She felt the ground soften under her feet. It mulched and shifted under sole. Made small by her surroundings, branches reached, waving leaves at the clouds as if in conversation.
Holding onto peeling greening bark, she supported herself. With a cautionary tilt of her head through long brown hair, Laure paused and checked it really was clear, that she was alone, that no-one could see, and began to cry. The well she thought she’d exhausted the day before had refilled of its own accord.
The monster in her heart found its voice in her tears. Air couldn’t reach lung before what remained was expelled. The deficit made her head light and she sat before she fell. Her heart stopped. Not of excitement or fright. She thought this must be what it is to break, to be snapped underfoot.
Trying to count breaths in and out, rhythmically, she reached an uneven compromise. Her hand rested on the half submerged roots of the tree she had chosen, arching into the ground. Blurred branches hung over and above her, a drooping canopy, diffusing sunlight through the green. Raindrops began to fall, bubbling in the puddles at her feet. Some were burst by sharply pointed strikes. They swam into the gully of the roots.
One brisk eye rub and the canopy came into clarity. The criss-cross of intersecting branches looked like it formed a letter. Laure reasoned the shape existed independently, and she only noticed it because it reminded her of the first letter of an important name. A reflection of how her mind was focused on it, searching. She was reserved for that name, it was ingrained, and every object became a mirror of it.
To make sure it really was there, she leaned away from the trunk slightly, knees still bent, to trace her fingers over it. Sure enough, one slope connected to a pinnacle met by another slope, and crossed in the middle, marking the letter A.
The wind blew in and around the leaves as further letters began to form. Branches lay across each other, giving — to As and Ts. Looping round, buds provided the . to is and js. The canopy yielded, lowering. It bent and undulated, pushed out of place. As branches tried out new shapes, they began to find new formations. The canopy of letters began encircling the central trunk, encasing Laure underneath. Temporarily shocked, panic erupted until she noticed that she was not being pinned but enveloped. The part of the trunk she had been sitting on sunk back to create a concave nook of a hollow. She sat in it.
Although contracted, there were still gaps between the leaves. Laure risked a push of the woven structure and found it pliant. She could hide here, and no-one would know. If she wanted to leave, a push and a squeeze under the periphery and she would be free. She pulled it closer.
Photo by the author.