Greetings fellow Steemians! Here is my 56th 5 minute freewrite. (Disclaimer: these usually take me more than 5 minutes to write). The prompt is "tree". Many thanks to @mariannewest for hosting this daily freewrite!
I'd grown accustomed to pain. It was just part of life. Not that the agony of it ever actually abated, but as time went on it became... well, less of a shock. Almost like background noise.
But not the innocuous kind of background noise. Not the kind you could ever really live with. No. This was the kind that could subtly, relentlessly drive you crazy, without your ever catching on. I mean really crazy. A danger to oneself and others crazy.
It would have been a good life, except for the poison. I'd taken root not far from the bank of a tiny creek. Little more than a trickle, but still... a good place for an oak tree, plenty to drink all year round, if my roots could reach it.
And they did, eventually. Once I'd fanned out far enough. I was expecting clear, clean water, or at least something decent enough to not really hurt me, as I'd found everywhere else my roots had gone. But when I touched the water around the creek... it hurt. Bad. Whatever was in it, when I pulled it up into me, into my roots, trunk, branches, leaves... it tasted like death.
It felt like death.
I suspected the building just upstream from me, the one with no windows. I thought the bad stuff must be coming from there. If only I could go there, tell them what was happening, make it stop. Now that I had touched the stuff, I could feel its effect on everything else that came into contact with it: small animals, grasses, wildflowers, willows, rushes...
There were no fish in that water. Not even insects.
I bore the pain as best I could. I breathed.
The seasons turned, and with each passing year I grew.
And I grew strange.
In winter, of course, the pain was less. Trees don't drink so much in winter. But the poison that was already inside of me was there, always , a demon to be wrestled during the long, slow, cold months. A suffocating, malevolent presence, busily crafting nightmares out of dreams.
Each winter was worse than the last, but I bore it. I outwrestled the demon, or at least outlasted it, every time. It was all I could do. And each spring, I woke to fresh pain, the sharp sting of awareness, the cleansing of old nightmares by a flood of new ones. But the demon was tireless. And finally, the winter came when it got the better of me.
I couldn't help but notice the sensation as soon as it started. This was new. Different. A gathering of pain, a concentration, all in one place. Instead of being diffused, the hurt began to coalesce into a ball, a knot. Not at the center of me, but close to the periphery, close to the bark. I could feel it coursing from every direction toward this one place, which grew steadily larger, more defined.
And then... it began to beat. And its beating sent pain out again, in all directions. But not all the way to the edges of me. No. The shape of the pain was no longer that of a tree.
It was the shape of a man.
And when spring came...
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