakes his head, drops his eyes, defeated. He knows it too, and then he says it aloud.

“The trouble, apart from this… spark… between us, well the thing is I think I really like you.”

Smiling sadly, she leans in, his mouth is against her forehead spawning electric heat that spiders down throughout her body. In the silent noise of summer they stand, absorbing each other for the last time, until at last she walks away without looking back.

* * *

“Wow, I bet that big old tree makes a great picnic spot in summer. Why the heck didn’t you want to come back here, Honey? This place is magic! I’m really glad I don’t have to work this time.”

From winter’s nakedness she could already see the buds of spring on the branches.

She smiled at her husband’s enthusiasm. “I guess it just wasn’t the same without you, Dear.”

Entry #36

The Girl Who Talked to Trees
by Linda Courtland

The tree knew things.

It knew why the mailman was flirting with the farmer’s wife.

It knew who had dressed all the sheep in lingerie.

And it knew how to keep secrets.

When the girl hopped the fence, the tree observed her disheveled hair and scrawny build.

“I can hear you,” the girl said, facing its trunk defiantly.

The tree didn’t know how to respond. It was used to keeping everything inside.

The girl came back the next day, sitting between exposed roots. She talked about her pet lizard and the boy she kind of liked, and she insisted the tree share details about its day.

The tree sent loving energy but didn’t speak, and the girl knew something must be done.

For the next few weeks, they sat in silence, hand to branch, sharing strength in the stillness.

Finally, the tree found the courage to start a conversation. They discussed dandelions and caterpillars and global warming and loneliness.

As it turned out, the tree had a lot to say.

The girl and the tree had lively debates and by springtime, the chatty tree had released the secrets trapped within its leaves.

The tree revealed its skeletal frame to the forces of nature, and the girl’s body started to change and curve.

And the tree modeled support for the girl by reaching toward a vast horizon, its striking silhouette ready for new growth.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Entry #35

Beneath the Ash
by Ronald King

“Darling,” Alex sighed, his hands fumbling over the violent ridges of bark. Without the light of day to guide, he probed the cold, hard edges of the tree. Each eagerly demanded his attention, begged for his touch to unleash their stories.

The ash tree was a brother that had grown and changed in his family’s yard. He knew its stories, knew the hardships and pain that had been endured over the years. He reached past the natural grooves to search for the mark. Gasping, Alex’s finger caught the unnatural edge.

Bodily, he trembled with memory. Passion. Desire. Her arms wrapped tightly around him. A scent of blossoms and warm spring rain swallowed him. A taste as sweet as honey filled his mouth. His arms entwined behind her back, fingers tracing the smooth lines of her back to the grace in her neck. Alex was lost in the crystal blue depths of her eyes again. Lips brushed, teased, embraced and devoured beneath the boughs of ash.

His—their mark remained. “I will wait for you, darling. As I promised.”

The coldness of winter clawed beneath Alex’s skin as he gulped a deep breath. The ash rested solidly against his palm, comforting. Solemnly, he whispered, “I will always wait for you.”

Entry #34

A Waiting Thing
by Margaret Lyons

It had been lush with leaves growing thick from the spindly fingers of its branches in greens of different sorts. I moved to Chilford in the last days of summer, and a speck of sunlight could not be seen through the tree’s impenetrable beauty when I arrived, except here and there in the tiny diamonds glimmering around the edges where its denseness grew gentle and more sparse. I’d been glad when I discovered the tree from my window. It was like something of home.

The indomitable green had given way—as it must—to the unrestrained, unprotected vibrancy of fall as the tree poured the last of its strength into becoming a quiet fire on the hill. It drew the eye to it possessively as, one by one, the grasp of its leaves weakened and they fell to the ground from the branches to which they’d clung. The ground hardened into November and the tree hardened into a waiting thing. The gentle shock of the fall colors on the ground had long blown away when the men came at last to cut David Anderson down from the heaviest branch.

