Willow Tree Grows:The Phenix Bird Flies | Teen Ink

Willow Tree Grows:The Phenix Bird Flies

April 27, 2021
By emoore4000 BRONZE, Ruston, Louisiana
emoore4000 BRONZE, Ruston, Louisiana
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Willow Tree Grows:The Phenix Bird Flies
            The white smooth doors opened without resistance. Smooth and light for their size there was never a squeak in their hinges. A band of boys walked out onto the steps of the school. Talking about how advanced they are in their own studies. The Phenix stood the farthest in the front of the cluster of boys. His tall skinny body was the only thing that differed from the rest of the boys. He had the same straw colored hair that was course and thick and the same grey eyes, that have been trained for solving problems since he could crawl, as the rest of the city.The crowd of stocky short guys walked a few feet behind. His head hung low as he walked down the same street home that he had walked for year. The same day was repeating over and over. Only slight changes would come and go in his. He counted all the white titled walkway, but with a sad realization he already knew how many there where by heart. Phenix sighed as he knew the yell from his best friend, Tyler, was soon to come.
            “MANNNN where did you go. I have plans to get girls this summer. I need you there to help, remember.” Tyler appeared at Phenix’s side with a look of joking disappointment on his face and hands on his hips. He took a deep clean breath of air in, to hide the dissatisfaction he was feeling, before responding.
            “How can you tell if the girl isn’t your sibling or cousin? Everyone in this city all looks the same; all think the same. Your going to run into the same problem as last time.” Phenix said with a smile on his face.
            “Hey having a big family is hard in this city but its not that bad.” Tyler‘s  eyes then slid out of focus as he saw a gaggle of girls walk past the two friends. Phenix spotted his mother waiting at the corner as she had always done to show him he was needed home.
            “Tyler, I’ll see you tomorrow. Unless your still zoned out.” Phenix ran towards his mother. As he waved bye to his friend.
            “Come on. We have to prepare.” His mothers calm face looked deep in thought. He could see the gears turning in her head as she tried to organize her thoughts. His mother walked a little faster than she normally would.
            “Prepare for what?”
            “You’ll see when we get home.” That was the last thing his mother said to him before turning the corner the the neighborhood. The street was clean and white as usual. As they walked up to the door it opened. Phenix’s father stood in the frame looking stressed. His eyes where analyzing everything around the room as he greeted his wife and son. Phenix stepped through the door and saw a girl on the couch. Her hair was wet and looked dark brown. It had stared to curl at the ends as it air dried.
 They made eye contact and her eyes seem to analyze every aspect of him. Her light green eyes seemed to have a golden ring around the pupil and it startled him. He had never seen anyone have blue eyes. The people in the city all had grey eyes. She was built like a Douran for sure. Even though she was skinny and small. She looked prepared to fight; no she looked ready to defend herself and win. Phenix wasn’t intimidated however. How could he be intimidated she looked so small on the coach with her wet hair dripping onto her shirt.
            “This is willow. She is visiting from Douran. She isn’t like the rest of her kind and wont hurt us or anything.” His father let out a short forced laugh, “We aren’t sure how long she will be staying exactly, but she will be in the guest room and will accompany you throughout your daily life. Be patient with her because her city doesn’t have the education we do. She might be behind on some things. ” his father looked nervous. Even the thought of a Douran citizen in his home scared him. Something else was wrong; his father had left out some information and Phenix could tell that wasn’t the whole story. Phenix was really good at reading his fathers face.
            “I wont be any trouble sir.” Willow spoke knowing his fathers discomfort. Her voice was confident and soft. Willow was a bold name. The Willow tree was the first to turn and is now marked as a bad omen. She got up from the couch and waked over to shake his hand. She wore a shirt that was cut right above her elbow and was grey, but looked as it used to be white. Her dark green shorts revealed that her legs where scratched and bruised. Phenix spotted scars that looked as if they weren’t from the forest. The Douran’s where know for their war training, but these scars where a bit much.
