The Cherry Trees are in Bloom!

The cherry orchard was in full bloom.  Rows and rows of white-flowered cherry trees lined up very agreeably, both in straight and diagonal lines.  Dannie rested her back against a tree, closed her eyes, and let a grin expand wide enough to end in a chuckle.  Live was good.  She didn’t have to work today, she had a good book, and the sun was just warm enough.  She opened her eyes and her book, but before she bent her head to start reading, she spotted something high in a cherry tree peeking out at her a couple rows over.  It was black and about the size of a box of Cheerios.

36 responses to “The Cherry Trees are in Bloom!

  1. “Who’s there? ” asked Dannie, looking at a black void in the pink and white cloud of cherry blossoms.

    There was no sound.

    “I said, who is that?” she repeated.

    “Cheerio,” came a disembodied voice.

    “Who are you?”

    “Why, I’m the Cheshire Cat,” said the voice.

    “No you aren’t,” said Dannie.

    “But I am, my dear.”

    “I’ve seen the Cheshire Cat in a movie and you don’t look anything like it. You aren’t the right color for one thing, and you don’t have that mischievous grin, for another.”

    “Someone stole my identity? I’ll have to report this to the authorities in Cheshire. And don’t believe everything you see in the movies.”

    “Oh, good grief. Why do you look like a black box?

    “It’s a cat box. I’m undercover.”

    “What? Why?”

    “I’ve heard the NSA spies on everyone in this country, that’s why.”

    “That’s stupid,” said Dannie. “What does a cat have to hide?”

    “Well, for one thing, I don’t have a passport. And for another, I’m not really the Cheshire Cat.”

    “Aha! I knew it. So what are you?” asked Dannie.

    “I’m the Stratford-on-Avon Cat. I pen sonnets. I just called myself the Cheshire Cat so you’d recognize me.”

    “The Stratford…? Oh, come on. That’s really stupid.”

    “Be that as it may, you’re the one who’s seeing me. Have you been partaking of the cherry blossoms?”

    “Of course not. I’m just sitting here trying to enjoy the day and read my book. Then you came along.”

    “Oh, I didn’t ‘come along,’ as you call it. You summoned me.”

    “You were there when I looked up. I didn’t summon you. You were just there—like the real Cheshire Cat in that story.”

    “Ugh. ‘That story.’ Such a shame.”

    “What’s wrong with that story? It’s a very nice children’s story.”

    “Ri-i-i-i-i-ght. Silly girl falls down a hole, meets an overweight cat that gets her into trouble more than it helps her, runs off with two doofus twins, eats and drinks unknown stuff left by strangers, hangs out with a dope-smoking blue caterpillar, and almost gets her head chopped off by a playing card. Yeah, nice children’s story. Gives me nightmares, if I do say. Gives us cats a bad name, too.”

    “Still…,” Dannie whispered.

    “That’s right, my dear. Still. Be very still. Look into my eyes. Be very still.”

    “I know what you’re doing. You’re trying to hyp………tizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzze meee….”

    “Nighty-night. When I meow, you will awaken feeling refreshed. You will recall none of this conversation. You will talk about it on any social media. The NSA, you know.”

    And the next thing Dannie knew, she was walking down the street saying “Cheerio” to one and all, who wondered and whispered about the mischievous grin on Dannie’s face.

  2. Oh, shoot the writer who left out “not” in “You will NOT talk about it on any social media.”

  3. In her fifty years of life under the thumb of her local Tribal leaders, Dannie had never experienced any sort of modern technology. She had never seen a telephone, a television set, or any sort of computerized item. She had heard Islamic prayer music over the radio in her father’s bedroom when she was sixteen, but had not actually seen the transmitter itself.
    Dannie had been barren as a young woman, so was relegated to a lifetime of working to support the rest of the community. She had never been allowed to be anywhere near a boy or a man other than immediate members of her strict family. Her work as a goat-herder left her scant time, even to read the Koran. So when she spotted this odd object in the tree, she was clueless as to what it might be. Maybe that is what a radio looks like, she thought to herself.
    “Alpha Charlie Two, what is your location?” screeched the object.

