“The Growing Oak Tree” by Lydia Mathis

Growing Tree


The first time he kissed me was on a Saturday. He convinced me that sitting in a car outside a noisy bowling alley, listening to Jeff Buckley, and eating durian fruit would be a great first date.

So, he played the music and pulled out this piece of fruit that looked like a pineapple had sex with a porcupine.

I think about that night often while I’m down here. I just keep trying to work out how I was just so fucking stupid.


“This, my dear Henna, is what the people call the stinkiest fruit in the world, and we are going to try it for the first time together!”

I stare at him for a second, “Are you sure you know how dates work?”

He laughs, and cranks up Jeff. He soon realizes that he forgot to bring a knife to open the fruit, so we proceed to get out of the car and smash the thing on the sidewalk. When it finally breaks open, the odor that escapes punches me in the face. It smells like a mixture of spoiled mayonnaise, gym socks that have gone unwashed for months, and moldy, wet garbage. We gag.

“What the actual fuck!” I gasp, my lungs trying to find some fresh air. His mouth opens and he lets out a guffaw that starts somewhere deep in his chest and rumbles to the surface.

“You ready to try some?”

“You want me to put that in my mouth?”

“Of course. That’s why I brought it!”

He picks it up, bringing the smell even closer. I look inside and start gagging all over again.

“It looks like an alien spawn covered with pus from a pimple. I am NOT eating that!”

He just looks at me grinning. Something about his smile and the crinkle that forms at the corners of his eyes are alluring. That’s why I sigh, grab a piece, and shove it in my mouth. It touches my tongue and I almost spit it out, it’s so slimy. It’s like a slug dragged its ass across my tongue. After I get over the texture, I realize it tastes sort of like bananas.

“So… How is it?”

“I hate to say it, but it’s pretty good.”

“See! High five for trying new things!”

He put his hand up high, and I can’t help myself so I slap his hand.

“Ouch,” he says, grinning. He holds on to my hand and pulls me in for a kiss.

“You taste … delicious.”


Back then, I thought that line was fucking sexy. There was something lurking inside that word “delicious.”


Dirt slithers across my forehead, displaced by the movements of a worm that wiggles its way across my hairline. The little creature has gone off on another journey for food or home. The movement lasts for a brief second. Nothing down here moves for long.  My bed remains its ever-calm self and covers every inch of me, padding me with its cool embrace.


I’m starting to think I know what it was. He made me feel like a kid doped up on sugar. He was always like a new adventure. The next shiny and sparkling thing around the corner.


Close your eyes. Imagine a bus of five-year olds going on a field-trip to a candy store. Not just a regular candy store, a giant candy emporium. You can just picture the little bastards running around, eyes vicious in their hunt for their next treat. Now imagine trying to contain all that energy, amazement, and sweetness. The vessel that would contain all of this is him. That’s the only way he can be described. His hair, his eyes, his movements, every feature can only be described in the amount of child-like energy, enthusiasm, and amazement in a candy emporium. He was absolutely drenched in it. And like a five-year old enchanted by a candy store, I was enchanted by him.

He had the zest of youth while I was basically twenty-three going on sixty.


There was one thing my parents promised me as a kid: going to college would make me rich. Parents…they can’t be trusted.

So, I majored in business because I assumed if you study money you will have money. Then I graduated and I was ready for my millions. By the time I’d been turned down by the fifth corporation, I realized that I had been lied to. Apparently, Corporate executives live by the motto “Experience over Degrees.”

Twenty-four, broke, and living in a shabby apartment, I decided fuck it, anything will do. That’s how I became a receptionist working at a life-insurance company. I sat at a desk inside a cramped building where dreams were dying left and right, and occasionally a few of the clients. I answered the phones and drew on a smile whenever someone walked through the door. Obviously, I was dead inside.


It was around that bland time of my life when I met him. He walked in vibrant, and that’s how he got me. I was looking for life amongst the monotony and he was bursting with it.


I take one more look in the cracked mirror hanging beside the door. Deciding that I look magnificent and ready to bewitch all, I open the door.

“You look ah-mazing,” he says. He grins as he looks at the tight-fitting black dress I’ve adorned. I look him over as well. He has on a tux with a black button-down shirt.

“I hope you’ve prepared yourself for the fanciest of all fancy nights.”

“I have. So, where are we going?” I ask as we walk to his car.

“It is a surprise, which is why I must ask you to put on this blindfold.”

“Excuse me, what?”

“Just turn around. You are going to love it.”

I turn around and let him put some cloth thing over my eyes. Satisfied with his work, he guides me into the car. I hear his door open and close and music begins to play. Jeff Buckley, of course.

