200 word story: Blood-red tree


Out of the blood-red ground a tree rose and bowed to the ocean. Beneath its bark, blood-red sap surged, each cell a memory. Ocean waves tinged with red picked up the message and carried it to the shore, where it hissed in the foam, the scuttling rattle of crabs, and the sighing of kelp drying in the sun. The great golden fish breathed it in and out through lacy gills, sending it trembling through the currents of the deeps.

On a distant shore, the waves found a peaceful river, rolled landwards, between green banks where kingcups climbed and tall rushes whispered. There the message seeped into the rich earth, following the burrows and galleries of water rats and earthworms. And the fruits of this earth nourished the spirits of the people who lived there, and they understood. They let in the souls of all the dead, those mown down in war and starved in famine, drowned in their frail boats, gunned down in the street, and they said.

We will not let this happen here.

I will search until I find this place where the message of the bloody tree is heeded. Perhaps a lifetime will not be long enough.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

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