The Dolphin That Fell from the Tree
by CJ Alexander
During the storm, a gale force wind bent the heavy rain, sluicing through foliage and mussing the yard. When it subsided, I ventured outside to check for damage. The precariously arched old butternut tree, which I’m sure will topple one day from another onslaught, had dropped several of its worm-ridden branches. I picked one up, and turned it this way and that.
When it spoke out loud, I jumped.
“Help!” it said.
“Help what? You’re a weak, diseased branch, and your tree has thrown you down. Who gives a hoot about a woe-begotten piece of future kindling? Besides, branches don’t talk.” Yet there I stood, talking to it.
“I’m trapped. I need you to rescue me!” This time I didn’t reply. It was a piece of storm debris. Tree junk. I tossed it onto the lawn, finished my yard inspection and went inside.
It’s not every day that I question my sanity, but the branch bellowing in the back yard made me unsure. After an hour of histrionics it got quiet outside. What had it gotten up to? This was the moment that I realized I had begun my descent into madness.
Under the pretense of harvesting zucchini, I moseyed over to where I had tossed the branch. It lay in the wet grass, panting.
“Help me…” It had cried itself out and I could barely hear its plea. I picked up the soggy rotting thing and petted it.
“Fine,” I said. “If you can tell me who or what you are, I will do my best.”
“I’m a dolphin,” it said, with some asperity. “Can’t you tell?”
“Get real! Dolphins are sea creatures. Do you see any sea around here? Stop lying or I will hack you to pieces with this sharp garden dagger I got for my birthday.” I unsheathed the knife and slashed the air a few times, ninja style.
“You don’t fool me, CJ,” the branch retorted. “Pick me up! My airways are plugged with grass clippings! Don’t you ever rake after mowing? Never mind, I know you don’t.”
Cowed, I nudged the branch over with my toe. It sneezed.
“Ah, that’s much better!”
The branch did look a lot more content. I scooped it up and carried it to the bench outside my back door.
“Not another word out of you tonight,” I warned, “because the neighbors will complain.”
“I promise I’ll be quiet,” it whispered.
The next morning, I stepped outside with my coffee. The branch lay inert like an inanimate thing is supposed to do, on the bench where I’d left it. Just then the sun’s rays edged over the trees and struck the branch broadside. Was that a…snout? Were those…flippers? And an eye?
The branch winked and said, “Thank you for saving me, CJ.”
I began carving it from the wood, right after breakfast.
CJ Alexander is the editor and blog host of the Whitesboro Writers Group in Central New York and an active member of Silver Pen Writers. She encourages others to hone their creative prose skills and is the founder of a monthly fiction writing group called Plotters Ink. Occasionally she publishes anthologies of short fiction and poetry written by local, national and even international authors. What a wonderful retirement hobby!