The Tree

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Whispers and the occasional shh outside woke Charmaine from her slumber.

With a sigh, she stepped out of bed, slid on her slippers, and wrapped a robe around her tired shoulders. Wrinkled hands stared back from under the long sleeves, and Charmaine muttered under her breath.

It hadn’t always been like this. She was young once, and things had been so much better back then. There used to be a time when no one would dare trespass on her property. When did kids become so disrespectful?

The gate to her garden rattled just outside her bedroom, and she contemplated how best to punish the children. The two boys, she thought, from the squish of their shoes and the slight baritone of their voices, were becoming more brazen with every passing minute. They weren’t even trying to be quiet anymore.

The tiny thieves would learn their lesson.

Charmaine considered her options: skewered, baked, barbecued. But it all seemed like too much work now. She was no spring chicken after all, and her days of roasting children were long gone. No. She needed to teach them a lesson that all their friends would hear about. It was time they feared her again.

She threw open her balcony doors. On the garden path, just by her favorite tree, the boys stood, pockets bulging from their pilfer.

“Thieves!” Charmaine screamed.

Her voice was raspy – foil-crackled rough -, and she reminded herself to have some tea with honey later to soothe it.

The boys turned toward her, mirthful eyes changed to panic-stricken, and they began to run towards the gate.

She glared at the pair for all of a second before snapping her fingers. A puff of smoke consumed the space around them. As it faded, two toads stood where the boys had been. Clothes and gummy bears were scattered on the garden path around them.

Charmaine floated down to stand in front of them. They croaked and hopped around, unsure of how to do either. It continued until they knocked into each other and fell onto their backs. Their legs kicked and kicked, but they weren’t going anywhere.

She picked them up and walked them out onto the street.

Charmaine grumbled and thought out-loud, “I really ought to get rid of that gummy bear tree.”

“Ribbit!” they agreed.

She placed the pair on the ground and stepped away. “And stay out!” she cried.

As everyone on the street turned to look, Charmaine snapped her fingers again. The townspeople gasped as the toads transformed back into little boys, only this time minus their clothes. They both made tiny yelps, jumped, and covered their privates before running away screaming.

The crowd laughed and mocked the pair, ignoring her. She chuckled as she walked back to her manor.ย Maybe keeping the gummy bear tree would be a good idea, after all. That was the most fun she’d had in a while.

 

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15 thoughts on “The Tree

  1. Your kids stories are my favorites, Mel. This one was so good! I enjoyed every line. My fav part was the witch’s name. I love that you named her ‘Charmaine and not something overtly witchy ๐Ÿ™‚ You gotta submit this!!

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  2. Great minds – a couple years ago I was trying to think of what kids would do if they were on a quest, and came up with “try to grow an Oreo tree.” They could have used Charmaine’s help! (seriously, though, if I had a gummy bear tree there would be nothing left for the kids to eat)

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    1. hahah An Oreo tree sounds -amazing-! I want one so bad. Charmaine may have used some of her witchy ways to make the gummy bear tree in her youth, to attract stray children. I imagine now that she’s older, she’s had her fair share of gummy bears… and little boys and girls too. heheh

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  3. I’d be interesting to hear more about Charmaine. She feels like a main character with more to tell us. The story is so tidy and accessible. I could read a lot more from Charmaine.

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  4. Charmaine was a wonderful character. I agree with all those above who said they’d like to know more about her. What was her history? How did she come to live in this place? Where did she live that the boys could access her house so easily? She’s an intriguing character and I want to know more about her. Perhaps we’ll see her again in the future?

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  5. Something about “skewered, baked, barbecued” made me think Charmaine is the witch from Hansel and Gretel and we’re peering into her life years later after she’s mellowed a bit.

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