Kids taught in their classroom about the days not so long ago when church burnings and lynchings occurred in plain sight had imagined up a new form of play. It lasted the afternoon, and before dinner David Anderson was dead. “You can be the black boy,” they’d hollered tauntingly, and he’d been pleased to have his turn at last.

Entry #33

by SzélsõFa

I want you both to report.

The place we visited consisted of two types of life. We investigated them without getting too close.

One was similar to ours, but the other was not.

Tell me about the similarities.

Those have quite different forms of appearance.

They communicate the way we do - by means of whispering.

Are they articulate?

Yes, their intelligence is quite high.

I would say some of them might be as much intelligent or
higher than we are.

What makes you think so?

They convey complex messages.

No, there's more to it. They live in many dimensions and can travel time.

How many of them are there?

As I have said there are many forms of them.

Their number keeps decreasing.

Is it some illness, perhaps, or lack of resources?

No, it's the other form of life.

The unintelligent one.

Are there many of those?

Their number keeps growing. And they destroy all the other form of intelligence.

They have no senses to communicate with the other form of life.

What type do you think these lower forms of life belong to?

I think they belong to some bacteria.

They resemble the operation of cancer bodies.

And they seem to be overpowering the planet.

That's right.

They are convinced they are the leaders.

Do they not know the Law?

Well they have not the intelligence.

They make their own.

Are those of use?


Not really.

Suggestions for action?


For the sake of the whisperers, destroy.

Entry #32

A Moment
by Gemma M. Carrara

As I look in the distance at the gray of the sky I ask, where have all the leaves gone? The sun was just shining and the birds were singing their song. I heard a whisper amongst a sudden wind that touched my shoulder so gently. It made me look away for a brief moment in time. When I looked back the flowers were gone, the birds were silent, the clouds formed a wall of mystery that I do not understand. What does this all mean? Why am I standing here so confused when I was encircled in a rainbow of peace and serenity.

But then, I looked beyond the gate and saw a man and a woman holding hands. A child so sweet, in between them, skipping to every beat. Pointing to something in the sky .. I looked, and saw the answer I searched for. The light of the horizon was creeping through the darkness and grasping the call of the blossoming wind. For flowers need to reap and sow and then you will see the essence of its growth. For every drop of rain in the sky is a teardrop that will bring a new beginning to one’s breath.. The gray is not an everlasting moment. It is only a moment in time that precedes the path of the meaning of one's spirit, being, and the answers one will find.

[My name is Gemma and I have always enjoyed writing. Although it is not my profession it is still a part of my life. Since I was a child I would write short stories and poems. I still enjoy writing poetry. I became vegan back in October of 2007 and started a blog to share my experience with others and to help others learn how to become vegan. I also love to cook and creating recipes is a big part of my spare time. When I write poetry I am inspired in a moment. Your picture inspired me to write the above short story. It touched me as I read it and I hope the readers will find some meaning in It as well.]

Entry #31

Sweet Escape
by Rachael

The cool winter air chills her face and makes her already tired body ache with pain. She's almost there but it's a hard journey. She had no choice but to escape from the imprisonment that she has been locked up in for months. When the opportunity to run away arose, she took advantage and escaped through the woods.

Armed with only a hooded sweatshirt and her wits, she makes the trench through the forest. The branches on the trees scrape her skin, her heart beats rapidly with adrenaline, and her eyes tear with all of the sadness she feels inside.

She lifts the opening on the bottom of the fence and crawls across the muddy ground until she reaches the other side, freedom. All she sees is open land with plenty of opportunities.

She runs through the grass, ecstatic with excitement. She views a small farm house in the distance and a huge tree on the property. As she runs, her lungs burn, her body is soaked in sweat but she carries on. Finally she arrives to the farm house and asks to use their phone.

Freedom is so close, she can taste it.

Within an hour she will be captured and back in the imprisonment she escaped from, but for now she will dream of freedom and its possibilities.

If she only knew what awaited her maybe she wouldn't have run away.

[Rachael is a book reviewer for various websites online. She enjoys reading thrillers, mysteries, paranormal, chick lit, and fantasy. When she’s not reading, she also enjoys watching movies, organizing her book shelves, going to flea markets, going shopping, drinking coffee, and spending time with her amazing fiancé.]

