Short Story for #Whimword: PEACH

The tree itself was peach, the bark was peach-coloured, and the roots too. They wound through the earth under his feet, looking disturbingly like a huge, clutching hand. The leaves were dappled in the sun; peaches and cream. But it wasn’t a peach tree. There were no flowers or fruit, and it was late summer. It looked mature enough to bear fruit; it stood over ten feet tall and he couldn’t put his arms around it. He pressed his cheek to the trunk to let the bark rasp over his beard. It was smooth; he thought of a used leather jacket on a hot day.
“Each, peach, pear, plum.” The leaves shimmered laughingly above and he closed his eyes.
“I smell the blood of an English man.” Someone finished in a whisper.
He jerked his head back, and then cried out. There was a branch directly behind him.
“No.” He said, wincing. “That’s not how it goes.”
From a long way off Jessie barked. He squinted at her and rubbed his head.
“Jessie? What are you doing over there, girl?”
Jessie only whimpered and shook one paw above the ground, as though wanting to point, but she wasn’t bred for such things and didn’t know how.
“Each, peach, pear, plum. I spy Tom Thumb. THAT’S how it goes.” He fumbled in his jacket pocket for his shades. Suddenly the day was so bright, and the taste of weed haunted his gums.
The skin on his ankles buzzed softly and he tried to lift one leg to scratch them, wishing he hadn’t worn shorts, damn gnats and mozzies. His foot wouldn’t raise itself, but it didn’t matter. Peach was a beautiful colour, really, why hadn’t he thought about it before? But was it really peach, or apricot?
Leaning closer to the trunk, he lost his balance and he hit it nose first. His shades clattered into the grass. Sparks raced in arcs across the washed-out horizon. He tried to steady himself. There was crimson before his face and under his hands, and he slipped again.
He smelled fruit, but it was a wet smell, and made his throat close. Something hard pressed itself into the back of his knee, and his legs buckled. He fell forwards.
A dog barked insistently for a while and then looped around the field for a while, whimpering distractedly.

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