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John doesn’t believe he’ll ever get a girl—until one night when nature comes alive.
‘What the hell do you think you’re staring at?’
John looked up with a start. ‘Uh—no—no—nothing.’
‘Nothing is it?’ Michael sneered, towering over him. He was massive for fifteen: six-foot, broad-shouldered, fingers like sausages. ‘Doesn’t look like nothing. It looks like you’re staring at my girl.’
John swallowed. Sweat broke out on his brow. He glanced over at Brook. She was standing at the bubbler, chatting and laughing and flicking her long, blonde hair back over her shoulders.
Michael slapped his hand hard onto the bench. ‘I said, stop staring.’
He grabbed John’s shirt and yanked him up. Everyone was watching now, Brook too, the lunch area deadly silent. Michael dragged him over to the bins by the shirt, John clutching at his big fist, stumbling over his feet.
‘No, no, no,’ he gasped. Michael hoisted him up with a grunt and slammed him into a bin. ‘Urrgghh.’
He was sitting in something moist. He lifted his hands, brown muck dripping down his arms.
‘Listen close, cheese-dick. Look at her again, and you’ll see the bottom of my shoe smashing into your face. Got it?’
Sniggering, he kicked the bin and left.
Later that day, after school, John walked home. It would take an hour, but he couldn’t face the bus, not after what happened. He tied his sports shirt around his waist. He looked like a fool, but at least it concealed the big, brown shit-like stain on his arse.
It was a hot day. A warm breeze brushed through his brown hair. He took off his prescription glasses, wiped them on his shirt and put them back on again. Cars zoomed by, fumes thick in the air. He picked up his pace, needing to get away: away from the town’s stink, away from the arseholes, away from civilisation.
When he reached his house, he eased the door open. All was quiet. His mother was out. His sister was nowhere around. Good. He didn’t want to be seen. He hurried to his room, quickly changed and ducked back out the door.
He shouldered his backpack and breathed in the scents. The bush was his real home, his sanctuary. Sticks and dry leaves crunched underfoot as he weaved his way through the trees to his favourite spot.
‘Hello again,’ he said.
The tree didn’t answer, its topmost leaves fluttering in the wind. He had passed right through the bush and was standing at its edge, the trees crowded behind him, open space ahead, houses in the distance.
He dropped his backpack by its roots, took off his glasses and put them in his pocket so he wouldn’t scratch the lenses. Wrapping his arms around the tree’s trunk, he pressed his head against it with a sigh.
He always came here, to talk, to find comfort, to think. Life was hard when no-one liked you. But out in nature, everything was simple: birds sang and chirped, the sun beat down, the trees loomed still and untroubled.
He pulled back and looked at the tree again. ‘Missy,’ he said.
That was what he called her and it matched her perfectly. She was certainly a Miss, with her long, leafy vines that looked like hair, the dips in her trunk that looked like eyes, the crease that looked like the curve of a lip. And below—
He touched them—the two smooth, shiny burrs that looked like breasts. And they were just at the right height too. He closed his eyes, gripped them, rubbed them, as he grew hard between the legs. He leant in and brushed his lips against hers. She was so sweet-smelling—eucalypt and sap and the woody scent of bark. So fresh.
The crunch of leaves, the snap of a branch, and he jerked away and wiped his mouth.
‘John!’ his sister called through the trees. He dropped to his bottom and grabbed his backpack. ‘John?’ she called again, closer this time.
‘Over here.’ He pulled out his sketchpad, poised his pencil upon the paper and squinted into the distance. Sketching—always the best ruse.
‘Thought I’d find you here,’ she said, brushing aside a branch as she stepped into view. ‘Mum’s looking for you.’
Jacquelin was seventeen. Long brown hair pulled into a shiny ponytail, tall and slim, she was athletic and smart, pretty and popular, and easy-going with the opposite sex. He loved—and hated her.
‘I’m busy,’ he said.
‘I see that.’ Her eyes drifted to his sketchpad. ‘What are you drawing?’
‘Nothing,’ and he flipped it closed and looked up at her. ‘What does she want?’
‘She needs help with her laptop.’
He sighed. ‘Again?’
She shrugged, then leant her shoulder against Missy. She glanced at her trunk and pulled a face. ‘Hideous tree.’ She looked around the bush and shivered. ‘I don’t know why you come here. It’s so spooky.’
John shoved his book into his bag, stood and swung his bag over his shoulder. ‘Come on then. Let’s go.’
One last glance at Missy, and he left.
John wandered through the bush, arms outstretched, hands brushing against the rough trunks. He lifted his nose and smelt the air. A breeze whispered through his fringe. He was dreaming, and it was a good dream. The sun had almost set, the last of the sunlight trickling in a haze through the leaves.
When he reached his favourite spot, darkness had completely fallen. Above, the moon was enormous and bright, far too bright for reality.
‘Missy?’ he said.
He studied the hole in the ground where she used to stand so tall and elegant and lovely. He looked around, at the bush, at the hills rolling into the distance, but nothing moved, and there was only silence.
He crouched in front of the hole and dragged his fingers through the dirt. It was moist and recently disturbed. She hadn’t been gone for long.
‘John,’ floated a whisper on the breeze.
He shot to his feet and squinted between the trees. Movement. A shadow. Then a figure stepped into view.
‘Missy?’ he croaked.
He froze. Human. She was human. And so beautiful: long bronze hair falling past her hips, smooth pale skin bright against the moonlight, eyes the colour of the earth. He stared at her breasts. They were so soft looking, so lovely, the nipples pink and glorious. His palms tingled, aching to touch them. Then he dropped his eyes to her bronze thatch, and his penis pushed hard against his pants. She smiled, and her lips looked just like they did when she was a tree—plump and perfect and begging to be kissed.
