On the Importance of Touching a Tree 2

She was caught up on this warm island in a bleak and dreary world. Had she ever felt that way? Well maybe, but not in a long time. They didn’t move. beneath them the boards of the garden path set into the grey and dark grey gravel that was her parent’s excuse for a front garden …

Rural Street near Freiburg

This is part two of a continuous story, part one is: Old Home

First Contact

Laura enjoyed the embrace of Dennis. It felt warm and fuzzy to be appreciated for who she was. And even if it had been hard to tell Dennis what was up with her at first. He had been so nice, loving, and accommodating. He really didn’t behave, like she had expected a teenage boy to behave.

She was caught up on this warm island in a bleak and dreary world. Had she ever felt that way? Well maybe, but not in a long time. They didn’t move. beneath them the boards of the garden path set into the grey and dark grey gravel that was her parent’s excuse for a front garden. The gravel kept in place by a wall of rectangular granite blocks, set into the ground at different heights, delineating the border of her parent’s kingdom to the grey pavement and street, above them the orange glow of the streetlight draining all other colours from the scene. Behind them, a bush, more a shadow than visible green, yet. It was early March.

She had fond memories of that moment. It had been the first moment in a long time where she felt at home, but now she was hurtling through the upper layers of the atmosphere at a breakneck pace. The engines were roaring beneath her. She was pressed into the cushioning of her seat. At this time there was nothing to do for her than to survive the enormous acceleration. “Even if something goes wrong, you’ll have no chance to intervene fast enough in the first stages of ascent!”, she remembered, her instructor told her. She had been scared then, and she was scared now. She tried to think back to that spring evening under the orange lantern. Maybe it would calm her down or at least make her remember why she was speeding through thinner and thinner strata of air.

Without a sound, a raindrop fell onto the gravel next to them. Dennis looked at it: “I guess we should move and look what’s up in the garden before it really starts to rain.” Laura looked at the wet spot on the ground for a little bit longer: “I guess.”, but she didn’t move her arms. She still held Dennis tight. “Well, you’d have to let go of me”, his voice interrupted the silence. “Oh, yes, I’m sorry”. She quickly let go of him and moved her arms behind her back, awkwardly shuffling a step back. She looked at the floor. She didn’t want to look him in the eyes. “Hey is everything okay?”
“Sure”, she replied still only raising her eyes slightly, trying to look him into the eyes, but repelled as if by magnetic force.
“Then, come on.”, he grabbed her hand.

Laura hadn’t realised they were already at the back of the house when she finally caught up with Dennis, who had moved fast pulling at her outstretched left arm. They looked into her parent’s backyard. It was relatively big, especially compared to the small house and how big the property looked. The premises were narrow, but long, and faded into a small forest at the end opposite to the house and street.

Dennis kept on running and tugging on her left arm: “Come on, it’s going to rain soon, you sure don’t want to sit in the cinema all wet and soggy!”

They reached the first trees, but there was something amiss. “This tree has moved!”, Laura exclaimed, “Look, it even left a trace!”. Dennis stared at the deep groove, that started a few meters behind the big oak tree and led all the way to its gnarly and scarred trunk. The old and leave-less oak was still standing on firm ground and didn’t look like it would move easily at all, but apparently, it had moved. The marks were evident. “Ho … How, does a tree move like that?”, Laura asked. Who would come into an unsuspecting garden and move an old and knobby oak tree? Had her parents withheld a garden remodelling from her? Had someone wanted to steal a tree? What if the thieves were still around? Laura caught herself nibbling at her nails, still starring onto the disturbed soil behind the tree.

Dennis stepped a little bit closer. With his left boot, he tapped a clump of loamy soil. It didn’t move but was left with a slight indentation from his heavy shoe. He exhaled.
“Maybe someone pulled it along with a rope?”, Laura asked.
“I doubt it, wouldn’t the tree topple first? And besides that, I didn’t see any tyre tracks or anything like that…”
“Maybe they were just very careful?”
“Sure, and it wouldn’t have been easier to dig the tree out of the ground then?”
“Okay, I admit, that sounds implausible, but the tree definitely moved. A groove like that doesn’t appear on its own … What if it was Aliens?”
“And that sounds more plausible to you?”, Dennis looked at her with incredulity.
“It was just a joke”, she backpaddled.

The rain had stopped, maybe it didn’t really want to rain, but who knew. Laura jumped over the groove. It smelled like wet grass and soil. She looked up into the bare and crooked branches of the old oak. Dennis called her. He had walked over to where the small forest got denser. The ground was covered with dry leaves and needles. It was soft. Laura could see his heavy boots sink into the cushioning the forest floor provided. “Look, these have moved too.” And indeed they had been pushed or pulled in the same direction. They hadn’t moved as far, but they had left a small gap behind them, where their trunk didn’t touch the soil anymore. Laura crouched down next to the leader of the trees. She laid her left hand onto the rough bark as if to keep balanced. She felt a slight tingling in her hand. What was that? She yanked her hand away.

Tentatively she reached out again, and even before she touched it she felt a weird hum in her hand. It was as if the tree was vibrating with static electricity. But trees don’t do that, do they?

She looked up at Dennis. From down here he looked so tall, even if in fact he was just a teenage boy of average height for his age. In fact, Laura was taller than him. But Laura didn’t think of her height, usually a source of great anxiety for her, she just said: “This is weird, this is really fucking weird!”

Dennis didn’t reply. What should he have answered? Of course, this was fucking weird. Why did she even have to say that? Surely, he knew this was weird. Why was human communication so hard? She looked around, avoiding to look at him directly.

“I think we should tell your parents what’s going on in their garden”, Dennis suggested after a while of staring into the forest.
“I don’t feel like telling my parents. They’ll probably just declare us out of our minds and in the end, they won’t be able to do anything anyway.”
“Eh, I just feel out of my depth.”
“I mean, fair, this isn’t something I see on the daily either.”

Laura tried to get up, out of her crouched position next to the tree. Her knees were slightly stiff. She struggled slightly but caught her tumble with an outstretched arm grasping at the rough tree bark. And there again there was that weird hum in her left hand, and it got stronger. Not only got it stronger though, but the hum also moved up her arm quite quickly.

And with a thunderous rumbling unusual for the season, the heavens opened their gates, and a torrential downpour hit the ground. At first, thick and heavy raindrops hit the dry and dusty ground forming small little impact craters and then the drops got more and more frequent, wetting the earth, wetting the leaves around the two teenagers. Dennis was dripping wet within a surprisingly short amount of time, but Laura was kept dry by the canopy of leaves that had blossomed from the barren branches of the autumnal trees in a speed akin to that of a time-lapse.

Laura’s attempt at getting up was stopped in its tracks and half crouched down half upright she looked into the leaves above her, her mouth open with wonderous astonishment, her face hit by a thick collected drop of rain every so often. Dennis turned towards her, his arms extended to his side as if hit with a cold bucket of water, and he just stared at her. She was slightly levitating, but she didn’t notice. All she noticed was a deep and sonorous voice calling out to her. Dennis couldn’t hear it, but she could.

“Hello, Laura!”