It was a sunny day in the small jolly town of Reveil. The sun shinning bright shed a vibrant light above the wooden roofs of the humble village houses. At this time of the day, women prepared stews, men traveled to neighbouring towns to sell their fresh vegetables and children ran out of the churches from their strict catechism. Garth and Lott sprinted towards the hill overlooking the town, eager to play in the mudd and roll down the hill (which deeply irritated their mothers who scraped off the judd and grass stains off their trousers and white shirts). Lott, a quiet 12 year old boy with soft brown hair and freckles sprinkled on his nose and cheeks had pale skin, like that of a featherless chicken. He always sat slightly curved and when he ran, his long legs made him look like he was leaping like a gazelle. But, his eyes, oh his deep bitter blue eyes made everyone, even the strongest men in town, feel uneasy. Garth on the other hand, was tall and flaunted his toasted like skin with his head up high and blonde hair shining with the rays of the sun. He always kept his clothes the dirtiest, getting in fights and playing in the ground. His loud voice was childish but he spoke with such determination that no choice but to listen to his smirky remarks and adventure stories the told with passion.
Lott and Garth raced up the hill when the small Lott tripped on a hard rock and fell face forward scraping both his knees and the palm of his hands. Feeling the thumping of his heartbeat through the wounds, he laid irritated on the ground holding the tears from rolling down his chubby cheeks. The grass was dry and dusty, and burned with every heartbeat, so he rolled on his back and closed his eyes. Garth came running right behind him and chuckled at the sight of his bulky friend all dirtied up. ¨Be a man and get up!”, he demanded as he gave him his hand to pull him up. Concerned about Lott, he proposed playing with their marbles instead of racing down the hill like they usually did. So, they told each other adventure stories and counted their glass marbles, looking at their beautiful color. As the sun started its way down the sky, Garth watched the sky turn bright orange and wondered what his mother would have for dinner. Lott was looking for one of his marbles on the ground when a small plant caught his attention. With a fine stem as tall as his ankles, it poked out of the ground looking up at him. It was not common to see a plant so green in that dry town, especially in mid september. The leaves not only caught his attention because of their crisp green color, but also because they radiated a subtle glow that made him feel hypnotised. “We must pluck it out and take it home, so we can plant it in my house and care for it” proposed Garth, but Lott convinced Garth to keep it a secret and visit the hill everyday. The boys visited the plant everyday after school, making sure it had enough sun and water, but weeks passed and the plant did not seem grow.
“Mother says plants can listen, maybe we should tell it stories” proposed Lott.
“I know plenty of interesting stories! My father, who travelled to cities all over the world told me that on his voyage to a distant country he saw the most amazing thing anyone has ever seen. It was a huge circus, the size of Reveil, and in it you could see two headed women and a man so tall and strong he had fought whole armies with his bare hands. There were magicians who could disappear out of thin air and monkeys that danced and plenty of candy for all the children. And there was a wheel reaching as tall as the moon and you could ride on it and see the whole world at the top. It was so big it could fit one hundred people and take them up and down the turning wheel with lights and music. He said all of this was under a red tent bigger than the city and it traveled to different towns to make the children more merry.”
Lott’s eyes sparkled as his friend went on about the giant wheel and interesting characters the circus had, “Did he say if it would come to Reveil? Did he say if it would come?”
Garth shrugged his shoulders, “I sure hope so, I wish it wont be long” As soon as he had finished saying this, the air stood still and slowly the plant gently shook and the green leaves sparkled. The children excited, jumped down on their knees to see it from up close. After watching it sparkle for a couple of seconds, frightened, they looked at each other and started to rushed home not saying a word about what they had seen.
Not even two days passed before a strange dwarfish man entered from the South of Reveil. He wore a pair of striped black and white trousers, a yellow shirt with red buttons, and a tall hat with daisies hanging from the sides. His face painted white made contrast his bright red mouth and accentuated his big teeth in his ear to ear smile. The whole town looked at him half frightened and half excited and followed him to the town center. The dwarfish man walked through the dusty roads and stood between the leafless trees in plaza handing out flyers.
The flyer read: “You are courteously invited to The Incredible Circus of Felix Lucio. Wonders of the world have gathered to bring you an unparalleled show. Be ready for its stunning arrival this coming November.”
Lott heard his classmates talk about the news and rushed to Garth to ask him what he made out of this.
“It was the plant, I told you it was magic!” Lott looked at him, looking paler than ever, “But what if it is witchcraft?” he responded to Garth who dismissed his comment and was now pretending to be a circus lion chasing a girl who had just told them about The Incredible Circus of Felix Lucio.
The wind blew in some white clouds to Reveil, and the trees shook their dry branches, dropping the last of the leaves that had been seizing the tree with its last breath. And in the top of the hill, above the houses of Reveil, the green leaves and fragile stem listened to the excited chatter of the town. It quietly grew a darkness inside that made the plant stronger, taller, wider.
