Short Stories

Short Story: Family Tree

She rocked back and forth, feeling the morning dew on her knees. She could hear her mother screaming indoors, but she sang to drown out the noise and played with the white elephant toy. The toy looked back with its button eyes as she made it dance on the grass. Soon its feet were wet too like hers were. The shouting had gotten louder. She jumped up and ran around the yard, making the elephant fly, zigzagging between the flower beds her mother had made. They shined with bright yellow, red, blue colors under the morning sun.

She let out a laugh and made another circle around the yard. This time running behind the barn. The barn she wasn’t allowed to go in. It was not like the other barn they had, where daddy took her sometimes to feed the cows and let her play in the hay. It was the other sort. Where the adults went in the night when they thought she or her brother wasn’t looking. But sometimes she stayed up to see the starts with El the elephant. One day they would fly to the moon and build their own kingdom there.

“Moira!” her mother yelled her name.

She didn’t want to go to her. It was too fun to run, and El hadn’t yet got her feet wet enough like hers. She circled around and headed to the back yard away from her mother to the empty fields. The workers were always there, but not today. This was a special day. So daddy had said before she went to sleep last night. “You be a brave little girl tomorrow. It is your special day. You are coming part of the family.” Then he had smoothed her hair.

“Moira! Please.” It was her mother again.

El wanted to stay out, so she ran behind the house from the fields and sat next to the cellar doors hiding from sight. She pressed her finger against her lips and shook her head to El. Then she hugged the white elephant.

“Moira?! You have to come in.” This time it was daddy.

She peeked over the doors to see if daddy was behind the house. He wasn’t.

“Where are you? Everyone is waiting for you.”

She sat back down and kept hugging the elephant, rocking back and worth, keeping her eyes shut. “Shh…,” she said to block out the noise of dragging feet.

“Moira!” her father said.

She opened her eyes and saw her father standing there, leaning to his good leg.

“Daddy,” she said and jumped up to hug him.

“There, there.” He petted her hair. “I know it is exciting, but you should run off like that.”

“Sorry, daddy,” she said.

“Now, let’s go in. When all is done, there is cake, lemonade, singing. You like that.”

She followed after him as he limped on, trying not to put too much pressure on the stump. No one ever did. Not her mother. Not her brother. Not grandma nor papa. Not her uncle or aunts.

Her mother was waiting at the doorway, leaning against the frame. “Moira!” she shouted as they came closer.

She ran past her father to her. Her mother lifted her into her arms, trying to balance out her weight. “Moira, my darling.” Her mother hugged her so much that it was difficult to breathe.

“Mom,” she let out.

Her mother loosened her embrace, but still keeping her tight. “Do we have to?” her mother asked. Not from her, but from daddy.

“You know it has to be done. She has to become part of the family tree. It is what keeps the lands fertile.”


“It has to be done.”

“But she will never run again. Can’t we—”

“No. Not another word.”

“Mom. It is okay. El can run for me.”

Her mother started to cry.

Thank you for reading!

© K.A. Ashcomb

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