Wednesday, August 18, 2010



posted Monday, 27 February 2006

The special tree seemed always smothered in blooms and these blooms had formed like clusters of shelled prawns. It stood at the bottom of the orchard garden amongst its pippin cousins, preening itself somewhat.
Who had planted it there? Perhaps a mischievous servant from the big house at the other end of the garden, having found the strange seed at the bottom of the festive nuts. Or, more likely, the relentless wind had brought it there from exotic realms. Whatever the reason, it caused something magical about the place. Moving about the place. Never still.

As a child, I was fond of playing in the orchard garden. My father had strung a strong swing from two of the more dependable looking pippin branches - and I spent many a happy hour in a pendulum motion, legging it up into the ever blue sky by my own volition. I never questioned the movement of the earth itself. I never needed playmates. And they never really needed me.

My father was, on the face of it, a strait-laced business man who did his pin-striped duty by his family, by going to some godforsaken hole of an office complex for most of his waking hours. He dressed pretty smart for going there and put on his best uncharacteristic behaviour ... whilst, at home, he spent all his spare time writing little stories about nasty things. He broke wind and treated my mother as if she had been born a drudge. Soon, he became an exclusion zone. The only real decent thing he did for me, other than “bread-winning”, as he so proudly put it, was indeed the swing. I don’t count his insistence on reading his damn silly stories aloud to me. I never understood them anyway.

My father once announced that he’d got me some playmates. He knew I’d been hankering after them (which I hadn’t). I wouldn’t be able to sense them, but they’d be there all the time, he said, making sure I was safe, pushing me on the swing in the cantilever sunbeams of filmy afternoons, playing hidey-seek, chattering plentifully of this and that (albeit formulaic sayings) ... but how he envisaged them doing these things whilst being invisible wraiths, I’m still unclear, even now in the museum of middle age.

Over a period of four seasons, the strange tree grew ... whilst I at the same time transformed from child to man. The swing could no longer bear my weight. My mother, poor dear, passed away sometime about then. My father was cut up ... literally. It seemed he believed his own stories. He claimed the corpse of my mother had ripped runnels down his face with her still-growing fingernails. Blood, instead of tears, as he put it aphoristically. I sobbed in despair, as the blood looked like ink from an old black and white movie..

With the arrival of the pink blossom, though, I could begin to believe in the existence of the playmates. Typical of Father, though. They were the sort of kids you’d hate at school, a whole bunch of them in one place. Wicked for wicked’s sake, making nice children weep ... and I was the only nice one in the whole orchard garden.

Soon, I grew out of them. With my puberty, they disappeared. As if they were then scared of what I had got wrapped up. The smell of it in the air, no doubt.

Not long afterwards, the tree, the special tree, wilted. But it first formed nuts where the bloodworm blossom had been and dropped them to the piny ground. They were like tree bark skulls, oozing a white slime from the fast appearing haircracks.

The tree’s back arched. Beckoning Adolf Hitler to stab his spurs in the spotlit flanks. All to the tangled backdrop of unspooling memories and misrote sayings.

I screeched and stamped my foot in petulance, since I gathered I was frozen in one of Daddy’s stories. My urchin nails not long enough to cut the ice.

But, no, surely not - the red-striped, chimney-hatted drooler at the attic window, leering at me was too real and frightening to be smuggled into one of his ill-packed stories.

(published 'Twisted' 1991)

comments (1)

1. Paul Dracon left...
Monday, 27 February 2006 3:13 pm
***I sobbed in despair, as the blood looked like ink from an old black and white movie..***

I sobbed in despair, knowing I can't write this well!

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