    Billy Proctor was part of the Delta Force Six unit working out of Kandahar, and on a mission to track down a leading Taliban Mullah in a small village some ninety miles north of the base. He and his partner Justin Crews had parachuted from a Black Hawk helicopter over a small farm in the dark of morning. But in the jump, Billy’s communication unit came unhooked from his backpack, and went sailing down in a spiral toward a dark grove of trees below. He landed safely, and following protocol, secured a camouflaged foxhole at the edge of the woods. He waited for Justin to discover that his communications were compromised, and then do a search and find maneuver.

    Justin also landed safely, but lost track of his team leader. He sat tight at first, maintaining radio silence. Then just after dawn, he began short transmissions to Alpha Charlie Two, Billy’s call sign.

    When the sun came up, Billy keyed in the GPS unit on his smart-phone and got a positive on the location of his comm unit. It was about forty yards from his fox hole. Slowly, he gut-crawled his six foot frame along a small goat path through a dusty field. He spotted the grove of trees, and inched his way in that direction. He was well trained in not being detected in circumstances just like these. At last he spotted the unit, snared on a large branch of a flowering cherry tree. He was about to make his move to retrieve it, when an elderly woman in a black Burka spoke to him.
    “Did you come out of that radio?” asked Dannie sweetly.

  4. Dannie grabbed a stout limb of the billowy cherry tree and began her climb to the black object above. The aroma of cherry blossoms was nearly overwhelming. She felt ashamed of the scent of her store-bought perfume amid the fragrance of God and nature. Honeybees flitted about, but with purpose, from bloom to bloom.

    “I’m not here to hurt you,” she whispered to them as if in prayer to protect her from a sting.

    She reached nearly to the top and with her fingertips plucked the suspended object from its bough. She thought of eve picking the forbidden fruit in Eden.

    She hooked a leg around a limb and nestled her fanny against the trunk. It was a notebook computer. With the greatest curiosity she lifted its lid and it booted to a page linked to where her friend Jeff had three items published at Nailpolish Stories.

    • Felt like you hit me with a sucker punch, Jeff. Nice work on the Nailpolish Stories site. You have inspired me to submit a few there. Thx.

      • LOL. Writing IS a contact sport. Here are two which didn’t make the cut.:
        Topless and Barefoot
        Nipples harden in cooling air as waves crash against the shore, like some fifties movie metaphor. A young boy hollers, “Hey lady, nice tits.” Thanks.

        Too Too Hot
        Pouty lips painted jungle red force a smile on the crowded bus. Look at me damn you. I’m available. I’m yours. Maybe a brighter red.

        (The “Look at me damn you. I’m available. I’m yours.” is supposed to be italic.)

      • Jeff…I plan to submit this as my first nailpolish entry..Gale

        Wet and Wild

        Lying on Laguna rocks. Starfish cling. A swimsuit clings. Shutter clicks as she smiles into men’s minds. Laugh like you mean it the photographer says.

  5. Gale – I like it! i want to read it as Shutters click…

  6. Your guys should pursue the romance genre! Sells well, pays well.

    • Hi Gullie, actually I’ve been writing my ass off on flash fiction and hope to have enough material at year’s end for my own eBaook. I currently have 29 stories, figure I need at least 60, probably 70. But it is a doable deal fer shre.

  7. Greta put her book down, grabbed her cane, and shoved herself to her feet. As if it wasn’t bad enough to know her cancer meant she only had six months to live, now her lovely moment of relaxation was completely wrecked. What was that thing? The gods were playing tricks on her today. They knew she couldn’t stand a mystery. She had to see.

    She hobbled over and stood under the tree, looking up. The black box lurked just out of reach. Definitely cereal box sized. Now that she checked it out from all sides, she could see that it had a shiny gold edge around the side and bottom, maybe the top too. The black box sat on a branch, leaning against the main trunk about eight feet off the ground, too dark for her to see clearly, as if it wasn’t made of normal materials at all, but something that absorbed all light.

