Flash Fiction,  Issue 7

March of the Dryads by J.B. Stone

We hid our fathers’ flasks under the folds of our pea coats. Wandering fixtures among the smoky mist of quagmire fog. The cypress and it’s long swaying branches seemed more alive and it wasn’t just our inebriated psyches that made these visions so. It was the movements, the dancing between each bough. The birch followed suite, waltzing like an exposed wooden skeleton rising from its crypt to be alive for one more dance. The tall stalks of cotton-sedge try to break their peat bearings, uproot their stems, just enough to bop their pillow-shaped heads to the rhythm of the night. 

The magic transforming our surroundings, was unseen at first. Maybe because we were too distracted by our own pub-crawl escapades to notice. Maybe because we didn’t believe nature could be so alive. Maybe because all we saw was a disgusting plot of muck solely traversed as a short-cut; nothing more, nothing less. Eventually, we saw the life unfold, and passed the phenomena off as mere delusion. However, the line between reality and fantasy would soon bridge a tad deeper. The ends of tree branches clutch the back of our shoulders like deformed, wrinkled palms. We realized these weren’t just nightmares crafted out of alcohol-fueled revelry. It was something more, something real, we knew this now. 

The streams of grass and the bodies of fauna started following us, unearthing feet for walking. Their intent didn’t seem to be that of harm, but more-so to join us on a night filled with escape routes from a mundane life. Bewildered by the breaking of physical law, we forgot about the impossible, looked to the improbable, and just went with the flow Done with the bar scene we were heading to an abandoned cabin instead. As the trees teared seeing a house constructed from their fallen brethren, one of them turned to us, an older oak, still mighty in its stature, but withering from its inside, 

“Did you do this? Is this what you do to us? Take our bodies! And house yours inside of our corpses,” the oak shockingly exclaimed. 

“I don’t see the big deal,” I responded.

It did not yell back or call us out further. It just nodded in disappointment

It was more than an awkward moment, at least for me, it was one filled with guilt, one oozing with remorse. All of a sudden, the chlorophyll phantoms hovering over us, retreated back into their still states of being, absorbed back into the woodland. Already torn from disappointed spirits, we held our lanterns high and entered through the cabin and one of us shined a light at the walls, we noticed the composition; cypress, birch, and oak. 

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J.B. Stone is a neurodivergent slam poet, writer, and reviewer from Brooklyn, now residing in Buffalo, NY. He is the author of A Place Between Expired Dreams And Renewed Nightmares (Ghost City Press 2018). His work has appeared in YES PoetryOcculumGravelMaudlin HouseFive :2: One MagazineEunoia Review and elsewhere. He is the Reviews Editor at Coffin Bell Journal and Editor-in-Chief/Reviews Editor at Variety Pack. You can check out more of his work at jaredbenjaminstone.com and his tweets @JB_StoneTruth. 

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