Bad Habits

Swimming in the still mist of pure golden sunlight: the mountain forest seemed a perfect Eden. Clamorous birds fluttered in the canopy, and morning sun bled through the treetops, casting piercing shards of slanted light through the haze. Ever so often, the mist parted for a wandering animal inspecting roots and grubs, only to swallow the creature up once again and become what it had been; an unbroken diaphanous wall. A single leaf spiraled through shafts of sunlight, disappearing into the mist. Another leaf trailed the first, then another. The birds fell silent. And so it began. The mist began to churn with fleeing wildlife, and leaves, twigs and feathers rained from the trees as flocks of bright birds erupted skyward. The mountains rumbled and trees swayed as the earth tolled like a struck gong. A chorus of creatures and an orchestra of birds in an abundance of statutory. The van roared through the undergrowth.

Within the trunk of the trees surrounding the little inlet, there were growth rings, markers of good and bad years. Moss clung to the bark. Leaves were banked up, on one side – the sheltered side.

   A man sat beside the fallen tree, resting against a large rock; which he had not moved in years. The tree though, fell last night in the storm. The man was pondering, on life’s unexpected twists and turns. About children, madness and insanity. He had come here today to cut down the tree, that had obstructed his view of the valley. It had rid him the glory of the sunset and the waking of the new dawn each day. Yet now he did not know if he would have had the heart to lift the axe. To fell the tree, the tree that had blocked out the view and caused him so many missed opportunities. He felt as if he has lost an old friend, and that now he realizes that each time he watched the sun rise and set across the valley, he would think of the tree that is missing. The tree that had been planned to cut for the last five years if only he had the time. He looked at the grain of the wood, it swirled and knotted in its growth rings. It had been marking in time, as steadily as the pocket watch that he carried. He picked up an acorn and pushed it into the soft earth next to the tree.

   “For you, my son” he whispered to himself, “so that you may have a tree to climb, so that you can see beyond the horizon.”

Beyond the curve of trees to the south, the van pulled to the curb and a man got out. He was dressed in a white overcoat and holding a pair of hand-cuffs. These were not the police.

   “Mr. Bones?” the ginger-haired doctor greeted.

   “I,” replied Bones.

   “I hear you’ve been a little bit of trouble. Can you just come and have a chat?”

Bones didn’t move and marveled at the fallen tree. “It’s a beautiful thing this, isn’t it?”

   “Very much so, sir.”

A tear ran down Bones’s face and the eyes bore sadness. “My unborn son will be here in the next couple of days, gentleman. Are you depriving a man of seeing his own boy for the first time?”

Guilt flooded over the doctors who glared at each other. “We’re under strict orders from higher, sir. We just need you to accompany us to the house so we can ask you a few things.”

   “The house?” His lips creased into a grin. “Don’t you mean the hospital? The hospital where you put all the nuts and loonies?”

   “No,” the other doctor said calmly with a polite smile on his face. “We just want a little chat and then you’ll be placed into a quiet room for a couple of days so you can think about the actions you did.”

   “What actions would they be?”

The doctors exchanged a quick subtle glance. The ginger-haired doctor decided to beat the other to the answer. “Don’t you remember?” he said. “You tried – well, you tried to pull your child out of your wife’s stomach.”

With that Bones, as intoxicated with putrid as he was, curled onto his side and howled like a wolf in pain. The doctors lifted him and took him to the back of their van.

   “What’s happening to me, doctor?”


The End

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