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Nov 24

Susan Shiney

Flash Fiction: Taytum in the Trees


Right when the clock hit 12:00 p.m. Taytum Murphy got up from her desk grasping her Nike gym bag and headed to the bathroom to change. She came out with a black Lycra outfit sculpted to her body, a silver backpack flopping behind her. A comic book hero rolling through the tan cubicles. She draped her blazer, collared shirt, and trousers over her ergonomic chair so they wouldn't wrinkle and left the office.

The ten other people in her department all congregated by the window overlooking the street as soon as she was gone. The new hire, Sheila, saw the group of them whispering to each other as they faced the window and said, "What are you looking at?¨ She joined them and saw a perfectly normal city street shaded by a line of grand red maples, leaves reddened by the fall weather. A blue Honda Accord drove by and offered some movement.

"What...?" she started and then stopped when she saw Taytum with her silver back pack wagging side to side as she trekked along the street sizing up the trees as if they were for sale.

"Just watch..." Bob said as he took a sip of coffee from his mug with 'World's Best Dad' written on it.

Taytum stopped suddenly, then put some black motorcycle gloves on that covered her palms, yet not her fingers, and heaved herself up onto the trunk of a large tree just in front of the office. Her muscles tensed and expanded on her back and hamstrings.

"Has she done this before?¨ Sheila asked while clasping her golden chain and pulling it side to side over her heart.

¨Started about a month ago," Bob answered out of the side of his mouth, not taking his eyes of Taytum.

Sheila scanned the rest of the group for some look of surprise and they had vacant faces as they continued to watch Taytum struggle with finding her grip as she leveled up the tree. She slipped once and all of them released sighs in unison, then moved closer to the window as if they could mold into it.

Taytum flexed and contored herself all the way to the top most branch with relative ease. Like a dancer owning the stage. The rest of the people in the office smashed their cheeks into the window and squinted up with the sun in their eyes to see where she ended up. The auburn of Taytum's hair would blend with the red maple leaves as if they were becoming one.

"What the heck is she doing? How high is that?" Sheila asks on her tippy toes.

"About forty feet, I reckon," Bob said staring at the sky as the leaves undulated with the wind.

"She's coming back down now," Sheila said as Taytum moved from trunk knob to thick branch stretching out her legs and arms with incredible dexterity.

"Nope, not yet," Bob said.

They watched Taytum as she stopped mid-way in the tree on a sturdy branch and flipped her legs over it and she sat back on the trunk with her silver backpack on her lap. She took out a sandwich and straw from her backpack, like a camel back and took a sip.

"She's just eating her lunch up there?" She asked the rest of the group that watched and nodded silently. "Isn't that against the law, she could fall, she never sits with us at lunch, don't other people talk about this, does H.R. know?¨ Sheila asked with her voice growing shrill.

They shrugged. They preferred watching Taytum eating her lunch, rather than analyze their civic-type duties. Bob pulled out a sandwich, Tom his leftover pasta, Sally had a cup of soup, they watched Taytum in the trees staying there standing for five more minutes before they went back to their desks and started talking to each other again.

"Bob what did you and the kids do last weekend?" Tom asked as he cleaned off his tupperware.

¨Bowling, what about you?" Bob asked with his eyes staring at the floor.

"Netflix marathon, the weekend kind of got away from us," Tom answered as he sat down at his desk.

Sheila came back from the bathroom at around 12:50 and saw that everyone was by the window again, watching Taytum pivot side to side as she made her way down the tree and landed on the ground with a small poof of a dirt cloud welcoming her feet.

Taytum collected her things and changed back into her blazer and trousers in the bathroom and no one spoke of it. They typed, scanned, and printed the day away.

The next day at 12:05 p.m. when Taytum came back to the office to drop off her work clothes, she was greeted by the ten other co-workers in black Lycra outfits, and small backpacks fitted with their mid-day meals. Taytum nodded to them, turned around and they walked to the trees together.

Shelia came back from HR with her documents, looked outside the window and saw that the rest of the office was spread out over the street, each eating lunch in their own tree. Gazing at the horizon, lost in their unspoken conversations with the clouds and the birds.

Sheila smiled, took out a cup of soup, and sipped it while watching her co-workers eat their lunches in the trees.

If you are interested in some of my other flash fiction and short stories, you can check these out. I write one each month on my blog:

Kombucha Keyboardist

Story Synopsis: A detective comes to a town and realizes all the children are missing on Halloween. Follow her as she uses her powers to touch objects and see what transpired.

Paisley and her Plethora of Peppermints

Story Synopsis: Paisley McKaley was so sweet. So sweet in fact, little peppermint candies fell from her at random moments through out the day. When the pandemic hits, she needs to reflect on what being sweet really means.

A Tale of Two Magical Masks

Story Snyopsis: Amy Remy made two masks, one for each of her grandchildren. They were infused with protective magic, but the outlook of each wearer was very different.

So, I'm a Gothic Cathedral that Moved to California

Story Synopsis: Written from the perspective of a Gothic Cathedral that has decided to force her city's historical society to let her move to the place of her dreams.

Graffiti from the Sea

Story Synopsis: Written from the perspective of the sea, she talks about her artistic expressions during the tides.

A Telecommuting Tale: How Cynthia Transformed into her Desk

Story Synopsis: A surrealist piece of flash fiction about working from home during the pandemic.

The Royal Palate

Story Synopsis: A goofy short story about a prince that collects youtubers in his palace.

Sailboat Swans

Story Synopsis: Caredwyn is at the beach with her mother processing her new life after divorce. She finds her elixir in the sea.

Pheromone Folly: When Magazine Cologne Man Asks You Out

Story Synopsis: Mimi VanHopkins is distracted by her magazine on her way to take a bubble bath and is met with a very real dilemma.

Weavering's Path of Whispering Pleas

Story Synopsis: The path near Karney’s Creek has a wild bee swarm and everyone knows Kalista Green is the best bee wrangler in town. However, something strange is going on with these bees.

Jellyfish Graveyard

Story Synopsis: It was metal head grandma's 150th birthday and she damn well was going to build a jellyfish graveyard in her apartment if she wanted to.

An Origin Myth of Magical Mist or Whatever

Story Synopsis: A young woman goes on her first camping trip and is greeted by an unexpected visitor.

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