Pale Parasite

albino.jpg

As his pale lips pressed against her rosy neck, she flinched once, shuddered and subsided beneath his sharp teeth. At last, he raised his face. Even her blood on his mouth wasn’t as red as the rich hue that now flushed his lips and cheeks.

“Andi, now what are you letting the boys watch?”

Even if I hadn’t heard her distinctly chipper voice, I would have known it was my stepdaughter, Merydith. She was the only one who shortened my name, Andrea, to that monstrosity she seemed to feel was affectionate. I twisted sharply from the movie I was watching with my two sons. Before I could retort, Joseph and Daniel leapt to her side, hugging her.

She had come into our life a year ago, once she had turned 18. However, she was a biology student at the local college and could only see us every couple weeks.

“Hey, hey guys!” she laughed as she hugged them back. “Careful of the camera. I borrowed it. I’m going to get me a pic of the Albino that’s down at the creek. Tell Dad I’ll see him when I get back.” The last time she was here, she had raved about the tree. According to her, it was some rare parasitic plant that didn’t manufacture its own chlorophyll but instead sucked life from its host redwood.

“Can we go, too?” My boys begged.

“No!” I objected. “We…. need to get the Halloween costumes together. Maybe some other time, Merydith.”

I sent the boys upstairs to take a bath and watched out the window as she headed down into the tall woods below our house. The fog slid thick long tentacles over the hills and up the creek bed, trees leaned close and trailed claw hands down her shoulders but she was impervious to the atmosphere. The last I saw, she was trudging sturdily into the mist, arms swinging jauntily.

I never let the boys go down to the creek–they might fall in. But I encouraged Merydith. I told her about a white tree by the creek. I had known it was there since I was a little girl.

That stand of Redwoods had been growing for over 1000 years. When the loggers had cleared this section around the turn of the century, they had panted after the huge trees in that area. And, they had cut one or two. But, Grandpa told me that one day a branch broke and fell on a logger. By the time the crew had managed to get to him, his blood had spilled out across the earth like a red puddle beneath the white Albino tree. They couldn’t save him. Oddly, the next day when they came back, they couldn’t find the unusual tree either. As a memorial to the dead man, they left the stand untouched. They never found the pale needles that marked where he died though.

But I had seen the ghost tree. I kept watch for it. And if necessary, I fed it.

When Merydith didn’t return by midnight, we went looking for her. She lay like Sleeping Beauty underneath a branch, her hair a halo of darkness-her skin pale from the blood spilled and soaked into the ground around her. My husband gathered her gently into his arms but she was cold, lifeless already.

At the boys’ insistence, we go back every few months to lay flowers where she died but this last time I noticed a few branches overhead were pale and anemic looking. Luckily, the neighbors across the creek want the land surveyed. I’ll make sure they come by here.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

42 comments

  • Cool! Tell us about the photo.

  • Cool! Tell us about the photo.

  • Kym,
    I think this would really be interesting if we knew more about the relationship between Andi & Merydeth. Is there a bit of hostility, or just coolness? Was Dan (or Andrea) distraught at his daughter’s death, or did they just bury her quietly in the back yard? I wanna know!
    Love ya,

  • Kym,
    I think this would really be interesting if we knew more about the relationship between Andi & Merydeth. Is there a bit of hostility, or just coolness? Was Dan (or Andrea) distraught at his daughter’s death, or did they just bury her quietly in the back yard? I wanna know!
    Love ya,

  • I took the photo of an albino redwood. I would tell you where it is but then I would have to kill you or… maybe, the tree would take care of you by itself :evilgrin:

  • I took the photo of an albino redwood. I would tell you where it is but then I would have to kill you or… maybe, the tree would take care of you by itself :evilgrin:

  • Heather,

    Andrea doesn’t care for the attention Merydith gets from the males in her life. She is hostile but not openly so. She’s too smart for that. Dan is grieves his daughter’s death and has no idea that Andrea arranged it. They don’t hide her death because it is ‘natural.’ No one but Andrea knows the tree is a vampire like creature.

