Looking out of the window, Alice saw a knot in the branch become a crow. It moved along like a train under the bark, a train made of molten sap. It broke through and grew black wings which spread and took carefree flight, but only after a long look back from the other side of the window.
“Take out my heart”
Said the tree to me
“Take the sword to it”
“Slash it, let me die happily”
“Only, don’t use the fire, because
In the flames, I see my spirit die,
I feel bitter fear of the livid heat
And I know I’ll be consumed so fully
That I’ll have no chance for peace.”
“Don’t let me live on as a totem
For someone else’s hopeful dreams
As I stand in painful stasis.”
The tree grew around Gary and he didn’t struggle, he was glad to be hemmed in.
The walls shot up in growing panels and clicked into natural place,
he was enveloped in the smooth, the woody gnarls on the outside, protecting him from the elements, and a wooden smile etched into his face.
Bill had planted the seed, and when he found Gary set inside so perfect, he wished he’d hacked more heartily with his hatchet.
He imagined Gary like the hazelnut in a toffee, cut in perfect half, and the wooden smile jumped across, rooting, delving, fingers rifling in his nut.