The Whispers in the Trees

by Andrea Heer 3 months ago in paranormal

A Violent Ghost Story

The Whispers in the Trees

A blanket of night wraps around the forest, enveloping the plush summer trees in darkness. The air is warm and heavy with moisture. A storm might be near... closing in on the forest to swallow it up in clouds and rain. A breeze blows through the wooden limbs of the trees, fluttering their leaves.

But the woods are quiet—nothing but billowing leaves stir. It is almost as if the woods are sleeping.

But I’ve spent my whole little life and my afterlife in these woods—I know better now. The forest never sleeps—rests maybe—but never sleeps.

I wish I could rest. I haven’t been able to since I fell out of my body through the hole in my stomach. All I can do now is slip through the fluffy green trees, listening to Ma.

I’m tired.

The breeze slows for a few moments and the leaves grow still. Without the airflow, the forest is quiet. When the forest is quiet, I can hear Ma whisper to me through the trees, her words quick and soft.

I can’t make out all the words, but I know the words are angry.

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I don’t know why I died, but I know how I died. And I know Papa buried me in the woods afterwards.

A full moon loomed overhead, its light bathing the tops of the trees in silver. Some of the leaves had begun to fall, but most of them stubbornly clung to their branches, keeping the moonlight from reaching the forest floor. I don’t know if it was warm out that night—my body was so cold.

My body was limp and dead, my dress stained in red syrupy blood.

Papa buried that body... covered its milky skin in dirt and leaves. Tiny cuts were speckled across its legs—droplets of dried blood strung along those cuts like dew on a spiderweb. A large ragged hole was torn in the gut. Thick red ink gushed out of it, staining the strawberry lemonade dress.

Sometimes I miss my body.

Sometimes I miss feeling sunlight gently bake my skin or feeling the tears of a rain cloud splash into my hair. I miss hearing the wind clatter against my window in the middle of the night or smelling fresh flowers bloom at sunrise.

But I don’t miss Papa’s screams shattering my eardrums like glass. I don’t miss feeling my ribs crunch like snapped celery under his knuckles. I don’t miss bumping the bruises he left on me because they reminded me of his gruff hands. I don’t miss hiding under the kitchen sink or cleaning up bits of broken furniture the morning after while Papa slept.

Sometimes I miss being alive—but I don’t miss being hurt.

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In the middle of a forest of whispering trees, there is a small slumping cabin. The cabin is full of darkness... the flashing and flickering light of an old television set is the only source of illumination.

A wolf lives in the cabin—a wolf that gorges himself on rye whiskey and occasional bloodshed.

The wolf sleeps deeply, but restlessly, as the television blares.

The wolf cannot drown out his guilt or the vicious whispers from the trees.

He didn’t know what he expected. Maybe he expected her to be hollow and empty like a porcelain doll. She was always so easy to break after all, always so fragile... just like her mother. Maybe he expected her to be filled with fluffy stuffing or a thick black ichor.

He didn’t know what he expected, but he just found more of the same.

Red slushy goo.

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Ma hasn’t lived with me or Papa in a long time. Papa told me she ran away into the woods one night, but didn’t say why.

Ma used to take me into the woods a lot when she was still around. There was a clearing she would take me to, a break in the branches above us that let the sun shine down on our skin, or that we could watch the moon through.

Every time I look at the moon, I am reminded of Ma.

I always picture her in her favorite dress: a white flowing sundress. I imagine her kneeling in the clearing, picking flowers, her dress billowing in the nighttime breeze, glowing as if it was made of liquid moonlight.

At least that’s how I imagined Ma before my belly split open... before I had to listen to Ma’s poisonous whispers every night.

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Ma used to tell me that when I died, I would go to heaven and I would get to meet God. But we are both dead now and neither of us are in heaven. God is not here.

Ma’s whispers are getting louder and scarier.

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A sea of stars looks down on the cabin and the wolf. Their faint light cannot break through the thickly overgrown trees.

The trees whisper.

The trees have tried telling her. They want her to end it.

Maybe the trees speak a language her soul cannot comprehend. Maybe she cannot see the guiding starlight through the darkness.

