A Short Story by: Kimberly Wilhelmina Floria
Belinda is lying in bed unable to sleep her thoughts are haunting her.
Mommy didn’t even call to tell me she wasn’t coming. She knows I was looking forward to seeing her. She doesn’t care anything about me. No one does. Auntie and uncle say they love me but they really don’t, they only care about their own children. They’re always yelling at me and my cousins are always hitting me, teasing me and make up stories about me. My dad he’s always hitting me but I still wish I could live with him. I’m a prisoner in this house. My mommy doesn’t even care.
Belinda turns on her stomach and dives in her pillow and begins sobbing so she doesn’t wake her cousin Lea in the top bunk. No one cares, no one. I’ll be better off dead she thinks. She turns over and eases out of bed and tip toes across the room and sneaks out quietly.
Belinda slithers over Khlil’s clothes littering his floor. On top of his dresser between dirty socks, baseball cards and crumpled papers she finds his treasured pocket knife. Quietly she creeps back over his clothes careful not to step on any of his school books or video games. Slowly she walks toward the end of the hall toward the window where the full moon is shinning in. She pauses at her aunt and uncle’s closed bedroom door and hears Jimmy Kimmel joking and her aunt snoring. She holds her breath as she slowly descends the steps trying not to make them creak. At the bottom Buster sneaks behind her wagging his tail and sniffs at her hand. She pats his head and whispers, “go lay down.” He drops his head and tucks his tail in and solemnly retreats back to his corner by the couch. Belinda walks along the wall to the kitchen. She crosses the linoleum floor to the back door, she slowly opens it and quietly goes outside. She trots down the porch steps and in her bare feet she walks across the freshly cut grass to the massive weeping willow tree. She sits against the trunk and listens to the crickets singing. She brushes away the single tear sliding down her cheek and sniffed back the snot dripping from her nose.
Belinda opens the pocket knife and tries to swallow the knot in her throat. She looks at her wrist and puts the blade against her skin. She closes her eyes but the moon glows brighter. Belinda opens her eyes and sees a blue mist floating around her and the sounds of a flute playing.
Belinda looks around for where the music is coming from but there’s only the mist, crickets, grass, the weeping willow and the moon around her.
Suddenly a voice in the mist and said, “Don’t end a life that’s just begun.”
Belinda opens her eyes wide, her bottom lip trembles. Absent minded she drops the knife to claps her hands together and draw her elbows close to her body. She squishes her shoulders up and looks around the backyard.
“Who’s there?” Belinda asks.
“Someone that care, little one,” the voice says.
Belinda closes her eyes and chuckles nervously, “No one cares about me and no one will miss me,” she says.
“I’ll miss you?”
“Who are you? I can’t see you.”
“I’m the weeping willow.”
Belinda sits up straight and swings her body around, she squints her brow together and her mouth drop open.
“What the . . .?”
“Don’t be afraid. I would never harm you. You’re special to me. I like when you cuddle against me and feel your heart beat. If you die who will I have to caress with my leaves?”
Belinda pinches her arm and says, “ouch.”
“Don’t hurt yourself. I really am talking to you.”
“But you’re a tree.”
“Yes I am. I have a message for you.”
“A message? From who?”
“From the universe. Do you hear the music, the flute, the crickets, the birds cooing in the distance?”
“Do you see the moon shining on us? Do you see the fire flies floating in the air?”
“Yes, yes I do.”
“The universe is alive and we are all connected by love.”
Belinda sighs, sucks her teeth and shakes her head from side to side. “No one loves me, I tell you. No one cares.”
“If you didn’t care about yourself, you wouldn’t hear me.”
“I must be having a dream. Trees don’t talk.”
“Little one, you have a pure heart. You have an abundance of love spilling out of you. Your heart pulsates and beats with the rhythm of nature. You are connected to every breathing and living being on this earth.”
Belinda closes her eyes. She leans back on the tree and reaches for the pocket knife but can’t find it. Khalil is going to be mad and kill her for losing his knife. No it doesn’t matter she’s going to kill herself anyway. Who cares what a stupid tree thinks? She gets on her hands and knees and feels around for the pocket knife.
“I took the knife. You won’t find it.”
“You’re a tree, you can’t take things.” Belinda says.
“You don’t know yet, how special you are. Your life has purpose, a reason. One day you will be a great person.”
Again Belinda chuckles and shakes her head. “You are mistaken tree.”
“No little one, I’m not. I am one of your soul mates. Your aunt planted the oak tree for Khalil and the maple for Lea. She planted me for you. We are your guardians of nature. I speak to you because you need me.”
“Yes it’s true. I know things are hard right now and I know you are often sad. I feel your pain and hear your cries. I want you to remember, little one, the pain you suffer today will be your strength tomorrow. Every day is a puzzle to solve, a lesson to learn. Everyone feels hurt, sad and lonely at different times. You may even think the pain is unbearable at times but you must never give up. Because when you get pass the pain, happiness, joy and love will flourish. You don’t want to miss the all the beauty life has to offer. ”
Tears creep from Belinda’s eyes and slide slowly down her cheeks. She hears the tree, she hears the music. The moon is bright and the fire flies are dancing before her. The smell of grass is sweetly tickling her nose. She brings her hands to her face and wipes the tears away and smiles.
“Hope little one, always hope.”
Thirty years later . . .
“Your cousin has lost her mind.” Khalil says. “It’s just a tree. She acts like it’s a part of the family.”
“You know Khalil, you can be an ass sometimes. You know how important this tree was for Belinda growing up. She use to say this old weeping willow was her only friend.”
“Yea she was crazy then and she’s still crazy now. I don’t care she’s some important environmentalist. She’s cuckoo.”
Lea rolls her eyes and says. “Look here they come.”
Belinda waves to her cousins and smiles as she walks toward them. Her daughter lets go of her hand and runs into Lea’s arms. Belinda takes Lea’s hand, pulls her close and pecks her on the cheek and does the same to Khalil. She faces her old friend smiling with water filling her eyes. She bends down to her daughter and says. “This is your mommy’s best friend. He saved my life.”
“A tree mommy?” Bianca asks.
Belinda nods her head smiling while staring at the tree. She stands up and presses her body against the weeping willow. She stretches her arms as far around it as she could reach it and whispers. “I will always remember you and your lessons old friend.”
Only Belinda could hear the tree whisper back. “I will always be in your heart with hope.”
“Okay Belinda, can we cut this baby down now?” Khalil asks.
Belinda steps back and nods her head slightly. She takes Bianca’s hand and they all walk to the back porch to watch the landscapers bring the tree down.
Later that evening Belinda walks through the clutter of branches and leaves. She sees light flickering and follows it. She bends down and discovers Khalil’s pocket knife. She looks up to the sky and sees a blue mist floating away.
© Kimberly Wilhelmina Floria 7/13/14