After swallowing the last gulps, he set down the empty can on the corner of the coffee table. The hoped for solace that drink normally brought seemed to evade him on this night and exhaustion remained, yet sleep seemed to reside only on some far distant shore. The silent darkness of the house that used to be a home only served to allow the persistent voices in his head to scream louder, eventually driving him out the front door and into the night. How long he stood next to the tree, barefoot in the grass, he had no idea. The other houses that lined both sides of the street were dark and all the world seemed to be asleep in peace. All was quiet except the low hum of electricity as it traveled through the wires to feed the glowing street lights.
His right hand was leaning on the knob end of a baseball bat as if an old man in need of a cane. The thought of why had he carried this outside flashed through his mind and was just as quickly gone. It was the very bat she had placed beside the front door in case she should ever have a need of a weapon close at hand. He grabbed the handle with both hands, he had always enjoyed the feel of a wooden bat in his hands and the weight just felt right. His grip fit perfectly as his fingers curled around the handle. Holding the bat filled him with a dangerous sense of strength and power.
He could feel his heart beating louder and louder in his ears, his blood coursing through his veins as surges of energy careened through his body as his muscles began to tense. The world around him slowly faded away from view and before him stood only the tree. The round trunk stretched upwards anchored by firm roots hidden deeply within the ground. Branches grew outwards in what appeared to be many haphazard directions, most branches alive with leaves, a few dead and dry. The tree was life, a voluminous text telling a story and detailing each experience and dream along the way, each branch a turning point in his life. The leaves held tight the emotions that accompanied the events of each memory that was remembered. The lifeless branches revealed little as the memories of these experiences had faded from his mind over the years. As he stared up into the tree's canopy each branch morphed into distinct memories of a life built on hope for the future and then wholly lost as fate seemed to conspire against the desires of his heart.
The frozen silence of the night was shattered by a loud crack as the wooden bat struck the tree trunk. He did not even realize that he had swung the bat, but as each memory blazed before his eyes he swung the bat over and over. The tree quivered only slightly with each blow, standing strong and resilient against the vicious onslaught. Each swing was fueled by grief and rage over what was lost, never to return. Memories flashed hot, the bat hurtled through the air against wood again and again, until his shoulders began to ache. The quiet was shattered by the crack of wood on wood as the bat slowly began to splinter from the force of the repeated blows against the tree. He continued unrelenting as the fury rose inside him like a volcanic eruption long held in check within the depths of the earth, driving him past the limits of exhaustion.
The cascade of blows finally began to slow as his strength waned, at last he stood gasping for breath, head down, the bat lying motionless in the grass at the bottom of the trunk. The tree was silent before him almost mocking his unsuccessful and feeble efforts at destruction. He eventually fell to his knees and finally came to a sitting position with his back against the very trunk that had noiselessly absorbed blow after blow of his merciless rage and anguish driven attack. He sat soundlessly through the remainder of the night, his body physically shattered; the fatigue blunted the pain and allowed his mind a small respite from the chorus of voices in his head.
The sun began to rise, and light crawled out of the dark of the night revealing the dawn of a new day. He sighed and moved every so slightly as his shoulders throbbed, his hands and fingers stiff and aching, but his mind and heart laid bare to the nonsense questions to which there were no answers. As the mornings light grew ever brighter unhindered by his sorrow, he looked down at his hands which were stained in a murky crimson of his own dried blood. As he stared at the sight, angels whispered about innocent blood that was shed once, in the ultimate sacrifice long ago, so the crushed hopes of this world may be redeemed and reborn in eternity and a small smile crossed his lips as he raised his face to the warm glory of the rising sun.
~Maleko (October 2011)