Lyrical Musings an emotional journey via train of thought

Anum of the Picea Glauca

November 14th, 2016

This was it; this was the year! She could feel it in her bones or if you wanted to be so semantic (although, that wasn’t typically a characteristic sported by most trees), branches. She had been waiting for this year all her life despite her family members warning her that she would never be the prized holiday tree to overlook thousands of onlookers during the winter season. Still, she persisted in belief and in growth.

Year after year, she had crept up, slowly surpassing her other brothers and sisters, even her parents in height. She was a white spruce, and while most people found her kind to be perfectly good to decorate a small city square, no one believed a white spruce would once again grace the world-renowned Rockefeller Center.

For the last decade or so, her growth had slowed. She was over 70 feet tall, an impressive feat for any tree, let alone a white spruce. But it wasn’t enough to be chosen for Rockefeller Center, not when a Norway spruce could be tens of feet taller!

While she would previously have spurted two feet higher annually, the recent years saw only a fraction of that growth. Her neighbors thought her growth was done, and she should accept her fate as the tallest tree in the forest.

But she wasn’t happy with that, and she willed herself to grow taller, her trunk to grow wider. Her needles had a blue hue that she was positive would reflect twinkling strands of lights in a way that passersby would “Ooh” and “Aah” over if only they were given a chance. She just knew it!

So she hoped, and she grew, little by little. And the miraculous happened: she grew a lot by a lot. Suddenly, she was growing an extra inch a month. In the past year’s time, she had shot up three feet to a whopping 76 feet tall. Any taller, and she would have been too tall to squeeze into the New York city streets she would need to navigate to reach her destination. Like that, her growth slowed.

This was why she knew that her time had come. At her final height, she towered above the other white spruces in the forest and even some of the Norways, too! She could see for miles, and she stood contentedly for weeks, her trunk full of the quiet self-assurance one possesses once they finally see the goal in sight.

She was among the first trees in the thicket to see the helicopter coming. She saw it well before she heard it hovering en route and long before she felt the vibrations-turned-gusts overhead. She watched in determined silence at it approached, without a peep to her friends or family. It had been years since she mentioned her heart’s quest to anyone. Not her mother, now brittle with age, nor her best friend, a beautiful fir over whom she now towered, knew her truest desires until the people approached.

And as a representative surveyed the crowd, focusing on the Norway spruces, she didn’t discourage. Instead, she puffed out her needles and gently shook her branches as though a breeze had appeared. There was none. But her preening was enough to get him to glance in her direction, and the tree knew she had succeeded.

The man walked closer, and the tree did her best to send welcoming waves in his direction. She straightened her posture and extended her branches like a carefully-trained ballerina. This was her year.

So she wasn’t surprised when the man picked up his device and spoke.

“’Ey boss, we’ve got a looker over here.”

Still, she couldn’t hold back her excitement. He liked her!

So did the “boss,” who nodded his approval and made a notation on his sheet of paper (some trees liked the utilitarian nature of becoming paper, but that was never in the books for this tree).

The boss man carefully looped a ribbon around one of her lower branches, and she shivered with anticipation. He looked up as she did, seeing a ripple of blue-green needles amid an otherwise still forest.

And then he left. That’s when her panic set in. Didn’t he like her? She was so tall, so blue, so strong! She’d done everything she could, and more than anyone thought she was able to! This was supposed to be her year.

If a tree could brood, this one did. She sulked, her branches dipping toward the ground as the sun fell lower in the sky. This was her year, damn it!

Her anxiety grew throughout the evening; her panic became nearly palpable as the moon rose and set, then the sun returned once more. But with the sun returned the man with the clipboard and the helicopter. This time he brought with him an entourage in hard hats with tools at their sides. A massive machine was driving toward her.

This really was her year! She practically beamed; although, trees have no face, so that’s fairly improbable.

The men approaching the tree did so carefully with a sort of reverence. This was the one tree that was good enough to be transported to Rockefeller Center, and it had to be treated with care so that it wouldn’t be damaged during the moving process.

The men carefully pulled her upper branches upward and bound them with help from the vehicle that lifted them to her uppermost branches. The lift allowed removing some of her lowermost branches, the tree’s first experience with a saw. At first, it tickled. The pain followed. But she gritted herself. This was her year, she reminded herself.

The men wrapped the lowest remaining branches protectively and secured her with the assistance of the machine, which she heard them call a “crane,” before getting down to the real sawing. This was more painful, the most painful thing she’d ever experienced, and it took much longer than removing a few branches.

