Around the corner from Lissy’s home was a funny little park that featured a single tree, a single swing, and a single bench.
Being a loner, Lissy loved the park since few other children ever seemed to play there. Children, after all, tended to roam her local streets in small packs, and this particular park appeared to be set up for the introverts of the world.
During her walk home from school, Lissy dropped into the park for just 15 minutes each day. Every day was the same; she’d spend five minutes swinging back and forth, feeling the wind rush through her long, tangled hair, then five minutes attempting to climb the tree, before taking a five-minute rest on the bench. Fun quota filled for the day, she’d pick up her school bag and head home.
Goodness knows why Lissy’s routine was the same each day. Her personality wasn’t suited to frivolity, it seemed, and the only reason she went to the park at all was because her mother assured her that little girls needed to get plenty of fresh air and outdoor play. It was something Lissy never quite believed, but her mother assured her that unless she spent at least 15 minutes at play each day, her growth would stunt and she’d never reach adulthood, and Lissy desperately wanted to reach adulthood so that she could be left in peace to read books and forgo the outdoors.
January wasn’t the best month for playing in the funny little park, but Lissy did it anyway while wrapped up against the elements in a cosy yellow raincoat. Kicking at the base of the solitary tree gently with her foot, she looked up into the boughs and blew on her chilly hands. Locking onto the tree’s branches would be tricky when her fingers were so stiff with cold, but she refused to break from her weekday routine. Maybe if she had, she’d still be here to visit the park today.
No matter how hard Lissy had tried, she’d never quite managed to reach the very top of the tree. Only the lower branches were favourable for climbing, and once she reached a certain point, she struggled to find secure footholds and branches sturdy enough to hold her weight as she dragged herself upwards. Peculiarly, the coldest day in January was the day that she managed to reach the highest boughs, despite her frozen fingers.
Quite pleased with herself, Lissy looked out across her funny little park with a satisfied smile. Rightly so, she felt proud and wondered if perhaps her mother had been right about the importance of little girls playing in the outdoors.
Suddenly, she heard the tree creak and groan beneath her. Terror tore through her as she realised the trunk was splitting right down the middle and she was losing her grip as the two halves of the tree began to lean over toward the ground.
Upon reflection, Lissy should have simply picked a side and clung on until the tree naturally delivered her back to solid ground, but panic has a way of switching off the capable parts of our minds, doesn’t it? Vowing to never climb a tree ever again in her life, Lissy simply flailed her legs in fear until her fingers came unhooked from the trees branches and she tumbled down into the ragged, gaping split of the tree trunk.
Wretched little Lissy never made it home that night, because almost as quickly as it had split in half, the tree pulled itself back together again and swallowed the young girl up. Xylophagous insects took a break from their cellulose-based diets and indulged in a feast of human flesh. Yellow flowers, the exact same shade as Lissy’s winter raincoat, grew from the trees branches in the following spring.
Zealous mothers never fail to get their children in trouble – that’s the moral of this story.
This story was inspired by a prompt from 642 Things To Write About which asked for a story in which each sentence starts with sequential letters of the alphabet.
It was far, far harder than expected! It’s amazing how the brain forgets every single word that begins with a specific letter when you put it under pressure. If anyone gives it a try, please comment with a link with your story – I’m very interested to see what others come up with.