What Lies Beneath?

By Crystal Certo (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

EVICTION NOTICE.  There was more, but my welling tears transformed the words into blurry, black blobs.  I turned and leaned against the door.  The eviction sign proved to be a comfortless pillow.

I had known that it was coming, just not so soon.  I wasn’t prepared.  What options were there?  Let it fade away, I thought, exchange this door for another.  The cold metal gave way to weathered wood, the stuffy air to a balmy breeze, and the walls to a forest.

I transferred my weight from the door to my feet and wandered about.  The hum of insects filled the air, overpowering the sound of my footsteps.  The canopy of trees was like a security blanket sheltering me from the outside world.  Light filtered through the leaves letting off a mellow, green glow.  Eventually, I stumbled upon a clearing with a single tree at the center.  It contained a fort-like tree house made of sun-bleached wood.

After taking a few cautious steps into the open, I hastened back into the shadows.  A flash of red in the tree house had caught my eye.  A woman in a scarlet cloak emerged onto the balcony.  She was dripping with precious stones that glittered as she moved and in her hands was a bowl of pears.  The jewelry on the woman’s arm jingled as she selected and examined a piece of fruit.  It didn’t pass inspection.  She let go and it fell to the ground with a solitary thud.  After repeating this peculiar process several times, the woman reached for the last pear.  Timidly, I returned to the clearing.  “He-hello?”  I mumbled.

The woman’s gaze rested upon me.  Her countenance fell, equaling the disgust of someone discovering a cockroach.  Without a word she hurled the pear at me.  The fruit smashed against a tree as I dodged into the forest.  From the undergrowth I could see its juices dripping down the bark.

The woman disappeared into the tree house.  Fearing that she had gone to retrieve more ammunition, I swiftly withdrew in the opposite direction.  All the while, branches and thorns scraped past my skin, but I didn’t care.  Fear gradually gave way to endurance and the feeling was liberating.

Without warning, my body tumbled over what seemed like tree roots.  It wasn’t.  I found myself lying at the base of an upright figure composed of bound twigs.  Standing up, I circled the figure like a hesitant predator.  It was much like a skeleton stripped of all flesh.  There were no muscles to move; there were no nerves to feel.  And yet, its determination to stand against the elements, whatever form they took, was admirable.  Perhaps it had even been hit by a hurtling pear or two.  “Are you ok?”  It spoke causing adrenaline to shoot through my veins.

“You ok?”  I was back to reality and a large man wearing a drenched jacket stood before me.

“Huh?”  I replied, still disoriented.

“Are you ok?”

“Yeah, I was just…I was thinking.”

The man seemed dissatisfied with my response.  He glanced up at the eviction notice and then back at me.  His eyes filled with pity.  Unable to formulate any words of consolation, the man sighed.  “You have a good night.”  With that he continued down the narrow hall and disappeared behind a door.

Upon gaining a measure of composure, I traveled to the elevator at the end of the hallway.  Once inside, I pushed the button for level one.  It didn’t light up like the rest.  The elevator lurched and began its descent as I looked out at the city through a window with a cloudy film.  Concrete tree houses loomed and became increasingly daunting as the elevator approached the ground level.  The door opened.

What can you do, I thought, but hang in and hope that something better than tree houses comes along.  And into the elements I walked.

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