            “Phenix please show her to the guest room.” His mother looked from Willow to her son with a calculating look. Phenix walked in front of her down the hall into he supposed guest room. It was the same as all the other rooms it was just the unoccupied one. There was a window agains the far wall and as soon as Willow entered the room she went over and opened it. She started to climb out of it. Her hair looked light brown in the setting sun with flecks of gold that shimmered in the remaining light. She proceeded to hop off the edge and land on the sidewalk outside.
            “Wait,” Phenix jumped out after her still in his day cloths. “Why are you leaving.”
            Willow stopped and faced him. “The Douran leader cant find me. I have to leave. I didn’t escape from the ditch that was Douran to this bleached city. Gosh how do you keep it so clean? Do you people just not have little kids?”
            “Why are you running from your leader? I thought they sent you here.” Phenix hastened to change the subject.
            “Long story short, he found out a way to use Mixes, like me, as a way to control the forest. It doesn’t help that every Mixed is trained to be feared from brith as a government killing machine.” The light in her eyes flickered as she said this. As if it pained her to admit her only home used her as a war weapon.
            “Why do they want to control the forest? What’s a mixed?” Phenix didn’t notice the flicker.
              “All pure Douran’s have black hair. Being mixed is when one of your parents is a Douran and the other is a Tectumque, like you. A Mixed’s blood can control the forest, because their blood has a higher level of Reticeral in it. Reticeral allows for the trees to dispose of the pollution inside of them. Legend has it there’s one Mixed that can fix the whole forest if they gave enough blood.” The light in her eyes was completely gone now, they looked glossy as she analyzed the gate in front of her. Phenix noticed her gears where turning in her head. Hers where on a different level than his mothers.
               “why though? Why control the forest.” Phenix now watched her eyes dart back and forth looking for a way to answer the question.
               After a pause Willow responded. “They want war. That’s what they’re trained for. The only other place to attack is here. Unless they started hacking at the trees. And your government is already prepared for then the attack comes. I head them talk about it when they took me in.” They fell silent for a bit.
               “did you run because you’re the one that could cure the forest.” This was the question that lingered over their heads even before it was spoken.
               “why did you follow me? You have a nice life here? You don’t plan on following me do you?” Her eyes pierced his heart. He knew the answer just by her avoiding the question. Willow pulled her hair into a high ponytail and crawled under the broken gate. Phenix followed looking back at the same city, same houses, same sidewalk he had always lived with. He crawled under the gate without regret about leaving the time trap of the city. He swayed from the smell of chemicals. The smell of gas and smoke was thick enough for anyone to choke on. Clouds of chemicals rolled over the earth.
               “It’s not this bad once your inside.” She kept moving. Her head disappeared as she causally walked into the he forest like it was her second home. Phenix followed a little hesitantly. He stepped over the roots on the ground. A buzzing is in his ear. He turns his head and sees a scary flying creature. It’s big eyes had thousands of little shapes. He yelled and tried to swat it away but it wouldn’t leave. Willow came to where he was and laughed.
               “WHAT! ITS ATTACKING ME!”
               “No it’s a fly. It wont hurt you. It’ll just annoy you.” She smiled and walked on. Phenix was ashamed and from then on stayed close to Willow. Once the sun began to shine the forest was filled with noise. Phenix turned left and right looking for the sources. Willow walked calmly on taking in everything she saw and heard. Phenix soon learned that Willow’s winding path as to avoid the sun hit trees. He was blinded when he stepped and a white hot light reflected off a tree hit him in the face. He fell not being able to see.
               Willow called to him, but he didn’t want her to know his struggle because of his lack of attentiveness. Once he was able to make out shapes he saw Willow’s outline sitting in front of him. She was sitting with her legs crossed like a child waiting to be read to. Her hair was still in the ponytail but could be seen laying on her shoulder. Phenix blushed as if he accidentally stumbled at a pretty girls feet with a secret plan, but had gotten caught.
