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 HERE.

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.

20 thoughts on “Roots

  1. As a woman who has chosen not to have children, and who’s intentionally moving through the process of discerning what to keep, what to heal, and what to prune, this spoke to me profoundly. It’s beautiful. Thank you.

  2. I wanted children, but that’s not what happened. This story speaks volumes and makes me feel some comfort in my own life and some things that I’m still working through. Thank you for this inspiration and I’ll be back to re-read when I need that again. ❤

    • I am glad it touched you. I hoped to have that impact on others, even if the underlying meanings of this metaphor would not be interpreted exactly as my own. That is what I love about metaphorical writing.

  3. I found this story very captivating. Particularly loved the screenshot where she’s looking the tree through the window with a wine glass in hand. I didn’t catch the metaphor until it was pointed out, but it also speaks to me as I’m not planning to have children. I actually got some tears in my eyes now.

  4. As someone who grew up in a very mean family… I feel you, girl. We’ll be out here enjoying wine and sunshine in our nice, pretty pots, participating in the water cycle but not the cycle of abuse.

    Good on her for quietly ruminating and leaving the situation to professionals rather than burning the whole thing down and screaming “I HATE YOU DAD” at the tree. Presumably at least her dad from meta-context; I don’t know the rest of this lady’s deal.

    • I love your words. It means a lot to me. I knew this would resonate with other people, but it is touching to hear it directly from readers. It is my story, but the metaphor makes it more universal I think. xo

  5. This story made me think of generational “infections” like trauma, abuse, addiction, etc. Those things that kill the roots and everything else in a family, but keep getting passed down generation after generation until they’re almost destroyed. It has to stop somewhere. All it takes is one person to stop the cycle. But you can’t go back to the same place like the soil (even though that’s what you know best) or it’ll happen all over again. Breaking the cycle is hard and lonely, especially if you’re the only one. But it’s the only way to thrive. Beautiful story. I can see it in several ways, but the above spoke to me the most because my cousin and I have been discussing and hoping to break the generational infection in our own family.

    • That is exactly what the metaphor means to me, though it could have evoked something different in others depending on their life experience. Thank you for your words; I enjoy reading your reflections on this. I usually go for the silly and fun, but this one I really wanted to write and share because I am coming to know that so many of us here in these communities are similarly infected. Good luck on your own journey.

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