When Henry wakes up one morning, he discovers that the trees in his garden are very different - how will he respond to the
strange call of the leaves?
When Henry woke up that spring morning, he realised at once there was
something wrong with his head. Not that he had a headache or that the
shape of his head was any different from what it should be. No, still
the same almost oval feel under his fingers that he was used to. Still
the same flurry of hair at the back and nothing on the top. But where
thoughts – or the lack of them, as he was never at his best in the
mornings – normally resided, there was instead something very different.
He could see branches. They weren’t real, but they criss-crossed his
mind as if he’d woken up in the middle of a forest. Everywhere he
looked, there they were. Not being a tree man, he could not tell the
type – oak or ash, willow or pine – but he could see a variety of shapes
and patterns to them. This led him to believe that there was more than
simply one sort of tree.
Cautiously – he was after all a cautious man by nature – he slid
sideways until his feet met the thin carpet of his bedroom floor. Then
he sat up. With each slow movement, the branches in his mind’s eye
swayed as if touched by an unfelt breeze. He blinked. They were indeed
rather beautiful. Their twisted lines contrasted starkly with the spaces
between them that were mostly filled with a shimmer of white. Like a
mist before the sun disperses it or the light curtain that occasionally
divides a theatre audience from the stage when something mysterious is
about to happen. Through that whiteness, he could see the familiar
shapes of his existence: the red dining chair he used as a bedside
table, a rail of work shirts in a wardrobe he’d never got round to
finishing, the half-length carved mirror he’d bought from an auction
many years ago because it was cheap.
Odd that: how the pictures in his mind were somehow holding the
realities of his life in their place. He’d never experienced that
before. He’d always been able to keep his dreams and most secret
fantasies separate from his life in the world. Why should they suddenly
collide now? As he washed, shaved and dressed himself – slowly as the
branches meant he had to continue to take care as he moved about – he
thought about what had happened yesterday and whether anything strange
had taken place that could explain this phenomenon now. But he could
think of nothing. He’d come straight home from work and had eaten a
simple meal of pasta, cheese and salad. Nothing that could produce this
effect. No alcohol and certainly no drugs. Henry had never taken drugs –
this was something he was rather proud of.