The hanging tree

“Silvia, Silvia! Don’t do it! Listen to me, Silvia!” he was shouting as he ran towards me. The jump of my heart froze me to the spot.

“Ouch! Get off!” He had put his hands on my shoulders.

“Silvia, it’s not worth it! Don’t” the scent of alcohol came from his breath.

“I’m not Silvia!”

His bloodshot eyes looked from my left to my right eyeball.

“What you muttering about?” The smirking face of my brother met my stare.

The deranged man was gone. I rubbed my sore shoulders and gazed around. Ah, the tree. That explains it. My gaze fell back to the dusty street. Cleansing air filled me, which I released in a sigh.

“Hey, what’s up?” Matt’s face no longer looked mischievous. He put his big brotherly arm around me.

“Let’s get home.” No use in worrying over the man now. I would need to check for marks on my arms later. My mother, another thing to hide from her.



“Silvia, could you tell me which year Hitler got arrested?”

I turned my head around so fast it started spinning. I did not know I was in class with a Silvia. She was a few seats down on my left. Her hands clutched nervously at the desk as one hand tucked the strand of hair behind her ear. Acne spots filled her face.

“Er, right before he wrote his book” she said.

That was clever, I thought.

“What year was it? Or do you not know what a year is?”

The class laughed. Silvia’s cheeks reddened. The effect with her acne, made her look like a big red troll. Oh, this guy has it coming to him. Focus, I thought.

“Well at least she did not forget to wash her hair, not like a nicotine stinking teacher I know,” I said with my eyes focused directly on his. If a pin had dropped, the sound would have been audible.

“I’m presuming madam know it all over here, has the answer” The thin man looked at me.

“You know the finger, which is in the middle of the hand? You know the words it represents when only that finger is up and the rest are resting in a fist position! It was 1923 in what was called the beer hall putsch. Now do you know what you and that man have in common?”

“Shut your foul mouth little Missy. I think the principal’s office is in order”

“Oh, because you don’t possess the intelligence to take on a thirteen year old you send her to the principal’s office. That’s weak! You have nothing on me. Not once did I use indecent language. Moreover, I have a class full of witnesses to prove it. Now, do you really want me to go to the principal – so that I can tell him how you bullied one of the students in this class? I’m sure he would like to listen to that, especially after the incident at the last teacher’s conference.”


“Perhaps you need fill your lungs with poison, then maybe you will get it” I said and the teacher stomped out of the classroom.
At this, the kids erupted in loud chatter. I walked over to Silvia’s desk and pulled up the chair next to her. No one was paying any attention to us.

“You should not worry about him. He’s just an insecure prick”

“Thank you” Her hair fell back over her face.

“I can help you study for next week’s test,  if you want to? You can come by my house after school. I usually walk home”

Silvia smiled. “I was just thinking about that”

“What do you say?”

“I don’t know, there’s,” she said.

“Don’t worry about her.” My gaze fell to her wrists. She had red cut marks.

She flipped her arm over when she saw me noticing.

“I’m sorry. You don’t need to hide that from me,” I said.

She lifted one eyebrow. “Where do you live?”

“It’s only a few blocks down past, er that way” I pointed in the direction of my house.

“I don’t know.”

“It will be fun. I can make us popcorn and we can mull over the politics of the nineteen twenties and thirties.”

“You seem to know your stuff.”

“Yes, I enjoy History. If you don’t have an idiot trying to teach it to you – it can say a lot about human nature. I find people interesting.”


We found ourselves walking on the dusty road, which was the shortcut to my home. Matt was whistling as he walked a little ahead of us. Silvia kept throwing glance to the back of us.

“Don’t worry about her,” I said.

“How did you? What! There she is. We need to walk faster!” Silvia grabbed my arm. We ran for a short while.

“Wait up, I need to catch my breath!” I slowed down and bent down to my knees, looking to where we had landed. My brother stopped having followed us and looked at me.

“I think I’ll go sit and rest, there in the shade of the old tree,” I said pointing to the tree.

Silivia’s eyes widened. She glanced back and then at me. “You know what tree that is?”

“Sure, it’s a Eucalyptus tree.”

“No, I mean – do you know?”

I had walked towards the tree and sat down at its base. My eyes closed as the energy filled me.

“She’s crazy!” Silvia said looking at my brother, who shrugged.

“It’s just a bunch of dead people. They can’t hurt you!” I said knowing well, that I was lying. Silvia did not budge. My brother stood there arms crossed and looked at me.

“What you doing?” he asked.

“Resting” I said.

He rolled his eyes. “Give me a break. You run around the block several times every morning.”

“Oy, don’t need to spill all my beans Matt!”

“Look you two; I don’t know what’s going on here. I don’t believe you for a second Sara. Right now, we have to split. She’s coming.” Silvia said.

“Let her come. Let’s see if she has the guts to sit underneath the old hanging tree!” I said.

“She won’t be afraid of some tree!”

“Why not? You are.”

“What’s going on, whose coming?” Matt asked

“Rachel, try to keep up Matt,” I said.

“The one who likes to dress all goth?” Matt asked

“The very one who’s been bullying Silvia here!” I said.

“How do you even know that?” Silvia had put both hands on her hips and looked like she was striking a pose for a runway.

“Look Silvia, you can come sit here with me under the shade of the tree or you can face another beating. It’s up to you.”

Silvia’s lips formed an O, while her brows frowned.

Matt came to sit next to me. “You are so weird sometimes,” he said quietly.

“Normal is over-rated”

Silvia looked back to the horizon, where Rachel was now clearly visible walking toward us.

“You are bloody nuts! You should have seen her talk to Mister Bins today.” Silvia walked slowly towards the tree and sat down next to me.

“What the History goof?” Matt asked.


“I should have known, apparently he’s been missing from most his classes including mine”

“You missed nothing.” I said.

We all looked at the approaching Rachel, who stopped walking when she saw us.

“Here she comes” Silvia said.

“Let her. I dare her. I hope she does!” I said.

Silvia gave me a look that plainly stated that I was bizarre.

“Just a little closer” I said more to myself.

Rachel took tentative steps. She suddenly became very pale and started coughing. It seemed she had difficulty breathing since she held her throat.

“We should help her!” Silvia said and jumped up and started sprinting towards Rachel.

Rachel looked up and saw Silvia. Her eyes widened and she ran, back to the direction from where she came.

I walked over to Silvia. “Let’s get going. We can talk about how this is not worth it ,” I said taking her wrists into my hands. Silvia looked at the figure of Rachel disappearing at the horizon.

“Okay fine, I’ll talk.” Silvia said as we started strolling home. Matt resumed his whistling.

“I’ll listen.” I said and looked back towards the tree.

The crazy man stood where we had been sitting. I gave him a wink. I could have sworn he returned it.


Written for Ronovan’s Friday Fiction Challenge – prompt challenge 5. The prompt was to choose a favorite song and use it’s title as the title for a work of fiction.

“The hanging tree” by Jennifer Lawernce was my song choice.

Constructive Criticism – Welcome.






11 thoughts on “The hanging tree”

  1. Apart from missing commas and periods early on, the only thing that really bothered me is this line:
    “I don’t know, there’s,” she said.

    Use ellipses?
    “I don’t know, there’s . . . ,” she said.

    Then we know there is something Silvia is not saying. A clever story. The twist at the end – her wink – reveals she had recognized what had happened in the opening scene as a warning. Yes, a clever story.


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