The circus settled on the outskirts of the town with a big red tent. As Garth’s father has promised, it brought jungle animals, freak shows and a big ferris wheel. It brought joy and excitement and people from nearby towns came to the amazing show. It remained for twelve days and on the thirteenth day it disappeared. Like a migrating herd, went forth to bring joy and wonder to another dry town or another cold city or a distant country. The town was left gray and quiet as it once had been, like nothing ever happened. Bright faces turned pale once again and the dust settled once again on the ground.
Like a plague, the news about the charmed plant spread among the children in school. A couple of boys and girls visited the plant and asked it for silly wishes, like good notes on exams and new shiny marbles and they all saw their wishes granted the very same day. With each request the plant grew and grew losing some of its glow and turning into a rich emerald color. After a few days all the children in town lined up all the way down the hill to ask the growing plant for new toys, coins and even punishments for other children that bullied them. The plant, standing beneath the sky with purple clouds, was now a shrub that had ceased to glow. The church heard about the craze and held a meeting inviting all the parents to punish their children for such sacrilege. But it was too late, some curious parents approached the plant and tried it with asking simple wishes that were all granted.
And slowly as the townspeople crowded everyday around the shrub, now transformed into a tree. It had already start to tower over the surrounding houses, turning its once crisp green leaves to rumpled and dark like rotten spinach. But not even the vinegary smell the leaves emitted did not stop the anxious people to bring lists of requests for the putrid tree. Women and men asked for more produce, fancier houses, clothing, money and everything they could think of. The town started disfiguring itself with sudden changes: odd victorian houses that seemed to me misplaced, envious glares and people who looked like royalty walking beside humble farmers. The tree grew like sickness, covering almost the whole town with its dark branches. The gray roots grew like labyrinths above the ground, harbouring all kinds of insects and creatures. The few humble families that refused to approach the evil being were terrified of what was happening in Reveil. They got together in secret meetings, planing to chop it down. But the madness of the frantic crowd overheard and built a fence around it. The strongest five men in town guarded the fence day and night carrying their farming tools and rifles, tools that were once used to harvest their food and keep their kettle.
On one of the endless dim days that had taken over Reveil, Garth´s mother like many other parents, packed the family´s belongings. As she constantly looked out the window, she woke him and his sister before sunlight, clothed them. She took their fragile children hands and fled north to find the nearest town that had not been infected by the disease that was poisoning Reveil.
Time passed by slowly and even most of the sunlight covered the dark organ like leaves that held on strong to the trees entangled branches. Even on days that the sky was clear and the sun shone bright on the rest of the world, in Reveil windless nights and humid air reigned. As days passed, the faces of the once jolly town grew pale and their eyes now stern and hungry for each others possesions. They lined up like oblivious cows headed towards the slaughter house and fed the tree with their worldy desires and envy. As thick as a ferris wheel and tall as a forty circus tents it stood firmly. Slowly, it started to drop each one of its rotten leaves that were now black and so dry they looked like dead cockroaches. The leaves fell without wavering straight to the roofs, streets and gardens.
Reveil had grown to be so fanatic they wanted to cut a small piece of wood from the tree to absorb its powers. The guarding bull-men were informed of the intentions of harming the tree and were furious. They violently battered anyone who approached the tree with these intentions, sometimes beatings were so severe that they ended in death. These executions began to happen on a regular basis, and children and adults now watched expressionless as the men struggled, fighting for their life.
One night, after another man was killed beneath the tree, a couple of men fought hoping to get closer to the bough of the tree. Men and women started joining the fight until the whole town was engaged. People heard the uproar and ran from their homes to join the fight. Many fought not even knowing what the fight was about, their souls desperate for adrenaline to take over their bodies consumed by detrimental sorrow. They fought a gruesome and bloody fight for endless hours. Some mothers took their children to their homes and covered their ears so they wouldn’t listen to the awful screams and cries of the wounded. Amidst the calamity, on that darkest and starless night, the innocent spirits of the children went so deranged some started burning their neighbours houses. Tears in their eyes carrying torches in their fragile arms, throwing them at the wooden houses and watching them burn.
One by one, the houses started burning from the inside all the way to the roofs, and people were ensnared by the tongues of fire. The whole town was quickly consumed by flames so tall that reached up to the branches of the rotten tree, where the fire started to spread too fast for anyone to stop it. Burning branches the size of cannons fell all over Reveil crushing the bones of whoever was underneath it. Men and women fled from their houses carrying the young and looking for their loved ones. After months, the town was finally caring for their family and protecting their children. The flames were so colossal and hungry that devoured everyone. The huge bough of the tree, blistering red leaned forward, its roots getting torn out of the grown. Hell began to roll down the hill and over the houses, crushing the life and death underneath it.
No one was forgiven by the raging beast, and what was once the simple town of Reveil was now a tragic scene of ashes and lessons unlearned. The fire hushed slowly and everything was still, quiet. And there amongst the ruins, lay Lott with his sinister crystal blue eyes wide open, his legs buried underneath a huge branch, looking at the clearing skies, smiling.