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Entry #30

By Roger Dale Trexler

On the day she left, I planted the tree. I brought the poor, feeble twig home from work at the Conservation Department to a barren house.

It wasn’t supposed to survive. It did.

I remember thinking that the tree symbolized my love for her. I told her as much; she laughed. “You’re an idiot, Craig,” she said in that smug tone she developed after she ran off with the other man. “You’re a goddamned idiot! A tree? What kind of idiot plants a tree to symbolize his love for someone?”

“I thought you’d understand? I thought you cared for me?”

“Tree hugging idiot!” She shook her head and walked away.

She went to him.

That was ten years ago. The tree flourished. Every morning, I saw it out the window. It reminded me of her, the gentleness of who she used to be.

Before him.

When she cared about me.

But, that was long ago.

Now, I stare out the window, the telephone still in my hand. Tears are falling down my cheek and dripping onto the cold metal. I can’t look down at it. Not yet.

A car wreck. Head-on. She died instantly, they said. It’s a small comfort to a man who still loves her.

I cry harder. Soon, I’ll look down at the saw. I’ll use the handsaw to cut it down. I wouldn’t destroy my love for her with a chainsaw. It’s too impersonal.

And, I did love her so.

Entry #29

The Tree Wept
by r2

It was the day the tree wept.

The day I knew it was finally over.

Maybe things would be better. Maybe worse.

I always imagined the tree had a face. The way the branches and leaves were arranged just so. In the shadows of the branches I could see eyes, nose, mouth. If the wind blew a certain way the tree would smile. Sometimes it would frown.

It watched me all the time. It was outside my window, across a field. It watched me write in my diary night after night. It watched me cry, although it never cried. Until.

It watched me watch it as I tried to think of other things when the man came into my room, when I said daddy why do you do this.

It watched the baby being torn from my private place. The baby with no eyes. It watched as daddy twisted the baby’s head and said it’s better this way, now go clean yourself up, I got something to do.

It watched with no expression as daddy buried the baby under its roots. Then it started to weep. First two little leaves from its eyes. Then little streams of leaves that looked like tears. Tears that blew away with the wind.

It cried until it had no face.

For a long time it stood there barren.

And then the men with the bulldozers came to knock it over.

And then the men with the hard faces came to take my daddy away.

Entry #28

The Oneness of the Infinitree
by Absolute Vanilla

You looked at the picture and saw a tree on the hill, didn’t you? I looked, and I saw the heavens, the rolling plains and you watching me. You are thinking about the coming spring, aren’t you? I’m thinking about going home.

You see, for me there will be no spring – not as you know it, anyway. There will be no winter either. Instead I will go beyond the parts, rising up into the clouds, soaring through the pink and the blue, merging with the vastness of infinity - that from which I sprung - as you did too.

Reaching out, I will become one with unending melody of creation.

You think I’m just a crazy old rambler, don’t you?

But I’ve seen things you have not. I’ve been to places to which you are too afraid to go.

I’ve touched the infinite vastness, danced with Life and Death - and came to realise they are both One, as are the seasons.

It’s different for me, I suppose. Standing here gazing out over the green and gold plains, lifting myself to the snow and the sun.

I’ve stood still for so long, watching. I’ve seen how you come and go, rushing around but with less purpose than the ants who sometimes tickle me. It’s amazing how much you learn by being still. I’d invite you to try.

I will not put forth buds this year, my sap will not rise, for I am returning home. I’ll see you there.

Entry #27

The Sleepwalker’s Tree
by Dottie Camptown

It is dangerous to wake a sleepwalker. So, I don’t. My shoes and jacket are ready at my bedside. She makes her way to the bottom of the stairs and opens the front door. I follow, closing it behind me so the cold won’t enter our home.

The dream pulls her barefooted along the sidewalk. She walks without weave or waiver, mirroring the straight line of row homes in our Baltimore neighborhood.

I cannot dissuade her.

