Tree Mother

Written for writing prompt #6


Dark splotches everywhere.

They were growing–spreading–multiplying. Inside my soul, my mind. In my bloodstream.

When I shut my eyes I could feel them–covering my me-ness, blocking out the light, replacing my thoughts with dark. It was too much. So every night I lay in bed, eyes peeled wide, and I stayed there, duvet up to my chin until morning.

“Child, you look tired,” Grandma June said, grunting as she pulled herself out of her chair and along the kitchen floor.

And I was.

But I wouldn’t let myself sleep. Sleeping meant giving in, letting the darkness take me. So day by day, my eyes grew redder and the bags under my eyes a deeper shade of purple, as though the splotches were making themselves shown on the outside too.

When they plastered themselves all up in my heart, that’s when I began to hear the Voices.

Deena, girl–you are tired.

Come, child. Come to us and sleep in our shade. Close those lovely eyes. Have peace.

It was the trees.

I could hear them all night, all day, all the in-betweens of day and night. The Voices rang in my ears, my chest, my bones.

Can you hear us, Deena? Come play. We will hold you in our arms and cradle you, girl–love you, sing to you.

Grandma June served me porridge, but she’d put in salt instead of sugar. “Deena, my love, you look ill.”

And still the splotches grew. I could feel them in my eyeballs now, my toes. The world was all greens and browns and the trees crooned lullabies all night.

Baby girl, we love you.

I jumped out of bed the moment I felt the last bit of dark plaster itself onto my brain like the final puzzle piece of a game. My skin stopped itching. The Voices stopped. The air held its breath.

Outside, the trees leaned inwards and bent their heads over me as I walked down the road. One by one they breathed a sigh of relief and dropped their leaves, sending whirling cascades of green through the air like rose petals.

I stopped when I came to the end of the road. The biggest tree, her trunk swollen with years of growth stood silently.

I leaned my forehead against her smooth bark and the darkness bled out of me, coating her roots in inky soot as she spoke my name in the voice of my mother.