Surviving the tempest.

September 26, 2012
I’m standing under the tree, the tree where I always used to stand. It provides the only shelter, the only slight warmth in this barren landscape. The weather is cold, unbearably so. The wind howls and screeches all around me. My back is to it and my hands are stuffed in my pockets. My shoulders are hunched, sheltering my body from the gusts and spontaneous bursts of marrow-piercing wind, as it wraps all around me, engulfing me in an icy embrace. I can’t stop quivering, shaking, shivering. Warm steam escapes my mouth, fogging my vision. I tap to my foot as a distraction from the cold, icy gale. Tap, tap, tap. Yet here I stay, unable-un-wanting?-to move.



How did I end up here, again? The wind is blowing against me hard; I step closer to the trunk and study it, finding deformed figures in its knotted, grey bark. Eyes, mouths, hands and faces, they’re all staring at me. Reaching for me. Tap, tap, tap. I exhale a breath I didn’t even know I was holding. I watch as a figure forms in the mist I produced, and then slowly disappears. I promised myself I wouldn’t come back. I promised myself I’d never see the perverse beauty of this tree, this false haven, again. The limbs are twisted, as if hugging itself from the same cold as I am,-as I am trying to,-endure. The leaves long ago have fallen. The tree no longer grows, only twists in the wind, only breaks in the storm. It’s haunting, nearly hallowed. It is a frail, enigmatic thing, frozen in time. A lonely man’s purgatory. Tap, tap, tap.



My face is cold. It gets colder as the wind strips all cover away, penetrating through my layers of clothes and skin, reaching farther into my bones. I’m naked, exposed for all to see. But there’s nobody here to witness my suffering. No one, save the tree. Tap, tap, tap. When did I turn back around? Did I mean to come back to this place? I can’t answer that. I don’t remember what the answer is. I can’t even remember ever leaving here in the first place. Did I ever leave? Tap, tap, tap. Something draws you to this tree. This small, lonely, twisted piece of shelter from the insane squall surrounding. The wind. It is the wind. It is always the wind, pushing you away from where you need to be, where you should be. Click, click, bang, it shoots straight through you. It is too strong. I can’t leave here. Here is safe. Tap, tap, tap. Here is home.



I sit down with my back against the trunk. The little bit of warmth it expels caresses my back but is hardly enough to help me forget the cold. The tree has long ago bent over itself, reaching to kiss the ground. But it can’t reach; it seems as if it does not even want to, although in times to come I’m sure the wind will have convinced it to bend to its full extent. Tap, tap, tap. Even to the point of breaking. The wind doesn’t care, it never does. It takes whatever lies in its path and throws it into absolute turmoil. Tap, tap, tap. Can’t get back on your feet.
My breathing is slowing, now. The steam expelled by my mouth and nose becomes less and less common. I close my weary eyes, and then open them quickly in fear of them freezing together. Tap, tap, tap. But now I can’t keep them from closing. Tap, tap, tap. No! I stand quickly and lose my balance. I lean against the tree for support. I’m dizzy now, my vision is blurred and my thoughts are jumbled. I start singing. Tap, tap, tap. I sing and I sing and I scream and I yell and I don’t even understand what I am saying. I do not even know why I am, but I am and I just keep going and going and going until I fall to the ground in defeat and desperation. I can’t cry. There is no point to it; I am too defeated to even try. I close my eyes. I don’t bother to open them this time. Tap, tap, tap.



Was I this far gone last time? Did the wind drive me to this same level of insanity as it is doing now? Or am I this far gone this time just because I am tired of fighting? Tap, tap, tap. There is nobody here by me now. The wind didn’t guide them with me. No, not guide, push. Shove, force, thrust, heave. Tap, tap, tap. They deal with the breezes while I take the gale. They have their own storms to contend with, I’m sure, but I can’t help wondering if it is anything compared to mine. Can they escape? Because I am nearly convinced that I cannot. Tap, tap, tap. The tree is groaning now, complaining to the rising tempest against the abuse. It’s been threatening to rise for so long; it’s only a matter of time, now. It is unthinkably cold now. No longer does it only reach into my bones but into my soul. It’s freezing my willpower and shattering it to pieces. I flex my fingers. They creak as they are moved from the position they have been frozen into. I open my eyes slightly and look at the icicles forming on my eye lashes. Little diamonds. Tap, tap, tap. Little diamond daggers, threatening to blind me if I close my eyes again. But I don’t care. I can’t care anymore. I wrap my arms around me and rest my head against the gnarled trunk. Now considering the tree mine, I prepare myself to fall asleep next to my only home. Tap…tap…
Suddenly, the tempest is all around me. Raging, it lifts me up and spins me round, throwing my limp body into the air and threatening to blow me even farther away. Pelting rain and hail taunt me while I dance in the twisting gusts and torrents of wind. Cold is non-existent now. Same as heat, for nothing exists, only the storm. Stretching, I wrap my arms against my tree, my pitiful shelter, as the squall bellows and pushes against me. My body is screaming, my bones are screaming my tree is screaming as well. It’s creaking, complaining more than ever. Now Crack! My tree is falling, forcefully broken. I can’t cover my face from the flying splinters because I am trying to jump away. I crash onto the ground and I lay there, covering myself from the wind as it lingers with passion and fury. Finally, the wind starts to die down. The rain stops. All is quiet, or at least, quieter. I stand shakily and turn around. My tree, the tree, is dead. No longer is it twisted, perverse. Haunting. It is just sad, lying pathetically on the ground. But there is still beauty in it; in its cold, white limbs.

I go over to my demised tree, and I kiss it. I say thank you. I grab a strong, smooth branch. It’s tall, long enough to be a walking stick. And, suddenly I realize. I don’t need the tree. I don’t need its shelter from the wind. The wind may be cold and forceful but the tree was all I needed to convince myself to stay, to stop fighting. No, I don’t need it. I never did. All I ever really needed was-support. I stare into the wind, which no longer is as imposing. No longer is as forceful. I grip the branch of the old tree and I stick it in the ground. And I walk. I walk with the help of this branch, for that is really all I ever required. A way to push myself through the storms and gales and tempests. A way, to face the wind. I keep walking. Walking and walking, forward and forward. And I will keep walking and fighting the wind for as long as it takes. And someday, I know I will be back home. Someday, I will live again. Live, for me.
No taps.





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