The Trees Speak

Image of Short Story
The yard adjacent to his porch reeked of ragweed with every step he took. Gnats would alight from the prickled stems. He shook his head at the imprint his foot left.

“Growing fast this year.”

He went to his garage to fire up his lawnmower: a beige Cub Cadet. Never had it failed him, yet the frequent showers and humidity proved it to be a challenge this time.

The acres in the back, however, waved in the breeze. Combs of white. The steady hum of the mower summoned the bluebirds from the crowded row of pines. This was his purest entertainment. He raised the throttle and began cutting the bulk of the plushy grass. Activating their dance, the humblest choreograph, the birds began.

“Ah, the little blue acrobats.”

There was a pack of eight of them, at least that was his best guess. They spun around him in intricate corkscrews and plummeting descents. He was mystified by their ballet, how their narrow wings were carved from the ether to flutter gently against his cheek. There was no rhyme or reason, just art. They followed him up and down the large yard, their flight patterns changed infinitely with every lap they took. It was beauty pure, and as the grass jettisoned from the deck, the man felt more and more content. His eyes teared up. The lawn covered itself like a blanket. As he rounded the corner and back to the garage, he waved to the birds as they regrouped in their nest. A faint chirp in the distance.

He showered away the pollen and changed into track pants and a t-shirt. Noticing the large pile of mail on the table, he groaned.

“Some coffee first.”

The pot bubbled in little time, the smell brightening his senses. He sorted through the mail.

“Junk, junk, credit card...and, of course, this.”

He revealed a letter from the mortgage company, dated six months ago. There was nothing he could do about it but walk away. He took the cup of coffee onto the deck and listened to the twilight sounds. The insects, the dog a few houses down. He imagined the birds again. There wouldn’t be many more times he would hear them, so he did the next best thing.

After some time rummaging the house he took a wooden post and drove it into the yard. On top, the drill protruded a plastic bowl and made the connection. He filled it with sunflower seeds from the pantry. Tomorrow, a feast will be had.

“Goodbye, friends.”

The night summoned in clouds and thunderstorms, the winds whipped through the trees. The man rose in his bed, sweating. He heard the crackling of thunder, of tree cleaving in half. He rushed to the foyer, donning his boots and windbreaker and entered the fray. The air smelled of smoke, of dead wood. Lighting strobed into the wind, the gusts pummeling his face with rain. There were two parts to the tree now, one half was driven into the ground a few inches. He dared not step closer than a few yards. It was a solemn and morose moment. Before him, lit by the maelstrom, were dozens of feathers. Streaks of mauve on a blanket of teal.