From Now Until We Are Trees


So, I submitted this to an anthology about sisterhood. 

They asked for something quirky and I thought well, this is a quirky story. I guess maybe the cannibalism bit was a little too quirky? Either way, the story didn’t get chosen, but I still have this perfectly good love letter to my friend, Mountain Girl.

I have never believed in love at first sight. 

Until I met Lizzie. 

My husband and I met Lizzie and her husband through a chain of serendipitous misunderstandings.

I highly recommend finding all friends in this manner because you find real gems. 

Like I said, I don’t believe in love at first sight, but I knew almost immediately that Lizzie would forever be my sister. 

Okay, it wasn’t love at first sight. We had met one other time, but this was the first time my husband and I stayed in their cabin tucked away in the Smoky Mountains. 

We pulled up to their cabin and were greeted by a tray of snacks and booze under a shady tree.  I have a fair amount of social anxiety. I’m uncomfortable around new people, especially when I know I’ll be sleeping on their stuff. Lizzie and her husband welcomed us so warmly that I immediately felt my anxiety ease a bit.

After we said our hellos, we unpacked our car. Lizzie helped me carry some food I prepared into the kitchen of their cabin. 

She turned to me and said “You know, we are literally in the middle of nowhere. We could axe murder you guys and no one would hear it.”

I stopped for a moment and said “I really don’t know you at all. We’ve been here for five minutes. And you’ve already threatened to murder me.”

She smiled “Yeah.”

That was the moment.

That was the moment that I fell in love with my friend. 

I had to have an internal chat with myself. Holy shit. I love her. I want to be her friend forever. But don’t say anything. Don’t be awkward. Or be as least awkward as possible. 

Our first conversation set the course for the next 8 years. 

We have never wavered in our devotion to discussing how we are going to murder each other. Lizzie is insistent that they will be cooking us and eating us. Apparently she feels I will be best served with a sweet chili rub. 

Then, I remind her how that won’t be happening, because my husband and I will be doing the axe murdering, thank you very much. We would stuff them and turn them into puppets. Lizzie will be sporting SCUBA gear and a tutu and will be dancing the Thriller dance for all of eternity. Her husband will be in lederhosen and Riverdancing until the end of time. It would be like Chuck E Cheese animatronic animals! But worse!

Eventually we talked more than just murder.

We told each other secrets and allowed each other to examine our pain and our humanity, even the bad parts. 

It has become tradition for us to spend my birthday in the mountains with our friends. Lizzie prepares a lavish dinner and this amazing chocolate torte. Of course, as she says, the torte is because she is working on my marbling. 

“Eat another piece of cake. You are going to be delicious.”

Lizzie nursed me through my husband’s illness and the death of our granddaughter.

I did the same for her when she lost her parents and two beloved dogs. We both know that the other is always a phone call away no matter the time of day.

Regardless if life is beating us up or being good to us, we find a way to work out exactly how we were going to kill each other.

Lizzie plans to drag us around on a big blue tarp. We have since participated in an art project where we spray painted some appliances that had been abandoned on their land long before they owned it. We call that project Blue Tarp Art and it resides on Murder Ridge

We really take this murder thing seriously.

A few years ago, my husband discovered a service, where after you die you can be cremated and then packed with soil and a seedling. I told Lizzie about this and the four of us have decided that we’re going to be trees together after we die. 

We have our spots picked out on the top of their mountain.

We will overlook a deep valley and stand side bya mountaintop tree side long after we are gone.

We have a video chat every Friday night, which we refer to as “Youth Group”. We’ve done this for years.

We have some drinks, play word games and eventually someone will get around to reminding the other that someday one of us is killing the other one. 

On a recent Friday, Lizzie brought up the murdering and said that no matter what, it’s all going to work out in the end since we’re all going to be trees. 

She told me “One day like a hundred years from now, someone will probably chop you down and build a fence out of you.” 

I agreed. “Yeah, I’ll be the fence surrounding the outhouse they are going to build out of you.”

She rolled her eyes. “Outhouses aren’t a thing anymore now, much less a hundred years from now. But fences are forever,”

Lizzie has more confidence in humanity than I do. I also must disagree with everything she says whenever we’re having a murder chat. “I don’t know. I think you have a brighter hope for the future. I think we’ll end up with outhouses again. So you know, at least we’ll be useful.”

She shook her head. “I am not going to be an outhouse.” 

“You are totally going to be an outhouse.”

We are all hopeful that we remain breathing for a long while and no one is looking forward to planting that first tree. No one is looking forward to being the last tree. 

However it turns out, I am happy that I will continue to exist between my husband and my sister. 

At least until I am turned into a fence. And as long as I’m not actually eaten. I mean, Lizzie does seem really dedicated to the idea. 


Tree photo by Sapwire



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By Michelle


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