If a tree starts crying for help in the middle of a forest, but it’s at a frequency too high for human ears to hear, did it really cry?

Fiction by Kirsten Reneau

Yes, because we can actually see the acid tears that the roots secrete up through the soil, slicing their way through the hard dirt, physical markers of the call for help.

Yes, because it is very likely people who are making the tree cry – well, the people or maybe termites – and humans are known for being able to tune out what makes them uncomfortable, for shutting down and walking out the door without finishing the argument, turning on cars in anger and pulling out into the street too quickly, without checking both mirrors.

Yes, because other animals can hear it – animals like bats and bullfrogs, who are more attuned to the sounds of nature, who may not know where the sound comes from but feel the call in the dark pits of their bodies, the same way my body tenses up at the sound of a car crash, where metal has met metal and one car has spun out of control and hit a tree and though I cannot yet see the devastation, but I already know how it will sound: the crying, that is.

Yes, because I did not hear your final words, but I know you said them with or without me there.

Yes, because now I am alone in this empty house where the floorboards are made of trees and the walls are made of trees and outside the trees look down on me, and the pain inside my stomach can’t be seen but there it is anyway, threatening to rip me apart through the dirt and blood of my body; I can’t keep telling myself it didn’t happen just because the trees cannot hear me crying since it’s at a frequency too low for tree ears.

Yes, because we do not need witnesses to our private pains for them to be true. But it wouldn’t hurt if there were some, and those some were trees who couldn’t tell anyone else but the bats and bullfrogs.

<strong>Kirsten Reneau</strong>
Kirsten Reneau

Kirsten Reneau is a writer living in New Orleans. She is the editor of Final Girl Bulletin Board and the anthology Mall Rats. Her work has been featured in The Threepenny Review, Hippocampus Magazine, Cowboy Jamboree, and other. More can be read on www.kirstenreneau.com