I still hear him screaming sometimes. His body, tight against mine is cold, but I suppose cherry wood is always cold. It is dense and hard to grow. It took all my strength to form him and remember what he looked like before, short but enduring, and he remembered that even after all this time. His emotion clashes against mine. Despite my eyes and ears being enveloped by oak, I can still hear him.
My sensations dip deeper into the ground, though I probably should have chosen cherry for myself. Oak roots rest just under the surface of the soil like a leaf on water, whereas the grace and breadth of cherry mirrors its structure above as below. I would have probably stood sturdier if I had chosen cherry for myself, rather than oak. But there is something comforting about the softer wood, it soaks the vibrations around me into its dense fibers and I feel footsteps approaching.
Time is different within the tree, I feel it but I have no way of knowing if I have stood here six minutes or six months. The earth is beginning to cool again, my leaves will stay with me through most of the winter but they are already starting to brown. But the water table is so low, they might fall anyway. It has been a long summer.
With all of his might and prowess it is keeping him fully immersed into my body that prevents him from moving. I am his prison. Had I chosen cherry I might have been stronger. But I would not have been able to hold him in the thin, dense trunk of a cherry tree, he would be able to see where we stand, he would be able to touch the earth and the roots which disfigure his legs would reach out freely. If he could grow on his own, he would have power. I couldn’t let that happen.
Had I not chosen oak, I might have been more in tune with his body, if we had been the same. I might spend more energy dismantling his hold over his own body, absorbing it into myself, and reducing his reach to only his heart. Oak was a mistake.
A swift pounding on the ground passes me. It’s them. They’ve come to visit. Two maybe four of them. But the footsteps tend to blur together as they walk, like shadows resonating into the ground, and lingering. It could be my father with them, but probably not.
He screams, he knows they’re here too, and he hates me. No one can hear his voice, only me, but even I can’t hear his words. The sound isn’t heard through ears or even understood as a human might. How might I describe how a tall oak recognizes the world around it? Every brief pound and pat of footsteps and sticks falling, I feel it. The beat of the sun just before it descends over the mountain early in the day. The cold I feel all through the night as my leaves fold in to preserve my energy. I’ve never tried to describe what it’s like to be a plant.
I’m not alone at least. I can still reach out through the grass and bend the other trees away from my so I can soak up more sunlight. But I’m afraid of doing that, nature doesn’t like it, and my powers are incredibly weakened. I’m only alive now because I’ve allowed my essence to pass out of my human form and live on in this oak. It has stretched my life, but as I see it, my consciousness will die, and I will be left in this body, a shell.
It’s not death. I cannot die. I still exist, my soul still exists, but my essence will move on, abandoning the ways of my human form, my memories, and my soul will live on in the forest, untouchable. He doesn’t seem excited to know we’ll be spending eternity together like this.
I want this. If I am to remain alive it is like this. I have spent so many years wishing for death, but this is the closest I can achieve. A quiet, passive existence, in peace.
It’s not quiet, I am not passive, and this is not peace.
He is angry and beats against me, his raging heart burning inside him, trapped with me. It will only last two years, and again, time is a very tricky concept for me, so this will either go by very fast or it will stretch on for ages. I can feel grass growing, so I assume it will be the latter. Who knows, it might only have been minutes since he and I joined together, and it is my father in the grass outside, or, my father left this place weeks ago, and the pressure I feel in the soil isn’t a human life form at all, it might not even be fauna. Maybe it has been two years and he is still alive, I can’t kill him. He can’t die either.
I should’ve known.
Maybe if I had taken that into account.
Maybe if I had not chosen oak.
Maybe if I had allowed him to continue on his reckless path.
I would be dead finally, and my father would have finished him for me.
Maybe… I would not have given him access to my heart.
It didn’t occur to me how close our hearts were until the auras of he cherry and the oak mingled. The two woods could not be kept apart and I could feel him more vividly. I feel a tightness in my midsection, away from my heart, I feel his fist clamping tighter, the joints long-since disintegrated. I don’t know how he still has control. I realize, I have control, and he has tapped into me. My heart is once again being manipulated by him.
The tightness worsens. It hurts, it blackens my core and I lose a sense of life flowing through that place. He has killed that flesh, his own hand. He crushes it. My dry leaves begin to shudder. I become aware of time as it was now. It is autumn! It is real! The gray sun hangs low in the morning and he is doing something. I can’t stop him.
Maybe if my roots were deeper…
He pushes, taking control of my roots and weakening my hold on the ground.
I panic but there is nothing I can do.
I feel around me still, around the rocks my roots weave in and among, the rocks which break the soil and stand high on the mountain. Oh no…
The blackness in my midsection compresses harder. Nature screams in pain. This is not natural. He is crushing it, putting unnatural pressure onto my midsection, a thousand tons of pressure until the blackness in my core is reduced to carbon, tightening, hardening to rock, and pressing into a proto-diamond.
I can feel the rock lodged in my side.
My roots struggle to bypass the dead patch in my trunk and I lurch over. My roots migrate through the dirt at an unnatural pace, weakening the mountain soil which was already hard to hold onto.
Why didn’t choose to grow into a cherry tree.
At breakneck speed for a tree alone in the forest, I fall. My roots give way, and by midsection crashes against a boulder, breaking my body in two. How do I describe the pain? Perhaps now I’ll find death. More likely, my essence will flow out into the forest and I’ll become even larger. The wood is splintered and aching, it takes days for my body to settle. And when the rain comes, I sink even further into the ground.
In this time, he chips away at broken midsection, doing all he can to rot it and expose the diamond. He has no power still, he can only reach through my heart to touch the plants around me.
Blood gushes from the wound, black and oozing. I didn’t think I had any more human blood, and the rock within his hand, my hand reaches the air. My hand is bone and blood, kept from decay by a film of blood he created. I don’t know how he’s doing this. He clenches my hand around the stone. For the first time, I feel my fingers moving.
He screams, and I am forced to crush the stone with the pressure of a volcano. As always, his plan is slow and meditated, and as always, he wins.
Blackness takes my senses, and I lose consciousness. This sensation is strange because I can’t say I’ve had consciousness as a human would know it for some time. Losing consciousness as a plant, or of plants, is a bit like death itself. I like it, I still long for death. Now rather than having a vague concept of time, I have none of it. It doesn’t matter, nothing matters.
I float. I am happy for once.
And my hope flourishes when I finally see the stars, like actually see them. Their colors flourish and I retake my place there. I have been here before. This death has been with me before. I have died. I smile and fall asleep. I have a vague human visage, but no body. I remember what it was like to be human, a long time ago. I remember being warm, and cold, being afraid, and overjoyed. I remember my father’s face. I am finally at peace.…