We were in the fifth grade when they came. We had all been told they would come, but we didn’t understand what it meant. The teachers all knew (even the kindergarten teachers) where they had come from, but we didn’t. When we say they all knew, though, that’s not quite correct, we misspoke. We had just assumed that they knew, because they had all said they knew. They all had different answers though. Some said that they had come out of video games, some said movies, some said from songs, and one had even said all three. Some gave a vague answer of society’s sudden lack of responsibility towards us, only us. Some said the opposite, that we were too protected, too coddled, and that we would have understood if we weren’t.
There was one other opinion on the matter; the opinion of the voices of the woods. The trees said that they had come from underneath, under the woods themselves. They told us that these things had been buried for years, our whole lives, since the very beginning of time. The words we heard from the voices of the woods were words of their eternity. They were here before the entire world started, just hidden. The words of the trees seemed truest. Many of us believed them, only them. The idea that they were beneath our feet, in an attempt to be trampled upon simply to harden their shells, and compact their doings into an acceptable whisper of a society who had not succeeded in imagining them away. There they waited, as the roots of the trees attempted to tear through their hardened bodies. There it was they covered themselves in roses, and grains, and beautiful grasses, and wildflowers, and mints, and clover, and weeds, and dirt, and worms, and insects, and piles of shit, hiding away from us, only us.
In silence they came up from burrows made by older versions of ourselves. In a fog-like swarm, they swam in the air, thin, hard, penetrable, visible, light as air. They surrounded us, only us. They consumed each other for us. They loved each other for us. They bowed to each other for us, only us. We ran, scared, first through the school halls, then on the playground, and into the parking lot. We ran onto the roads, crowded with those older versions, and we sank into the sewers.
There, we saw that the woods were correct. There, we found all of them, lying in wait. That is when we shattered. Some of us flung ourselves back into the roads, becoming who crowded them, forgetting what we saw. Some of us fought with everything we had, only to be choked and to meet our ends down there. Some of us, scared of what would happen if we didn’t, joined them, and helped claw ourselves out of the tunnels. Some stood still, unsure of what we were a part of, unsure our entire lives where we had ended up, lost in the sewers, or on the roads, or in the woods themselves.
One group did what the others couldn’t. Yes, some of us found our own way through the ground. We allowed ourselves to be drink for the roots that were trying to rip through what some of us had become. We went up the trunks, into the leaves, and leapt out, whispering to the younger ones the things we had found underneath. Many believed us, only us.