The Cypress and the City

Flash Fiction by Tara Boyles.

A hurricane's tree ripped a hole through the wall of my room. It flooded my city sheets with earth and glass, and acorns peppered the floor like they wanted to sprout. Mother Nature, in the course of our brief run-in, and briefer cohabitation proved to be quite the homewrecker.
I always thought what would concave the roof of my family home would be me.

I always assumed that it would be by fire.  When lightning strikes a tree, and catches the bark alight, it strikes gold.  

If there was a sound when it did so, my father was the only witness. In South Carolina, Ma and I were trying to find the cool side in the warm pillow. Falling asleep to the ocean and the promise that the next wondrous day would arrive. Unaware that the foundation of our home was falling in on itself. 

Until then, trees had always been good to me. I used to scale the one cypress that made it past the swamps to its tops for the quiet.  

 I should have stopped climbing trees after the first broken bone. I hit the ground at about a house length and I didn’t hit it running. Back then I had been reckless with the promise it would not break. Of course, the seventh one, the one that never broke, broke, and I had fallen and fallen and had screamed and screamed. 

At his side of the house, Pa was draining the hot water cold to burn off the day. That night, everyone woke up from the hot and the cold at midnight, from the ever-turning state of pursuit to find the other side. 

When our suitcases hit the grass a week later, I noticed for the first time everything in my backyard was painted in a manmade color and I was still in the city at the witch's hour. I wasn’t the one that was burning, I had no pitchfork, and worse, I was watching with my mouth shut because that was all I had the power to do.

Taya Boyles is a full-time student and writer living in Richmond, Virginia. She is interested in explorations of human nature and psychopathology. Her work has appeared in several publications, including Pwatem, Life in 10 Minutes, Vermillion, Bottom Shelf Whiskey, Teadbikely, etc.

Published 24th April, 2023.

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