In a photoshop tutorial for making fantastic (imaginary) images, I saw a tree.My tree isn't quite the same, but it was today's inspiration.
Dianne sat well away from the tree she watched. Branches waved in the soft wind, reaching, reaching, but not quite touching her. Closer than she thought though, and if the wind kept blowing from behind her, her hair might touch or tangle one of the branches.
She scooted back a few more feet, just in case, keeping her drawing pad on her lap. The tree let out a sigh and its branches snapped back, held toward the sky. They were deep in the ten wooded acres her Dianne's father had won in a game of pool, property that had been on the market so long the sign had weathered nearly white.
Her Dad situated their new previously-owned trailer in the front, but her Mom wanted it back further. The State Road got noisy and busy around dinner time and she hated hearing it. But setting it back further would mean they had to clear more trees, which meant more work, so that wasn't going to happen. Dianne and this unusual tree would be safe. She'd seen in the first time, the day before as it snatched a squirrel and dropped it into a gaping maw.
If the squirrel hadn't gone first, running from the noise she'd made, she might have ended up there. She'd run back to tell her parents, but they sat giggling in the front seat of the station wagon that was both transportation and home for a while. They passed a joint back and forth as they snickered.
At least they weren't fighting, but experience had shown they couldn't do a thing to help her in that condition, that they couldn't understand simple words and she hated when they laughed at her. By the time they'd come out of it, arguing about the non-existent dinner, the empty cooler, and who would have to get a job to support them this time, Dianne had talked herself around to believing that the tree might be friendly and that she needed to get to know it. She couldn't talk herself into going back after dusk though, so she'd waited till morning, approaching slowly to judge the reach of its branches.
The grooved bark on the trunk of the tree separated, opening vertically to reveal a single eye, deep brown like a horse, with only the slightest touch of white at the top and bottom. It looked at her. Waiting for her to say something, or to move closer. Finally it's eye slid closed and it looked like a normal tree. Harmless. But Dianne knew better.
She waited, drawing the tree again and again. Sometimes without the eye and sometimes with it. Once, when she tried to recreate the maw that had appeared long enough to swallow the squirrel she thought she heard laughter somewhere far away in the back of her mind, but the tree sat, like every other tree in the woods. She knew though.
Her parents had switched to their other vice. Probably the workers delivering the trailer had bought some, or they decided to reward the workers so they had gone shopping. Angry alcohol-fueled arguments rang through the woods and Dianne wondered if food had appeared as magically as beer seemed to. Probably not, but with the stomach cramps she'd been ignoring all day, she would have to go check.
The first drawing of the day, the one she had pulled from her book and crumpled slid from her lap as she stood, bouncing closer to the tree. It was snatched from the ground by a branch moving impossibly quickly. A branch long enough it could have grabbed her any time during the day.
Laughter rang out in the back of her mind as she sprang away. The small paper was tucked gently into an open mouth appearing amongst the roots, while she hurried home. It hadn't eaten her, she told herself as she ran. That meant something. There was a chance.
It was in her favor that the tree hadn't seen anyone larger than a squirrel in a few years and it was bored. But against her was the fact that the tree hadn't seen anyone larger than a squirrel in a few years and it was hungry. Even the tree didn't know which side would win, but it would enjoy finding out.