Or maybe she is still scared of the wolf that lives in the cabin.

The starlight is fading as the sun begins to rise. The little lost soul will not be coming home tonight.

It will not end... tonight.

Ghosts may not be able to sleep, but they do still have nightmares.

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I miss being in a body.

The leaves have started to change colors again—but I cannot touch them even though they are dead too.

I can’t feel anything because I am nothing.

The forest chatters at me constantly. The stream, the stones, the wind. The trees...

They have stopped whispering to me, and have started speaking to me instead. Ma’s voice echoes across their bark clearly and loudly. She wants me to go home—she wants me to show Papa what he’s done to me—to us. She tells me I can rest if I do, that it will all end.

I don’t want to go home—I don’t want to go back to the wolf.

But I wish Ma would stop speaking to me. Her words are violent echoes of my pain, and what my body endured. I don’t want to relive what Papa did to me... but Ma gives me no relief.

I’m trapped between the wolf and the whispers.

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The wolf has been drinking again: empty bottles are sprinkled across the grimy carpet. The wolf is sitting amongst them on the floor. The television is on, but then again, it is always on these days—always making noise to drown out the trees.

A large fire burns under the mantle; this is where the wolf sits, gazing emptily into the flames. Photos of a small girl rot in the ashes, their corners curling and disintegrating in the heat—holes burn through the glossy paper like the hole he put in her gut. Her long blonde hair rusts to the color of charcoal, her flesh melting into her dress.

In the wolf’s lap is a jar filled with a strange smelling clear fluid and a small dead heart.

The wolf doesn’t know why he cut her open. Maybe just to see what was inside as if she was a treasure box, or to cause her more pain. Maybe to see where it hurt when her mother disappeared.

He’s not sure what he was looking for.

He remembers how her warm guts spilled out of her—she was so soft inside. He remembers the heat fading from her body.

His hand wrapped around her tiny heart as it flexed and pumped for the last time; he squeezed it gently to see what would happen—if it would pulse one more time—but it stayed still.

The wolf has chewed most of his fingernails off. His fingertips are bleeding.

What’s done is done—she reminded him too much of her mother.

He wants to eradicate her, drown her in amber. But the heart... he has to keep it safe. He has to remember the moment the life spilled out of her. The moment she slipped away from him.

The heart is the only piece of her that isn’t tossed into the flames.

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Ma’s words have become incessant and furious.

She screams at me, forcing me to remember how I died.

She reminds me off every detail:

Papa is screaming in the kitchen. He is screaming my name, demanding I come out of my room. Papa’s been drinking tonight—I can smell the stench of whiskey sitting heavily on the air like a fog, stuffing my throat.

I walk into the kitchen... Papa is swaying. His eyes bore into me, scorching me. He slaps my face so that my cheek turns a violent pink hue and swells. Tears sting my eyes, and I cry.

Papa hates it when I cry.

He grabs my wrist and throws me across the kitchen—he is too strong, and I am too little. My body crumbles onto the rotting linoleum floor—my tears won’t stop—they splatter across the dirty floor creating tiny puddles under my face. Papa is still screaming—he is screaming about my mother—his words slurring into sludge. A thread of spit trails from his lips.

I sit up against one of the cabinets; I cover my face so he can’t see my tears. I can hear a glass shatter against the floor, and I flinch. Sharp shards spray my legs and lap . . . tiny strips of blood grow on my skin as a bronze liquid pools on the floor.

Papa’s screams stop—his breathing slows. He stands there, swaying.

Papa’s fist tangles into my hair, yanking me up off the floor. He grumbles something about me looking too much like her; his breath chokes me like poison. My heart is beating so fast my sternum aches.

Lightning explodes in my belly as Papa’s fist sinks into my stomach, hot gushing blood spilling onto his arm. His grip tightens around the handle of the kitchen knife... he is twisting, twisting, twisting the knife into me. Blood floods my mouth—sticky and warm—coating my tongue and teeth. All I can taste is copper.

My knees buckle out from under me and my body tries to slump to the floor. But Papa catches me in his arms before I can hit the floor. He lifts me onto the counter. The fleshy tear in my stomach stains my pretty pink dress... the blood is turning the fabric black.

