Sunday, February 24, 2008

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.

19 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Such a juxtaposition of beauty and horror.

Remiman said...

Wow, a heart rending look at what is usually boys' fun attraction to adventure in the neighborhood trees. Well described from the joy of the tree's transformation to the startling slap of realty bites.
rel

Beth said...

Very haunting. I keep hearing the song "Strange Fruit" now.

bluesugarpoet said...

How easily misguided "fun" turns tragic. Interesting how the lifeless tree unwittingly engenders lifelessness. Nicely written!

DBA Lehane said...

Another strong contender, in my opinion. Beautifully written and such a brutal realisation by the end. Bravo!

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

This is beautifully written and what remarkable juxtaposition of beauty with horror and brutal reality. A very powerful piece of writing. Definitely one of my favourites.

Rob said...

Love how you shifted the mood at the very end. Very smoothly done.

Great descriptions in this, as well. I particularly liked the "tiny diamonds glimmering around the edges".

Bernita said...

A stunning close.
Well done.

SzélsőFa said...

What an unexpected shock. Quite vivid. Ouch.

pjd said...

Man, oh, man. This packed a punch.

It sort of reminds me of Bambi Meets Godzilla, only not funny. I mean in the way the serenity of the scene, the poetry of the language establish a pastoral scene. Until the very end. Well done. This also has climbed into my short list of favorites.

Sarah Hina said...

You slipped from a delicate reverie into a gut-wrenching shocker. That is not easily accomplished, yet this is quite deft, and effective.

Kids' innocence, and its perversion, often make the darkest tales. This is among the best of the bunch.

ChristineEldin said...

Such a stark contrast of emotions and images. You truly shocked me. Not easy to do in 250 words. This is very well done, and another one of my favorites.

peanut said...

isn't this based on a true story, m?d

JLB said...

Quite a contrast - you do an excellent job of placing a nasty bit of human nature in a setting of beauty.

Linda said...

The ending really got me in the gut. Super prose here, especially liked, "The ground hardened into November and the tree hardened into a waiting thing." Peace...

twizzle said...

you rock.

Aerin said...

I agree there's a lilting quality to the writing; for instance, the last paragraph begins with a really long sentence, but it flows in a way that makes it understandable. I so wanted thing fleshed out - more, more, more!

jason evans said...

A chilling, gut-wrenching end. I didn't see that coming at all.

Aine said...

Very dark indeed. I hope the narrator put up a curtain-- I don't think he/she will ever be able to look at that tree the same way again.