She stops at the tree we named Rilke. It grows through a sidewalk cutout protected by a wrought-iron guard. Smaller than the others on the street, it has survived without thriving for a long time. She grips the dormant trunk strongly with both hands, like the shoulders of a child she needs to make listen.

“I love the dark hours of my being. I know there is room in me for a second huge and timeless life.” She whispers to the tree, “I see you awakening there in yours.”

I turn away. Without my help she will make it home. She will crawl back in our bed and in an hour or so will come down to our kitchen with no memory of this. She may notice her dirty feet or she may not. She will take my hand from across the table and, with eyes matching her words, tell me she loves me.

I tell myself this is but a period of precession.

Soon spring will arrive, and we will be fine.

Entry #26

by Rebecca Lake

Nora took another drag from her cigarette and shook her head. These country girls, she thought. What did they know?

This latest girl had been no different. She’d come in the night, begging, pleading. How they knew to come to her, she never knew. This one had that wild look so many of them had, the one that made it impossible to say no. Please, she’d said. Please. That one word had been enough to make Nora reach for the black bag she kept under her bed and set to work.

From the porch, she could see down the mountain, flashes of white clapboard scattered among the bare branches. Winter was slowly dying, taking with it its inevitable loneliness. Nora had never had a child of her own. The ease with which she was able to take life had only been matched by her inability to bear it.

In the bedroom, the girl was beginning to stir. She’d be awake soon, eager to escape the mountain, eager to escape Nora’s eyes. The sun was beginning to come up, a bloom of red flooding through the trees. Red was all she saw some days, it seemed.

Nora turned and went inside. The fire in the woodstove had burned down to almost nothing, sending a chill through her bones. The girl was awake now, mumbling under her breath, a plea for forgiveness. As she stoked the fire, Nora smiled ruefully.

These country girls. What did they know?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Entry #25

Sub Text
by Micky McGuinness

“C U Next Tuesday” her thumb hovered over send. Did she really want to see Peter again. She was in her early forties, pretty, well kept for her age; She could do better than him….

“I can’t believe you didn’t bring the stove; I’m dying for a cuppa.”

“I’m sick of carting it around, we never use it.” Rita was angry, it was the only time that she’d left it, and Peter had to notice.

Why did he have to ask now.

It was mild, but they had been walking for well over an hour. A cup of tea would have been nice…

“Peter do we have to go all the way up, I’m knackered”

“Okay you sit down under this tree; I’ll carry on to the top on my own”

Rita slumped down, and let her rucksack slide off her shoulders. She rested her back against the tree, as Peter strode off into the distance.

Peter was a bit of a boring man, a pompous ex military type, very Home Counties. He’d barely even kissed her in the four months since she met him. One drunken shag in the pub car park, and that was that; Peter seemed to think they were married.

She started collecting twigs and small branches from round the bottom of the tree to make a fire for his blasted tea.

She didn’t know that the grass was tinder dry.

The nurses in the burns unit had been great; and he’s back home now.


[Micky is 43, has two young children, works full time for local government. He writes, takes pictures, plays in a band, and generally tries to fit too much into his limited time! He'd love to spend more time on writing, and love to get some of his work published. If you want to see more of his stuff you can follow this link. If you want to see my music related activities then try here.

Entry #24

Fade to Black
by Beth Ostrander

“It’s so cold though.”

A rag doll blowing in the wind, anchored to earth by her big brother‘s hand.

“We’re going up there past the tree.” His voice cold as bare toes in rubber boots in winter.

“Peter, can I work in your forest with you?” She wipes a red raw hand across her cheek.

“My what?”

“Your forest with all the flowers.”

Florist,” he snaps.

FLOREST.” She spells it in her head ... F - L - O - R - E - S - T. Flower forest. This makes her smile. “Please?”

“Just hurry up.” Another hard tug on her hand. She wishes for a hat and mittens; warm, fluffy, heavy ones like on Campbell’s Soup commercials.

“Why are we running? Mom won‘t catch up to us.”

