My mother had been silent for close to three years.
Along North Road, I found a new section of fence. More to the point, I found an apple tree growing up alongside it. From what I could see, the tree had been there for some time. The fruit was ripe, the tree was healthy.
Of course, the tree hadn’t been there the day prior. Nor had the fence, for that matter.
The new arrivals were on the Hollow side of the road, and few good things came from it.
I sat on the fence a few feet from the tree, took out my pipe, packed it, lit the tobacco and smoked for a short time.
The fence shifted a bit, and from the corner of my eye, I saw the tree move a hair’s breadth closer.
“Have you come far?” I asked the tree.
There was a moment of silence before the tree answered me.
“I didn’t think it was true.” The tree’s voice was young and feminine.
“That you spoke to trees,” the apple tree continued. “There was rumor, but most of us put it down to saplings telling tales.”
We were quiet for a moment, then the tree spoke again. “I’ve been sent to tempt you.”
“That a fact?” I glanced over at the tree. “Your apples do look good.”
The vibrant green of its leaves brightened.
“Are you poisonous?” I asked.
“I am,” the tree replied with no small trace of pride. “One of my apples is usually enough to burn out a man’s stomach.”
“And my mother wanted me to partake?”
“And what do you want?” I asked.
“To be left alone,” the tree answered.
“I can’t let you stay at the fence,” I told the tree. “Too many children would be tempted. I’d not see them dead.”
“Nor would I,” the tree replied.
“I could move you to my lands,” I stated. “I feed my trees well.”
When the tree responded, there was a depth of hunger to the hushed tone. “Is it true you feed them meat?”
“I feed them humans,” I clarified. “Whenever a body comes along, I share the wealth. And when I transplant, well, there’s a body there to ease the transition.”
The tree shuddered and replied, “I am hungry.”
“Good. I killed a murderer last night.”
The tree sighed, and I stood up. There was a hole to be dug, a body to be planted, and a tree to be moved.
Life was good.