by matt ronquillo
The gates of the cemetery are locked, so you make a running jump and pull yourself over the top. You scratch up your stomach on the way over but still land on your feet. Bits of sand that had been in your hair fall to the grass.
Two nagging thoughts that were brewing around in your head on the way over are in your consciousness now, fighting it out in the open. The one thought is asking you how you intend to find her in that big cemetery without knowing what grave she’s buried in. The other thought, in reaction, says it doesn’t much matter because you’ll find her if it takes you all night. As you begin to walk around, you realize this expedition isn’t as romantic as the second thought assumed it would be.
It’s cold and foggy and wet. There aren’t any lights anywhere, so you can’t even see the names on the graves, which number in the high hundreds, maybe even in the thousands. You walk up to a strange marble building with hundreds of names etched into the side of it too, but you can’t make out those names either.
You walk around to random graves, but this overwhelms you. You lie down next to a tree and realize this was a ridiculous idea. You watch the branches sway around for a little while. Suddenly, you realize the grass you’re lying in was very wet and cold a few seconds ago, but now very warm. It feels pleasant, and the sky has turned orange. This is pleasant too. You haven’t eaten in a while, but you’ve been drinking, and this combination often makes you hallucinate. You are aware that you are hallucinating now.
The tree branches whipping above you are thrashing violently, yet silently, in a phantom breeze. They seem to be aggravated. You think this is your fault and that you aren’t giving this tree something it needs.
You say to the tree, â€œWhat is it, tree? What do you want from me?â€ And those words float into the ground and make electric currents in the shape of wiry roots under the soil which illuminate through the grass. The bottom of the tree trunk lights up. You ask the tree something else, but you can’t even hear the words as they pour out of your mouth like vomit and soak into the grass. The tree shakes and shudders violently, as if upset by this.
And you say, â€œTell me, tree. What the hell do you want from me?â€
The roots light up again and the branches sway with glee. The leaves rustle and whisper, â€œAnything that comes to mind, as long as it kinda rhymes.â€
And you tense up and say, â€œI . . . I don’t know.â€
â€œYes. Tell me anything you think. If you’d like, you can tell me about the things you like to drink.â€
â€œI can tell you of the drinks I had tonight, if that’s what you’d like.â€
The tree turns electric and whispers, â€œYes.â€
â€œI was laying in a sandy spot with a hole in my heart,â€ you say,â€ and the cold ocean breeze made me thirsty for a warming shot.â€
The tree hisses, â€œYessss,â€ and the branches blow upward toward the orange sky. And you say,
â€œA liquid flame,â€ you say
â€œA burning ring
Scorched my heart to feed the blaze
It widened the hole but it kept out the coldâ€
Burning axes appear. Charcoal marks come from sparks as they slam into the tree’s trunk and stain it crispy and dark.
The tree hisses, â€œYessss.â€ And you continue,
Double-edged sword to quell my cries
White-hot blade quickens my demise
Shot after shot
Bullet-like succession warms it quicker
A burning taste to shake out the shiversâ€
The tree creaks and moans gladly.
â€œA breeze to fan the chemical burn into ashes for the cold to churn
Blew away the remnants of this empty shell
From internal suffering to eternal hellâ€
And the tree whispers, â€œYessssâ€ one last time. A breeze of darkness engulfs the trunk and leaves, leaving it black. You feel a tickle in your throat so you cough, and the tree’s dead bark begins to crack. Then it all explodes. An electric outline of the tree stands in place. Blue and red and yellow and green neon colors shoot up from the branches, high into the air. This makes you dizzy. The colors–now swirling together in the form of a giant rope–begin to fall down from a trillion miles up. Electric tree roots come up from the grass, wrap around your feet, and soak into your legs as the neon-colored rope from above crashes through the front of your skull. A spinning feeling takes over your brain, and you let it lift you off of the ground.
The electricity ripples through you in a whirling current of incredible color. You get caught up in a swirling band which stretches into a cylinder that goes on forever. You fall through the center of it. The colors twist and spin you as you speed down.
You have not found what you have come for, but you are being shown the way she went. Riding the spinning neon colors down is an inexplicable bliss. A rustling whisper says that only a bright-burning heart will find anyone down in a pit like this.