Tea with Ghosts
Crawling up the beach, fingers and mouths bloody from dehydration and who knows what else.
The tree waits, sad, watching. Patient. The creatures feel distant like watching through a glass, a movie, a play, performance, distant, enjoyable but unreal.
Rest under the dark sky, sun nowhere to be seen. The light is empty and echoing, like it forgot to fill this place. I look around, there’s bodies, the smell hitting me and then wafting away. My back hurts as I breathe, ribs and lungs at their end.
It’s bright in here. We’ve made it onto a train, I think, I feel stories falling from my lips, the children dirty and ragged, eyes bright and watching.
Swaying with the train.
Where are we headed?
The stories spin, adults walking sadly or purposefully or emptily, wraithlike, next to us. Our quiet little corner is quiet and sharp and comfortable, like a cafe admidst a burning library in a dying city.
Once upon a time, my tongue forms, again —
“Destination!” she shouts, running around the biggest tree I’ve ever seen, its sky glow almost as large as its trunk.
I have a headache, but its almost nice, like a child I love dearly who I also want to kill.
Three days, it’s been like this. She alternates between shouts of glee, sleeping, briefly, grumpily, waking up, and then back to shouting.
Excited shouting, but still.
It’s very loud.
“DESTiNATION,” she explains, gesturing at the tree like I’m quite slow. Yes, I know. I think, smiling fondly and rubbing an ear. I’ve heard.
“DESTINATION!” She agrees, delighted, returning to running and inspecting her(?) tree, alternating between lab coats and nakedness and overalls and dirt, equally comfortable in all four, flipping between as quickly as thought. Her toes wiggle as she ponders with a clipboard, pen to chin as she gazes upward. “Destination,” she murmers, quietly, or maybe it’s just implied and my ears fill the silence with leaves rustling with her voice.
She glances at me, intently/intensely, before returning to work or — whatever she was doing.
I gaze up and can’t even come close to seeing the top of the tree. Its leaves are golden and the massive trees around it (keeping a fair distance, but I could feel their breath) looking nearly paltry in comparison. Yet they glow, too, like being in the presence of God. They seem happy. Not forest-happy, yet, but — happy. Destination, I think I hear, rustling across their leaves in the unseen wind. Destination.
I sigh and sit, everything melting off me. I feel unbearably — heavy. And light. And crying. And joy. I don’t quite remember the journey, but my mouth is as tired as my heart when I whisper