    Greta reached up a wobbly arm, swiping at the black box with her cane, coming up short by about five inches. Rats. She threw a couple of stones at it, but they never came close. Had they ricocheted off the box or was it repelling them?

    Finally she found a rock about the size of a man’s lunch box and, grunting and huffing, rolled it over beneath the tree. Holding onto the trunk, she stepped up onto her rock and swung her cane over her head one more time. So close. But not close enough. That black box was laughing at her. Come and get me, old woman!

    It had always been like this—Greta against the universe. Well, she was a fighter. Greta jutted out her chin, squinted up at the box, and pressed her lips into a determined line. She wouldn’t quit until she found out the answer to this mystery.

    She raised up on her rock to her full height and cocked her cane into swatting position. She bent her knees and then leapt as high as an old woman could, launching herself off her rock and swinging her cane. BLAM! A direct hit!

    One of Greta’s feet came down on the rock and one missed, as if the rock had somehow moved from its expected position. Completely off balance, she slammed to the ground onto her back, looking up just in time to see the gold and black box falling into her face. No time to block its blow or turn away. The two lower corners of the heavy box smashed into Greta’s face, delivering its full weight to her right and left eyes, deeply slashing her corneas.

    Greta screamed, then pushed herself into sitting position. Her fingers shook as they felt the blood gushing from her eyes. Now I’m dying and blind too. Damn that box! Where had it gone? The agony in her eyes didn’t matter; she had to find that taunting black box; she had to know, to comprehend, to unravel the mystery of this new nemesis.

    Ignoring her pain, she swept the grass with her hands, until she located the heavy rectangular shape. She hefted it into her lap, touching it all over because she could no longer see through the blood and gore that had been her eyes.

    Raised words ran across one flat side. Her fingers explored the letters, slowly and carefully as she bent over her prize.

    Tears joined the blood in her eyes. She leafed through the pages of the book she held in her hands but could not read. It’s title: Your Sight Will Set You Free.

    + + + The End + + +

    + + + Or maybe not + + +

    The months passed. Greta never got her sight back, and the cancer diagnosis was like a timer running out. Nonetheless Greta decided to thumb her nose at both the doctors and the book. In fact, she used the heavy black tome for a foot stool to make sure the pesky volume didn’t take on too much importance. What did it matter anyway? She could still type, and her computer could easily read her writing back to her. Life was good.

  8. Greta? Sure glad this didn’t happen to the recently-possessed Dannie.

  9. whoops!

  10. Dannie loved to read her books when the orchard was in full bloom. The bloom only lasted about a week. Soon the petals of the cherry blossoms will fall. But now she could relax with her book. Her only distraction was the buzzing of the bees and chattering of birds.

    Today was unusual. The miniature monolith drew her attention. She no longer heard the buzzing bees or the bird chatter. Thumping with increasing speed, her own heartbeat was all that she could hear. Otherwise, her complete attention was on the blackness. The emptiness of the void where the monolith perched.

    Only seconds later she found herself standing about five feet from the monolith. She no longer had her book in her hands. Her head was tilted up at the black mystery. Rapid breaths were pulled in and out of her slightly opened mouth. Her hands hung limply beside her body with no use any longer. A thrumming vibration, so low that it wasn’t a sound, but a feeling, was matching her heartbeat.

    The light of the sun no longer burned in the sky. The white blossoms of the cherry were all gone. Dannie and the monolith where all that existed. Though she had no light to see by, the emptiness of the monolith was bleak against the black nothing that surrounded her. Its shape still calling to her in that hum and thump that matched her own heartbeat. She wasn’t frightened. The only thing that existed was the monolith. She had to be with it. Near it. In it. Her longing wasn’t love or lust. But an ethereal oneness that exceed love.

