“I see you’ve done some pruning,” Margaret’s therapist said. “I like what you’ve done with the branches around your sternum.”

“Thank you,” Margaret choked out. It had been a trial learning how to talk with roots entwined around her larnyx, but she had muddled through. “I think…I think I made a major…breakthrough. Other day. On the lawn.”

“Yes? Say more about that.”

Margaret grimaced, forming words that sounded rough and hard. She toyed with the braches that jutted out from her left elbow as she spoke. “On the lawn. I was…in the sun. At peace. Feeling the grass…at the sun. It felt…wonderful.”

“That’s a good thing, Margaret. A very good thing.”

Margaret smiled at that, leaves tickling her cheeks. “Was thinking…since had break…though, I could get…a phone call.”

“Oh, Margaret…”

“Or clothes!” The vines entwined in Margaret’s hair shuddered slightly. “Clothes? I’m…ready for clothes.”

Margaret’s therapist closed her book and folded her hands. “Margaret. You came here because you wanted to get away from all that. It was making you sick, remember? All the technology, all the information. It was overwhelming. It was making you sick.”


“What would you do on the phone, Margaret? You can barely talk.” She reached out and stroked the branch around Margaret’s collar bone. “I think you’ve done some lovely work here, but you’ve still got a long way to go. But you have made progress. I’ll talk to The Leader about giving you more time in the Orchard. You like working in the orchard, don’t you.”

Margaret had a great deal of trouble choking out a “yes,” so she settled for a slow, sad nod.

“That’s the spirit, Margaret. There’s still so much of the modern world in you. But we’ll cut it out yet.”

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