Crossposted from my own journal, a story I wrote and have no idea what to think of. Any comments are more than welcome...
"...The things I see when I close my eyes..." she said.
"...What do you see?"
"...There is a vine...longer than anything...longer than history...climbing through the red lights thrown off by the fire engine."
"Who planted it?"
"I’m not sure. God? Maybe the devil. God wasn’t really into gardening, he never wanted to weed."
"Where is it?"
"Its roots are in this swamp way down south. Like a womb sort of. It’s hot and steamy and filled with life; always dividing. Always growing – swimming and changing, leaving and returning, or dying there where it was born. The vine emerged from the surface of the water on a beam of light from the harvest moon and caught the branch of a willow tree hanging just above it. Eventually the vine grew longer and longer and swallowed the willow in its leaves. The stalk became wooden there where it began, and the leaves were huge and dark and shining. It out grew the swamp and crept along the side of the road that led away to the city, sometimes it had to push back underground, else tires and exhaust would curtail its growth, but the vine’s progress continued. It snuck under whole metropolises without the residents’ being aware...coiling into a nest deep underneath the foundations of the buildings before gathering its strength and moving on again.
"Sometimes the vine had to divide, when it’s stalk got too thick, and then the branches of the plant would take to opposite directions, climbing through forests, under water, slipping through the cracks in cement foundations and rending them apart, the compromised foundations eventually toppling the buildings they were supposed to uphold. Over the years the different paths the vine took would find one another again, weaving together, becoming entwined in one another, trying to push themselves together again; sometimes twisting too tight and choking themselves to death, ending their growth and being overtaken by other branches of the same vine which had taken another path years earlier. Many more years passed.
"The vine had found its way around the world many times over by now - its myriad tendrils wrapped like fingers around all the ends of the earth. One of them found its way into our basement one day and climbed through the broken window opposite the door. There’s an old propane tank half in front of it though, and it found its way behind it, where it was warm. A young man with a scrappy beard is going to flick his cigarette away soon, and it will tumble through the cracks in the window, slide down the vine through the path the leaves make, staggered on opposite sides of the stem. The vine will be singed, but it won’t catch – it still swells with water from the swamp whence it came – right up to the very end, where the heat from the old tank has dried it out. There the stem will catch fire, and shrink, and curl up right under the cylinder and the rust will give way to the heat and open up a hole right in the bottom, and the few gallons left in the tank will ignite; it wouldn’t have been so bad, just a little fire, except for the broken gas line in the street. The town won’t fix it; I called and called because the smell gave me a headache. But they cut public works, they said, when they lowered taxes....When the pipe catches the whole town will go up...not in one big explosion like the movies - little ones, a few in each house...by the time the trucks can respond to the first emergency call the fire will be so out of control they won’t be able to contain it for over a month. And then this whole part of the county will be cinders.
"On the edge of the fire line though, no one will see, the vine will have divided again, just before creeping into town, and just below the charred fat stub of the old vine will be a thin wisp of a curl of green, and as the trucks are driving away from the last of the blaze, the vine will be growing across the black fields where we used to live in our apartment building, feeding off of the ashes our bodies left, and growing strong on the heat of the fire it created."