The memory trees.
Debian marched them down the path until they came to the 5 trees. Under the middle one sat Alex, who didn’t look particularly happy. “Took you long enough.” He snapped.
“Sorry about that, Al, but apparently the instruction to follow ya wasn’t enough, so I had ta give ‘em a little…nudge.” Debian eyed Billet, who pointedly avoided eye-contact.
With a sigh Alex said. “Forget it. Take a seat.” All the kelso’s sat cross-legged forming a circle around him. Debian stepped over Annie and Mary and sat beside Alex.
One curt nod later and Debian clicked his fingers. A black pot appeared, filled to the brim with water, it was supported by a triage connected with a chain. It looked like something from the 16th century. When Annie pointed this out, Alex and Debian looked at each other and shrugged.
“We like Macbeth.” Then Alex stood up, circled the tree they were stood under, until he stopped, reached up and extracted a single leaf. Walking back he said in a hushed voice. “Debian.”
Debian kneeled up, took a deep breath and then blew, immediately a fire started under the cauldron. All the kelso’s blinked. “Awesome.” Breathed Harvey.
“Julyetterance kelso, are you American or British?” Alex asked, standing intimidatingly over the pot and glaring at Harvey, who blushed and looked down, rolling his eyes, Alex dropped the leaf into the pot and sat back down.
The kelso’s started at the pot expectantly. Nothing happened. A minute passed, two. Gwen started to fidget. 5 minutes later and she whined. “This is boring.”
Stretching his legs, Harvey agreed. “What are we waiting for anyway?”
“A memory.” Alex said, watching the pot intently. The kelso’s waited for him to elaborate. He didn’t. Sighing, Debian started to speak.
“These trees you see around you are not just there for decoration.” He said, seriously. “They are memory trees. You see throughout a person’s life they collect memories, and all those memories are stored somewhere. It depends on the person as to where they are stored, some people have organised files, some have the memories nailed to the wall. Some ‘ave memory catchers and some people have been known to ‘ave a TV where you literally watch the memories back. In our case it’s trees. Each of these leaves is a memory, and the trees represent parts of our life.” The devil got up, and walked to the first tree. “The first tree covers 0 – 10. There’s not that many leaves as you will have noticed, because many of the memories have faded.”
“Faded?” Mary questioned.
“People forget things. In our case when a memory is forgotten, the leaf falls of and disappears. It can grow again, but usually it doesn’t. That’s what happened with the missing memories, their leaves have disappeared. The second tree is the teenage years, 13 – 19. A bit more memories you’ll notice. 3rd, 20- 30. Nearly full. Yes, a lot of memories from that era. Number four is 31 -46. Again nearly full, very recent memories some of them are. And finally, this one is 47 to now. Not that many leaves you’ll notice, it’s only be growing 8 years.” At the end of that speech Debian walked away from the 5th tree and came back to where Alex was still sitting, eyes still intently watching the pot.
“Well, that was interesting.” Harvey said. “However, it doesn’t answer my question. What are we waiting for?”
“A memory.” Alex said again. Seeing their confused faces, Debian continued.
“You’ll have observed Alex taking a leaf of the third tree. That leaf contains a memory from when we were…twenty-two?” he gave Alex a sideward glance.
“Whatever. We’re going to show it to you.” Debian took a moment to take in the confused/shocked/delighted faces from his nieces and nephews and continued. “Are you aware of how tea was made years ago?”
“Boiled.” Mary answered instantly. “Used mainly in Chinese culture, you’d boil the leaves to make tea.”
“Correct. This works like that, the memories are inside the leaves. Therefore if we want to review them or show them in this case, we have to boil them to get the memories out.”
“Which is what you’re doing now?” Harvey checked. Opposite him, Kevin stopped yawning and became animated.
“Yes, although they do tend to take a while…” at that precise second a puff of purple smoke came out of the cauldron, it grew upwards, becoming bigger a bigger, until it resembled a circle made out of clouds. A cloud circle.
As the circle finished building itself Alex spoke for the first time in five minutes. “A couple of things to note, one, the cloud circle will show the memory on both sides, so don’t bother to move. Secondly it’s shown from the third person, e.g. despite it being OUR memory, it’ll be shown as if there was another person there, everyone clear?”
Nods all around and the image on the cloud circle began to move.
“John, hurry up!” there was a laugh, and a creeper girl came into view, she looked about 12 and wore a black dress with black army boots.
“I’m coming, I’m coming, god girl, give me a minute.” A rustle of leaves and a young Scarface came into view, except, without the scar; as a matter of fact he looked precisely like Johnaowl. When Gwen pointed this out Alex explained.
“As John does the body movement, he also has the responsibility of deciding which clothes we wear.”
“For our sins.” Debian muttered, under his breath.
Back on the cloud circle [which had paused while they were speaking, much to Mary’s fascination] Scarface carried on. “Right, you want to hide or count?”
“Hide, hide!” the girl was jumping up and down.
“Alright, nag, but no using your powers to shield yourself, it’s cheating. Right, I’m going to count to 30, go hide.” He turned around, facing the wall. Behind him the girl looked around before running to a tree and hiding behind it.
“29, 30. Ready or not, here I come.” Scarface turned around and started searching everywhere from the bush to up the water-drain. The girl giggled. Hearing this Scarface started to walk towards her, saying as he did so. “Well this is weird, I thought I told nag, not to use invisibility, maybe she’s transported herself to china.” More giggling. “I wonder if she’s dug a tunnel to Tokyo?” more hysterical giggling. “Or maybe…she’s…here!” Scarface flung himself behind the tree, catching the girl, who squealed happily. The memory faded.
Silence greeted that. While the kelso’s were digesting what they’d just seen, Alex got up, went to the same tree and took another leaf and did the same as the previous. The silence dragged for about 2- 3 minutes, until the cloud circle came back.
“That was quicker.” Billet broke the silence.
“It depends on the memory as to how long they take.” Alex explained.
“This memory is another one from the third tree. Same age as before 23.” Debian recited.
This one was a puff of blue smoke. The same cloud circle as before. This time the memory started with Scarface in a room. He was on his own. The door opened. “John?” another creeper girl, not the same one as before, this girl was older, a teenager, she looked about 16. She wore jeans, trainers and a pale blue lacy top. “Kelstruck just yelled at me.”
At that Harvey sighed sympathetically. Kelstruck was the kelso’s father, and let’s just say that if the kelso’s had a choice between hanging out with their dad, and dining with cannibals, the cannibals won every time.
“Don’t worry. He’s just stressed because he’s got that exam tomorrow.”
“I know but…”
“Come here.” The girl threw herself at Scarface who rocked her back and forth while stroking her hair. The memory faded.
“Who were they?” Kevin asked what they were all thinking.
“They were Keckkoyee [keck-koi-e] and Neginta [nag-in-ta] kelso. Our sisters.”