“Don’t you listen to anything else?” I ask laughing.

“Oh come on. Don’t hate Jeff. Just let his rough, but smooth voice lull you while you try to guess where we’re going.”

“Okay, Okay.”

“Shh. Just think.”

I start to run through all the nice restaurants I know, and just as I’m starting to narrow it down to my top three the car stops.

“We’re here!” he screams in delight.

“Already? It hasn’t even been fifteen minutes.”

“It was close.”

My eyebrows furrow as I try to figure out which restaurants are close to my apartment. Then, he takes the blindfold off. It takes a second for my eyes to focus, but when they do…

“Why? Just why?” I ask.

“What do you mean? It doesn’t get any fancier than this.”

I just look up at the little gray mouse giving me a thumbs up.

“You couldn’t find one place better than this?”

“Chuck E. Cheese has the best skee ball in town! You won’t find any better.”

My head falls in my hands and I can’t stop laughing. This guy is nuts.

“Come on,” he whines, “I even brought wine.”

I look at him as he tries to pout, and, though I’ll probably hate myself later for it, I open the door.


He jumps out of the car with wine in one hand and runs to the door. I get out of the car  and gear myself up to kick his ass at skee ball.


We went on a few more dates after that, and each one bewitched me a little more. By the fourth date I was absorbed in him. It was as if he somehow managed to mold himself to fit everything I wanted. I think about it now as if he were checking off a list. She likes funny. I will be that. Check. She likes witty. I will be that. Check. Whatever she likes, I will be that. Check.



This didn’t make itself apparent to me while we were dating. I thought it was that “fate” bullshit coming true.

Then I end up here.


What I miss the most now is food. It used to be family, but that got boring. I really want some disturbingly greasy McDonald’s fries. I would do anything for some artificial chicken nuggets.


After inviting me to his place numerous times as we dated, I finally accepted on our fifth date.

“Did you forget to tell me you’re rich?” I say as we pull up to his house.

“What are you talking about? It only has two bedrooms.”

“Exactly! Who can afford that these days? I still owe the roaches in my apartment rent!”

That gets a laugh out of him. Jokes come easily when he’s around. He saunters over to my side of the car and opens the door. Chivalry lives on. He takes my hand and we walk to the front door, passing an enormous oak tree that stands just in front of his house.

“Prepare to be amazed, as the magicians say.”

“Do they really say that?”

He doesn’t answer, but unlocks the door. As it swings open, a grin slithers over his face. I walk inside and everything is freakishly neat. Everything appears to be at a purposeful angle. My eyes are pulled to some books that are stacked on this dark wood coffee table, they are arranged from smallest to largest, placed directly, I mean exactly, in the middle of the table. I walk further into the house, and just as I’m about to make a joke about him having OCD, I feel a pinch of what has to be a needle on my neck. And then there’s nothing.


He waits for you to wake up. He likes to see the look in your eyes as you figure out what the fuck is going on. It takes a second because of the residual haze in your brain from whatever it is he gave you. Your eyes open to see him sitting on top of you, smiling. The same alluring smile that trapped you in the first place. That’s when you start to ask him, then beg him, but your favorite smile never leaves his face. You keep squirming. He’s chained you the ground. He can’t have you moving too much. It would ruin his… extraction. He leans over to kiss your lips, licking them. He whispers delicious, and it still manages to sound sexy. You spit in his face, but he’s unfazed. The girls before you have done it.

He pulls out the knife, and you really start to move then. It doesn’t matter. He brings it up right below your mouth and he starts slicing. Your torment, writhing, screeching – it doesn’t stop. He takes your delicious lips and puts them in a jar. He looks at them like a lover. Your purpose has been fulfilled. It all happens pretty quickly after that. A leg and another. One arm then two. Your head, your chest.

You’re gone by the second leg.


Even after years of being buried right below this giant tree, whose roots have made a string puppet out of my bones, he remains funny and alluring. He comes to visit us sometimes when it’s taking a while to find someone new. I can feel when he’s coming. The dirt on top of my once chest gets heavier. He greets all of us down here with a cheery hello, going off on one of his animated stories, sounding like he did the very first time I met him.

2 thoughts on ““The Growing Oak Tree” by Lydia Mathis”

  1. Thge level of cussing took away from the story at first. It mad it a tad ghard to read. However, it started to slow down and be used for a better purpose. The story picks up and becomes an inticing read. It starts to lure you in as the character gets lured in. The climax, truly amazing. Made reading upp to that point even more the read, as it uncoils itself more and more. Needless to say a very interesting read, that won’t waste your time.

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