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The voice in the tree

The wind whipped back Clarice's hair as she sat upright in the boat, straining to catch a glimpse of the island. After a few moments, the faint outline of it came into view, barely visible. 'I see it,' she screamed, in an effort to be heard above the loud roar of the boat's motor.

'Where? Me wanna see too! Me wanna see too!' exclaimed Maurice, her younger brother.

Picking him up, Clarice settled him on her lap, pointing out the island in the distance. He squirmed in his impatience to see, and upon spotting it, leapt off her lap and began prancing around.

'I'm Popeye, the sailor man!' he sang joyfully, without a care in the world. Clarice burst out laughing. Maurice was so amusing; he could always be counted upon to bring about a smile on her face, even at the most unexpected moments. And laughter is what I need the most in my life right now, she mused, hugging her dark secret to herself, as the island grew larger in the distance.
The voice in the tree watched as the boat reached the edge of the island, and the family descended. The parents walked quickly to the office 'center' to discuss arrangements, leaving the two remaining ones behind, whom he quickly assessed. The boy was a mere child, but the girl…the girl was a different matter entirely. She was tall and striking, with long red hair that came down to her waist, and dark eyes that seemed strangely alert to him, even at that distance. She was lightly tanned and had a curiously confident way of moving, even when she stumbled on a hidden rock and almost fell.
He watched as her brother ran to help her, but she quickly brushed him off. As they entered the 'center' after their parents he lost sight of them. Yet, his thoughts kept returning to the memory of the girl with the red hair. Something about her both strongly attracted and intrigued him.
'Be careful,' he warned himself; he couldn't afford to lose control of his feelings. But, try, as he might, couldn't banish the curious feeling of anticipation that rose within him.

' "Peda Ting Ting," that's an interesting name for an island,' Clarice murmured, as they walked towards their cottage, which she was sharing with Maurice, situated on the far end of the island.

'Yes Madame…it means 'The Rivers of Moonlight' in our local dialect,' the bellboy replied.
'Really?' Clarice asked, mildly interested.
The boy shrugged. 'Not really; it actually means 'Eat as much as you want', but that doesn't sound that exotic, does it?'

Clarice smiled as the boy continued. 'This is your cottage with your room on the right, and the young sir's room on the right. Your luggage is also in your respective rooms and they are appropriately furnished. If your require something, please dial 507 and we will be here in twenty minutes.'

'Thank you,' Clarice replied graciously, and smiled again as she closed the entrance door of the cottage.

Having only two rooms, it took a mere five minutes to explore, but what pleased Clarice the most was the adjoining balcony to her room. It overlooked the back of the island and she could also watch the surrounding water. In the soft moonlight, the reflecting silver rays on the water seemed magical indeed; while the back end of the island, complete with densely packed trees, seemed dark and ominous.

It was much later that night when Clarice woke up in bed, disoriented. She lay in bed for a few seconds, unsure of where she was. Soon she remembered Peda Ting Ting her island of solitude, where she chose to nurse her deep dark secret about Jim in private this summer.

In spite of much tossing and turning, Clarice found it impossible to go back to sleep. I'll take a walk, she finally decided. The back of the island had seemed ominous, but Clarice had always prided herself on not being scared of the dark. Walking with determined strides, she set off in the direction of the trees.

The inside of the woods was surprisingly not dark. The braches of the leaves allowed the moon's ways to come through, and they lighted up the island's floor. Clarice faced no difficulty as she walked around. A little while later, she came to a tree that stood slightly apart from the others, due to its enormous size and weird shape. Taking a break, she sat down at its base to rest, still lost in her own thoughts.

He held his breath as she sat right behind him. He felt a thousand inexpressible sensations flowing through him as she leaned back against the tree trunk, finally making contact. He could hear her every breath, and feel the heat of her body even through her clothes. He ached to be beside her, to reach out and touch her, but that was no longer possible. He was, after all, trapped.
'Don't do anything rash; don't do anything you'll regret,' the voices kept playing in his mind. But the temptation was too great. He felt an inexplicable urge to befriend this red headed stranger.
The next few minutes seemed like an eternity to him, as he painfully waited for her to leave, to leave fast so that he could resist his temptation to speak. Nothing happened; she continued to sit contentedly, oblivious to her surroundings, and to the feelings she was arousing in him. Finally, he could hold back no longer; hesitantly, he spoke up.


The single word brought Clarice out of her reverie. She had almost dozed off to sleep thinking about Jim, about his betrayal and her own mistakes. At first she thought she was hallucinating…after all, who would be speaking to her in the dead of the night, in the middle of this island far away from anywhere? Yet, scared to remain there any longer, she quickly got up and started to walk away.
'Please don't go away because of me,' the voice spoke again.

Clarice stopped and turned around slowly. No, she was not hallucinating; this time the voice was real. Unsurely she took a step towards the tree.

'Who's there?' she asked warily.
It's just me.
'Where are you?'
I am the voice in the tree.
'You're the voice in the tree?' Clarice repeated incredulously, thinking that she just might be in the middle of some insane dream.
This isn't a dream you know.
Clarice's head jerked up. 'How did you know what I was thinking?' she asked nervously. 'Can you read my mind?'

No dear, I am not one of those supernatural being who can read your mind. Predicting your thoughts were easy, as the last person I spoke to felt pretty much the same only he spoke his thoughts out loud.