  • Heather,

    Andrea doesn’t care for the attention Merydith gets from the males in her life. She is hostile but not openly so. She’s too smart for that. Dan is grieves his daughter’s death and has no idea that Andrea arranged it. They don’t hide her death because it is ‘natural.’ No one but Andrea knows the tree is a vampire like creature.

  • I’m not sure exactly why, but this reminds me of “Sometimes a Great Notion” by Ken Kesey…one of my favorite books. Obviously, part of it is the setting — the Pacific Northwest forest. There’s a part of that book that describes “Devil’s Stovepipes” which are trees that have been covered in sand dunes while still standing. As time goes by, the trunks rot and hollow out, leaving vertical “stovepipes” in the sand. If somebody walks along the top of the sand dunes over them, they can fall in and become trapped. It’s such a dark and threatening vision of nature’s potential and I think its this same feeling you evoked in me. Nicely done!

  • I’m not sure exactly why, but this reminds me of “Sometimes a Great Notion” by Ken Kesey…one of my favorite books. Obviously, part of it is the setting — the Pacific Northwest forest. There’s a part of that book that describes “Devil’s Stovepipes” which are trees that have been covered in sand dunes while still standing. As time goes by, the trunks rot and hollow out, leaving vertical “stovepipes” in the sand. If somebody walks along the top of the sand dunes over them, they can fall in and become trapped. It’s such a dark and threatening vision of nature’s potential and I think its this same feeling you evoked in me. Nicely done!

  • Well, I’m flattered. He’s an amazing writer. It’s been a long time since I read that book. I’ll have to reread it.

    Sometimes nature seems so serene and giving but it can kill you.

    I love the albino redwoods. They seem magic usually. But yesterday I guess I was in the Halloween mood.

  • Well, I’m flattered. He’s an amazing writer. It’s been a long time since I read that book. I’ll have to reread it.

    Sometimes nature seems so serene and giving but it can kill you.

    I love the albino redwoods. They seem magic usually. But yesterday I guess I was in the Halloween mood.

  • OIC. Thanks for the explanation. Sometimes ya just gotta spell it out for me :-)~ Promise I won’t tell where the albino lives (provided it still lives where I saw it in the mid-90’s).

  • OIC. Thanks for the explanation. Sometimes ya just gotta spell it out for me :-)~ Promise I won’t tell where the albino lives (provided it still lives where I saw it in the mid-90’s).

  • Yeah…great book! And a long time since I’ve read it, too. I remember how awe-struck I was at how he switches narrative perspectives and inner monologues between the characters rapidly from page-to-page…and each inner voice is distinct…a facile writer to be sure.

  • Yeah…great book! And a long time since I’ve read it, too. I remember how awe-struck I was at how he switches narrative perspectives and inner monologues between the characters rapidly from page-to-page…and each inner voice is distinct…a facile writer to be sure.

  • Heather, I’m flattered you asked. And one of the main reason I’m blogging is I’m trying to get to be a better writer. I won’t do that unless I get feedback.

    Now remember you are one of the few who know where an albino redwood grows. The Redwood Doctor at http://www.sempervirens.org/doctor.htm says, “As far as I know, there are no other conifers that have this albino trait. With your discovery, you are now a trusted member of the “albino redwood club,” which means you need to keep the location of the tree a secret. I’m always afraid that someone will want to chop one down for a Christmas tree!”

    I was sworn to secrecy and I think you were too.

    Of course for a small price, I might be persuaded to take someone there. They just might not leave…. Ya, ha ha ha!

    Chris,
    I loved One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I have to read that one again too. I loved the movie also. That book was one of my first times that I read a book and had my whole world view changed. Great book. Great author.

  • Heather, I’m flattered you asked. And one of the main reason I’m blogging is I’m trying to get to be a better writer. I won’t do that unless I get feedback.

    Now remember you are one of the few who know where an albino redwood grows. The Redwood Doctor at http://www.sempervirens.org/doctor.htm says, “As far as I know, there are no other conifers that have this albino trait. With your discovery, you are now a trusted member of the “albino redwood club,” which means you need to keep the location of the tree a secret. I’m always afraid that someone will want to chop one down for a Christmas tree!”

    I was sworn to secrecy and I think you were too.

    Of course for a small price, I might be persuaded to take someone there. They just might not leave…. Ya, ha ha ha!