Still, she knew it was necessary for her to become the holiday tree that would adorn Rockefeller Center, so she bore it with grace.

Eventually, it was over, and she barely rested on her stump. The tree could no longer feel her roots; it was so foreign. She wished she had relished the feeling for the last time, but she was so overwhelmed with the entire process. Before long, she was being carefully lowered, then placed atop the trailer that would haul her to Rockefeller Center.

It was disconcerting to be on her side. She no longer could see for miles. The truck rumbled, and she felt helpless the way she was bound, yet she knew it was for her protection.

Trees don’t have a sense of time the same way that people do, but this tree’s final destination couldn’t come soon enough. Long after the truck’s engine had been cut, the tree remained shaking with anticipation. But the process of lifting the tree from the trailer and standing her upright was as least as long and arduous as the process of getting her on there in the first place.

The excited tree was finally at Rockefeller Center! And as she was raised, she could look on with awe at Manhattan sprawled around her. The tree had never seen a city before and certainly not one of this magnitude. There were people everywhere, already hustling and bustling to and fro. Cars filled the streets.

The tree had grown accustomed to the dulcet tones of the man who was in charge, the one who had taken note when he had seen this tree for the first time. But there was nothing that could truly prepare this tree for the sights and sounds surrounding her.

There was so much light and even more noise. It was deafening, but the tree found it exhilarating. She could not have imagined what it would really be like to live in Rockefeller Center, even if it was the last part of her life.

And she was already feeling a disconnect with the living world she had previously known. The tree had lost her roots, literally. She had shed more needles at one time than ever before in her long life. She was cut and scratched. But she was ready. After all, this was her year!

The white spruce was distracted by the thriving city around her, so she didn’t realize when she was finally hoisted and secured into place. The truck and trailer that had carted her in had departed, and the crowd of workmen had thinned.

Finally, no wires were holding her branches up. The tree stretched her stiff limbs and unfurled her boughs for the last time. She extended outward toward buildings, happy to finally be free and standing at Rockefeller Center.

The beautiful tree gazed around her, spreading her branches like open and loving arms and towering like a friendly giant above the people far below her. They glanced up in awe, just like the tree knew they would. She preened once again for anyone who would look in her direction.

This year might be her last but, finally and triumphantly, it was her year.

Part II

August 25th, 2005

Slim gasped at the sight before his eyes; the body was a mangled, bloody mess and it was difficult to imagine that this has been a living, breathing, laughing human with hopes and dreams and many years left on this Earth, someone who loved and was loved. Now, it was more like a mockery of life and it reminded him of something you might see in a museum or haunted house or, even worse, the stories your parents told you to deter sexual behaviour and drug use. No one would have guessed this atrocity was caused by another human being.

With one arm bent grotesquely back beneath the weight of the body, it appeared that this was not a painless end. The fingers of the hand that was visible didn’t even resemble fingers. Bloody strands of skin hung from protruding bones and tangled around each other; some hung limp where the bones inside had been crushed and could no longer give shape.

Yet, that was the least of the gruesome details. Slim’s eyes traveled the upper body of the corpse, to the head which was hanging at an angle at which no living body, and few cadavers, would be physically capable of resting. The neck, literally twisted around, the skin appearing like ropes wound around each other and the visible side of the face, should have been the side which was touching the ground. Blood ran down the cheek and over the lips, to the ground, from what once was an eye socket. Now, there was only a bloody gouge. Slim shivered as he wondered where the eye might be.

Worse yet, was the chest, or what once was the chest of this person. One would not be able to identify the gender of this corpse from fleshy mounds declaring femininity or the lack there-of. There simply was no flesh which could be discerned by the human eye. Instead, where skin should cover the curve a series of pairs of ribs, several ribs were broken, pried from there so well known position of comfort and force to reach to the sky. The bones, jagged and covered in now-dried blood and tissue were reminiscent of a crown or fence around the chest cavity. Slim thought of Stone Henge, but quickly shook the thought from his mind. This was not some esoteric rock art; this was the mutilated remains of a human being.

Peering over the body, he looked into the gaping darkness, surrounded by ribs, hoping to see the familiar sight of organs, even if they were out of order but there were not there. No heart beat, nor did it lie still. Lungs were absent from their usual place. Where the liver and stomach should have been just visible, there was nothing but blood and unidentifiable tissue, though where was not enough to have been the remains of the unaccounted for organs. A few shards of bone lay scattered in the otherwise empty crater, the only trace of the rest of the ribs.

