The tortieboom, or turtle tree, grows in the wettest, darkest tropical forests. Its fruits look like large oranges. When ripe, they split open, and a baby turtle emerges. It hurries down the tree seeking the safety of a warm puddle. Adult turtles give birth to egg-like seeds for new turtle trees.
In drier, sunnier climes, the tree flourishes, but economises its resources by omitting its turtle phase, bearing fruits that contain its own seeds. These are the orange trees that we all know.
This is why Buddhists and vegans are forbidden to eat oranges, for they are animals, not plants.
Thanks to complications at my birth, I suffered from stunted growth.
The youngest of four siblings, it was clear that I was the runt of the litter, and my small stature was, no doubt, mirrored by my intelligence.
Mine was an unpleasant childhood: Brought up in an atmosphere of loathing and bitterness, yet – as they say – what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.
I grew very strong.
And the killing… took place at my hands. First my brothers and sister, followed by my parents.
I got away with it, of course, thanks to my ‘stunted mental growth’.
I watched the steady drip into the bath, mesmerised by the swirling patterns formed by the confluence of blood and water. As each thick droplet of blood became diluted and pale, it felt as if my own evil misdeed was being washed away, leaving no taint upon my character.
It’s these quiet, reflective moments that I savour the most, especially considering what happens next…
Because there’s nothing mesmerising, quiet or reflective about hacking somebody’s flesh from their bones, rendering them down with acid, then cleaning up the mess when it’s all over.
And that’s precisely why I savour this moment.
The Death Notice
The newspaper boy stood shouting EXTRA!! EXTRA!! read all about it!!! The town streets were quiet, hidden under a dark blanket of clouds, but this was nothing unusual for a sleepy haunted place such as Nightmare. For the last 500 years, the town had been governed by a young man named Authur Crypt. The day came and Mr. Crypt met his demise but what happened? The notice of death was written in secret tongues translated read…Now I lay me down to sleep…I pray the Lord, my soul, to take…shall I die before I wake, I’ve been salted at the stake.
“The painting changed.”
“What do you mean?” asked the cop.
He wasn’t sure.
“Do you mean it’s a different painting?”
He shook his head.
“Well, then… We’re off.”
That’s when he saw a slight movement.
The hands. It was the hands.
The cops wouldn’t believe him, he thought.
So, he threw the painting in the garbage. Too disturbing.
The neighbor across the street snatched it and placed it at the window facing the street.
Better not tell anyone, he thought, but the hands waved at him.
He didn’t want to be taken to that place… again.
One dark and stormy night in a haunted forest lived a child unable to escape the walls of her family home. Only there now to watch over ones she left behind.
Her only means of getting out was to attach herself to another living only through what they felt, saw, touched and heard. The gift of laughter no longer her own, memories lived on in those who came after her life lived in stone.
She knows who they are but to them shes an unknown, never spoke of in shame, a mystery of the little child cracked, locked in stone.
Driven to win and lost in reality..within a dream and a space in time none around her understand. To win means so much more than to cross a finish line. To thrive against one’s self in a universe unforgiving of itself in its own abandon but to win really to win is to be comfortable in one’s skin in this space within that only the soul sees knows and understands. Expressed only by bliss and opportunity. The truth of one’s reality an un-spoken story that is hers and hers alone. The truest winner and only in this place she wins.
The mask protected me from the pinprick of the needle targeted at the height of my face in the bathroom stall. The contents of the syringe would put me out of sync and unable to function for two weeks. I was being singled out for the large crop of wine grapes I planned to process into my famous, Rose wine.
A drive to the print shop to expose the Darling family was scheduled. I headed for the terminal to catch a flight to New Jersey where I would hire the crew I needed to teach the Darling family a lesson.
When Brenda exited the terminal in her darling, little polka dot print dress, I said I would drive her to the house. I gave her one scarlet rose and drove quickly to show her the grapes that we would harvest this year.
I felt a little out of sync, but a pinprick of passion in my heart tore the mask of candor away from my face, and I confessed to her that I had cheated on her while she was away getting a dilation and curettage followed by a tubal ligation.
Brenda was a real sport and a real trooper.
Blue eyes drift, a wistful gaze drawn through cracked glass to the desolate street below. With quill in hand, rolled ever so slowly between aged fingers, echoes of previous times drift over her thoughts forming a shield, obscuring the present.
An unsteady lift of the hand raises the instrument above paper yellowed with age, the shaft devoid of ink but unnoticed. A soft sigh escapes as invisible words are scratched upon the surface in a flurry. Day and again the ritual resumes, written words spoken to echoes of the past. Alone, the quill and times gone by her only companions.
People ask where my wickedness came from… I’m not sure, but there’s one day that clearly stands out in my mind.
It was the day the fair came to town, and the big, ugly brute at the ‘Try Your Strength’ machine laughed in my face when I asked for a go.
“This is a man’s game”, he said, “not for weak little girls like you”
That’s when I grabbed him by the balls and started to squeeze as hard as I could, and I didn’t stop until his screaming ceased, as he slumped unconscious to the floor.
Who needs strength?