You’d Think He Was a Logger

Submitted into Contest #101 in response to: Write a story in which the same line recurs three times.... view prompt

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American Coming of Age Teens & Young Adult

Father of forest the green protector

Mossy beard face cradles baby sapling

Prayer chain to stop the chainsaw monster

Crying and weeping, big sweet maple tears 

I take a deep breath, ready to perform the next stanza of the poem I’m reciting for my Dad. But, before I can spit out any more poetic words, Dad coughs and opens his mouth, “Wait-- so let me get this straight-- you’re telling me you plan on standing up and performing that in front of your class?”

I blink my fake lashes a few times, letting them dance like dandelion fluff across my cheeks. The LED lights pinned up behind my twin bed are twinkling furiously, making Dad’s beard a multicolored spectacle. The Aurora Borealis. 

“Yeah so.” I shrug then push my recently bleached pale pink hair out of my eyes and tug at the corner of my vintage jean shirt dress. What is wrong with me? I never get all fidgety when the spotlight is on me. Normally I thrive under pressure! I used to perform at the coffee shop back home when I lived with Mom in Bend. Literally, every Tuesday night I’d recite entire short stories and perform spoken word. I had standing ovations and a group of fanboys! I could bring down the house. I was a regular Jack Kerouac. 

But here, in front of my Dad, I’m nervous. 

A miniature rose bush during the first frost of late Fall. Wilting, shaking, losing all life as the bits of ice and freeze climb up my legs.  

I’m terrified. 

I hate it. 

“Sophie,” Dad says my name like it’s a bullfrog stuck in his throat. He looks rough and mean. You’d think he was a logger ready to kill and destroy the forest. You’d think he was the monster we all feared. He’s dressed in faded blue flannel and smells like pine needles no matter how many showers he takes. But he’s not the one cutting down Oregon’s old growth forests. He’s not the monster. He’s helping re-plant and protect it. He’s a Forest Ranger for the state. He’s the Father of the Forest. He’s the Green Protector. 

But, I can’t read his face right now. 

Because I don’t really know him. 

He’s nothing but a picture on my wall back in Bend. Someone I used to know. 

Is he mad I wrote a poem about him? 

What’s that look for? 

I’m about to tell him I can change my poem if it’s really that bad but, without warning he takes flight across my room, like a bald eagle with a ten foot wingspan swooping in from the tallest Evergreen tree and scoops me up.

“I’m so proud of you! You’ve only been here a few months and you already understand the plight of our beautiful forest. You bring tears to my eyes, big sweet maple tears!” He spins me around.

“Sheesh Daaaaad! Put me down!” I blurt out. 

“Well, I’m just so gosh darn proud of you Sophie.” He sets me back on solid ground and I wobble like a baby bird as the world settles into place. 

My cheeks are hot. “You scared me, I thought you were going to say you hated my poem,” I admit to him and curl my toes up awkwardly and look down at the ground. The brown shag carpet is worn out and faded. Dad’s house is old, like the forest that surrounds us. But he refuses to fix up the house-- he says it would be like pruning the magenta Rhododendron out front that’s grown into a tree. Why change something with so much character? 

“Why do you think I hated it?” Dad is honestly baffled. 

“I dunno.” I shrug again. 

“Sophie, we’ve got to build up your confidence, little sapling! You are an amazing poet, I’ve got an entire folder out in the hutch with poems you wrote for me when you were in elementary school. Do you remember? You’d stand on the back deck and belt them out for me and the trees!” Dad exclaims. 

I don’t really remember. 

I didn’t come here that often. 

Maybe a few times. 

“Yeah I guess,” I say and try to smile. I only moved in with him three months ago when Mom ran off with her roller derby team, The Wicked Wheels. She said she’d be back after finals. And I was proud of her for finding a passion. Something to do besides staring at the TV and sleeping on the couch. But, now she's headed to Japan for a year-long derby tour and I had to move out of our house in Bend so she could put renters in it to pay for her trip. Like, she didn’t even care what it would do to me. Leaving me during my senior year of high school. Making me move in with Dad. Moving to the mountains. 

She left me. 

She's a monster.

All I wanted was to grow into the light of the canopy. Instead I’m another one of her potted house plants, bloomed out. Grown ugly and spindly, dried up and leggy at the end of summer. Something Mom cast into the pile of dead plants behind the garage. I shouldn’t be angry with her. Mom was terrible at growing plants. She killed them all. 

She had a hard enough time taking care of herself. 

Let alone me.

But at least there, in Bend, I knew what to expect. I had a routine. 

And now I’m living in the mountains with my Dad, the Father of forest the green protector. 

Trying to reseed myself. Trying to grow again. Become anew. 

Does Dad know? 

I’m a flower trying to bloom. 

“Dad, can I ask you something?” I sit down on my bed. 

“Anything Sophie,” he says and pulls up my desk chair to face me. 

I want to say, “Why did you leave Mom? She was fragile. And why did you leave me with her? Do you know what it was like? Feeling alone. Why was this forest more important than me? It’s been a hard ten years.” But why would I ask him that? Why would I say that? 

Dad coughs. 

“What’s for dinner?” I ask instead. My stomach is grumbling.  

“How about some fresh Venison steaks on the grill. You can come out with me and grab some stuff from the garden and make a chop salad. The tomato plant has been going crazy the last few days. I know how much you love those little cherry ones,” Dad says and his face lights up. He’s very proud of his garden. 

He's very proud of me too.

“Yeah, that sounds good Dad. Thanks.” 

July 09, 2021 02:55

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