               Willow smiled at him. “Glad to have your eyesight back. I caught us food. Eat up I’m not sure when we will eat again.” She held out a handful of nuts and berries and a leg off some creature Phenix couldn’t identity. He saw a little bruise on the inside of her arm where a vain was. She saw him looking and gave him a look that seemed to explain everything yet nothing at all. As they ate Willow tried to teach Phenix about the woods. When he asked how she cooked the meat she revealed that she stuck it on the side of a tree for a bit. They laughed and Phenix began to notice little things. Willows teeth where perfectly straight. She has a small scar right along her jawline and behind her ear. Her lips look welcoming. His heart raced when he thought that. He liked the feeling in a strange way. Willow was telling him about a stream when they hear crunching from the trees.
               Willow pulled out a dagger from a hidden pocket of her shorts that was hidden under her shirt hem. Phenix had completely forgotten she was a Douran. She was raised to keep weapons on hand in case of battle. She was raised in the art of war. She was raised to be a weapon. She was raised to be used to control the forest. He tried to pity her, but couldn’t. Her strong confident stance showed she didn’t need it. When she was done with the crap they put her through she found her own way out. He peeled his eyes off the girl and turned to face their visitors.
               A man stepped into the clearing. He was in black armor that allowed him to step into the light from thee trees. His head couldn’t be seen due to his smooth sleek black helmet that blocked them and the reflected light from seeing his eyes. An army soon followed. All standing shoulder to shoulder; waiting for orders. They all seemed to have the same build. The only difference was in height.
               Phenix hadn’t realized the war Willow told him about was so soon. “How long has this been planned? Did his old home even have an army? Was it enough to defeat the current army in front of him?” All these thoughts swam in his head. He tried to be steady but was unmistakably swaying. Shifting one foot to the other.
               The first one Douran stepped into the shadow where Phenix and Willow stood. He look off his helmet and Phenix realized he was a Mixed, like Willow. His chestnut hair was a little darker than Willow’s. His eyes where a darker green with a broken look in them.
               “Wil’s come on lets go.” His voice was demanding with a hint of anger and frustration.
               “Get back Gill. I’ve beaten you before with that suit on and I’ll do it again.” Willow didn’t move away from the man, but stood up off the ground.
               “You’ve got a lot of nerve making threats. There’s nothing claimed against you right now, but if you attack me there will be.” Gill took a step closer to her so they where almost touching but weren’t.
               “What if I don’t go back. You said you would be the one to come with me. Guess now we know which one of us has the ba— guts to actually stick to their word. You act like they haven’t trained us, readied us for saluter. To take a part in a war we wont live long enough to fight in.” Willow had never seemed intimidating to Phenix, but he suddenly wouldn’t want to be Gill, who was a good head taller than her.
               “Wil’s the war is about to start. You and i are the only mixed siblings left. that makes us valuable. That means they wont drain our blood.I’m here to take you back to the safety of the city before you get yourself killed.” He took a step back and gave a pleading look.
               “That’s a lie.” Willow pulled up her sleeve to show the small bruise “They have already taken some of my blood.” Gill grabbed her arm in disbelief. Phenix took a step, but there was a cough from the shoulder to the right.
               “Sargent let me talk to willow please.” The one who spoke stepped forward and took of his helmet.
               “Yes general.”  Gill looked hurt, but followed orders. The new man was tall, very tall. His black hair settled perfectly even after he had the helmet on. His brown eyes scanned over Willow. He looked greedy and proud about the prize he had caught. He pulled out a gun and pointed it at Willow’s head. Willow didn’t move, but Phenix did. He stepped forward and got behind willow.            
               “Willow who’s this. OH he’s a Tectumque. Where’s your sheltered life sir?” He was borderline crazy. He looked serious and sane, but his tone unnerved Phenix.
               “Lave him be.” Willow looked clam like this wasn’t the first time she’s dealt with this man. Like she had perfected her tone of rebellion but also respect.
               He leaned in her face and talked like he was giving a rally cry to a band of war boys close behind. “The wars already started. Willow will get to fight like she’s ways wanted to. She will help the Douran win and conquer the forest. She will use the special training I gave her. If she falls during battle defending our city, she will give us an advantage. She will fix the forest” Willow leaned back and head butted the lunatic. He let go of the gun and fell to the forest floor. The army behind was shocked and stood there clueless for a wild second. Willow grabbed Phenix’s hand and the gun, laying on the ground, and ran. Her short legs where surprisingly fast. She leaped over roots as she ran with Phenix in front of the douran army behind them. Phenix was keeping up well. He was noticeably aware of her hand sliding into his as they ran.
