Hello, said Tree. I’m in you and you’re in me.
Hello, said Tree. Soon we’ll be a family.
It started as a joke, really. Betsy dared me.
“Swallow that acorn and I’ll lift up my shirt. “Do it, David.”
It was a blistering hot summer day. The cicadas were screaming. We hung out under the big oak at the top of the hill. It was shady. We figured we’d pass the time with a few special gummies. Maybe screw around a bit. My stupid idea. Blame it on the heat.
I smirked at her giggling face and rolled the greenish acorn in my hands. It was too early. An unfinished seed.
“Do it,” she teased and put her hands on the hem of her tank. It was soaked with sweat and her nipples were encouraging.
I walked closer to the trunk, split by a recent lightening strike and looked at her. I nodded my chin to her in a ‘you promised’ gesture.
“Down the hatch,” I said and plopped the acorn in my mouth and swallowed it. It was small and slipped into my stomach like it wanted to be there.
“That’ll hurt on the way out,” she said and burst into a cannabis-fueled giggle-fit.
“Probably,” I said and approached her, greedily helping her out of her top.
It was a good afternoon.
Seed and Sprout, there is no doubt.
No need to cry. No need to pout.
I woke in the middle of the night, screaming with both pain and fright. My gut was killing me, swollen and angry. It felt like the slightest touch would rupture it. But the dream was worse.
Betsy turned on the lamp. “You okay?” she asked stupidly as clearly I was not.
I looked at her and she was coming fully awake and worry washed her face. We’d been living together for a few months. It was comfortable and felt right. I couldn’t speak. Just shivered deeply as the open window of night cooled my damp skin.
She saw my stomach. “That ain’t right, David,” Miss Obvious commented. “You gotta go to the hospital.”
I tried to belch to relieve the pressure. Nothing would help. I could only speak in gasps.
“Dreamed something. Inside. Inside me. Alive.”
As if on cue, I felt a twitch in my abdomen.
Bark and Branch, look within.
You’ll know soon that we will win.
Doctor Evans tapped on his iPad. The patient has been unconscious for 2 months. The thickening of his skin that began on his abdomen has now encased most of his torso. It appears to be growing from the inside out, leaving the oldest, original growth on the exterior, discoloring to a muted gray. It’s brittle and scrapes off, but the rate of regeneration from the layers beneath is astonishing. Biopsy sample extraction remains only possible with the outer-layers. Attempts at sectioning the more pliable green rings beneath are met with a severe pain response by the patient.
Evans stopped typing and resisted rubbing his eyes under the protective shield. His hands itched with the continuous use of the gloves. He could only imagine what David was going through. He turned on the UV lights to examine his patients arms and legs. Without the lights on, David became stiff and unmovable. The lights made his joints flexible enough to move, but they accelerated the invasive cellular growth. He picked up the tablet again.
The patient’s muscle mass on his limbs continue to waste in an asymmetrical fashion, thinning out closer to the hands and feet. There’s still strength and mobility, but not in the normal fashion expected in primates or any known animal. Carpals, tarsals and phalanges have net-increased in length at a continuing pace of 3 mm per day.
Grow the Leaf, unwrap the Flower.
Sun and Wind, breathing power.
The alarm clock sounded and Betsy rolled over the empty side of the bed, David’s side, and turned off the alarm clock that he insisted they buy and she refused to not turn off. She missed him.
After sitting on the side of the bed for what she counted as a full thirty, she got up and padded to the washroom. She stared at the toilet for a ten count, wishing she’s consumed enough to use it, even if just a dribble of pee. He stomach hurt and her back ached. All her joints complained. At first she thought she was pregnant, and that terrified her. The doctors reassured her that she was not. Not with a baby at least.
She stood under the shower for a count of 300. Her jeans didn’t fit, so she threw on some sweats, grabbed her keys and headed for the car. David’s doctors wanted to see her. Something about the tests.
“It’ll be okay,” the Voice said. “I’ll take care of you. Both of you.”
She counted to twenty and turned the key.
From our Shade, a bird takes wing.
Freed from Earth, we will sing.
David was awake, but he didn’t open his eyes. He didn’t have to. He could see everything around him in every direction at once. His whole body was a sensory organ. Not just sight, but hearing and smell. Yes, he could taste the sterility of the room. The sour sweat beneath the latex of men and women. Acrid cleanser, cheap perfume, stale ash, bad booze, even worse sex and good bacon. He could touch and feel all around him, through the air, as if it was a part of him. Indeed, it was a part of him.
Betsy was here now. She knew he was awake but didn’t let on. Good girl. The doctors were telling her about the tests. That she’d have to stay at the hospital. It didn’t phase her. She was exactly where she was supposed to be. David could sense her relax and let her resistance fall away.
His body responded to her. He couldn’t help it. She was becoming like him now. He could feel her molecules intertwining with his in the space between. It was glorious. Arousing. He wanted her, needed her. He felt her sex through the air. What was and what was becoming.
David put a flower in her hair, grew it there. Betsy closed her eyes as he did so and shuddered at his touch. She turned to him and winked. He smiled back at her.
Cut us, break us, death by Fire.
Only serves to stoke our ire.
The klaxon blared through the hospital and didn’t stop until the fire reached the generator room. By that time, Betsy and David were long gone, deep into the forgotten forest behind the hospital and across the river. Tree and her family were there to greet them. The lovers were led to a smallish glade near the western edge so they could enjoy the sunsets together. They planted feet into the soft welcoming earth and let their roots spread, lacing each other in a warm embrace. With each other and with the rest of the forest. Many and one. Never alone and forever at peace.
Hello, said Tree. I’m in you and you’re in me.
We are now a family.