He stops so fast, they collide, and half-whispering asks, “Why would you say that?”

The house was right behind them, if she turned her head just a little, she‘d be able to … he pulled hard on her hand.

She shrugs in response.

“You must know that it’s … it’s wrong.”

Another shrug.

Peter’s eyes a farmhouse faucet. She reaches up to his wet cheek with her blood red hand.

“I didn‘t mean to, Peter.”

“You never do … Aunt Ellie, Grandma. I can’t now … ” He shivers, knees hitting the still frozen earth, burying his face in both hands, almost soundless, “We have to go back.”

She fingers the sharp blade in her pocket as everything fades to black.

Entry #23

Within My Sight
by Patricia Abbott

Isaiah hadn’t wanted to plant a tree. “Good farmland doesn’t want a tree,” he’d told Sarah the day they moved to Wisconsin Territory from Chicago. He wasn’t a farmer yet but someone had told him this: that land not used for crops was wasted land.

“But I need a tree to look at from the kitchen window,” Sarah told him, the new baby drowsing on her shoulder.

So he planted a tree and it was all that stood between them and their crops. And Sarah watched it grow, watched it shade the bit of the earth beneath it.

“That damned tree,” Isaiah said more than once as the tree grew. “It gets in the way of my planting and plowing. That dumb mule heads right for it, thinking he’ll stand in a bit of shade.”

But he wasn’t scolding her. He liked watching his son and then daughters play beneath it. He liked watching the snow catch on its branches. He liked hanging eggs from it in the spring and a swing in summer.

And, as time passed, it was often Isaiah who slept beneath it.

He never thought to plant another tree and Sarah didn’t ask. Once the children were grown, once the fields began to shrink as they sold off more land, once they seldom left the house, they hardly noticed it.

Until the day it was Sarah lying beneath the tree. It was as if she’d picked her final place herself.

Entry #22

by Bluesugarpoet

In obscurity, Aveline peered out her bedroom window. One quarter of an inch she raised the slat on the blind. That was enough. At first, only the paint chipped away from the slat. Now, a half-moon shaped itself on the spot where her thumb and forefinger rested nearly a thousand times a day. On that spot, the worn wood felt like the smoothness of stones that tumbled for a hundred miles or more from the mountains all the way to the creek out back.

When was the last time she gathered stones from that creek? Fifteen years ago?

On stifling August days when her hair and shirt melted into her skin, they used to roll up their trousers and wade in the creek hand-in-hand, all the while collecting flat, smooth stones until their pocket seams threatened to unravel. He wanted to let go and skip stones even though the current greedily tugged at his little legs. “Hold onto my hand, honey, or you’ll be swept away,” she would caution. Undeterred he would squeal, "Didja see that, Mommy!" as another stone skated across the water until it trickled into nothingness.

The solitary tree – a requiem for her son - stood up on the hill. Encircled by the heavens, the tree waited as Aveline outlined it again by sight, tracing every branch, every twig, every bud. Soon the grass beneath the tree would be green again, and pregnant buds would give way to leaf. She knew it, and she felt it.

Entry #21

The Burial Site
by Chris Eldin

Brian thought of surprisingly little. The reefer in his gym bag. Whether or not frozen carcasses get eaten.

He lay his gym bag and shovel by the overgrown root and pulled out the reefer. It lit on the first try. This was good luck, he thought. He noticed a group of ox beetles scattering up the trunk. A gust of wind blew through a spider web. It shivered and stayed.

He smoked and looked for the hole. When he found it, he kicked the leaves away and climbed in. The reefer burnt to a nub so he aimed it at the ox-beetles but they didn’t care or maybe they were already high.

He still fit in his hiding hole so he didn’t worry about digging anymore but he did pull his gym bag in and got out the gun and put the bag under his head because the rock was giving him a cramp and the wind wasn’t so bad down here and the beetles did look quite nice and the sky overhead blue blue and only one cloud which looks like a popcorn oh how simple-minded maybe it looks like a dam yeah a dam that broke loose somewhere and carries with it all the shit that people throw away and do they throw away other people yes they do all the time you just gotta watch the news and crawl into your own private hell I mean hole when the cloud went away he pulled the trigger.

