The Truth About Trees
by Ken Ashby
Ever since I could climb, trees became my reason. Often I’d almost fall only for a branch to stretch itself within my grasp. How I loved curving my hands around them. Then, reaching as high as my conquest allowed, I’d straddle her coaxing bark. It was then I’d wonder about stroking a girl’s soft skin. I didn’t know then as I did later what the rising sap was within me. I only knew it was special.
No one saw me up there. I wasn’t hiding, it’s just they never looked up. Once, right beneath me, a girl walked with a man. They kissed. He held her tightly into him. She pulled away and ran from him. Until he shouted, I thought they were playing. She was found days later covered by dead leaves. I never told anyone I placed them over her. She was pale, her top ripped.
Now in battle fatigues, the last tree I’ll ever climb creaks to my dangling weight. I’m shaking--not through fear, but reflex. The rope tightens and burns, but the leaves and twigs still sway and flutter.
Darkness inevitably comes. Still hanging, face down--greased green and black as the foliage around--I await the bird to feast upon my eyes.
I confess I struggled in the Gulf, but not for the doubtless theories to be presumed. Without trees, the sand cut through my skin and reason.
Only the trees know why I didn’t tell, so be it for them to judge me.
(While remaining a Londoner at heart, Ken Ashby lives in Devon, England. He’s currently on the second draft of his first novel, a corporate thriller called ‘Without Foundation’. As a firm believer in the power of the word being in the lateral, not literal, he trusts the time dedicated to this work will disprove the title.)