… they say Prince Charles does. But what if they talked back? What would he hear?
I wrote a short piece for a prompt here, which, as I’m not at the moment sharing my Nano offerings, I thought I’d share with you.
When the wind blows…
The first time you hear their screams is always the hardest. You’re alone, that’s why and no one explains. There are precious few of us and we’re thought mad by the standards Society sets. All sorts of frightening things happen to you as you grow. Injections, abandoned at school, your first period. But there’s someone there with an arm around the shoulder, a kindly word. Someone understands. Even those who can’t, they try and empathise.
That’s because these shocks are normal and there is someone to pass on their experience.
But if you’re gifted and you try and explain, they frown, they tell you not to be silly and then they shy away.
I suppose it helps that tree empathy doesn’t develop until adulthood. It is difficult to know exactly – people don’t talk about it, do they? It is my belief it only affects child bearing age women, something to do with fertility. For some it’s just a background hiss, like a tingling tinnitus which sets your nerves on edge. For others like me it’s a cacophony of sounds, usually suppressed but you’d better be ready when they roar.
Autumn is the worst. Branches broken in the wind, men with chainsaws hacking off limbs. That first scream, a blood freezing stiletto cuts to the soul, punches out the wind and leaves you reeling. You look around, convinced someone has been decapitated and yet everyone else carries on as normal. It’s because you don’t know where it comes from and no one else hears it that makes it so awful. It took me three months before I was sure.
I’ve tried drugs, booze, tranquillisers you name it. Loud music. You know the only thing that works? Fruit. Well anything the trees give willingly. Spices are best. Strong flavours. They soften the agony. It doesn’t go completely. Cloves, cinnamon sticks, if they’ve not been cut off, nutmeg are best. Nutmeg is my favourite. If there’s a storm coming I chew a nutmeg. Does your teeth no favours, mind.
Look, it’s not all bad. When a tree is laden with fruit, in those days before they drop, they breathe out their joy. It’s like a long sigh of achievement that wraps every molecule of your being. And the drop itself is a painless and ecstatic birth. Why did God give that to trees and not us?
I was lucky. Most of us are either locked away, slowly driven mad by the anguish around us or we take our own way out. Hanging inevitably. My father knew I wasn’t lying. He couldn’t watch me deteriorate so did the only possible thing. He bought me this wood. No one can chop or cut or saw here. Storms are bad but they’re not often and I have my spice cabinet to help.
What do they say? If a tree falls in a wood and no one is there to hear it does it make a sound? What about me? When will anyone hear my screams?
The tree whisperer! I especially like the passage about the fruit…beautiful!
Great piece, Geoff: the trauma and the salve, the mixed blessing of the gift of empathy. Works really well.