He wiped at his face, his brow slick with sweat. She walked gracefully towards him through the long grass, toes pointing at every step. He started to gasp, wiped at his brow again. His heart was hammering and his penis was so swollen he struggled not to explode right there in his pants.
She stopped in front of him, close enough he could hear her breathing, see the shine in her eyes, smell the eucalypt and sap and bark on her skin. Then she touched him on the chest, looked up with those shining eyes, and John was lost. He pulled her against him, wrapped his arms around her and sank his face into her hair.
He tilted her chin and kissed her, and her lips were soft, her tongue sweet, her breath warm. So much better than her cold, scratchy trunk.
He lowered her to the ground. He had never had sex before. He should have been more nervous, but this was a dream. Very little was as it should be. He straddled her as she stretched out her beautiful body beneath him, smiling, her breasts upraised and aglow against the moonlight. He took them into his hands with a moan. They were soft and supple and heavenly, better than he had ever imagined. A woman’s breasts—only in his dreams. He rubbed them, tickled her nipples. She laughed and squirmed. He laughed too. She was so wonderful in every way.
He dared to reach between her legs, and she groaned as he ran his fingers along her cleft. She was warm and wet. He took off his shirt and threw it aside. Then he stood and yanked open his pants. His penis burst free. He winced and gripped onto it. It was as hard as rock and throbbing.
He lowered himself on top of her. She spread her legs, and he nestled between them.
‘Oh, Missy,’ he groaned, face in her throat.
He nudged at her opening with his length. She was wet against his tip, hot and soft and wonderful, and he prayed he wouldn’t erupt all over her. This part had always frightened him the most. What if he couldn’t find it before it was too late?
‘John,’ she whispered, and her voice was like the rustle of leaves against the wind.
She gripped onto his hardness, and he jerked, almost coming in her hand. Gazing at him, smiling, she lifted her hips, arched her back and drew him inside.
‘Uhhhhhhh,’ he cried. God, she was so warm, so smooth. His penis throbbed against her walls as he thrust. Her breasts rubbed against his chest. Her hair tickled his nose. He couldn’t think, couldn’t see, all he knew was the pain, the pleasure, the pressure building in his balls. Three more thrusts and he erupted, his orgasm shooting down the length of his shaft and exploding inside her.
He collapsed against her, gasping, pulse pounding in his ears, in his throat, between his legs. He looked at her, and she looked back.
He gripped her hand, entwining his fingers with hers. ‘Never leave me.’
Smiling, she looped her arms around him and pulled him against her.
‘Hold me, love me, and you can be mine forever,’ she whispered in his ear.
John woke with a start and sat up.
It was deep into the night, and he was outside in his pyjamas, barefoot, cradled between Missy’s roots. The moon was full and bright, not as bright as in his dreams, but enough to smother the twinkle of the stars. He stumbled to his feet and looked down, feeling soggy around his crotch.
He had come in his pants—like a firehose. He shivered and gripped onto himself. The night air was cool, and his wet pants were icy-cold against his crotch. It wasn’t the first time he had sleepwalked, but it was the first time he had left the house. He blinked, his vision strangely clear. He was wearing his glasses.
‘John,’ came a whisper.
He looked up and stepped back. ‘Missy?’
Her leaves fluttered in the cool breeze. Her eyes gazed emptily. She was silent.
Her last words sprang into his mind: Hold me, love me, and you can be mine forever. He shivered again. She seemed to whisper it into his ear. He took a step towards her and placed his hand against her trunk, against the crease that was her lips. Her blank eyes stared back. He took off his glasses and tried to put them in his pocket but his pyjamas didn’t have any, and they slipped to the ground. He leant in and kissed her, and there was warmth, a softness, that had never been there before. He wrapped his arms around her, felt her breasts press against him. Her leafy hair tickled his cheek.
When he tried to pull away, he found he couldn’t move. He was stuck, his arms wrapped tightly around her, chest pressed hard against her trunk. He gasped, struggled, called out for help, but there was only the bush, Missy and the open sky. His heart beat madly as his body stiffened. He could barely breathe. A coldness trickled up his legs, his waist, his chest, his face. His sight went fuzzy. His hearing went dull. Then his heart began to slow. He looked into Missy’s eyes—and they were an earthy brown, alive and shining, just like in his dream.
He closed his eyes and let her take him.
Jacquelin flashed her torch through the trees as she rushed along the trail through the bush. It was seven at night, and the sun had set. An icy chill shivered down her spine, but it wasn’t from the cold. They hadn’t seen John since he went to bed last night. When he didn’t rise for breakfast, they checked his bedroom, to find it empty. Assuming he had already gone to school, she and her mother had left for their day, not thinking something terrible might have happened.
‘John!’ she cried.
It wasn’t unusual for her brother to stay out all afternoon doing whatever he did, so when she had arrived at an empty house, she wasn’t worried. But now it was night time, and he always came home before darkness fell.
She raced to the edge of the bush, chest tight, hopeful he had simply switched his phone off and was listening to his music. But when she reached his favourite spot, her heart dropped.
It was empty.
Tears pricked her eyes. She looked into the distance, across the empty expanse, to the houses far away.
‘Where are you?’
‘Jackie,’ rose a whisper on the wind.
She spun around with a start and stepped back. The ugly tree—it wasn’t alone. She dropped her torch. There was another tree, uglier still, and it was pressed hard against the other, branches twisted and looped around its trunk as though embracing it. There was something familiar about it, about the way it stood, so awkward, almost slouched.
Something gleamed against the torchlight on the ground. She picked it up—John’s glasses, cracked and broken. She looked up at the tree again, and ice filled her heart.
© Morgan Tonkin 2018