Don’t Listen to the Trees
When Elian was 10 years old, the trees spoke to him.
As young boys do, Elian spent a lot of time in his backyard, playing with toy cars or chasing his dog around the lawn. The yard was blocked off by a tall wooden fence, and on the other side of that fence was a forest that Elian was not allow to venture into out of his parents’ fear he would become lost. So, as an obedient child, Elian had never thought twice about the forest. He stayed carefully within the confines of the fence, peacefully playing until one day, one fateful day, he ventured outside it.
Elian had been playing with a frisbee, tossing it around the yard for his dog to run after and return to him. For roughly 10 minutes they played until one turn he tossed a frisbee a little too far, and watched with indifference as it sailed over the fence.
Exiting the side gate and walking, Elian meandered a couple feet into the forest to collect his frisbee, stopping right at the tree line where the woods and the carefully manicured grass met. He stooped down to retrieve the frisbee from the muddy ground when a sudden voice startled him into straightening up, whispering softly into his mind. Come, it said. Come to us.
Elian blinked, eyes opened wide in childish wonder as he whipped his head back and forth, searching for the source of the voice. It was an entrancing sound that beckoned him forward, and it took him a long moment to realize it was coming from the forest. A cacophony of quiet whispers filled his head once again. Come. Come away.
He took a step forward and the frisbee dropped from his hands, completely forgotten in lieu of the whispering trees. Elian blinked and suddenly he could see tree sap, spreading outward sluggishly like blood on the forest floor. It pooled around his feet in great masses, dripping from the branches and flooding the area around him. Come. Come. A harsh gust of wind began to blow, shaking leaves off the tree branches and tossing them into the open air where they twirled around Elian in a tornado of green. Come to us.
Elian walked further, wading into the sap until it was up to his knees. In the back of his head he could distantly tell that something was wrong, that he should not listen to their sweet, melodic voices. But he walked further, ignoring the red flags in the back of his mind. The trees shook their branches in pleasure as he took another step, and soon he almost couldn’t see his house behind him. Just one more step and—
The voice of his mother broke through Elian’s trance, and startling violently he whipped around, shouting back at his mother that he was on his way. He blinked quickly, and suddenly the tree sap and the leaves were gone. He was standing in the forest alone, the frisbee a couple yards back.
The trees hissed in displeasure, their voices growing more demanding in his head. Come to us child, come to us. Come. Come! Elian shook his head, whimpering as his temples began to pound. He clutched at his hair and crouched, shaking his head as the voices filled his head. Come! Come!
“No,” Elian began to sob, “s-stop.” The trees called louder still until he could not hear anything but the trees, not even the sound of his own breathing. His thoughts were going wild, torn between obeying the voices and listening to the instinctual warning bells going off in his head. He tried to move backward but he couldn’t, he couldn’t move he couldn’t breathe he couldn’t see help me help me help—
Elian screamed as he felt something latch onto his ankle, rough bark digging into his skin and causing him to whimper painfully. It was a tree root, digging tightly into his leg as it began to steadily drag him forward. Elian kicked at it, prying at it with his hands but only succeeding in making them bleed. He cried and panted, sobbed and struggled, and used the last of his breath to call out for his mother, but no one answered.
The tree sap was back, a sticky tide pushing towards him like lava out of a volcano. Elian’s heart was pounding in his chest, and his eyes bulged in fear. He screamed himself hoarse, futilely pulling at the tree root until another grabbed one of his arms, tugging him back into the forest at a much faster pace.
He had exhausted all of his energy at this point, and Elian could do nothing as his body was dragged over protruding roots and fallen branches into the depths of the forest. Come! The voices cheered. Come! Through half open eyelids he could see leaves filtering in and out of his vision, moving so quickly that he had to close his eyes, lest he get dizzy.
Elian felt it the moment his body hit the tree sap, skin being enveloped slowly in a sticky, cold mass that limited his movements more than the tree roots. It climbed up his leg, up his waist, crawling over his chest and pushing down so that he struggled to breathe. He moved his arms in one last fruitless effort to escape, but it was already too late. The sap had covered his head.
Elian sobbed into the viscous liquid, but he could not hear it over the clamor of the trees’ voices. They were victorious in their cheering, but Elian could no longer understand what they were saying. It was garbled to him, for now that he was taken the trees no longer needed to speak in his tongue.
Everything was muddled now, and Elian could no longer form a coherent thought. His lungs had long since stopped burning, and all his senses had been robbed from him, suspending him in a field of nothing. But Elian was not scared, for he no longer had the strength to be. He no longer had the strength to do anything.
He drifted off, welcoming the silence away from the voices of the trees.
A little less than a mile away, the porch door of a quaint, cozy-looking house creaked open, startling the nearby birds into flight. “Elian?” A voice rang out over the surrounding wood, sweet and feminine and motherly. “Come back inside, it’s time for dinner!”
The forest, however, remained silent.
How the World Ended
Just as worlds before it have ended, Earth too lay in ruin, scorched and cracked into an unrecognizable rock. The ground was barren of life, the sky was clogged with ash, and the water was murky with filth; a planet uninhabitable to all those who used to thrive there.
