Created for the Monthly Simlit Short Story Challenges hosted by Lisabeesims. We are a little story telling community that would love to see new writers joining in. Get more info and read the other stories at the end of the month
She sips her wine while pensively gazing out of the picture window at the old, gnarled and essentially dead tree with it’s single living branch bearing three diseased leaves clinging to life. She sings along to the lyrics that speak to her, even though she cannot discern their metaphorical meaning with any certainty. Somehow this song always feels deeply relevant.
The dying tree, the family tree; infected from the roots up. It has been there long before she was alive. She let it die, walking away from the lost cause that it was, but now there was no question that it needed to be cut down. She would have to call in an arborist for the job, otherwise she would risk those roots spreading disease through her now thriving garden nearby.
Ruminating about roots is a common occurrence for her; odd since she denies having or even needing them. But, she cannot help herself as she imagines herself a ghostly figure travelling back in time to the furthest known histories documented of her own family tree with curiosity and fascination.
As the beast of a tree is felled she wonders what nurtured this sprawl of once-living branches? When did the infection begin? Was it always there only to grow stronger with each new branch? Or did it arrive on the wind to weave its way into the parent plant’s tissues? Did the ongoing procreation and regeneration spread the disease or did the disease mutate the future growth? Nature or nurture? Environment or genetics?
The garden is bright now, no longer permanently shaded by the repressive gloom of the dead overhang. Blooms and colour come alive again. Birds and critters joyfully return. The tree is gone, but not without leaving one hopeful seed behind. She will plant it and call it her own. With care it will weather storms and hot searing droughts despite living in this confined space.
It will not reproduce; bear neither fruit nor seed. It will not burrow in deep roots of its own; that would be too risky with elements of the infection surely remaining deep down in that soil. But, these new roots are enough to bear the weight of growth as it reaches towards the sky to soak in the sunshine.