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The blue Cypress
by Katerina Charisi
2017-01-17 08:58:50
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I cannot recall much from that day. It all looks like a dream within a dream. The pain, the voices, the hurried steps on the wooden floor. The blood. “Here is your son”, I heard Frances saying but my eyes were blurry and I only remember raising my hands but never touching anything. Then I suddenly remembered the small room - next to ours, where Brad and Marianne used to sleep, a cradle, white lace curtains, and me. All in silence. And then, there was Emily. She started coming all too often in that room; always in her white dress, always in her leather jacket, torn on the elbows. Still, something had changed about her, too. Her dress had dry muddy stains, her face was sad and angry, she cried when she looked at the baby in the cradle, but she never said a word. She never told me what had happened to her, and I would probably never find out, but somehow I just knew it all. I saw it in nightmares, in front of my eyes while walking cross the swamps. Flashes in my mind, like buried memories, though they weren’t mine. There were times she scared me; but then it never felt right. The only thing she ever wanted from me was to tell her story.

Months gone by, then a year. The tense in the house was always there and unspoken, I tried many times to talk to Michael about it but he would never listen to me. I tried to convince him to leave the place. Our life there was life in the shadows, in a different rhythm from the rest of the world. They knew something. They had done something bad. I had to make them say it out loud.


emi01_400_03It seemed that grandma Cornelia started feeling a bit unwell. It was hard to tell what exactly was wrong with her, but she did act weird; often funny. She refused to hold Danny. Every time the same excuse, her hands were not steady and she was worried he might fall. It was something more, but it was only a slight feeling that I had, and it looked like I was the only one to sense it, for the others it was all shrugging and smiling indifferently. Even when Danny was old enough to walk on his own, she turned her face every time his eyes met hers. Still, I often caught her staring at him when she thought that no one looked.

“She is too old now, Jenny”, Michael said when I mentioned it. “Too tired”. He shrugged. “Let her be. She raised so many children, she probably doesn’t want to see another one.”

“How can you say that?”

“Oh com’ on, just a joke. You know, just saying.”


Frances offered to stay with Danny so I could take a walk outside.

“You shouldn’t spend all of your days inside the house, dear. That’s no good.”

I knew that I stayed too much inside, but there was nothing out there left for me to see. After two years up there, I felt there was nothing else to do, or I was just tired of everything. This same routine always and it felt more like walking in circles, circles that ended in the same spot, never ending.

I took the dirt-road down to the swamp. It was a warm afternoon and the sun painted with a deep orange colour the sky behind the thin clouds. There was a calm silence that had always put me in a good mood, though I didn’t want this sense to fool me anymore. It was just postponing my impatience. It made all my decisions to change our lives fade out, it gave me hopes that soon were left behind, leaving me emptier, sadder, angrier than ever before. Perhaps all these together made the reason I didn’t want to go outside anymore. Perhaps I was just trying to force my indignation to burst, to do what I had to do without regrets, without guilt, without turning back. I wanted to leave. I knew that. I just had no strength to fight for it.

I saw her sitting on a trunk, face turned to the still water, elbows on her knees, silver locks of hair shining in the sunlight. I walked faster to get close and she turned. “Emily”.

She pointed with her chin the cypresses next to the water. Then she raised a hand. “There”, she said. “It’s there.”

I looked at the slimy boles and the thick roots sinking in the water, the trees I had seen so many times in the past, but there was nothing different.

“What’s there?” I asked.

Her eyes were fixed on that side of the swamp. A sudden breeze curled around my ankles. Then it blew harder and the trees hissed. Birds flew up in the sky, crows cawed breaking the eerie silence.

Emily stood on her feet and started walking toward the trees. Her leather boots sank in the mud as she went closer to the water.

“Emily, don’t go there, it’s not safe.”

She didn’t reply. She didn’t turn to look back. She just walked to the old cypresses, and I could hear her sticky steps in the mud. I looked at my sneakers and cursed for not putting on the working boots Michael had bought for me, but it was too warm and they made my feet sweat. I tried to follow her. A strong wind made me shiver, so cold that it felt impossible for this time of year. I looked up to the sky and the clouds were now thicker, moving fast.


She rested a hand on a tree and nodded. I couldn’t go there on these shoes. But I felt that I had to.

“Here”, she repeated and started walking again, until I lost her in the dense foliage of the trees, leaving behind her a tail of soft, blue light.

I tried to walk, stumbling, one shoe left my foot but I didn’t bother to put it back on, I just left it there half sank in the mud and went on, till I was up to my knees in the still water, feeling my legs heavier in every step from the thick mud that was pulling me down.

I lost Emily and I lost the light when it stopped hovering and went down to that tree. I found it. I had found the tree. Now I just had to find out what was so special about it.

And a way to go back.

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