The Evergreen Flats

Reads: 478  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is the story of Evergreen Flats. Conflict does not exist in Evergreen Flats. Everything goes according to plan in Evergreen Flats. Always. All the time. Without exception. That is until a traffic light breaks...

Evergreen Flats, an autonomous walled-off town where every day began once upon a time and ended happily ever after. Never was there conflict or inconvenience, only a place where smiles were as common as air. A paradise isolated from both world and time: wholesome music from the diner jukeboxes, pompadour-wielding billboard models, drive-in dates which led to wedding plans, an Americana filled with sitcom and romance and joy and affection. Even death was painless and predictable—each citizen spent eighty-five years, five months, twenty-five days, five hours, fifty-five minutes, fifty-five seconds alive. And at the end of it all, they’d die in bed peacefully, surrounded by all their family and friends. To witness death was like seeing a peg slide perfectly in its hole, for it was the signal that everything they did was right and true. Sadness, despair, anger, greed, none of it existed. Truly, Evergreen Flats was a utopia of absolute order. And the Wall which bordered it kept it so...like the arms of a father. In the town of Evergreen Flats, tears were never shed.

 

Until one afternoon when a traffic light broke.

 

It happened at the intersection of Street 13 and Road 21, in the commercial district. Blue skies and landscaped gardens tied together the morning like a dry-cleaned suit on a well-groomed man, a man like Tom Smith who had been cruising down Road 21 in his shoebox Ford—firebird-red. His wife and two kids also accompanied him, and with the buttermilk doowop tones of KYAO 85.0 FM the day was shaping up to be as grand as any other. But that was before they approached the light.

 

There was no green. No yellow. No red. Only black. It didn’t feel right.

 

At the moment they were alone in their confusion. Very few motorists occupied the road at this time. The pedestrians also were too entranced in their perfect lives to notice.

 

Tom looked to his wife Marianne. Bouffant coiffure. Skin like ivory. White-polka dot on red dress. Lipstick sweeter than a five-cent Coke. Makeup and mirrors composed a large part of her life. But now...

 

Water streamed down her eyes and muddied her mascara. MY EYES ARE MELTING! she thought. Yet she strained a smile, her only link with sanity. She thought about a future where nothing was right, a concept too terrible to even entertain—barbers giving uneven haircuts, cheeseburgers with two and a half tomato slices instead of three, cashiers handing back incorrect amounts of change, and (god forbid) cancelled Tupperware parties! Today the traffic light, tomorrow the sun! Marianne wished she was eighty-five years, five months, twenty-five days, five hours, fifty-five minutes, and fifty-five seconds old just to avoid the nightmare.

 

Marianne turned around and looked in the backseat where Susan and Anthony sat. Those bundles of cuteness were the pride and joy of her life. Or had been. She wasn’t sure what to think about anything.

 

Big sister and little brother locked eyes with a woman they no longer recognized. To them, the surface of reality dissolved, exposing the alien truth that had always lain underneath. For the first time in Susan’s life she experienced intestinal cramps. For the first time in Anthony’s life he went cold all over. The only thing still familiar to them were their shared emotions; just as one felt happy when the other was, so too did they feel each other’s fear. The social connection. This, and only this, kept Susan and Anthony from going blind with sheer terror.

 

Susan looked down the alley at the emissionless waste incinerator—painted on it were yellow flowers on a yogurt-pink backdrop. The design eased her cramps some, yet the core of the pain still lingered in the pit of her stomach. Suddenly she spied the eye of a black creature hiding behind the incinerator. A fox. Its ribs protruded. One of its hind legs had a nasty gash. Its huffs were through an open-mouthed smile, but it didn’t look happy. At least not to Susan. It wasn’t long before it retreated back down the alley.

 

Susan got out of the car. Anthony followed. Tom was focused on the light, but Marianne saw them leave. She couldn’t shout for she didn’t know how. She couldn’t demand for she didn’t know how. So she remained quiet, panicked as every part of her felt as if it were hyperventilating.

 

~

 

Ted Brown drove his Chevy 3100, truck bed loaded with pumpkins, down Street 13. He couldn’t get his mind off the silk blankets and satin curtains that adorned his mother’s deathbed the day before. With family and friends crowded in the room, Ted was given the honor of counting down his mother’s demise. Above the headrest was a plaque which stated:

 

Daniella Brown was born May 21, 3897 at 14:00:00 and will die November 15, 3982 at 19:55:55.”

 

Ted’s fingertips felt his mother’s pulse slow down as he kept an eye on his wristwatch. 19:55:01. 19:55:02. 19:55:03. He had attended plenty of deathbeds, so why did he feel a hole inside of him? Have others experienced this emptiness?

 

His mother whispered something. Ted leaned in.

 

“Destroy the wall,” she said.

 

Ted’s fingertips felt nothing. He read his wristwatch—19:55:29. He waited until 19:55:55 to tell everybody the news. Gladness washed over everybody except Ted. Ted only felt terrified and confused.

 

But that was yesterday. He forced himself to put it out of his mind.

 

The state fair, the state fair, he thought. Rest all your happy thoughts on the fair. Children eating funnel cake. Candy-bright lights. The pumpkin competition where every contestant wins a blue ribbon...

 

His heart fluttered under his red plaid shirt just thinking about it. He whistled an upbeat waltz as he cruised down the street. Before he knew it, five bluebirds flew down from the sky and perched themselves on the driver’s-side windowsill. Ted whistled a call. A bird tweeted a response. A whistle for a tweet and a tweet for a whistle, on and on this leisure in ostinato went.

 

Then he approached the light.

 

He rammed his boot on the brake, screeching the truck to a halt. The birds flew away and disappeared in the sky.

