Colony of the Horizontal Tree (Chapter One)

Melanie Gellar Never Died

Colony Colcolson happened to be reading The Exhaustive Catalogue of Tiny Kingdoms when the girl (Melanie Gellar) first wrapped his wrist in hair (he only realized this coincidence years later after Melanie Gellar [according to the (fake) public record] was dead and wished he’d held on to that book for so many different reasons). The action of hair wrapping was absentminded on her part, but in this simple act, Colony got a flash of the many ecstasies of open firmament and pure light of heaven, warming him from the inside. He saw the true structure of all of existence, all of the shimmering tendrils weaving in and out of everything and warming all the living with single-being interconnectedness like a cross-dimensional cuddle pile. He saw the blue sky fractaling into eleven other skies (at minimum) and all the other worlds beyond and all the gods of all these worlds.

Of course, he was laying on her lap in a sunny dandelion field. The single tree, an arms-raised-in-worship tree, barely providing shade, everything in the world now too warm to hold on too long to wakefulness which gave his vision hypnogogic uncertainty (she’d said to him, “You look sleepy. Why don’t you lay in my lap?” and how could he say no? [though his actual reply was incomprehensible stutter]). But Colony was the sort of kid who’d rather believe in visions of a loving universe than the bleak and bland possibility of its nonexistence, the only-a-dream explanation of anything.

(The incalculable chances of Melanie and Colony living in houses side by side, bedroom window facing bedroom window, both backdoors leading to a dandelion field, and both of them cutting across that same field daily to steal crab apples from the Shepherd Orchard a field with only one climbing tree, an old massive and massive and godlike magnolia, and a girl who liked to climb trees with the same delight as Colony, it couldn’t be meaningless coincidence.)

(Colony lived with his three scientist uncles [after his marine biologist father abandoned him] and the uncles utterly rejected the superfluity of love and universal interconnectedness and the meaningfulness of coincidence (and their sole aim [or so it seemed] in continuing Colony’s biological existence was experimental like any lab animal they needed to feed) so when he told them, “Melanie Gellar wrapped my wrist in her hair today,” they all three squinted at him behind their science glasses, implying girlhood itself was a total mystery, so Colony Occam’s-razored out the next line he’d planned to say: “I had the revelation that love is the base component of all of existence.”)

At the (mock) funeral the Gellar family conducted for their (fakely) dead daughter Melanie later (pretending to weep and wail at her sudden (and mysterious) passing, a great parental staging to sell this whole lie of death) Colony (the intensity of the sudden (fake) passing shorting out his capacity to care what anybody thought of him) said to his caretaker uncles, “I know she’s not really dead. These crazy Gellars aren’t fooling anybody. I know she was only kidnapped by the Sky People and all of this mourning business is a sham.”

“Why would anybody kidnap Melanie Gellar?” said one of his uncles.

“To possess her like a golden trophy maybe, but her human body can’t survive that intensity.”

“What makes you think you know more about Melanie Gellar than her mom and dad?” said another one of his uncles.

“This one time she wrapped my wrist in her hair. We have this connection.”

Even in a funeral suit (he was forced to wear by awkwardly-always-formal uncles) Colony wore navy blue wrist warmers he’d been wearing since the hair-wrapping day (now stretched out to strings and ratty) to eternally maintain some semblance of that old feeling and guard his wrists from anything else touching and taking the feeling away.

Colony hovered around the sad clamor of funeral Gellars gathered around the dirt mound that (fakely) covered Melanie’s body. They were trying to fill silence with gratuitous chatter, but Colony was inching away from all the people (as he always wanted to inch away from all people anywhere) looking at the cobblestone clouds that seemed to be likewise attending the funeral, low-hanging and unnatural-looking cumulonimbus that seemed solid like they could hold living beings inside of them. He wished he had a ladder tall enough to feel for himself and crawl inside.

Colony knew there must’ve been thousands of little invisible kingdoms and worlds floating above the one we see, kingdoms he could climb up one by one to get to the Sky People and save Melanie Gellar (and Colony swore he saw them sometimes when the sun shone the right way [little kingdoms floating like decorative bowls decorated with gold flower/vine patterns and filled to the brim with cityscapes]) so is it so unbelievable that some creatures from beyond even those beautiful worlds might see Melanie Gellar in all her greatness and scoop her up into their monstrous company.

But Colony couldn’t now find his copy of The Exhaustive Catalogue of All the Tiny Kingdoms, a guidebook for the adventure he must now inevitably have. It had disappeared like Melanie and all the things he loved it seemed. But Colony was not the sort of kid who’d face this variety of trouble and quit, not ever.

F. Simon Grant
F. Simon Grant

I'm a fiction writer and a collage artist. My fiction is available on Smashwords, including my novel The Living Needle, and my collages are available on Etsy.

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Colony of the Horizontal Tree (Chapter One)