This is a story I wrote for class this week. It’s new territory for me since I had to use fantastical elements.
I hope you all enjoy and I love getting feedback so don’t be afraid to shoot some my way! 🙂
The Old Oak Tree
Katrina lay on her bed on a fine Sunday morning. Glancing out her window she wished to bask in the sun as she heard the laughter of her two younger brothers outside. A week had past before the last time she had enjoyed the rays of the sun. She hadn’t left the house after her mother had forgotten her birthday just days ago. After all, turning sixteen was becoming a woman around these parts. Her father, gone for two months now without so much as a friendly note finally hit her. “Papa would never have forgotten my birthday.” She said as she threw her arm across her eyes.
Getting up from her full size canopy bed, she breathed in the thick air in her room. No freshness in this room, she thought to herself. Staying in her white nightgown she washed her face and walked down to the kitchen. Her mother made her frustrations clear as she slammed every dish, threw every drawer shut, and swung cupboards with force. Katrina knew it was the absence of her father that angered her mother but she dare not say it aloud.
“Mama, that smells great.” She said, gingerly.
“Go fetch your brothers for me, will you Katrina?” Her mother demanded.
“Yes, Mama.” She grabbed a piece of toast from the table and hurried outside.
The day was warm and inviting as she opened the creaky screen door. Stepping onto the grass with her bare feet felt more natural than wearing shoes. Standing there in front of her little country home, she wiggled her toes into the dirt, closing her eyes up to the sky and inhaled deeply as if it were the first breath she had ever taken.
“Katrina! What on earth are you doing girl? Didn’t I ask you to fetch your brothers?” Her mother yelled through the screen door.
“Sorry, mama.” She replied and walked to the garden just past the lake near their house, where the boys often played. Katrina stared down at the ground as she continued past the old oak tree, reaching her hand out to touch her fingertips across the bark. Feeling pulsating warmth, she withdrew her fingers and continued walking, thinking nothing of it.
“Trent! Marcus! Where are you?” Called Katrina. Hoping her brothers would come out without having to walk any further, she continued calling out for them but they did not answer.
“You boys come on out before mama has our hides!” She shouted. Sighing heavily, she continued onward and couldn’t help noticing how much the grass had grown. The further she walked, the taller the grass was. The hem of her nightgown clung to the growing weeds she hadn’t seen there just moments before.
Pulling up her nightgown, she walked past the tall bushes that hid the garden and spotted her little brothers running around the small lake on the other end. The entrance seemed to have sprouted full-grown roses over the past week, lifting her hand, she cupped one and inhaled its sweet perfume. “How did you grow so quickly?” She whispered to the rose. Shaking her head, she let the flower go and walked towards her brothers.
“Come on boys! Let’s get on home before mama shows up!” She called out. The two dark haired, rosy-cheeked boys ran to her jumping and pulling on her nightgown.
“Kat! Do you see all the pretty flowers? They weren’t there last time and now they’re everywhere!” Said Marcus.
Katrina looked around the garden and while it normally sprouted a few flowers, there was an immeasurable growth that simply was not there before. In awe, Katrina walked towards the sunflowers. Her heart beat faster and with each step as the earth seemed to breath beneath the soles of her feet.
She walked on and suddenly, tulips began growing where she stood. Shooting up from beneath her were the most beautiful bed of yellow tulips. Startled, Katrina jumped forward and again, flowers sprouted where she stood. This time, the most beautiful shade of purple calla lilies.
“Wha—what’s happening?” She said, looking at her brothers in confusion.
“Kat! Kat! You can do magic!” Shouted her brothers in unison. They laughed and jumped, circling around her as they laughed and touched the flowers surrounding her.
“Magic? No, stop this nonsense!” She said, more to herself than her brothers.
“Katrina! Marcus! Trent! You get your behinds back here right now!” Yelled their mother from outside the garden. Katrina knew she was in for it now.
“Let’s go! Mama’s gonna beat us till we bleed if we don’t get home right now!” She said to her brothers. She grabbed Marcus by the arm but he pulled away instantly screaming in pain.
“OW! You cut me! Why did you cut me?” Yelled Marcus. Holding his arm, he dropped to the floor crying and calling out for their mother.
“MAMA! MAMA!” Marcus cried. Katrina crouched down to comfort her brother but she caught glimpse of her hand that now sprouted vines with thorns. She quickly stood straight, looking over her body as the vines swirled around her hands, up her arms, around her torso, and down her legs and feet.
