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Fantasy Inspirational Speculative

Sylas watched the new family move in, limbs and trunk vibrating in anticipation of what these different people would bring. He felt his sibling’s responsive excitement in his roots.

The movers unloaded the large truck and carried boxes and furniture into the house, working for an hour before the family arrived in another vehicle. Two parents and two children!

If Sylas could have clapped and cheered, he would have.  

Sylas loved children. He loved the way the sound of their laughter, the way they ran and played, the way they soaked up the sun in the summer like he did. Their pets, however, he didn’t like so much. He especially didn’t like when their dogs marked their territory on his trunk.

Children, however, brought all kinds of fun and opportunities for him to flourish.

Sylas had watched with envy as treehouses were constructed on his friends and family in neighboring backyards all up and down Sycamore Lane, but none of the families that had moved into his house throughout the decades so far had constructed a treehouse on or around him.

He told himself it was just a matter of time, that most children wanted a treehouse. He looked forward to it, wanted to feel needed and a part of his new people. Though still young by some standards, he was a sturdy and quick-growing sycamore meant to be climbed and used. He could handle whatever this family might build on him.

One of the previous families had strung a hammock between him and his brother Skylar. He’d liked providing shade to the people below, watching the mother nap with her baby nestled in her arms or the father sleep after an afternoon of mowing the lawn. Giving his people comfort with his big healthy leaves brought him joy.

Another family had hung a tire swing from one of his branches. It was a strong branch and he liked the laughter of the children that sat and swayed on the tire beneath it. He liked the sounds they made, too, when they climbed his trunk and limbs. They were strong limbs meant to support children and their outdoor activities.

And still another family hadn’t had any children at all, but Sylas had hoped as the woman sported a telling bump on her stomach. He had looked forward to years of serving them and helping them grow. Then one day the woman’s bump was gone. The husband and wife were always sad after that, either not talking to each other or arguing. Other times they cried. They didn’t notice his leaves drooping, weeping like a willow for their loss. Their loss was his loss.

The new children, a boy and a girl, immediately ran to him as if beckoned, and Sylas had to admit that he had turned his branches toward them in welcome.

Had they felt his salutations?

“Mommy, watch me climb!” The boy was a gifted athlete and scaled Sylas’ trunk like a monkey, swinging from one of his lower branches, firmly clinging by the backs of his knees.  

“Javon! Come down from there before you hurt yourself!” the mother yelled.

“He’s good, Syd,” the father assured.

“I don’t want to spend our first night in our new place, sitting in the emergency room,” Syd said, but there was a grin on her dark-brown face as she watched her boy.

The parents held each other’s hands and their breath as their son did two revolutions before finally unhooking his knees from Sylas’ branch, flying through the air and landing safely on his feet.

“Showoff.” The girl smirked.

“You’re just jealous you can’t do it.”

“I can do anything you can do.” The girl strutted toward Skylar and mimicked her brother’s moves just from one of Skylar’s branches instead.

“I swear those kids are going to give me a heart attack one day,” Syd said.

“They’re determined and strong just like their mother.” Her mate wrapped his arm around her waist and kissed her neck. “They’re survivors.”

Syd slid her arm around her mate’s waist, gaze glued to her children.

Though their parents were different complexions, the boy and girl looked like them and so much like each other except for their gender—same light-brown color and same size—that Sylas thought they might be twins.

He and Skylar were twins, connected to each other at the foundation, sharing the same nutrients within the water and the soil. Below the water, their root structure was entwined. They were one even though most humans couldn’t see or understand all the complexities beneath the surface. Their roots were also interwoven with the other plants around them and as such the other plants and grasses could be considered their soul family members.

Sylas wondered if Javon and his sister shared the same sort of secrets as he and his sibling did, the same sort of connection.

The last family before this one had said Sylas and Skylar were mystical, called them The Twins. They’d said the trees’ spiritual oneness was concealed. The adolescent daughter, Kendall had taken lots of pictures of Sylas and Skylar, touching their trunks with wonder, talking to them any chance she got and smiling whenever she felt them vibrating beneath her palms.

She’d understood them like no one else.

Kendall was a young woman now and still visited them often, still took their picture.

* * *

Sydney Weathers frowned at her Inbox, hesitant to open the e-mail from the unrecognized address. It had mention of an Earth Day event at The Museum of Natural History, and it looked official. She wasn’t going to open any attachments, but she did open the e-mail.

The Exhibit for the Winners of Nature’s Best Photography Contest is being held in The Biodiversity and Environmental Halls in the Museum of Natural History this year…

Well, that sounded interesting. She loved nature photography, did a little bit of it on the side as a hobby when she wasn’t bogged down at her and her husband’s firm. She also loved visiting museums, and The Museum of Natural History had been her favorite growing up, especially The Hayden Planetarium. She always thought if she hadn’t become an environmental lawyer, she would have become an astronomer. 

The exhibits sounded top-notch, photographers whose work she both knew and loved…except for the young woman who had generated the invite for a sub-event that was being sponsored by the Museum. She was one of the photographers listed, but Syd had never heard of her…Kendall Austen. Must have been an up-and-comer.

“Michael, did you get this invitation?” Sydney turned her laptop to her husband and watched as he glanced at her screen and nodded his head.

“Mr. and Mrs. Weathers. That’s us.”

“Smartass.” She slapped his arm.

“I was going to talk to you about it, see if you wanted to go. It sounds interesting.”

“Do you know anything about the photographer, this Kendall Austen?”

“Never heard of her before. But I like the sounds of the exhibit and the cause.”

