The scraggly Douglas fir bristles with anticipation as a man and woman finally stop before it in the Christmas tree lot.
“Really, Rob?” The woman sighs a puff of steam, glances around at thicker, taller pine, spruce, and cedar trees. “Don’t you think this one’s a little sad?”
“Sad?” The man rubs the needles between his fingers, inhales.
“Like that Charlie Brown tree we’re all supposed to believe is a metaphor for Christmas spirit. Like adding tinsel to a dying thing somehow makes it festive.” She crosses her arms. “My ornaments won’t fit.”
The man grips the trunk, shakes. The tree clutches at the pieces of itself until the shaking stops. Hardly any needles fall, but the effort sets Thurisaz, the rune of chaos, tingling on its trunk. The tree has grown so weak.
The man considers. “We’ll get two,” he says, at last. “A big one for the family room and this one for my office. It just needs love, Diane. Someone who sees its potential.” He touches his wife’s arm. She pulls away.
As the man loads the tree into his car, the tree risks a cautious bite. Hot and salty human sap oozes on its needles. Seed-memories bloom of bogs and mist, squamous beasts of air, of sea, of torchlit tunnels fed by roots for all grotesque and swollen ones to sweetly writhe in feculence.
Tonight the tree will creep from its base and find the couple warm in bed.
And then the human sap will flow.
And the tree will grow again.
Folly Blaine writes fiction, narrates short stories and audiobooks, and shoots author portraits in the Pacific Northwest. Folly served as the Podcast Manager at Every Day Fiction from April 2012, until she resigned in June 2014, to attend the Clarion West Writers Workshop. As Podcast Manager she produced 116 weekly episodes. Her web site is at www.follyblaine.com.