As his eyes focused, Slim noticed several somethings extending upward, almost beckoning him in. Startled, he peered closer, realizing that they were, indeed, beckoning him closer. Four distorted fingers curled back slightly, as though they were waving him in and a thumb lay eerily fractured, away from the rest of the hand. The hand, he thought, belonged to the arm which was behind the body. The hand, he gasped in horror, penetrated through skin and muscle of the back and taunted him.

Slim stepped back quickly, turning as he doubled over in horror and shock, hands on his thighs and his body convulsed. And then it came. Vomit poured from his mouth, seemingly endless, first covering the ground and then layering upon itself. Tears welled at the corners of his eyes and streamed down his cheeks, falling to join the mound which was quickly forming on the ground. As soon as it started, it was over. Wiping his eyes and mouth, Slim stood once more, glancing back at the body.

“My eyes must be playing tricks on me,” he thought, dismissing the thought that he’d seen something move near the toe of shoe. Remarkably, there was no blood there but slim reckoned there might not be since most of the injuries sustained were toward the upper body of the corpse. He saw it again. Perhaps there was a bug crawling over the bloody remains. Bugs thrived on dead creatures and he imagined soon there would be many more partaking in this feast. And the animals. If someone didn’t move the body the animals would soon come to take of the flesh. They didn’t care how gruesomely their meal died, just as long as it provided them with some nourishment.

Slim was growing increasingly uneasy and didn’t know what he should do. Move the body so it would be hidden? Contact someone? The latter wasn’t any good because he was in the middle of the forest and it would take hours for him to hike out and then sometime after that before he’d reach anyone’s home, let alone town. Even then, he couldn’t guarantee that he would find his way back; he was much deeper than he usually went in the woods.

Before he could make up his mind, Slim saw movement again, only this time it was much larger than an insect. His mouth fell open as the corpse rose up to a sitting position, slowly but surely elevating from the ground, with no help from either of the hands. Blood poured from the body and the empty chest wound, more blood than there could possibly be from this corpse, despite its perverted lacerations. The mouth slowly formed into a crooked broken tooth smile. Blood flowed from there as well.

Suddenly, a disturbing scratching voice filled his head. Slim knew it was from the corpse, but the lips stayed frozen in the life-mocking smile, one eye not more than a bloody hole and the other rolled back, displaying only a murky grey globe. Still, he knew this thing was looking at him, talking to him and dread filled him as he heard the words it was speaking.

“You did this.”

Before he could manipulate his lips to form words whether to scream aloud or plead his innocence, Slim’s eyes widened in terror as a rush of red overtook him. Blood filled his open mouth, rushing over him, filling his lungs and stealing the last breath.

Slim gasped, bolting upright in his bed. Sheets fell off him and sweat glistened from his forehead and the bare skins of his arms. Almost panting, he could hear only his heart pounding in his ears. He shook his head, as if to physically remove the dream’s image from his mind.

Glancing toward the window, he imagined it to be just before 4 AM. The clock would be going off in less than thirty minutes but instead of stay in bed, Slim decided to make the most of the extra time this morning. Besides tending to the animals and the yard as well as cleaning the barn, there were more tasks waiting to be completed. Slim hoped to repair the back stoop and door, something which Mr. Anderson had intended to do for years, or so said Mrs. Anderson, but he never got around to actually doing it before the “incident” as she always called it. Slim assumed it was either a heart attack or a stroke. Either of those could incapacitate someone much like Mr. Anderson currently was, although he could understand why a woman her age would be hesitant to actually say those words out loud; it was partly naivete and fear that speaking them would cause her husband worse damage and partly hope that his current condition wouldn’t be permanent.

Stretching, Slim slipped his legs out from under the covers, his feet landing flat on the floor, and rose from bed. He reached for a towel draped over a chair which sat behind a small wooden table, across from the bed.. Both table and chair needed a bit of fixing up and Slim planned to do that soon as well, he thought, bending down to pick up a well worn pair of jeans and a dirty wife beater. Slim shook excess dirt from both of them and pulled the jeans on before draping the shirt over his left shoulder, grabbing a dirty, broken pair of work boots and pulling open the bedroom door to exit.