“I do too.” It would be a good opportunity to teach the twins about the importance of trees to human survival and being one with all nature. She and her husband liked occasions that provided teaching moments. At six the twins got bored as young children often did, but they were good and sharp kids who drank down knowledge like thirsty plants and were interested in the work their mother and father did to help the environment.

“So, we’re going?” Michael arched a brow.

“Send in your RSVP for Mr. and Mrs. Weathers plus two.”

“On it, Ma’am.”

* * *

Kendall Austen and numerous other amateur and professional nature photographers’ work was being displayed in various halls throughout the first floor and Kendell couldn’t have been more proud and honored to be in such illustrious company.

Sean Bagshaw, Sapna Reddy, Cath Simard, Daniel Kordan, Rebecca Simrose, Albert Dros and Scott Kranz were just several of the photographers whose work was being exhibited this week, work she voraciously studied and followed, the photographers all her idols.

Kendall had been wandering the galleries since the Earth Day exhibits had begun, losing herself in the breathtaking and vibrant beauty of all the prints and getting to know her beloved teachers all week. That her work was accomplished enough to be shown in the same zip code as some of the photographs on display still astounded her.

This evening, however, was all about her photos, her trees and her expanded family.


Kendall turned to her mom and grinned. “Not so much since you and Dad are here.” She looked at her father admiring the Museum’s slice of a giant sequoia across the room. Her father was a botanist and sequoias were his favorite tree in the world. Well, except for The Twins.

“This is your moment, baby.” Mom hugged her around the shoulder just as the media and some other guests arrived. “You’re going to do just fine.”

“Thanks Mom.”

“There’s more than just your dad and I he—”

“Kevin!” Kendall spotted her brother coming toward them and opened her arms wide, barely noticing when her mother chuckled, pat her back and unobtrusively left Kendall to her twin sibling. “You made it.”

Kevin wrapped his arms around her and held firm. “I told you I would.”

“I would have understood had you not made it.” Kevin worked with Greenpeace and traveled all over the world in his efforts to save the rain forests. Like the supportive brother he was, Kevin insisted her work was no less important than his in bringing attention to and protecting the environment.

“You’re going to knock them dead. “ Kevin pulled away first and cupped her face with both hands before kissing her forehead. “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”

“You mean the rain forests.”

Kevin laughed before leaving her to join his parents exploring the gallery. 

Soon the families that she had painstakingly tracked down and invited to this event began to show up, all dressed for the evening in semi-formal wear, down to the youngest children.

Kendall was pleased they had all decided to come, though she understood their curiosity and desire for a night out enjoying culture, as much as their love and support of the environment, might have partially motivated their attendance. 

She was beginning to feel complete finally having what she considered her extended family all in the same room at the same time.

It had taken a while to find them all, especially the Jensens whom, she had learned from The Twins, had suffered a miscarriage during their stay in Kendell’s old home. Their acceptance of her invitation had probably been the most in doubt and the one she was the most thrilled about. The couple had four children now in their teens and twenties, a development she knew The Twins would be as happy to discover as she had been. 

Kendall was in the middle of discussing The Twins when the final family, the current occupants of her former home, arrived.

“See how the branches reach out in an identical pattern, like mirror images. They are virtually indistinguishable in size and shape, always connected while still growing in their own distinctive way…”

Kendell watched from the corner of her eyes as the twins, the youngest attendees, Javon and Jade, drifted over to the large group with their parents, their expressions lit with amazement.

“…They are each on their own path while staying in continual communication with each other. It’s a conundrum being independent on one hand, but still conjoined on the other. Each tree is complete in its own right, but inextricably linked to the other. They are a fused pair.”

“Mom, Dad, those are our trees!” Jade and Javon chorused.

The other families—varying ages and generations from septuagenarians to tweens—all indulgently laughed at the Weathers children.

“That’s why we’re here, kids.” Kendall squatted in front of them.

It was time to tell them all why she had invited them, reveal the bonds that they all shared through The Twins, that The Twins had belonged to all of them at one time or another and would continue to nurture them and more families to come.

Once Kendall had finished the introductions and her explanations she stood in the center of the families waiting for their reactions as reporters’ cameras flashed and her blood-relatives waited just on the outer edges of her extended relatives.

That they loved nature as she did and had come to celebrate her and The Twins buoyed her with hope for the future of the human race. They were but a microcosm of the world, a small group in the grand scheme of things, but they were a start.  

Her newly-acquired and accepted family did not disappoint her, all excitedly talking at once, hugging each other, shaking hands, relating their experiences living in the house where she’d once lived and grown up with The Twins

“I took many of these pictures when I used to live in the house you live in now,” Kendall explained to the two youngest attendees.

“Wow, cool,” Javon said.

“I thought so too. That’s why I wanted to bring us all together to celebrate our trees.”

Jade walked closer and stared at Kendall’s favorite picture. She had taken it the first day she and her parents and brother had moved into their new home. “They still look the same now as in your picture. They’re just bigger.”

“Just like you and your brother will be one day.” Kendall said as Javon’s and Jade’s parents smiled at the attention she was giving their children.

Kendall glanced up to catch her own twin’s gaze and returned his wink.   

“Will you take more pictures of them as they grow?” Jade asked.

“I certainly intend to if it’s all right with you.”

Jade shyly stood by her father’s leg showing a snaggletooth smile as she nodded.

“Is it okay that our daddy built a treehouse between them?” Javon asked.

“I think it’s more than okay.” Kendall smiled, heart filling, no place on earth she would have rather been than right there with all her people, celebrating their family trees.

April 23, 2021 22:40

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1 comment

Antonio Jimenez
06:27 Sep 22, 2021

Hey Gracie, I don't know if you're still on Reedsy but I just came out with my first story in months and would love for you to check it out and give me some feedback. Just trying to connect with all those who have given me advice in the past.


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