If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a feeling of deep unease. Here’s a great prompt from @lydnicholas that got exactly the sort of story I was hoping it would, courtesy of @tambourine. What follows is subtle and playful, with some eerie turns of phrase throughout. If you like ents, you’ll like this story! The format is pretty jazzy, suiting the prompt, and I’m ashamed to say it has suffered from RULES STALIN’s incompetence – it was meant to contain a little blowy wind emoji at the top and the tail. Enjoy:
STORY NUMBER: 9
PROMPT PROVIDER: @lydnicholas
TITLE: Aural History of the Trees
crunch of sky. hand bones wither. hands in each. hands in hand.
Claire took me to the forest, although the trees were now too thick to allow us to safely pass. We stood at a safe distance and watched the flowers bloom and die.
“Nobody here has ever seen anything like it,” she added.
That was the day the trees started to sing.
sap. snail songs. arms. song about arms.
Yeah, it’s weird. I keep staring at your letter but I can’t think of how to answer your questions properly. I don’t dream of them, but you’re not the only person I’ve heard of who’s been affected.
All I can say is — without the procedure, we stood no chance. Now — they breathe more. They let us breathe. We just have to wait. Or keep waiting. I know — I know. I’m sorry I can’t do more. I’ll try and come home soon. I’m not too far away. We’ll make the pasta with milk and cheese and garlic again. Maybe chicken, if I can get some.
grouty. mud-rain. stamp smell. brown sky. tear. smells. tears in pine. cry out the sky.
“I went to collect some samples the day after we finished with the wires. They’d already started to turn brown in places, although the materials girl promised me that they wouldn’t rust. I cut a bit of bark off some of them, and put my hand out to test the wire on one of the ones that had started to go — bad — I had gloves with rubber pads in the fingers, so I wasn’t afraid. But it was like the tree knew I was there. I guess it did. It put its — branch down towards me. Like when a new mum offers her little finger to the new baby and it squeezes it, so hard, and that’s how she knows yes, she’s got a real baby. I didn’t know what to do. I touched it with my fingers through the rubber and cloth. Only gently, like.
You’ve still not been there? Fuck. But you’ve heard it.”
T: Shit — no, right, it’s not sticking anymore. So — this is tape number seventy two, and I’m here with Frankie.
T: Can you tell us what you saw when you were asleep.
F: It was like — it was like I had new lungs. You know they say that on planes the oxygen is there just to get you high so that you don’t care if you die? Yeah.
T: You felt high?
F: It was like everything had been one colour — not black and white, kind of like, sludge green — and suddenly everything was hurting my eyes? Bright. Like… like when technicolour’s a bit off and it’s like all the colours are on top of each other.
F: So, yes. I felt high.
T: And has this happened more than once?
F: Every night. I said that to you earlier. Oh — right. It barely stops when I wake up.
T: What do you mean?
F: Everything looks — orange. Not orange, but there’s not — a word.
our sister pines
about the pines, sister —
about the pines our sister
the wind stopped moving —
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who fell in love with a tree. An old book told her that to hear a tree talk, you only have to press your left ear to the trunk. She hugged the big oak at the end of her garden, and it worked! Soon, the tree was talking to her every day. It told her stories, although it didn’t know a lot of the right words. It told her recipes only the tree didn’t know about ovens, and the world was too wet for her to leave any food outside to dry.
It was only after weeks and weeks of this that she realised that she had no way of talking back.
our sister tree. we can’t. our sister. die. hair. fingers. snarl girls.
about the pines, sister —
“Did anyone ask what the trees want?”
“Don’t be stupid.”
“I’m not stupid. You’re being stupid.”
No, no. I think what a lot of you don’t understand yet is that it’s a song, but it’s the sound of rain too. Like when birds learn to sing car alarms. You can’t stop thinking — it’s a car alarm. I can’t stop thinking — the world is going to drown.
I wake up and I breathe. I breathe in. I breathe out. You know. That stuff they taught us in yoga. You thought I wasn’t listening! I was too busy watching you. Great arse. I count to twenty. My palms are red.
wound the neck. crystal breath. fringe gold. fool.
to reach — grow — sing for rains
dried in place. quick dead. winds, cold hands. hands in. all hands.
- I think you’re looking at it wrong. I think you’re thinking — that they’re more like us. That our problem was — they’re more like us.
- That’s what we’re here to talk about today.
- I think it’s the opposite.
- They’re less. They’re — can’t you see them from the window? I didn’t realise it was them at first. You can’t even see their tops. This big, they look like they’re made of taffeta.
- Is that what you wanted to say? Taffeta?
- No. Well. I slept next to one for weeks. Under its branches. They sing to themselves to grow. Red. To the world that knows how to listen — not us. We opened something inside them. We hurt them. They don’t care about us. They just care that they hurt. They care — they care that they all hurt. They just want to hold each other. They won’t stop until they — all — can.
- That’s not a question.
- You’re right.
sister pines. fist. sis. a place. sap. chest. natural hollow. to hold it all.
messages in snail fluid. letters in the air.
fist. rise. skies. us.
PROMPT:We thought it would save us, but we wired up the trees too well. They dream of revolution.