Entry #20

She Missed Her Tree
by Melanie Odhner

Adria missed her tree. It had been the perfect climbing tree, for her. All the branches were perfectly spaced, the lowest one just a bit too high for anyone else to jump to, so it was her tree.

This morning, she forgot her tree was gone. She woke up from a dream about harsh breezes and orange clouds, and found it still dark outside. Out of habit, Adria dragged herself out of bed and began her trek up the hillside. She was halfway up when she remembered.

She was still so drowsy. Maybe the image of a stump in her head was a daydream. She stomped the rest of the way up, determined to find a web of branches at the top.

Her toes were numb from winter by the time she reached the fence. One end of a wood plank had fallen from its groove and now rested by her feet. She stepped on it. It rocked and she stepped off again before she could loose her balance.

Adria looked up and bit her lip. There was no point in this hill without a tree. She walked up to the stump and kicked it. Then she pulled the glove off her right hand and rubbed it against the heartwood, still rough from cutting. “Sorry, tree,” she said, “But I’ll never find another one like you. You understand.” She sat down on the sump, looked down at it and finished, “I don’t suppose you believe in reincarnation?”

Entry #19

Do Trees Sleep?
by Ello

Tommy stared out the window at the bare limbs of the dogwood tree in the backyard.

“Mom, do trees sleep?” he asked his Mom who was busy preparing dinner.

“Yes, they sleep during the winter. That’s why their branches are bare. They’re hibernating. And in the spring, they wake up in all their glory.”

“Oh yeah! I know about hibernating. Like bears. They eat lots and lots of food and get really fat and sleep all winter long. And their body eats the food they already eated in their fat bellies while they’re sleeping.”

“Er, um, something like that.”

Tommy sat at the kitchen table. He grabbed an apple and began to munch.

“Um, Mom?”


“Do bears poop while they sleep?”

Mom paused in mid slice. “Uh, no. I don’t think so.”

“But then, where does the poop go?”

“I think they just hold it in until they wake up.”

“But won’t that give the bear a tummy ache?”

“I don’t know…”

“Cause when I gotta go poop and I try to hold it in, my tummy hurts real bad. I wouldn’t be able to sleep.”

“Seriously, I’m not sure…”

“AND they must have the biggest, stinkiest poops in the whole world after months and months of not pooping! That’s really gross!” Tommy howled with laughter as he warmed to his topic.

“OK, enough! I don’t want to hear another word about poop!” Mom was exasperated.

Silence again for several minutes.



“Do bears fart while they hibernate?”

Entry #18

by Amy Talkington

The soapy water rushed around my hands and I glanced up and looked through the kitchen window. Standing across the yard is the tree we transplanted from Mamma’s orchard. It seemed so barren in winter. I knew though that by springtime it would be blossoming full of life.

Mamma used to take me for walks into the orchard and we’d sit under one of the trees and she would tell me about how long it took for the trees to bear fruit. At the end of her story she would always recall how I was born during the first real harvest and how that year was full of miracles for her. Looking back, I realize that my understanding was very limited. Trying to survive four seasons in an orchard with no fruit was heartbreaking.

I called Mamma when the doctors told me that I wouldn’t be giving her any grandchildren. She told me the story again and in a quieter voice she said, “It took four years and two months for that orchard to bear fruit. It took me longer than that to conceive you. Don’t lose heart.”

Looking at that tree so full of life not yet arrived I smiled. The tree and I both were full of life not yet here. By springtime the tree would have blossoms and I would have born my own little miracle of life.

Entry #17

Tastes Like Brains
by Paul Liadis

“What do you think brains taste like?” said Matthew, glancing over his shoulder. “I’d imagine they’re a bit salty.”

“Ugh,” said Shannon, wondering as she stumbled who had replaced her feet with cinder blocks. “Don’t wanna know.”

“You’d get used to it, eventually,” continued Matthew. “Eat enough of them and they probably start to taste like chicken.”