“You’re a WITCH!” Trent yelled the last word at his sister with such fear and hatred; he seemed so much older than his ten years of age.
“NO! NO! I’m no witch! Please, Trent! Marcus? I—I don’t know what’s happening to me.” She said. Breathing heavily, she tried to calm herself and will the vines away but her hammering heart would not allow it.
“What in God’s name is this?” Katrina heard her mother’s words behind her, causing her heart only more fear. The vines moved slowly, beginning to grow thicker and longer in time with the beat of her speeding heart. With tears now streaming her face, Katrina turned slowly to face her mother.
“Mama? Please, help me.” She whimpered.
“What have you done to my boy you witch!” Cried her mother, running to where Marcus lay.
“Please mama, I’m no witch!” Cried Katrina, reaching her thorn wrapped arms out to her mother.
“You stay away from us you hear!” She shouted to her daughter. Katrina took a step towards her, only to be stopped by a blow to the head that knocked her off her feet. Katrina lay on her back with a piercing pain coming from her forehead. Reaching her hand up, she winced at the touch of her fingers and looked down to find blood.
Dazed and confused she glanced beside her to find what struck her. A rock with a hint of her blood confirmed what hit her and she stared at her mother with rage.
“How could you mama? How could you strike me?” She asked as she stepped closer. Her mother clung to her brothers who cried into her bosom.
“Stay back, witch! God will strike you down if you harm us!” She shouted.
“And what will he do to you for striking me with a rock, mama?” Katrina asked.
Her mother stared at Katrina as if she were a lowly demon from the pits of hell and not the daughter she had raised all these years. Clutching her boys, covering their eyes so that she may shield them from beholding such horror from their sister, she wormed backwards until her back hit the tall bushes that surrounded the garden.
The vines that covered Katrina continued to grow and inch forward towards her family.
“Why do you cower away from me mama? Can’t you see how I need you?” She said as she gestured at the vines.
“Katrina, can’t you see how you’ve frightened your brothers? Look at yourself!” Her mother cried. Katrina stopped where she stood, looking down at her now foreign body. The vines continued to grow, moving past her, digging into the earth and shooting back out towards her mother.
Katrina stared wildly at the vines and willed them to stop from reaching her family but she couldn’t stop them. Forgetting the blow to her head, she realized how terrifying this must be for her mother and younger brothers.
“Mama, Marcus, Trent. I’m so sorry. I don’t know how to stop it.” She cried into her hands. She felt the growth of the vines continue as she cried hysterically, begging them to stop. Katrina cried harder and harder, looking up slowly through blurred eyes, she watched the vines wrap around their bodies.
“NO!” Cried Katrina, reaching out for her family, a forceful wind came behind her and whirled around her, making her red wavy locks look like an untamed fire. The wind sent flowers flying everywhere as the vines wrapped tighter around Katrina’s ankles, planting her safely on the ground. Looking down at her feet and to the vines, it dawned on her that it was as if the vines were protecting her.
Trying desperately to see past the flowery whirlwind, Katrina could only catch a glimpse of three still bodies that looked more like trees wrapped with thorny vines, vines that came from her. The wind stopped abruptly and what Katrina saw would haunt her until the end of days.
The life squeezed out of her family, the vines were the only thing keeping them standing up right as their heads lulled to the side. Blood began streaming from each thorn-pricked wound on their bodies and yet Katrina found them strangely beautiful. Not a second after that thought, flowers began sprouting from the vines around their bodies.
Frightened and confused, Katrina moved back, breaking free from the vines around her feet. She turned and ran out of the garden with eyes squeezed shut. She ran until she felt the warmth of the old oak tree in front of her house. The tree seemed to speak to her in a language she did not understand.
Moving closer to the welcoming bark of the tree, Katrina lifted her hand and placed her palm down firmly. She felt overwhelming love, comfort, and understanding flowing out from the bark and into her heart. She stepped closer and placed her tear-dried cheek to the bark as she exhaled coolly, trying desperately to understand what was happening. Listening with her heart, her eyes opened wide with surprise as she heard a voice she had yearned for too long.
© Stephanie Cardozo and Stephanie Cardozo, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Stephanie Cardozo and Stephanie Cardozo with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.