Kill or Cure
1054 words long
The treatment will be quite drastic, but if you're sure...
Notes from the author:
The thing about the title is, it’s supposed to apply more to the human than to the supposedly sick tree. Her life has gotten stale, and it’s worth a death-defying risk or two to shake things up. Only I never managed to develop the necessary backstory to go there. Not in only a week and a thousand words, anyway. File it under the category of “stories to revisit at a later time, maybe.” It’s a very big category, with a very long table of contents.
Out in the garden, the tree spun and twisted. No wind shook its branches; it shook them all on its own. Back, forth, around and around, the tree’s limbs whipped and writhed.
The householder, who had planted the tree when she was young and had grown old in its company, watched and worried. She’d never seen the tree like this. “What’s wrong with you?” she called across the yard. The tree did not answer. Trees can’t talk. So she called the tree-doctor to tell her what the tree could not.
The tree-doctor took one look and shook his head. “Seen it before. Case of perpetual motion. Dangerous, see. Tree like that’ll take your head off, you’re not careful.”
“Is it catching?” asked the householder. It seemed like an important thing to know. “Did some bird or bug infect it, or a fungus?”
“Nobody knows,” said the tree-doctor. “Takes a tree that way, we don’t know why. Can’t be certain it’s not infectious. Best to play it safe. Cut it down before your rhododendrons get in on the action. Or your pets.”
“But how could I do that?” lamented the householder. That tree was like a sister to her, after all.
“Oh, I’d do it for you,” said the tree-doctor, misunderstanding. “Got a system. Special protective gear. Crawl in low with a cordless chainsaw. Burn it all on site.” He nodded grimly. “Only way. Even the timber would get up and dance. Can’t be having with that, can we.”
The householder was undecided and sought a second opinion. So she called on the local tree-speaker to tell her what the tree-doctor had not.
“Oh, my dear, I’m so sorry. Your poor tree!” The tree-speaker held the householder’s hands and looked her sympathetically in the eye. “This is not a physical illness, but a psychological one. The tree’s spirit is terminally restless. This is not a happy tree....”
This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for December 16, 2016. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1054 words) from Patreon as an ebook or audiobook depending on their pledge tier.
Friday Fictionettes are a short-short fiction subscription service powered by Patreon. Become a Patron to get a new fictionette every first through fourth Friday and access all the fictionettes of Fridays gone by.