Shannon sat with a thud beneath the leafless White Ash overlooking an abandoned farmhouse. “I need a rest,” she said, ignoring him.

“Get up,” said Matthew, immediately regretting his tone.

“Just a few moments,” said Shannon, resting her forehead on the knees of her dirt stained jeans. They had been on the run for days, with little sleep, food, or water, unable to elude their slow moving tormentors. It was maddening.

Matthew looked down the hill toward the farmhouse. If only he had picked a restaurant in the city, rather than that rustic diner in the middle of nowhere, and if only he hadn’t dropped his car keys when the whole mess started, they would be home by now, safe and warm.

Soon, Matthew saw their approach. Hundreds, maybe thousands, stumbling up the gray, decaying grass, their dead, mournful eyes fixed in his direction. “Promise me something,” he said, taking hold of Shannon’s petite, strong hand, lifting her to her feet.


“Promise me if they get you first, you’ll be the one to eat my brain, not them.”

“Tastes like chicken, right?” said Shannon, forcing a smile as they ran once more.

Entry #16

by Scott Simpson

“Where was it?”

“Right beneath the tree, buried maybe a foot.”

“How much you figure’s there?”

“Dunno. Maybe twenty, maybe more.”

“Dang. That’s many.”

“Enough for the man on the dock, I reckon.”

“You think he’d take ‘em like that?”

“Sure why not?”

“They’s heavy. And dirty.”

“We could clean ‘em up some.”

“Okay. Will it be enough for both?”

“Don’t see why not. He’s just turning his head.”


“And it don’t cost no more if you is only turning it once.”


“We could take ‘em to town and turn ‘em in.”

“What? No!”

“Just to get paper, moron! Not “because“! Just to make it easier to carry.”

“I don’t know... I don’t like it when it’s paper. I can’t trust that it’ll keep like when it’s copper.”

“The guy on the dock might want to put it in his pocket, in case someone’s looking.”

“He can just put ‘em next to him and sit on the box. No one’s gonna ask- “What’s in the box?””

“We could paint the word “bait” on the side.”

“Yeah! Bait! Like he‘s fishin‘!”

“And leave the dirt and just toss in some worms. That way, if someone looks in, all they’ll see is dirt and worms.”

“Yeah. I’m likin’ it! But... “


“What if there’s another guard?”

“Whaddya mean?”

“On the ship? What if we can’t sneak on?”

“Then we ain’t going to no Norway.”

“What’ll we do with all them pennies, then?”

“Bury ‘em. Back out by that tree.”

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Entry #15

They Call Him…
by Josh Vogt

“They say it’s the last.”

John grimaced at the caretaker’s words.

“They’re right,” he said. “I’ve checked.”

He understood the caretaker’s confused stare. Most people visited the tree in curiosity or reverence. No one embraced it as an old friend, like John had.

“Checked?” the caretaker echoed.

John nodded. “Across the world.”

“That’s a lot of ground to cover.”

“I get around.”

The caretaker pointed at the bundle sagging over John’s hip.

“Lugging that with you?”

John patted the sack. “’Course. Might say it’s a part of me.”

“Whatcha got in there, anyways?”

John unzipped the pouch and allowed a glimpse.

“Sand?” the caretaker asked.

John smiled.

“Do you ever miss them?” he asked.

“Miss what?”

“Forests. Jungles. Orchards.” John sighed. “They used to be everywhere.”

The caretaker shrugged. “We need the space, don’t we?”

A bell sounded in the distance. The caretaker turned to go.

“That’s my shift, Mr. Chapman. Don’t dawdle, else the tour will leave without you.”

John waited until he was alone, debating all the while. Older than the mountains and some of the seas, it had taken him ages to complete his first masterpiece. Was it worth starting over?

He took off his shoes and tested the dirt between his toes. Good soil, at least. That offered some hope.

Opening the pouch again, he drew a handful and flicked the seeds in a golden spray, grey eyes marking where each landed. Then he leaned against the trunk and listened to the sap murmur his name.