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A Tree in the Forest


Jerry Vilhotti

 "Byrom ... Lighthouse ... Hoover ... Bush! Get away from that shrubbery and trees!" His mother's words moved him from beneath all the shadows. Her head shuddered back into her bathroom. How she regretted that she had tried to name him after Lord Byron.

Byrom looked at her room in his mind among the twelve room house owned by his paternal grandfather. He could see so vividly the smile that held her face a prisoner; a smile she could no longer control.

"Fight fire with fire. Evil again today. Your mother says you've been constantly trying to say that filthy word all day!" the father said, believing it was after his birth that "the vapors" captured his wife.

Byrom stuttered his hand out to his father who held it over the flame he had created with the long wooden match still being used by lamplighters in the quaint New Jersey town to bring light to darkness ....

Once again the six year old attempted to get under the trees but as if her eyes could pry leaves apart, her words hit him: "Do you hear me! What do you see? Saying the word again!" Her voice crashed down on him as he was trying to press himself into the trunk of the tree as he could see her smile surrounding each of her words.

Byrom could now smell in his mind the many medicines flowing from the parade of bottles that took a marching position on the top of her dresser. Whenever he entered the room to do his expected kiss, she looked like one big medicine bottle bound by several blankets as his lips touched her cheek as her eyelids closed moved rapidly as her lips twitched.

His grandfather's house was not on "The Row" where houses were made up of twenty rooms with a zoning code that explicitly stated that so much of the yard had to be free of any structure; making sure lawns resembled the grounds of prestigious colleges that were embracing the children of the big mansions to carry on endruns of making money which proved their self worth.

"Wait until your father comes home. He'll help me!" she said before slamming her window shut.

"Come here!" the father shouted within a flurry of quick precise steps as Byrom crashed into him for fear his mother would embrace him with her big strap first. Then, the father holding him tightly in his arms, with no wasted steps, eliminated him into the room where the smile waited and as a gentleman closed the door softly.

The strap became alive; coming at him from all the directions he was entering - sucking blood from his face and legs ....

From behind the trees he spied his older brother Stephen. Not being athletically inclined Byrom threw a stone at his temple but it missed by so many feet that Stephen was not aware. Not even a sound had been made by the landing rock; just like a tree in a forest falling where no one could hear.

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