“Now tell me what you’re afraid of.”

“Uncle Nathan is right about this tree. It’s got some kind of spirit in it. And it doesn’t want me to leave.” I saw my dad smile and shake his head. “I’m serious, Dad. You can’t send those guys up here again. The tree will try to kill them before it lets them take me down. Didn’t you see it happen?”

“I saw a couple of accidents…”

“And Ronnie fell yesterday, but somehow I’m able to be up in this tree no problem. I got up here without any ropes or ladders. Don’t you find that mysterious? Uncle Nathan doesn’t. Grandfather doesn’t.”

“They are both superstitious, that’s all.”

“I know,” I said. “And what about that, Dad? You’ve spouted all your legends and myths at me my whole life, and now you suddenly don’t care about them? That doesn’t make any sense.”

He sighed so deeply I could hear it. “I study those legends to get to know our culture, our heritage. I don’t believe that they are literal truths.”

“But what about the mermaids?” I pressed. “Remember the big story you told about the singing boat and the killer whale? It was you who told me that maybe the story was wrong and it wasn’t a singing boat; it was a mermaid under the boat.”

“I remember, but I had a real mermaid staring me in the face at the time. There isn’t anything like that going on right now.”

“I hear whispers coming from the tree. It moves on its own. It is warmer than it should be…”
“You’ve been up there too long. You’re delirious.”

I grunted at him. “It started before I climbed up!

Dad rubbed a hand over his face. “I don’t know what you want me to do here.”

I turned on the camera and flipped the digital pictures until I found that one with the face. I stuck it in the bucket and lowered it down to my dad and told him to take a look.

“Is that as good as a mermaid right in front of you?”

He studied the picture a moment and then replied, “I always see faces in the knots of trees. Who doesn’t? I think that’s why so many people create horror stories about them.” >>>