But Earth had not always been this way. Once lush and full of life, with people walking amongst other species like brothers, living off of what the good Mother Nature had provided for them. However, as it goes in most stories, humans became greedy, and began to kill their brothers and sisters by the thousands in order to profit from their deaths, to build, to evolve, to destroy.
Society grew and factories began to spit filth from their bellies, polluting the sky and the water that housed millions of animals seeking refuge from the humans. Corpses riddled the ground, ecosystems began to wilt underneath the rot of the humans, and still the people kept on building, willingly unaware of the hurt they were causing.
Mother Nature watched all of this happen with a sad smile, but did nothing. She could not, for humans were just as much of her children as every other animal was. So forlornly she watched, tears creating floods and sobs creating earthquakes.
But, as they usually do, humans persevered and continued to build, creating structures that scraped the sky and houses that dotted the once pure landscape like ugly zits upon nature’s face. The sky grew darker, the forests grew thinner, and then species of mouse in Australia became the first ever to go extinct.
Like a chain reaction, this triggered a culling, and one by one different species of animals began to drop off the face of the earth. Mother nature was joined by animal after animal in the heavens where she lived, and with every bit of company she gained, the angrier she grew. He tears were no longer wept out of sadness but out of rage, erupting volcanoes and releasing disease from the depths of the earth. Yet humans continued to destroy, and mother nature began to plan.
It was only a short, few years later when the last species of animal, a breed of frog, was wiped from the planet. No one noticed, no one cared, but when Mother Nature noticed her child, that precious little amphibian, seating on the arm rest of her throne, a change was enacted in her, twisting her core right down to the bone.
Her mind became warped, her inside ugly, and with a scream of unadulterated fury she unleashed her hurt and her anger upon the Earth. Flash fires riddled the countryside, horrible diseases ran rampant, and deadly storms swept the face of the planet, doing the job that Mother Nature had given them. Now it was the humans turn to be culled, now it was their turn to suffer, and now they could watch as the empire they built atop a pile of innocent corpses was destroyed by the very land they had shaped it on.
No more was Mother Nature a kind god, a giving god, but she would always be a just god. She delivered justice in the form of destruction, and no longer were people marveling at her kindness but instead screaming fearfully at her wrath.
No longer was she idle, no longer would she sit by. Once, she was the god that everyone worshipped, but now, she was the god they deserved.
Beads of sweat formed on the nape of my neck, falling down my spine and causing my shirt to stick to my skin. It was as humid as it is hot, and with the sun beating down upon me like a demon from hell, there was nothing more that I wanted than a cool glass of water.
The sun was high in the sky, shining hellishly down as a few stray clouds did very little to shelter me from the heat. Wiping the sweat from my brow, I squinted up towards it, craning my neck at nearly 90 degrees just to take a look at the sun. It was unrelenting, and eventually I had to look down lest my eyes begin to burn.
Shading my eyes with one hand, I sucked in a puff of humid air and brought my other arm upwards towards my face. On it was a watch with metal warmed by the sun, and on it's face it displayed the time of day, which was almost exactly.....
Don't hide yourself because you think you are ugly. You are perfect, scars and all.
The Suicide Note
Hey X, it’s me.
I don’t really know what to call this. If I actually end up sending it, I guess you’d call it a suicide note. As of right now, I’m calling it a friendship letter. An ironic juxtaposition, isn’t it?
You’re my best friend, X, but I’m scared to tell you, and thus I never have. I don’t want to tell you because I don’t want to have to look at your face when you lie and say that I’m yours as well. I know that I’m not your best friend, but that’s okay. I’m happy simply being your friend, and I’m happy that we get to hang out so often. I’m happy I found a person who likes me for who I am, who is so similar to me and enjoys my company. You’re always there, you know? I can always rely on you to want to be around me, and I can always depend on your support or witty comments to cheer me up. Time and time again I have been in a bad mood and have texted you looking for a distraction, and time and time again you have pulled me from a depressed slump simply by talking to me. It’s like a superpower, it really is, and it makes me all the more grateful I have you in my life.
There is so much I want to say but I don’t know how to say it. I admire you deeply, for being so strong and so intelligent and so put-together even though you insist that you aren’t. You are the best of us, and— god, you just mean that much to me, you know? You are the one constant in my life, and despite the fact that I feel like I’m drowning little by little, but you are always there for me. Not out of obligation, but because you are genuinely my friend. And while I’m putting it all out there, I might as well let you know that I think of you as my family. I love you so much, and despite the problems I have you make my life a little brighter every day.