    A rumble shook the darkness around her. Dannie was now surrounded by the stars. The monolith still only five feet from her. She tore her eyes from the emptiness of the monolith. Below her feet was the blue planet shrinking from her. The grayness of the moon flew past her right side. The rusted orb of Mars was now just to her left. The stars were turning into white lines as her speed increased. The monolith thrummed.

    The white lines bent around her. Left. Then right. Her gaze moved back to the monolith. Thump. Thump. Thump. The sun broke free from the black. The bees were buzzing. Birds chirped and chattered. Dannie blinked. Looking around she found that she was still sitting by the tree. Her book was opened in her hand. There was no longer a monolith perched in the tree. The wind sung softly through the branches.

    She looked up to the tree where the mystery was perched before. A short pang of loss hit her. A fading memory of the void and passing through the galaxy with such speed was tugging at her. She wanted to remember. As the seconds rolled on, she lost those memories. She wrestled in her mind to understand the meaning. Only to be left with a desire. An overwhelming desire to explore and seek the understanding of the mystery of the void.

  11. Pingback: Walterburgle | Dannie and the Monolith

  12. That was excellent. We still don’t know what the monolith is/was and we don’t need to. Great!

  13. The cherry orchard was in full bloom. Rows and rows of white-flowered cherry trees lined up very agreeably, both in straight and diagonal lines. Dannie rested her back against a tree, closed her eyes, and let a grin expand wide enough to end in a chuckle. Live was good. She didn’t have to work today, she had a good book, and the sun was just warm enough. She opened her eyes and her book, but before she bent her head to start reading, she spotted something high in a cherry tree peeking out at her a couple rows over. It was black and about the size of a box of Cheerios.

    Dannie wondered what that black thing was for only a few seconds. She quickly convinced herself that it was a gadget put there by the orchard owner to monitor important statistics regarding his trees. Technology left her puzzled about many things and she added this to the ever-growing pile.

    Dannie brushed her blonde hair off her forehead and stretched her long legs out in front of her. She rolled up the hems of her capri jean legs and settled into the shade. She read three or four pages and found herself nodding off. What the heck, she thought. Why not take a little nap? She was startled by a bump against her left shoe. The black contraption she’d seen in the tree was now down with her on the ground. Before she could react, the thing extended arms which encircled her wrists. What sounded like a fan inside the black thing raised it up and pulled Dannie to her feet. Within seconds, the cherry orchard was below her and she was hanging helplessly by her arms.

    After crossing above hundreds of rows of cherry trees, Dannie felt herself being lowered back down to ground level. The black thing gently released her at the front door of a huge colonial home. While Dannie rubbed her wrists, the black thing pushed the doorbell button and hovered beside her.

    The front door opened. A man with dark eyes and dark clothes peered at them. He said, “What have you brought me today, Mr. See-It-All? She’s cute. You can go back now. Thank you for being so vigilant.”

    Mr. See-It-All rose up in the air and sailed from whence it had come. “So you were trespassing in my orchard, Miss. I don’t tolerate anything or anyone messing uninvited with my trees. That’s why my robot brought you here. Follow me.”

    Dannie dared not speak. She followed the orchard owner down a stairway into a dark cellar. “I’ll be keeping you down here until the cherries are ready to be harvested. Nobody wants to pick cherries anymore and I refuse to have machines picking my cherries. I’ll feed you and provide all you need for the next several months. It’s not a bad deal, Miss. Come along, I’ll introduce you to the others.”

    Dannie opened her eyes. Her book was in her lap. She frowned and tried to figure out where she was. She wasn’t in a dark basement. Oh yeah, it’s my day off and I fell asleep under this cherry tree. She slowly raised her head and looked toward the tree where she’d seen the black thing. It was there. Just as she was feeling relieved, an arm extended from its compact form and it waved mechanically at her.

    Fear gripped Dannie. Had she been dreaming or not? Within a second, she was on her feet. She headed to the bicycle she’d left propped against a fence post. The bike wasn’t there. A note was nailed to the fence post. It read: Come back. I have your bicycle in my basement.

  14. LOL! Aren’t imaginations wonderful things to play with!

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