               Willow came to an abrupt halt. Her pony tail was plastered to her neck from sweat. The sun was setting now so there was no need to seek the shadows. Willow turned to him and said “guess we are part of a war now.” The white Tectumque army was marching in a strategic formation. They looked back and forth from the two armies that where about to battle. Willow shoved the gun into phenix’s hand. He got one last look at her beautiful face before they where lost in the battle. People where everywhere.
               Some with swords others with guns. Phenix shot a guy who was charging at him with a crazed look. Phenix hoped that nothing happened to willow. How would he know if she was ok once this was over. As if his question was answered there was a noise, a single cuss word, and the fall of a body onto the floor of the forest. The whole world seem to fall silent.
               Phenix pushed his way through the burly soldiers and white suited makeshift army men. His fears grew in his throat as the closer he got the greener the grass became. He finally broke through the crowd. Tears threatening to spill from his eyes. A squeezed feeling rose in his chest. He felt as if an iron hand wash ripping his heart and wouldn’t let go. He kneeled to the body.
               Her gray shirt was now warm with blood. The blood looked thick but ran down her body like it was as pure as an other liquid. All the trees around now where green. Willow turned her head to look at him. Her eyes seemed to say a million things at once. They didn’t lose their light; not yet at least. Phenix tried to pull the shirt away from the wound. He tore away the warm blood soaked fabric and saw a whole the size of his thumb in her side. Just above her small willow tree tattoo. The willow was now hidden under the flow of blood.
            Phenix knew she couldn’t be saved. He held her in his arms. Not caring that there was a stream of tears on his face now. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her head into his shoulder. Phenix squeezed her as if he could give her some of his life. All of his life if it meant she would be save. The world seemed to be green now. Her blood seeped into his clothes now. She pulled back enough to see his face.
            “Phenix, take care of the world so it doesn’t fall apart again. It’ll be ok. I’ll be ok.” Tears streamed down her face now as Phenix drew her into him. Then her body went cold. Phenix layed her on the ground. Her eyes where closed and she seemed to be asleep. Tears still running down his face he stood up. Looking around he winced at how vibrant the green was. He wondered how the death and blood of one person, who was important to his life, could lead to the world being happy and green. It shouldn’t be green on a sad day like this.
Phenix saw a giant Willow tree growing tall and proud in what seemed like the center of the lush vegetation. It’s bark was the color of her hair. A light brown with what looked like gold flecks when the light hit it. The leaves were her eyes. The green matched the color of the eyes that where now shut. Shut as if she was only asleep; waited to wake up again. Phenix gripped his palms tight, and his nails broke the skin of his palm. He wanted real Willow back; he didn’t want this tree that was almost as a thank you to the dead girl laying on the ground, now surrounded by flowers that grew around her body.
            Plants seemed to in case her body, as if preserving it. Vines covered the girls lifeless body. The plants gave her a tomb of shrubs and vines. The plants where has she was supposed to save, and now they are saving her body. Phenix stared at the tree forgetting the two armies where there. Emotions bounced around his head without an exit. He was angry that this stupid forest couldn’t have been fixed without the death of Willow. He longed to have more time with the girl he had caught feelings for. His grey eyes now seemed silver with emotions and feelings glossed over with tears. The once white outfit was not a splatter of sad colors. Red from the blood of the Mixed girl that had shown him what the world is. Grey from the now perished forest because of the same girl.green stains from the fresh grass that he kneeled in holding the girl he hoped he would grow to love. He would keep it and treasure it. It will remind him of the willow he knew.

The author's comments:

It's a dystopian short story in a land where the plants adapted to pollution before we did. The trees over grew the world. Only two cities remain. This story follows a boy who lived in a clean cut orderly city. He was bored till a girl from across the dark forest came into the city. She left with him in her shadow through the forest. On the run from a war that starts sooner than expected.

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