There are so many memories I have with you that keep me grounded, that make me smile when I am stewing in a depressed fog. Our trips to Barnes and Noble are memories that I cherish, specifically when we sit in the manga section for hours simply talking, or when we sit at a table in the café and draw. Watching TV shows together are fond memories as well, and fonder still are the simple memories, the ones that may seem small but mean the world to me. Laying on your carpet and talking about everything that comes to mind. You narrating video games to me, not seeming to mind that I’m forcing you to talk for hours on end. Our tradition of pizza trips, which make me so happy to think about. They mean a lot to me, and I hope they hold the same weight for you.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been struggling lately to pull myself out of a slump. It gets harder and harder, and though I recognize my self-destructive habits, I can’t stop myself. I started cutting again. I stopped taking my medication. I stopped scheduling therapy appointments. I don’t know what I’m going to do next, and I’m scared I will do something I’ll regret. I’ve been thinking about death a lot, X, and yeah, that's why I'm writing this.
I don’t know when I’ll get that bad again, only that it will happen, soon, I think, so I want to write this now to let you know how much I care about you, and how much I am going to miss you when I’m gone. I care about you so much, and I am so proud to have a friend as talented and warm as you. You are going to do incredible things when you get older, and whether I am alive or not just know that even now, I am infinitely proud of you.
Please don’t forget about me. Goodbye. I love you.
Take my hand, walk with me
Among the clouds, you will see
It's not so bad, way up here,
It's not scary, do not fear
And though we're dead, it's okay
I'll be with you, another day
One of my greatest memories took place at a state fair, a quiet, surreal memory in the midst of a noisy, light-filled place.
It was on a ferris wheel. My closest, dearest friend and I rode it in the evening, when the sun was lazily moving behind the clouds and beginning to disappear past the horizon. Wind pulled at our hair and caused us to shiver lightly, making our eyes water as we gazed out at the fair, spread out like a little doll town far, far below.
Looking out upon the fair and the shadows the sun cast upon it, hearing the muffled noise of the crowd and the children screaming while they rode carnival rides made the gondola we were in seem ethereal. Colorful lights flashed below us, and multi-colored signs advertising games and food decorated the ground like someone had tossed a handful of confetti above the fair and wherever the scraps of paper landed, signs and flags would pop up. We could see everything from above; on the ground navigating the fair was like walking through the labyrinth, but in the sky each booth seemed like a mere spec in a small town. It was like time had stopped high up in the air and it was just me and my friend, alone, in our own little world.
We didn’t speak much, preferring to spend our time taking in as much as we could. But it was a content silence, the kind you can only experience when you and the other person are entirely comfortable in each other’s presence. She is my best friend and I love her dearly, and she looked absolutely stunning as the wind whipped through her hair and golden light shone on her skin until it looked as if it glowed. She smiled at me widely, the only person in existence who has stood by me for so long, and there was not a single other place I would rather have been than at the top of the ferris wheel with her.
I squeezed it too hard and it went all over my friend.
I swear to god I heard My Heart Will Go On as it soared in slow motion towards her.
Sparks flew from her fingertips, casting her surroundings into a ferocious, fiery glow. Screams echoed through the air as flames spilled from the alley and into the rest of the city, licking at the backs of people’s heels and devouring those who tripped. Chaos descended over the town like a fire blanket, choking off the embers of life until they feebly spluttered out.
The woman smiled, thrusting her hands forward again as she strode out of the alley, sending more flames spilling from her palms and another chorus of screams into the air. Those directly in the fire’s path were burnt to a crisp upon impact, only experiencing moments of pure agony before their lives were claimed by the inferno. Many tried to escape but few actually did, fleeing into the surrounding forest with cries of terror. Whereas this would normally bother the woman, she knew the escaped people wouldn’t last long in a forest infested by vicious predators and poisonous plants that they would surely try to eat for food. So she didn’t let it bother her, instead focusing her energy on reaping destruction upon the town, just as she was taught.
It wasn’t long before the pleading wails and terrified shrieks petered out, the remaining sobs drowned out by the crackling of the burning buildings. The town was eerily beautiful, bathed in an orange glow that the woman couldn’t help but smile at. With a satisfied sigh, she turned on the ball of her heel and exited the town in the exact same way she came; suddenly, and with a smirk on her lips.
She was beautiful in every way that the sky at night was beautiful, and was as equally as attractive as a sunrise on the beach. Both scenic images he could never help but stare at, and in a similar manner he couldn’t help but stare at her.
It was the way she looked at him that caught his attention, eyes honeyed and warm, a teasing glint in her eyes that seemed to laugh along with her carefree visage. Or maybe the way that she smiled, minx-like and wide as if she was calling to him, only him, through the welcoming expression on her face.
She walked like she knew she was beautiful, long stride showing off stunning legs and a sway to her hips that sent a vicious flush along his cheekbones at the sight. Her clothes were by no means revealing, but they showed enough, shorts ending halfway up her thighs that showcased the golden-brown tone of molten sugar on her skin.
Glancing over her shoulder, she caught his eye with a sultry smile, brushing a long, silky strand of dark hair behind her ear as she did so. His breath caught in his throat, eyes fixated on the dimple on the left side of her face that somehow made her more attractive than previously thought possible. Chocolate hair lined her face like a picture frame lines a masterpiece, for that was exactly was she was.
Untouchable and so beautiful that it felt surreal: a masterpiece.