Breath & Shadow
Winter 2020 - Vol. 17, Issue 1
"The Wishing Tree" and "The Photograph"
"The Wishing Tree"
There is no colour left on our tiny island of a planet, and the grey, empty soil is broken only where the Wishing Tree stands.
There might as well have been no other survivors, for we no longer speak. It is better this way. This way we can pretend this is how it always was. This way we can pretend that we never spoke our dreams to the Wishing Tree.
I pass a woman on her knees, keening soundlessly, her face uplifted in madness. Hope can break the best of us, I think, but I remember other upturned faces, smiling faces, hands reaching for the flowers that blossomed on the tree with each wish. People took their flowers, and got what they had wanted. Prosperity. Health. Love.
We hadn’t known then that we were taking it from others. That someday, there would be nothing left to take.
My footsteps carry me in a circle, as they always do. Before me, the dead, dirty branches of the Wishing Tree sag beneath the weight of nothingness, petrified in the silence, its power buried in the past with our ghosts.
She hated her father. It was one of the first things she told me. And yet that day, when I found her, she held a photograph of a smiling young girl and a man dressed in blue.
The room spiralled into chaos, clothing and furniture flung by a cyclone of destruction. She sat in a clearing in the middle of the floor, a fallen star in a storm’s eye of bone, charcoal, and ash. She was silent, her hands tenderly, senselessly, selflessly cupping a memory of him, the man who had created this. Love until the end.
On broken knees I reached her, brushing silver hair from her dying face. I was an unrecognizable nothing in that blurring sea of desolation.
He didn’t want me, was all I ever heard. Her lost eyes closed as she pressed the photo to her heart.
Frances Koziar has publications of prose and poetry in 20 literary magazines, and is seeking an agent for a diverse NA/YA fantasy novel. She is a disabled/retired academic archaeologist and an editor at the literary magazine 101 Words. She lives in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Find out more about Frances on her website!