He quietly moved through the hall and then the kitchen, to the back door, carefully making his way over the broken boards of the stoop he had plans to fix, and across a few feet of yard to a wash basin he had set up on a board over two workhorses. Although Mrs. Anderson was hospitable enough to offer him the use of almost every amenity of her home, Slim liked his basin outside. The crisp morning air always felt cool on his skin and smelled fresh, like grass and trees and clean air, something one didn’t often experience in the suburbs that Slim used to know. Slim turning the knob of the faucet and listened and water began to run through the dark green garden hose, out through the end of the hose which he held in his other hand. He quickly filled the basin with icy water, listening to the birds chirping sleepily overheard. Dunking his hands in the water, he shivered and reached for a bar of soap lying on the board next to the basin, water dripping from his hands, darkening the wood’s natural rings and lines.

As he washed his hands, and then face, Slim thought about the day’s chores. He didn’t mind tending to the animals because chickens, unlike humans, never exchanged knowing glances amongst themselves when he entered the room and the goats were more than happy to nibble on the carrots he distributed among them and bleated softly when he would scratch them behind their ears. The animals never gave him any trouble; although, it wasn’t like he had to face any of those glances or knowing looks from people, either. He was a long way from home and while some were wary of a stranger in their town, most accepted him as a quiet man who didn’t cause any trouble at all. Maybe they just thought he was down on his luck and while that was partially true, he didn’t mind if that’s what they thought. It was better than everyone knowing he was a murderer.

How long has it been?

August 12th, 2005

Over a year. Much, much too long! I have such plans for this place including a new layout (good bye yucky frames which I long ago forgot how to use!), installing a new blog program (good bye blogger – hello comments, password protection and more!), transferring all writing from the LJ to here, more frequent updates and more! Enough with future plans; here’s something to whet your appetite!

Slim sipped hot coffee from the almost-clean cup the waitress handed him. Steam rose from the cup angrily before dissipating into the humid afternoon air. Slim wondered just what he was doing here, in this rundown old diner with stains on the walls and floors and duct tape on the tables. He took another sip, his eyes following an old Dodge as it rumbled down the dirt and gravel road, leaving a cloud of dust in its wake.

That could have been him once, he mused before looking back down at the crumpled newspaper on which he rested his hand. Slim had been your typical teenaged boy, loud and a little obnoxious amongst his friends yet quiet and respectful around his elders, especially old Mrs. Tillmen who lived down the street from his parents house. He loved the outdoors although he wasn’t especially athletic. Hunting, fishing, camping – those sports enticed him more than football, but he did play it a bit. Not popular but not shunned by his peers, Slim rarely paid attention to the social ladder and his currently position on it like so many others worked themselves into a frenzy. He had his friends and with them, he had fun. He’d a few girlfriends and while most of those relationships had been short lived, he wasn’t worried about settling down or being doomed to singularity for the rest of his life. He was simply enjoying his youth and maybe, just maybe, learning a little about women while he did it.

However, if Slim wasn’t anything it was slim, as his nickname might have implied. At just over 6 foot, he weighed in at a solid 250 pounds. While his physical appearance might have made him appear a little rough and rugged on the outside, he could be quiet and observant when he thought the situation called for it, although he was far from refined or sophisticated. Slim was intelligent enough, moreso than he appeared, at least and this often worked in his advantage. He didn’t mind if others mistook him for an unintelligent simpleton because he knew better and because, most of the time, nothing really bothered him.

Slim sighed, coming out of his reverie. There was no longer steam rising from his coffee and the sky outside the diner was slightly darker than it had been before. That was then and times were different. Slim had been looking forward to a promising future. College, marriage, maybe even a career and who-knows-what-else awaited for him, but that had changed and Slim plenty bothered slim these days. Slim rose from his seat, his body seemed to resist and, he had to admit, his mind was of the same opinion. He could just sit on that chair in that dirty little diner until his breathing stopped and his heart failed or, at least, until insanity overtook his mind and he’d had no more worries. No, that was no good. He was 32, not 82 and he still had a life ahead of him, even if was a bleak one.

Walking to the register, Slim placed his bill and a crisp $5 bill on the counter before walking out. “Let the waitress keep the change,” he thought, “Maybe she has something better on which to spend it.” Exiting the diner, Slim stared down the road, away from the sunset before starking the nearly-a-mile trek toward the motel where he’d booked a room for the next several nights. One thing was for sure; he’d rise early in the morning and get a start looking for a job because his meager cash supply wasn’t going to sustain even an impoverished lifestyle for very long. Besides, working work help distract him from his guilty conscience and the memories of the boy he used to be, the life he used to live, which left a vile taste in his mouth and made his stomach turn.

Slim’s gaze focused dead ahead as he marched back toward his, hopefully, temporary abode, the setting sun casting his shadow on the gravel ahead of him. Tomorrow would be a long day, but he had a feeling that he’d soon be accustomed to long days.