Feeling slightly reassured Clarice stepped forward. So, she wasn't the first one to be facing something as crazy as this. Slightly more confident, she asked her next question. 'What's your name?'

My, my! We're finally getting introduced properly! Well, depends on what your definition of name is. Over the years people have taken to calling me 'The Voice in the Tree'.

'You mean you have other names?'
I wasn't always 'The voice in the Tree' you know. Once, when I led a normal life like you, I had a normal name like yours too. By the way, I don't believe I know you properly yet.

'I'm Clarice'.
'Tis a very nice name. And I am Troy. Pleased to meet you.

'What happened?' asked Clarice, genuinely interested now.
That, Clarice dear, is a long story and frankly I don't want to bore you.

'Please go on, I am very interested,' replied Clarice, settling down again at the base of the tree. 'And frankly, I have plenty of time.'

Well, to cut a long story short, I trusted the wrong person.
'Don't we all?' muttered Clarice, under her breath.

True. It would have helped if I knew that before but unfortunately… the voice fell silent for a few minutes. Anyway, my story isn't really a complicated one. Ten years ago my friends Mark, Suzy and I used to live on this island in the cottages you and your family occupy now. We had everything we needed good food, a beautiful environment and each other's company.
'It sounds perfect,' Clarice interrupted. 'What went wrong?'

Circumstances Clarice love, friendship, and betrayal my story contains all the perfect ingredients for an ideal love story. Too bad it didn't have a happy ending. He stopped again for a short while, and when he began speaking again, his voice was heavy with sadness.

It's ironic really. Mark and I were best pals, almost as close as brothers. Yet, he never bothered confiding in me, and I never bothered trying to recognize and understand his true feelings. But let me not confuse you by not explaining everything properly. If you haven't guessed by now Suzy fell in love with me and vice versa. I never knew it then, but Mark loved her too.
'You mean he never told you?'

He told me all right. He told me the day he killed me.
There was a gasp from Clarice. 'He killed you?'

Troy sighed. Yes, he killed me right here, right under the branches of this very tree. He tricked me into coming here in the dead of the night and stabbed me in cold blood.
Next morning, I saw him put on a very convincing act for Suzy. Three days later, they both left the island together. I never saw either again.

So Troy was a spirit, the realization sank in for Clarice. 'Tell me, do all spirits live in trees?'

There was a sound of soft laughter. No girl, spirits don't live in trees you know.
'But…then…you' Clarice stammered. 'Why are you here?'

Do you believe in God Clarice?
'That does not answer my question'.

Actually it does. You see I was always a strong believer in God.
I remember the shock and pain as Mark stabbed me. Even as I was bleeding away to death, I called out to God to let me live in this beautiful world for more time. I didn't want to leave so early. I guess this was his way of answering my plea.

They sat together in companionable silence for a long time. Words weren't necessary, each were lost in their own thoughts. Finally Troy broke the silence.
Don't you think its time you went home?
Clarice looked up at the sky. It was already dawn; the rays of the sun, rising from the east, were already brightening up the day. It was a beautiful morning.
'I can't believe I spent the whole night talking to you,' said Clarice.
There was no response. Slowly rising to her feet, Clarice made her way back to the cottage.

By Jennifer Ashraf

Death is the fear,
The fear that sheds a tear
Death is pain,
The pain that for-sees no vain
Death is torture
Pure and clear torture,
Torture of the soul…
Torture of the mind
Torture for even a mole
And of the kind
Death is the final strike,
The strike that shows the light to the end
The bursting wave that knocks all but none
And the pain can't be un-done
You may fight,
With all your might
And you may fight till your last breath
That last breath that shows the beginning of your death
While your adventure at life is ending,
The adventure of death is just beginning
Are you really dead?
Really trapped forever?
Till the earth is but dust and soil?
Or are you free?
Free to wonder,
To ponder
To fly to the sky
All this can happen, just by death
All this can happen just if you die.
As you take that last breath
You know it's the beginning of death.

Love, the force that conquers all
Love, the one motivation able to control all
The force of nature
The uniting of people
The beginning of a new era
The beginning of new life
With all power but not for all
For all it is not
Only for the blessed
Only for the happy
Or so, ones to be happy
Love is the joy of both man and woman
The cornerstone of a new foundation
The cornerstone of a new life form
Of perhaps a new organism
But the force of love is all but impenetrable
For only the least of dis-trust may cause it to collapse
Dead in its tracks
Dead in its objective
In its objective to unite the people of the world
The force that truly conquers all
All but death
All but life
All but hate

Life and Death
Life, the true force of nature
Life, the motivation of love
Life, the start of the era of growth
At the start, tis but a cell
Then as time, a mere age process, goes
Tis is two cells
And 4
Then 8
Then 16
Life is the beginning of every thing
Of ideas, love, fun and every thing else
Life is the opposite of death
For death is the journey to the end of life
Or is it?
Is it really the end?
Or is it the beginning
Maybe life is just the introduction
The introduction to something far greater
Maybe death is life
Maybe death is the true force of nature
Perhaps life is nothing but the salutation of a paragraph
The cocktail party before the big presentation
Maybe life is nothing
And perhaps death is everything.

By Tony C. Nosiku Eliassen


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