I’m a literature major who still adores the classics. More and more writers are creating fan fiction, but I decided to share my hand at a literary parody – inspired by one of my favorite, classic authors, Edgar Allen Poe. I wrote this piece a while back, and I’m still proud of it. Hopefully, my fellow literary bookworms will enjoy it, too.
My story, “The Growth of the Tree of Mater” is based on Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” In appreciation of Poe’s work, I tried to copy the structure used in his piece, his tone, and even his style of writing and describing scenes. I wanted to capture his voice. My intention is to create a younger, slightly amusing story, using a similar format and theme of Poe’s story.
“The Growth of the Tree of Mater”
When I was a boy of the age of thirteen, I found myself in a peculiar circumstance. In the beginning of a dark and cloudy autumn day, I walked to my friend’s home and planted my feet so I was peering up at the towering oak tree which was encapsulated by a rickety tree house built decades before I was born. Though it was once a figure of envy to the rest of the neighborhood children, the novelty of it, as well as the strength and appearance of the house, was no longer appealing due to the dishevelment that had developed over the years. The broken boards tacked to the tree creaked with every wind that rustled the old oak. Rusty nails protruded from the cracked boards – some of which were now showing streaks of mold – bent in odd angles from the wear and tear of years of use by the resident children. Most of the warped boards were splintered from the expanding limbs of the tree as the oak had matured and grown over the years. The tree house itself was being stretched beyond capacity. Observing how the tree’s limbs wilted with a sense of sadness, and the stump grew thick with scratches from the rusty nails – like an angry beast, beaten into submission – I was given the impression of an enraged animal trying to break through its cage. Even at a young age, this feeling disturbed me somehow. Since a tree has no sense of feeling, I dismissed this impression.
In my impressionable adolescent state, I would have run straight down the sidewalk at that moment if I had not made a promise to a close friend of mine, Tommy Mater. He was of the same age as myself and yet he always appeared and behaved as if he were several years younger. He was currently going through particular “changes” that disturbed him and even resulted in visits to the doctor’s office. The doctor informed Mater’s mother that the painful and itchy feelings Mater experienced were simply growth pains of various sorts, however they troubled the young Mater to no end.
I received a phone call from Mater earlier that week requesting that I engage in a sleep over in his decrepit “Tree of Mater” before the warm season was completely gone. His twin sister no longer preferred to engage in such immature activities as playing in a tree house – neither did the rest of Mater’s friends who recently began teasing his newfound awkwardness – which is why I was called upon. I did not mock Mater as the other children did, and seeing as how Mater’s current anxiety involved his voice cracking at every little mockery that befell him, I was compelled to comply spending a weekend in the “Tree of Mater.”
Although the old tree house was once a symbol of pride and history for the Mater family – having been built by the late Grandfather Mater and enjoyed by all of his children and grandchildren, the last of which being Tommy Mater – the sight of the broken down shack was now sad and almost embarrassing. Children no longer stared at the house with awe, but with a look of disgust and confusion since some of the boards hung by one nail, swinging in the breeze like a flag of surrender. I realized, upon Mater’s request for a sleep-over in the tree house, that he was in desperate need of being encouraged to abandon his immature activities and conduct.
Entering the presence of my friend that day gave me a bit of a shock. Mater was on the floor of his room constructing buildings with Legos, while the television had cartoons playing. I was obviously shocked, seeing as how I had put away my own acts of juvenility months ago. His countenance was also a bit dejected and even apprehensive; he appeared to be avoiding eye contact with me and even attempted to keep me from staring at his face for too long, which seemed to be covered in small flushed patches. His voice was squeaking even more than usual that day. He nearly refused to speak of his own will, so every little question I asked of him was answered shortly and with high-ending syllables.
Mater tried to engage me in some of his adolescent pastimes: playing with toy cars, reading books below our age group, or watching more cartoons. These activities apparently gave him comfort during his current uncomfortable state.
As I tried to evaluate the root of Mater’s reservations, the absence of his sister’s presence indicated the reason for the loneliness I was detecting from Mater. Typically, a day with Mater would include Wendy’s company. When I inquired of the whereabouts of his sister, Mater simply shrugged his shoulders and informed me that Wendy would be hanging out with her friends at the mall; apparently she didn’t like playing her brother’s types of games anymore. Mater mentioned something about Wendy talking on the phone about a party she would be attending in the evening. Neither Mater nor I were invited, but Mater seemed to take no notice of this slight.
I would have enjoyed attending a gathering with the opposite sex, but Mater had no interest in even discussing girls, who he referred to as having “cooties.” I would have even enjoyed watching the latest thriller from the rental store, but Mater refused watching scary movies, which he said gave him unthinkable nightmares. I resigned myself to indulging his peculiarities for the weekend.
Mater and I gathered our necessities and headed for our quarters outside in the tree house near street’s walkway. Wendy crossed our path as we aimed to climb the cracked, boarded steps on the side of the oak tree. I heard her whisper the words “babies” and “embarrassment” under her breath as she walked next door wearing fresh mascara and lipstick. I could not help but gaze at her while she trotted away; my eyes followed the sway of her recently developed hips. I decided to ask Mater why we were not attending the neighbor’s party along with Wendy that evening, but he avoided the question and any other mentioning of his sister or her activities for the rest of the day.
When the evening began to darken, we set up our sleeping bags on the mildewed wooden-planked floor. Winds began to pick up strength as the night enveloped us. The high-pitched whistling came through the large cracks and holes of the tree house, so Mater and I tried snuggling in our unrolled beds to keep warm. Our flashlights enabled us to play card games such as go-fish and memory; although I would have much rather played some version of poker, I indulged Mater’s fancy.
Mater was obviously affected by the whistling wind, creaking boards, and shadows since his hands trembled with each card he placed between his thumb and forefinger. I decided to read aloud one of Mater’s favorite books in order to attempt at settling his nerves, and possibly my own.
I opened Peter Pan to the scene where we discovered that Tinker Bell had just drunk poison to save Peter’s life. The page was book-marked by Mater, but I was unsure whether this page was set because this was Mater’s favorite part or if this just happened to be where Mater last stopped reading.
“Tink got between Peter’s lips and the drought, and drained it to the dregs,” I read.
It was rather hard for me to relax as shadowy figures of crooked hands appeared to be crawling across the walls. I realized that these were merely images constructed from the branches outside of our cracked windows, but I had to continually tell myself that the fears taking over myself were merely juvenile feelings.
“‘Why, Tink, how dare you drink my medicine?’
But she did not answer. Already she was reeling in the air.”
Peter was watching Tinkerbell’s light fade out while I was stealing glances at my friend as his shoulders shook with each cold wind whipping the branches and rocking our tree. Mater began shaking even harder as the whistling grew louder and more malevolent.
“It was poisoned, Peter,”
“O Tink, did you drink it to save me?”
Mater began rubbing the red bumps on his cheek with one hand while he squeezed his aching knees with the other hand. He was muttering something about “growing pains” and shaking his head at his uncomfortable feelings.
“She was saying that she thought she could get well again if children believed in fairies.”
The creaking of the tree house got louder, and the rocking got stronger. I continued reading until there was a sudden snap of a branch and the sound of a banging door.
Mater and I both jumped.
“Did you hear that?” he whispered.
“Of course I heard that,” I told him. I had heard the creaks and snaps all these hours, but I kept my fears to myself. The wind was getting stronger and this thirty-year old tree creaked with every breeze.
Mater whimpered and hopped up onto his feet, flinging his sleeping bag to the floor. I was about to admonish him for his foolish behavior when he started pacing our small confinement.
“There is something outside. Can’t you hear that? The cracking, the tapping, the…”
Then we felt several jolts beneath us.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Mater and I both jumped at the banging directly below the floor boards, but we nearly screamed as the trap-like door for the tree house flung open and Wendy’s face emerged from the floor.
“What is the matter with the two of you?!” she yelled at us, her eyes wide and colored with eye shadow. “Tommy, a storm is coming! Even you should see that. Get out of this ridiculous tree house before it falls apart and you embarrass me any further by having someone see you up here!”
Wendy reached out her hands, grabbed our sleeping bags, and threw them down through the door and onto the ground below us, leaving us no choice but to fetch our belongings on the ground outside. As Wendy climbed down after the sleeping bags, Mater and I followed her with no complaint. I was too embarrassed to respond with a retort. Perhaps Mater was, as well.
The tree had begun cracking even worse than I had feared and as the three of us reached the ground, one final hard wind blew and boards began to fling off of the tree. We ran from the tree as it screeched, frightening us like a lion roaring from its cage. The rest of the house slumped to one side and teetered for half of a second before the whole house crumbled down the branches, landing with a crash. I gave one final look at the bare tree that gave the appearance of inhaling a sigh of relief as its limbs stretched with freedom.
My feet took flight as I trampled in the direction of my own home, on the scattered boards of the tree of Mater.
WHAT DID YOU THINK?
Have you written any classic parodies of your own? I’d love to hear about them. Mention your work in a comment below, so we can discuss the classics, like the good old days in English class… if you’re a literary nerd like me, anyway.
I’m also discussing books in my Book Reviewing series. Be sure to check it and have a conversation with me.