by Christopher Walker

My daughter listens to trees. She always has. When her legs ceased to buckle and she could toddle freely about, she’d find her way across to the Silver Birch in the playground and hug it like she would my leg. I thought she was giving it a kiss, but then I saw her ear pressed to the peeling bark and I slowly came to understand.

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Caroline via Creative Commons

She’s seven now and she can tell all the trees apart by their whispers. I humour her, taking her on trips to the botanic gardens so she can listen to the Cambridge Oak (“sounds like grandad!”) and the Holford Pine (“it’s calling to the pine cones, saying take care!”) and the sprightly Persian Ironwood (“I can’t make sense of it but it sounds like singing!”).

One day I made a mistake. I didn’t notice the parasitic mistletoe growing high up on the bare branches of her favourite Silver Birch. She came back in tears. “He’s dying, he’s afraid, and he’s alone,” she sobbed. I didn’t know what to say. All I could do was hug her like she did the trees, and listen to her rattling heart beating fast within its cage.


Christopher WalkerChristopher Walker is a writer and English teacher based in the South of Poland. His work can be found at www.closelyobserved.com.

by Sandra Grills

“Mama, I need a hug” a small voice calls into the darkness. She believes, even at the age of eight, that her little voice will be heard. She trusts that someone will be there. Not just any someone, her Mama, ready to give her a hug.

With a sigh only perceptible in my sleep weary mind, I roll over and push myself out of bed. My eyes open just a crack as I shuffle down the hall. She’s sleeping when I reach her room—a little cherub running around in the land of nod—but experience warns against leaving. It would only result in a louder, more urgent call. I reach down and do what many would consider an unthinkable sin, I wake a sleeping child.

Delicate eyelids flutter open, and a smile cracks the flawless face with a look that says “I knew you’d come.” Heavy arms reach up and claim their hug. The smile continues, even after the arms drift back onto the bed, and the eyes slide closed.

Sleeping

Mark Probst via Creative Commons

I tiptoe past the creaks in the floor, careful to lay my feet on soft carpet, before I lay a weary head back on my pillow. A little noise floats up the hallway. The contented sigh of a sleeping child who feels safe.

 

 


Sandra GrillsSandra has been a director, a business owner, a project manager, a bookbinder, and a mother. Her current passion is reading and writing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she lives with her husband, two amazing children, and a gecko named Captain Doug.