Technically, this isn’t actually fiction but has been written as such. As you can see from the photograph (above) that I have taken, a line of leylandii trees have been burnt. I don’t know the circumstances of what happened but as this is a down a side lane, my suspicions are foul play. Obviously, I didn’t tell my daughter this as I don’t want her already over-active imagination conjuring up malicious arsonists running around the neighbourhood.
Unfortunately she was quite unsettled by the sight and every time we’ve passed it on our way to school, she has asked questions or commented on it. I try as best I can to answer her and try to soothe her worries. I could have chosen a different route to school but this is the quickest way and I feel by avoiding it, I am reinforcing that there is something to fear.
The following piece I have written about this week. At first, I was going to write it as a poem but then I decided it was better written as prose in the form of flash fiction (250 words).
We stop in our tracks as we see the line of trees have been burnt. Their green has been stripped away and all that’s left are bare black limbs and the lingering stench of smoke. Her steps are hesitant as she walks by, keeping her distance from the damage as though she fears the flames will rekindle on the passing wind. I hold her hand and meet her eyes. I try to soothe her worried mind with words I’m not sure I believe but I utter them anyway in the hope she does.
Unconvinced, questions begin to flow and none of them I can answer. What happened? Who did this? Why would anyone do this? Her concern growing, she asks me about all the creatures that their made those branches their home. I don’t tell her that they have turned to ash.
I urge her on, hoping her young mind will quickly become distracted once the charred remains are out of sight. Although we turn a corner and it is no longer behind us, I see her brow still furrowed as she tries to comprehend the destruction. The school bell brings her peace, distraction, but only until its last ring when we must walk back the way we came.
The next day she asks if we’ll walk that way. It’s the way we’ve walked every day. I tell her yes, that there is no need to change. I won’t let her fear consume her like the fire did the trees.