The Twila Series
The climbing tree loves to feel human skin against its bark. Well, that is what Grandma Violet always tells me. She says the old elderberry was planted on Rose DuBois fifteenth birthday. It wasn’t very big, but those limbs wrapped around Rose’s leg like a puppy clinging to its mama, and her brother, Jimmy Lee, had the hardest time releasing her from it. Story goes that after it was planted if you sat next to it on a windy day, you could hear it whimper.
No one has ventured out to the DuBois place in years. Rose left in 1950 when she was eighteen and moved to New Orleans. She said she was tired of backwater stains on her shoes and singing hymns when her throat was full of the blues. No one knows what happened to her after that, but they do know the climbing tree missed her. Every time they trimmed its limbs it would sprout a new branch to press against Rose’s bedroom window. It finally got so strong it broke through the glass. One Halloween night her mama heard a crash and went to Rose’s room and found tree limbs cradling an old photo of Rose sitting on a dresser across the room. The next day the family moved out of the house and told everyone they knew they’d willed it to the elderberry.
I’m always testing. The climbing tree story has been swimming through ears for so long no one questions it. I didn’t tell a soul I was headed out to Rose DuBois’ old place. There would be so many no’s spilling from jaws I wouldn't be able to find a path through them. I have about another hour of weeds to struggle through. I want to find out if that tree can really feel skin.
©Susie Clevenger 2019