My Home, the Hornet’s Nest

I am the gentle grace of a monarch butterfly spiraling the base of a great oak. While coarse familiarity lays in my wake, my antennae point me to the sun, to greater heights and beautiful discovery. Others flock to my presence, awestruck by my stunning, glimmering aura, but saddened as they realize they could never match such splendor. Though, as I reach the pinnacle to the pool of sweet sap, my wings wilt and the mystic charm fades. I am reborn.

I am the fury of a bellowing dragon. Surges of darkness I endured from the deceiver turn to fangs of sizzling embers and fallen elegance. A scaly tail crashes upon them, ruining the imaginary perfection that plagues the youthful minds. They shoot me with their flimsy arrows and cast their immobilizing incantations, yet I still reign. With a roar shattering every unwitting patriot, incapacitating the threads of civil carnage, I land atop an incandescent tower. I am indomitable.

I am the dark of the moon, my enveloping shade sought only in moments of true corruption. As swindlers worship the neon demon they produced, I rest perched above them all. Unfortunate souls scale the entirety of the pearl castle to beg me for forgiveness, to release them from the riot they so callously began. They cry for cleansing tears to wash away filthy ultimatums and neglectful judgment. And I cast them away, for they do not deserve to drink of the everlasting pool. So I continue to rest in the confines of my great oak, sipping of golden sap and broken hearts. I am supreme.

Mr. Mother Nature

Take away all the funny moments, routine sex, power struggles, and petty arguments from a marriage and add weekly pruning and a shit ton of squirrels and what do you have? A dendro-lationship, that’s what. It seems nice at first, because participants receive hefty payouts, but who knew that trees were so goddamned bossy!

“Honey, go fetch some fertilizer from the store for me.”

I turned to my wife, a beautiful red maple, who stood in the middle of the living room. She needed a replanting, but I don’t dare mention that. She’s got weight insecurity issues among other things, and last time I observed how large and heavy she was getting; she wept for a week. “Fertilizer? Since when do you need that?”

She giggled. “For the saplings, baby. Why else would I need it?” She repositioned her branches. “You have been collecting the seeds haven’t you?”

I froze, flashing back to the times I neglected to fetch the seeds out of the vacuum bag. “So soon? Maple, we’ve only been together for three months,” I stammered. “I really don’t believe I’m prepared, or mature enough to expand our little family just yet.”

Her thunderous howl brought me to my knees. “I need this, Byron! You don’t know how lonesome I get being stuck in this awful house all day! The only entertainment I get is playing tic-tac-toe with the squirrels, and they always win!” The teenaged tree sobbed thick, amber tears. “I always lose, Byron! Always!”

“Okay! You win this time, okay? I’ll go get some fertilizer and some starter pots, and you’ll have some friends in no time.” I scribbled some notes on my palm with the fancy pen my dad gave me as a graduation present.

The sobbing immediately stopped. “Don’t forget to reread what you’ve written a few times before you leave, so you won’t forget! I know how easily sidetracked you are! You’ve got the brain of goldfish, dear.”

I scowled. “You bet I will.”

“You’re the best husband, ever – you know that?” The stench of sarcasm made me want to puke.

“Watch it; you’ll spoil me,” I muttered before exiting the house.

In the driveway, I glanced down at the reminder on my hand: buy an axe and chop the bitch down. Then I reread it a few times so I wouldn’t forget.

Harvest

Crooked vapor waves frothing from the stale Louisiana marsh darkened the moon’s pacifying glow. On any normal night, the swamp would be alive with hums and buzzes from the wetland’s various residents – but not this night; this marked the start of the harvest, and it, at least to the lunar sorceress, was the most anticipated night of the year.

The bog remained quiet as the witch departed from the warm waters, humming a wistful melody. Her long, dark hair clung to her breasts and thigh as if she were within a raven’s embrace. With every step out of the swamp, the more the vaporous fog cleared, illuminating the mistress’s soft, olive skin. Fireflies spellbound from the mysterious woman’s incantation danced rhythmically at the edge of the water, forming a barrier of gentle pulses of gold and persimmon.

Suddenly, the melodic whispers turned to a beautiful song. The spongy, lifeless soot under her feet turned to soft grass and purple wild flower blossoms. Decrepit tree trunks reverted to thick willows and sycamores as she touched them. She covered the waters with blankets of duckweed and lily pads, concealed by a wall of perky bulrushes and arrowhead stalks. Curious green frogs and herons approached the seductress, and in moments, the swamp was more alive than ever. Dragonflies and mosquitoes flickered about happily, while the turtles and muskrats took to the waters. The witch smiled for a quick moment, but her smile turned into a maniacal sneer.

She cackled, once again silencing the marsh. Suddenly, all the light and beauty she restored to the land returned to her palm in the form of a glistening pink ball of plasma. The woman formed a fist and reduced the flickering light ball to dying embers. “My babies, I have returned after many years,” she coughed, “not to give you pleasure. Babes, Mama needs your souls.”

The animals trembled with fear and newfound paralysis; while they could witness every sense and emotion, they could not flee. “You see, cuties, this is the time I turn outward and beyond this pathetic place. It is in fact the dawn of the harvest!” The witch twirled, giggling. “I shall finally have enough energy to punish the humans by ripping away the most powerful sentient in the universe: love.”

The paralyzed audience blinked nervously as the sky turned a shade of purple; however, the living beings would never see another sun rise. The sorceress expanded her arms and muttered one final chant, one to sap the remaining life force from the captivated spectators.

The pulsing bodies suddenly oozed ichor from their cracked figures as the enchantress reached her energy peak. Dozens of thin, lustrous soul strips flowed into her, the swamp an intricate bicycle wheel with several tensed, radiant spokes all flowing into the dangerous siren at the center.

One by one, the animals fell limp and lifeless; afterwards, the lunar sorceress, still humming her captivating tune, disappeared deep inside the marsh, waiting for the first poor, unsuspecting fisherman to cross her.