    Chris,
    I loved One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I have to read that one again too. I loved the movie also. That book was one of my first times that I read a book and had my whole world view changed. Great book. Great author.

  • I haven’t read Cuckoo’s Nest, but I’ve seen the movie, of course. I’ll put it on my list, which is buried somewhere beneath the stack of books beside my bed that beg for more attention. I need to figure out a way to “make time”…that would be a neat trick.

  • I haven’t read Cuckoo’s Nest, but I’ve seen the movie, of course. I’ll put it on my list, which is buried somewhere beneath the stack of books beside my bed that beg for more attention. I need to figure out a way to “make time”…that would be a neat trick.

  • If you figure out how to make time, can I buy some from you?

  • If you figure out how to make time, can I buy some from you?

  • After reading this little bit of literature, I’m not sure I will ever think of the albino redwood in quite the same way again. I’m quite sure I will never again venture there alone. So, I guess you could say this great piece of literature has change my view of this small part of my life.

  • After reading this little bit of literature, I’m not sure I will ever think of the albino redwood in quite the same way again. I’m quite sure I will never again venture there alone. So, I guess you could say this great piece of literature has change my view of this small part of my life.

  • Oh, by the way, this is a great photo of the “tree.”

  • Oh, by the way, this is a great photo of the “tree.”

  • It looks like its been snowed on, doesn’t it?

    Another pic that I wanted to use instead showed a bunch of poisonous mushrooms at the base of the trunk but it didn’t turn out well. Too bad, the mushrooms would have added a creepy element.

  • It looks like its been snowed on, doesn’t it?

    Another pic that I wanted to use instead showed a bunch of poisonous mushrooms at the base of the trunk but it didn’t turn out well. Too bad, the mushrooms would have added a creepy element.

  • Oh yeah…of course…once I figure out how to make time, then I’ll figure out how to mass produce it. Factoring in economies of scale, I should be able to efficienty roll out time increments at a rapid pace and pass the savings on to you! Of course, I’ll have to hire time engineers and factory workers that will need to be managed, taking up more time and…hmmm…maybe socialism really is the answer…

  • Oh yeah…of course…once I figure out how to make time, then I’ll figure out how to mass produce it. Factoring in economies of scale, I should be able to efficienty roll out time increments at a rapid pace and pass the savings on to you! Of course, I’ll have to hire time engineers and factory workers that will need to be managed, taking up more time and…hmmm…maybe socialism really is the answer…

  • Suddenly, I’m picturing time increments hanging on lines drying. “I’ll take 2 1/2 hours please. I need more sleep.”

    I think I’d be a great customer. You could be rich. Go capitalism.

  • Suddenly, I’m picturing time increments hanging on lines drying. “I’ll take 2 1/2 hours please. I need more sleep.”

    I think I’d be a great customer. You could be rich. Go capitalism.

  • I know a certain ex-husband that you should invite to see that tree. (wicked cackle)

  • I know a certain ex-husband that you should invite to see that tree. (wicked cackle)

  • Personally, I think President Bush should take a tour of the Redwoods…..

  • Personally, I think President Bush should take a tour of the Redwoods…..

  • That’s the problem…I’d always buy more increments to sleep in…it would be my undoing, seeing as how I enjoy sleep so much. I would have to invent the alarm clock with a time increment snooze button. Each time you press the button, another increment is instantly delivered and your credit card charged. I would quickly become a victim of my own invention, charging my way into sweet, timeless oblivion.

  • That’s the problem…I’d always buy more increments to sleep in…it would be my undoing, seeing as how I enjoy sleep so much. I would have to invent the alarm clock with a time increment snooze button. Each time you press the button, another increment is instantly delivered and your credit card charged. I would quickly become a victim of my own invention, charging my way into sweet, timeless oblivion.

  • I could see my son going broke! he would be in bankruptcy court in no time.

  • I could see my son going broke! he would be in bankruptcy court in no time.

  • Pingback: Top Ten Homegrown Humboldt Hits « REDHEADED BLACKBELT and Other Strange Connections

  • Pingback: Top Ten Homegrown Humboldt Hits « REDHEADED BLACKBELT and Other Strange Connections

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *