Literary Fiction Science Fiction friendship epistolary Stages of grief

Putting Down Roots

By M. E. Garber
Sep 28, 2017 · 1,002 words · 4 minutes

Tree in backlight

Photo by Jan Huber via Unsplash.


VoiceNode 1453a:Anni_Miller

To: Buvaneswari Delall


I wasn't trying to hide from you, but this has been hard to deal with. I just put my head in the sand, you know? (Which seems ironic, considering.) I'm sorry--I should've reached out to you sooner. You've always been my bestest friend, even before our crazy AT throughhike. I still miss the Appalachian Trail, our trip there. All my stress fell away. I could use that now.

Jared moved out yesterday. Can't blame him--he's moving on. Whereas I, apparently, won't be moving for long.

They're running tests, doing experiments. I feel like a lab mouse in a cage, and I hate it all. I want to run away, but can’t.  I know they'll figure it out. They have to. Until then, I dream impatiently. Can't wait to get my life back.


p.s. You bet our Pacific Crest trail hike is still on!


VoiceNode 1453a:Anni_Miller

To: Buvaneswari Delall

It's mostly like that, yes. My prenatal neural treatments were the earliest available. They're the ones "misbehaving" now. Somehow, the adaptive photosynthesis helping power my neural link-up is failing. But not just shutting down. No, that would be too simple. It's been slowly devolving my entire nervous system for years. YEARS! "Slower metabolic state" is what the media say, but talking to the docs, they're suggesting a plant-like state. I'll start relying more and more on what my body photosynthesizes, less on other forms of energy. I'll be alive, but unmoving, by the end.

Already I walk more slowly, and my reflexes are "noticeably retarded." Hell, Buvana, I even catch myself talking more slowly! Can you believe it? Your nickname for me won't be applicable soon; the Motormouth is finally stalling.

/Redacted: unknown sounds/

Sorry. I'm still having a hard time with this. I'm furious. The docs tell me to start planning--but for what? They won't tell me anything. More experiments? No thanks. They're destroying what little life I have left. I'm done with them. Sit and wait, that's all it is. I'm not going to sit still any longer!

Those months we had on the Appalachian Trail? I want to do it all again on the Pacific Crest. I've only seen a small bit up in Oregon, and already I want it all. I wanted to know that trail--every inch of it. The way we did the AT. I want to keep walking, keep moving, forever. I want my thoughts to run crystal clear again.

I'm afraid, Buvana. Terrified. I know it's short notice, but I could use my best friend here, in person. Please, can you come? Soon?

With inexpressible thanks,

Your BFF,




To: Buvana

I miss you and your humor so much. You really helped. I think you know that, but I want to be sure you know it, and for me to know you know it.

I watched the net feeds for news on your shuttle, and was so glad to hear your trip was safe, and on time. I'm spending more time each day just parsing the feeds. It's soothing. Strange, isn't it?

I wonder now if all that inescapable motion, all those long hikes, all the energy I burned when young, was compensating for the coming lack. Something to ponder.

I feel better since your visit. I've slowed more, but those patient hikes--moving--helped me to think. Deep thoughts, Buvana. Deep like the roots of trees. They communicate, you know. Trees send messages--pheromones through their leaves and roots to the trees around them.

I'm walking every day. Everything feels different. The sunlight--wow. It pools on me, in my skin, and I expand and lift, turning towards it without thinking, just feeling the glory of that energy. I wish I could share that sensation with you.

Being with you made me see this situation in a whole new way. I've been looking for a place, like we discussed, but haven't found anything yet. Nothing feels right.

I'm so glad you helped me upgrade my networking. It's so much easier sending messages without having to subvocalize. It got frustrating. Thought-activation is much better. I can never thank you enough for figuring out my connectivity for the long term. However long that may be.





To: Buvana

I've found the place. GPS coordinates listed below. Don't share them with anyone. This is where I will rest, when I root.

The solitude is stunning. Delicious fog sometimes. The air is clear and pure, and the sea is near enough to warm the area, creating year-round sap flow. When the sunlight hits, it scintillates on my nerves in such a way that I feel truly alive. I didn't used to know what that meant. Now I do. I wish I could share it with you, but you'll have to trust me.

My mobility is coming to an end. My limbs are slow, heavy. I can't bend easily, and my thicker skin cracks and splits if I'm not careful. I'm leaving for my permanent home now. With luck, I'll be there in a week.

Visit me when you can. I'll wait for you.




To: B

I saw you...yesterday...I think. Time is difficult. Fast. It took me time to see you, to know you. Your hair is gray, and your face so lined. But they were your eyes, your smile. And your hand on mine--I know your touch, friend. Don't cry for me.

You spoke so fast. Who is Motormouth now?

Don't cry for me.

I thought once to know the world by walking it. Now I understand that I'll never know this tiny spot around me. It's always changing. I can't keep up.

The newsfeeds stream too fast. I only catch the biggest trends. More like me? Tell them not to fear, not to fret. To find a home. They will root, and be content in the sun.


This story originally appeared in Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet.

M. E. Garber

M. E. Garber's wide range of speculative fiction stories reflect her odd interests and her wonderfully fickle muse.