Birches by Jan Stinchcomb

The bus would never stop moving, that much Klara knew. The birches outside tapped on the rickety windows like passengers trying to get the driver’s attention. Their approach was polite but determined. First they entered in a flurry of twigs and then they pierced branch by branch through the cracks in the windows. The bus filled with white wood and dust that smelled of winter. The old woman sitting across from Klara smiled and offered her a cup of tea. Excuse me, Klara said, her voice shaky, but is this normal? I mean, are the trees here always so aggressive? The woman forced the hot tea into Klara’s hands and said something about biscuits. Klara persisted: Shouldn’t we tell the driver? The woman went on smiling but said nothing. Klara felt something tapping her back and turned around to see a proud white birch growing out of the old leather seat. She thought she detected a slight green tremor, a kind of nod to her. A single branch came to rest on her shoulder. She searched for the next stop but saw only trees, all of them waiting. All of them wanting something.

Jan Stinchcomb is the author of the novella, Find the Girl (Main Street Rag, 2015). She has stories forthcoming in Gamut Magazine, Spelk, The Forge Literary Magazine and Storm Cellar. She reviews fairy tale-inspired works in Notes From Rapunzel’s Tower, her column for Luna Station Quarterly, and lives in Southern California with her husband and children. Find her at or on Twitter @janstinchcomb