Andrea swears she hears them humming in the basement at times, just below the floorboards, which are beginning to warp in strange ways, bucked off their lineage of straight, dutiful lines - yes, she believes the malevolent things are quietly, insidiously coiling themselves around the foundation of the house, tapping into its bones so that soon the house will not remember that it used to stand alone in its own little corner dug out from the land, and year after year it will become used to the feeling of being choked a little tighter, as a person who is abused can come to love their oppressor, and she thinks how the house in all its innocence may even mistake the choking for a feeling of being held, and how it will begin to like that feeling as it, with very little awareness at all, becomes duller, its paint chipping and its floorboards greying and its walls cracking while the roots continue to wrap around the house like a spider wrapping its prey, and she imagines that perhaps they’re actually digging their way under the house to fashion a kind of handle that might one day be used to catapult the house and her out of there, out of their land, and though her family will say she’s out of her mind, that trees grow every which way and it is random and unlucky and all is well, she will know that the land can be haunted too, as the branches meander their way up to the roof, then dip down as if bowing to the windows, feigning some kind of humility or surrender as a person who has hurt another pleads forgiveness only to immediately turn back in on themselves, back to the cycle, and like the oppressor the branches bow in preparation for whatever storm will come next, for in the storm they can be their true selves, claiming their actions were provoked by the wind, which screams into the branches the way adults scream into pillows when they do not want to be heard, when they cannot go on without being heard, and the branches shake in response, knocking themselves against the bedroom windows and thumping at the roof, licking it like a snack, and Andrea’s mother will say there is no anger in nature, that nature will always lead them to water, but Andrea knows nature will not lead her to water that can be drunk, for all the lakes in town are contaminated with toxins in the warm months and freeze solid in the winter, and the trees look down on her from their great heights around the lakes, still as the ice they shade, and though she is frightened she goes out to climb one now and then, knowing the tree could throw her off, knowing it could detach itself from the earth and smash her body with its great trunk the way Mother smashes her cigarettes into the ground, the way Father smashes Mother’s head into the ground, and yet Andrea still chooses to climb the tree, watching its brown leaves fall gracefully down to the snow, ostensibly innocent but actually about as innocent as a creature that hangs upside down in its sleep before tearing itself off from its perch and screeching its hideous call into the night, in fact about as innocent as the bat trapped in the basement, and though nature is horrible Andrea knots her hair on her head one evening and catches the bat in a plastic sack and goes out into the yard to release it, freeing it from the confines of this dying house, not for the creature’s own good but for herself, so that she may feel some sense of control over the way things have panned out up to this point, and though she knows the trees hate her and the wind hates her and the big yellow moon hates her, that night the wind does not scream into the branches and the moon is a soft, sweet lilac, projecting itself through the windows onto the floorboards of her bedroom like a lightbulb, and the branches do not bang themselves against her window and she sleeps the entire night peacefully.
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