Flash Fiction: Lean Back (253 words)

Every tree in sight shot straight up, their trunks perfect lines from the dark earth to the green canopy. For just a moment, Darren thought they must have been hanging off the clouds, not standing on their own, invisible, roots. The moment passed, with only a gentle feeling of ridiculousness in its wake. There were no trees like this where he came from.

The tree beside the house where he had grown up had never grown straight, but leaned toward the corner of the house, reaching for the sun. Down the lane, near his cousin, three trees tumbled around each other, too close, and each one bent a different way to avoid the shade of the dominating leaves. By the port, by the bay, on the long strip of island that was more rock than sand, more sand than earth, they seemed to crawl out of the ground, knobby root and twisted limb. They grew straight after they had climbed out into empty air. Everywhere on that drop of land in a mile of ocean, the trees leaned back to let the wind slip past them.

But not here.

Darren took a breath, in the quiet, in the strangeness of the measured spaces between the trunks. It was difficult to imagine, this place, where nothing doubled back or leaned or twisted, but had what it needed right where it stood.

Another short wave of ridiculousness, and he leaned his head back, eyeing the tops of the trees where they filtered out the sky.


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