She’s at it again, isn’t she?
Miss Harper had been gazing through her little window for the past two hours, looking at the old Manchineel tree. The tree must’ve been one of the oldest in the area, somewhere between 500 and 1000 years old. Furthermore, it was a wonder that they allowed the tree to be this close to a nursing home. If not for the countless danger signs near the tree, things could’ve gone horribly bad. Was it because of its age that they decided to keep it?
I've heard that the thing had been made harmless though. One of the many wonders of genetic engineering, I guess.
“Miss Harper, I’ve brought some food.”
She didn’t respond. Still gazing at her beloved Manchineel. Did you know that they call this tree manzalinna de la muerte? It’s Spanish for “little apple of death”. It always gives me the chills as to how she manages to keep her posture straight and her eyes focused on it.
“Giving me the cold treatment again?”
I left the food on her bedside table and left her room, leaving her to attend her usual staring contest once again.
The night was settling in so I did my usual last checkup tour around the building. Everything was peaceful. Everything was silent—just the way I like it.
I passed through the empty, cold hallways and made my way to my last checkup for the night. It was her room.
“Miss Harper, is everything alright? I’m calling it a night”, I shouted from a distance, not wanting to enter that creepy and cramped room. It’s not that I hated that woman, it’s just that I don’t like to enter dark rooms during nighttime. And of course, her never responding adds to that familiar creepy factor.
She didn’t respond, as usual…
I’d normally avoid going inside resident’s rooms but Harper had been breaking her own staring records lately. The staff got worried about her mental health and want us to check on her if she doesn’t respond at night. Yes, this means we’re being forced to check her room every night from now on.
I walked inside, took a quick glance and saw her sitting in her chair, staring at the damn tree.
“Miss, it’s late, do you want me to carry you to your bed?”
She didn’t respond, no surprise there.
I took her in my arms, she had a frail and old body so she didn’t weigh much. It was as if I was blowing her like a leaf, settling her with the wind—that’s how light she was. That woman was almost weightless.
I was done for the night. Finally, time to go home, watch some TV and hit the pillows.
“You hate this tree, don’t you?”
She did it, she talked. I gazed back at her. She was sitting straight up in her bed, looking at her tree.
“Oh silly boy, don’t you know that if you hate this tree, you’ll die?”, she said whilst still focusing all her attention on the green malice in front of her.
“If you stand near it, and inhale its sap, you’ll die.”
“Oh, and she has fruits, nice ones but don’t try to eat them or you’ll most definitely meet your end.”
I was in shock, she was speaking to me but I couldn’t understand what she was trying to tell me. Why was she talking about that? Why is she warning me when it hadn’t been producing any sap, nor had it harmed anyone. Sure, it’s a wonder that the thing hadn't harmed anyone so far.
“Your skin will scream! If you lean!”
At this point, her tone was changing to a more sinister one. I wanted to leave, I really did.
“Alright miss Harper, don’t stay up too late, I’m leaving now.”
She suddenly moved herself towards me, her eyes still in the direction of the tree, leaving snow-white sockets staring daggers at me.
At this point, I wanted to get the fuck out of there. I didn’t care about the staff’s concerns. I’m sure she’ll be fine tomorrow. Right?
“That’s why I like to… chat!”
Her tone changed again, taking on a more cheerful one.
“Chitchat! Chat! Do you see it? She needs my attention! She’s a naughty one, isn’t she?”
Talk? Talk to what? The tree?
“It likes it!”, she said with a smile plastered on her face.
“Oh! But now I crave her fruit! She promised me a bite this night! She promised, yes she did!”
The tree hadn’t been bearing fruits for years, heck, I haven’t seen any for as long as I’ve worked here.
“Miss, do you need help?”
If not for her cheerful and playful mannerisms, I would’ve given in to my fears from the start. But she seemed so mentally disturbed, so out of touch with reality. The least I could do for her was call someone to come and check her out.
I took my phone and dialled in a number my manager had given me for when problems arrive.
He didn’t pick up…
“There it is! The fruit! Oh, the fruit it bears! Tasty, like cotton candy.”
She stood up and walked towards the window, banging her head against it until it gave in. She could finally touch her beloved tree.
I saw the smoke. Smoke was coming from her. Her skin was melting away, turning into goo and dispersing into thin air in mere seconds.
“She’ll need a new friend to talk to now because I’m taking a big bite from her fruits!"
Written by MikeWe21