 

His eyes were deadlocked on the black thing above. His grip on the steering wheel went rigor mortis stiff. What going on? he thought. This isn’t right. Yet there it hung, like a wart on the otherwise flawless painting of life. Ted thought of his mother.

 

shallowbreaths tightchest no air suffocating kakhekakhekakheka fallingfallingdowndarker&darkerbottomlesshole destroythewall

 

Ted snapped back to the present. He was still there. But so was the light. Evergreen Flats as he had known it was now dead. And he was powerless to revive it? Were we always this weak and pathetic? Ted thought.

 

“Theodore!” he heard someone shout.

 

Ted looked toward the voice and saw Tom and Marianne standing next to their Ford. Upon noticing them, upon hearing the doowop towns of KYAO 85.0 FM, everything resettled into a place of coziness for Ted. He got out of the truck and sauntered over to the Smiths.

 

~

 

Susan and Anthony followed the bloodtrail they until caught up with the fox lying in the middle of a personless street. It was dead. A pool of red expanded beneath its corpse. Already vultures and maggots dug into it. Neither Susan nor Anthony knew what to do or say, so they stood there and watched, envisioning their carcasses being feasted upon.

 

In the distance there was talk of an “event” going on at the intersection of Street 13 and Road 21.

 

Down the sidewalk the siblings saw a baby fox, black like the recently deceased one. They followed it as it ran off. After a couple seconds of chasing after the black baby fox Susan looked back to the corpse. It was nothing but bones, devoid of any mark of life. No maggots. No vultures. If one were to look at it for the first time, one would think that the skull had always been like that, never part of a living thing. The girl wondered if all skeletons had that aura about them.

 

“Come on!” the boy said.

 

She did.

 

~

 

“How about this weather?” Tom said. “It’s just beautiful, isn’t it?”

 

“Golly,” said Ted. “Why I bet my bottom dollar this is the best weather we’ve ever had!”

 

“Perfect as always,” Marianne chimed in.

 

A small crowd circled around the intersection, awestricken by the thing above them. Whispers blended into gasps and silent sobs. Not wanting to ruin the moment, the Smiths and Theodore ignored the crowd and the light in the hopes that by pretending hard enough they could force the problem out of existence.

 

“What’s with the pumpkins?” Tom said.

 

“Those?” Ted pointed a thumb over his shoulder at the truck. “Why the state fair is today! You know it’s today, don’t you?”

 

“It must’ve gone completely out of my head. We’ll surely attend, won’t we Marianne?”

 

“Of course of course,” said Marianne. “We must we must.”

 

Ted looked at the light. There was no green. No yellow. No red. Only black—

 

Howdoyouforgethefairdeadmotherdeadmotherandeverythingisworsenow

HowcanyouforgetthefairHowcanyouforgetthefairDESTROYTHEWALL

 

“Since we were kids,” Ted said. “You always knew the when and where of the state fair. In fact, you were more excited about it than I was last year. Why is it now, out of all possible days, that today was the day it went out of your head?”

 

Tom laughed. “I’m not quite sure.”

 

Ted balled his fist, digging his fingernails into his palms. The doowop from the shoebox Ford. The crowd. That light. That damned thing! Life played him for a fool, letting him believe Evergreen Flats (and therefore the world) was fair and true. And it laughed at the joke it played on him. How weak. How pathetic. How it laughed and laughed and—

 

“Stop laughing!”

 

Ted knocked down Tom with a nose-breaking punch. Once Ted straddled him, the pumpkin farmer rained hammerfists onto his face until the Smith husband’s head was nothing more than an indistinguishable pulp. Red mixed with red. Hurt mixed with hurt. The bystanders said nothing. Did nothing.

 

“Tom?” Marianne said. She held her smile and attempted to convince herself that Tom was only napping. But no matter how many times she said his name he only lay there motionless. She felt lost. Alone. Her eyes began to melt again.

 

Ted stood up and stomped over to his truck bed. He grabbed a pumpkin, heaved it onto his shoulder, walked back a few steps, then gave a running start. He then hurled the fruit at the light: its trajectory ascended, crested, missed, descended...and hit the ground with an anticlimactic, rather frank, clunk.

 

The doowop ended. After a three second silence, a barbershop quartet—tenor, countertenor, baritone, and bass—crooned on love, pure and requited. In adagio:

 

“Oooh how I looove youuu

And how you looove meee

Nothing eeelse was meant to beee—like

Piano keys in harmony

Like nightingales in greenest trees

We are a heart, both youuu and meeeeee

Oooh how I looove youuu

And how you looove meee

Nothing eeelse was meant to beee

Like the eyes that help us see and

Like the lungs that let us breath

Forever one, both us and weeeeee

Oooooh hoow weeee loooooooooooooooooove

(Oh how we loooove)”

 

~

 

The wall stood a hundred feet tall. Pure limestone. The road Susan and Anthony had walked was a solitary one, one where the entirety of Evergreen Flats was far off in the distance. They wondered if anyone else walked this far.

 

The black baby fox sniffed along the wall and crawled through a hole in the wall. The children followed it—Susan in front, Anthony at the rear.

 

The light in that small tunnel dissipated the further they crawled. Their hands and knees sunk in the mud. They continued until there was total darkness.

 

Then light.

 

Trees swayed their chaotic leaves. Birds chirped dozens of different melodies. The colors of the forest clashed and made art. Dead plants and the still corpse of an elk leaning against a sycamore tree. Harmonious cacophony. It made the kids uneasy, yet it freed them in a way they never believed possible.

 

The baby fox went further down the forest trail. The kids followed.

 

END.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: September 18, 2020

© Copyright 2022 Marquise Williams. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:


Facebook Comments