Papa doesn’t say anything to me. He is covered in my blood, his breathing slow. He doesn’t set down the kitchen knife—instead, he cuts into me, cutting flesh and fabric.

I can feel his hands dip into my insides.

His fingers slither across my organs. He grasps a handful of my intestines and begins pulling them out, unraveling them like yarn. He holds them up to his face, examining them. He shakes his head and begins heaping them onto the counter next to my face. My guts reek of stagnant blood.

“I wonder how it feels to see your insides on the outside,” Papa whispers. He is not speaking to me.

I am spilling out of my body as Papa untangles my insides. I feel myself growing cold, my empty gut filling with ice cubes. After a moment, I can’t feel anything anymore. Instead I am watching Papa dig into me.

Papa bristles as if a breath has tickled the back of his neck. But after a beat, he continues inspecting and searching. Searching... for what?

Now Papa is carrying me to his big blue pickup truck—he tosses me and my innards into the passenger seat. My body slouches in the seat; he neatly folds my intestines in my lap. He drives me down a deserted road deep into the woods.

He is humming me a song. Mary had a little lamb...

Papa pulls me out of the truck by my feet. I hit my head on the foot pedal below the door and my intestines flop onto my face.

Papa is singing out loud now, singing while the blank pale face of the moon watches him. The trees and the stars and the world all watch him. But Papa keeps singing—I wish he would stop.

He digs me a shallow grave the same way he dug into my belly: with his fingers. He throws dirt and mud onto my body, covering my face and my chest and my legs, the filth filling my eyes, my mouth, and my ears. There is a large rock at the head of my grave, but it is not for me—it was here before me—for the pile of bones underneath my newly vacated body.

When Papa is done burying me, he places a smaller stone on top of the large rock—that one is for me.

Papa stumbles away into the darkness.

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The trees are screeching at me tonight.

GO HOME GO HOME GO HOME GO

Tonight I have no choice but to listen; Ma frightens me more than the wolf does.

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The wolf paces back and forth across the kitchen; the floor and the cabinets are still splattered with blood. Everything is stained, everything is ruined.

The wolf is holding a revolver.

Panic courses through his veins—pulsing through his lungs, his heart, his brain.

He can feel her everywhere. She is in everything, pushing against him, trying to break into his skin, into his body, into him. Exactly the same way he broke into their daughter.

He can hear the trees and the moon and the stars outside. They are screaming at him.

Their daughter is coming home.

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The trees are screaming so loud. I’m home, but they won’t stop. The screams are so loud I can hear them echo inside of me, inside of everything.

I enter the cabin, cracking it open like a walnut. I want to be away from the trees.

The cabin slumps around me.

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She’s come home. The wolf knows this now. They have both come home.

He can feel her voice pulsing around him, in the floorboards, in the walls, in the air.

Our little girl is finally home! an angry voice screeches at him. The venomous words of his wife flood the cabin and his mind. He can feel her pulling at him, trying to tear him open.

A softer voice permeates through the pulsations, breaking through the anger: Please make her stop, Papa... make Ma stop.

The pulses grow stronger, overwhelming the soft voice, pushing against the cabin, against the wolf. The air contracts around him, again and again. He falls to his knees on the floor, clutching his daughter’s heart to his chest.

But the jar slips from his grasp and splinters apart on the floor.

The wolf growls, his grip tightening on the revolver.

In a single smooth motion, the wolf points the gun to his temple and squeezes.

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The trees have finally stopped. I can’t hear them anymore, not even their whispers. There is only silence. Papa is lying on the floor, half of his head exploded and splashed across the carpet and television. The television screen is filled with static.

My dead heart rests on a bed of glass. It rests on a bed of glass in a pool of Papa’s blood; it is a useless mass of muscle.

I am so tired.

But the wolf is gone... and Ma won’t whisper to me anymore.

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A blanket of night wraps around the forest. The woods are quiet—almost as if the forest is sleeping.

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Andrea Heer

Salt Lake City based horror writer and occasional poet. 

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