Children of Suicides
Children of Suicides
The children of suicides were running for their lives. They’d witnessed the wrath of god. As they ran, they passed a grove of trees.
The straighter, darker trees called out to the children of suicides. “Come,” they said. “Come and climb!”
“No, no,” said the children. “Heights we can’t abide.”
And off they ran, paying the trees no heed. The children laughed and tossed their arms to heaven. Their arms sprouted into long-fingered branches. The branches clicked and popped. Their skins turned white then cracked to reveal an inner coat of brown. They remembered the cries of Io as she watched her newly cloven feet. Daphne’s memory danced through their fingered leaves. Low they bowed, their backs arching towards the caverns of Persephone.
“Are we never to right ourselves?” they cried. “We don’t want to go to hell!”
They tried to close their eyes, but their lids were bark. They tried to speak, but their tongues had disappeared. Their toes grew into tendrils that burrowed into earth and stones. The trees prayed to the only gods they knew.
Argos Panoptes appeared in a burst of wind.
They trembled in the breeze.
He set his one hundred eyes upon them. “Zeus has sent me to keep you still,” he said.
“We are still!”
“Zeus wants you to be good.”
“We are good.”
“Zeus does not believe.”
“We’ve lost our eyes and tongues, or we would say we’re sorry for whatever it is that we have done.”
“Ah,” said Argos Panoptes. “You lie. You do speak.”
“Our leaves speak for us. Set us free.”
Argos was lonely He gazed at the horizon. He pondered the truth of his condition then approached. “What will you give me?” he whispered.
“It will be a surprise, just touch us with your lashes.”
Argos’s lashes fluttered on their bark. A storm thundered from under heaven’s dome. Hail bouted on the plains around them. Zeus roared, “Argos, subdue your father’s trees. Cut them down!”
The trees quaked, but Argos didn’t listen to Zeus. His eyes rained tears. The tears ran down the leaves and pooled around their once-toed roots. Their toes unwound from dirt. Tongues touched teeth and eyelids loosened from the bark.
“You are now our father,” the children said to Argos and formed a circle around him.
“I am tired of so many eyes upon me.”
The children laid their fingers on his eyes and closed each lid, leaving only one.
Argos crumpled to the ground in the middle of the circled children.
The winds subsided. The earth rang with the sounds of the father with the one eye weeping. The children clasped hands and tightened the circle around him. They hummed in accompaniment to his sobs.
They were happy too.
-refers from the word tree in Dan Powell’s story The Man Who Lived like a Tree