Updated: Sep 19
When the fog lifted and the stars came out, the three sisters gathered. They laughed as they poured out of their cars beneath the light of the Scorpio Moon. It was nearly as bright as the sun, but the light muted the field they walked through. The grass was cold on their bare feet but soon they would be warm. In the grove of trees on the far side of the field was where the flame tree lived. No one knew how it had come into existence. Whether it was by the forked strike of an angry storm god or forged in a secret mountain by silent monks, the flame tree was hope to those who visited it.
The sisters walked until the moon was fully overhead and they finally reached the grove. A few feet more and they reached the flame tree. Now that they were under the trees their silence was broken. They spoke of their children and husbands. Their secret dreams and hidden thoughts. The grove absorbed their words and held them safe. They cried over hurts, shames, and failures. They laughed over mishaps and messes. The twisted flame tree still burned in the center of the grove. It was partially metal and partially an ancient wood that did not burn. The gas from beneath the earth kept the flame going, but true believers knew that there was more to it than that. The flames were known to waver without attention and sacrifice. Something lived inside the flame tree. Some mystical presence who was generous with their benevolence.
The three sisters took out their offerings from their bags. One held a steaming container of midnight ramen. Another pulled out a jug of bright green jitterbug juice. The youngest sister pulled out their three cups and three bowls. Once their cups and bowls were filled, they poured the rest of the midnight ramen and jitterbug juice into the curiously built altar. It was shaped like a wedge and it funneled the offerings straight into the fire. The flame tree flared up as the midnight ramen and jitterbug juice hit its branches. Once orange, the flames burned purple instead. The sisters howled with delight. Purple was for luck. The sisters ate and laughed until the moon had nearly set. Their presence was a love note to sisterhood and belonging. The flame tree basked in their happiness and used its small magics to bless them. By dawn they were back in their cars driving off to their homes and their responsibilities, but their tomorrows would be rosy. Babies would sleep just a little better. Foods would taste a little better. The flame tree blessed them with gratitude for all the small gifts in their lives and it made their days all the sweeter.
The prompts for this short story:
the flame tree
Copyright 2020 Klaudia Grady