My Sister Ghost

Linda Cargill
Cheops Books , English

Dear Diary —

Eyes …

Everybody has eyes. So do all the animals like dogs and cats, horses, pigs, and ducks … I remember from biology class that insects have eyes, too. Praying mantises have eyes on long stalks that turn and stare at you. Sort of grotesque like they were human or something.

But nobody ever taught me that trees had eyes. They can’t see, hear, feel, smell, or anything. So why do I always dream lately about the tree outside my bedroom window staring in at me? I mean, the tree’s been there ever since I was a baby in the exact same place and I never imagined any such thing before.

I’ve gotten so weird that before I go to bed I shut the window and pull the drapes. Mom complains. “Why don’t you let the air in? It’s so hot in here! Ugh!”

Tourists say that the trees here on St. Simon’s Island are strange, even spooky. The old live oaks with Spanish moss grow to one hundred feet high and have gnarled, twisted branches like arms and strange markings or knobs on them. But I should be used to that after seventeen years of living on this island off the coast of southeast Georgia.

I wouldn’t tell anybody but you, diary, since we’re such old friends. But at night I see faces of people I don’t know in the bark of that tree right where all the branches join the trunk. There are two huge knobs side by side that look like eyes. There is a stick projecting out that looks like a nose. And where the bark was worn away into a hole resembles a mouth. Two nights ago I imagined that the knobs turned into a girl’s face, a girl with a scar on her face. She was stuck there in the tree with two frightened brown eyes calling out to me. She kept screaming, “Help! Help! Somebody save me!”

In my dream I opened the window and tried to climb out. But I was too late. I saw the girl’s face harden over until it was all bark. Her eyes became wooden. And she became only the carving of a face in the tree. She died, I guess.

Jan would really make a few wise cracks about that one! I can hear it now. “What’s wrong, Em? Sure your brain hasn’t turned into wood. Maybe filled up with sawdust?” Kate would probably tell me I need more exercise so I can sleep better, act more like her, and become the track and field champ. Poor Bess would just shake her pigtails, bite her nails, and worry the way she always does.

Ted would merely shake his head and ask if I’d been taking my vitamin pills. Sometimes it’s sweet how concerned he gets. Sometimes it’s annoying. But his mom and dad are health freaks, since his dad’s a doctor and all.

It seems funny now but I wake up sweating with a pounding heart when I see people ‘s face in the trunk of the tree! Worst of all — and I wonder what this means — last night I saw Scott in the tree. You know how gorgeous he is, diary, with his blond hair and blue eyes even if he barely gives me the time of day. But when he got stuck in the tree, his face not only turned to wood and died. Then it crumbled all away piece by piece until it was only dust on the ground.

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