A Change of Life by Peter Charles

One day, Karl Eggs blossomed. His head opened and from it myriad petals unfurled in small half moons. Together, in a mass, they formed a remarkable display.

Karl thought -- because his ex-wife Ellie told him he'd been looking ill -- that something terrible might be happening. He went to the bathroom across from his basement room and looked in the mirror.

In the heat of their separation Ellie told Karl there was something in him she'd never understood, a pure goodness she'd called it. Lately, she'd said, she'd been feeling happier. She'd met a man called George who was less inclined to forgive every little thing she did.

In the mirror Karl's reflection looked extraordinary. Where his head had been there stood instead a massy, inflorescent halo. Amidst the petal clusters little tubes stood tautly, each one tipped with dusty matter. They seemed to yearn for something, Karl thought, these little stalks, but he couldn't think what it might be.

Further changes occurred. Karl's skin gnarled into bark. His arms turned to knotty stumps. His feet shuffled violently into the floor-boards, toes tapering and wriggling into the grain until they became rooted there.

Karl thought of the bonsai tree Ellie kept on a window-sill at home. It was exquisite, that tree, quite perfect. But it looked harmed. Sinned against or something.

'One last thing, Karl,' Ellie had said on the telephone on the day of the decree nisi. 'Don't for one second imagine you ever made me happy. There is nothing worse on this earth, nothing, do you hear, than a good man. Good bye.'

As the core of Karl's body turned to lignin his heart ceased its beat and his breath stopped. In his outermost skin, just under the bark, water fizzed osmotically upwards. To Karl this outer skin felt like a wet, pleasant jacket and he shrugged himself more comfortably into it. No sooner had he done this than a great, rapid unfurling of twigs and leaves took place at the many new extremities of his being until his blossom-halo head crowned a beautiful green bushiness. At that same moment sunlight shone in a dusty shaft through the little bathroom window, illuminating Karl with bright intensity. He experienced an impression of energy pouring into him. He felt marvellously alive, bright and alert, as he had not felt for many years.

He turned slowly away from the mirror to face the little window until every leaf of his being angled itself towards the beam of sunshine.

He wanted to sing Hallelujah!


BIO: Peter Charles lives and is learning to write in the depths of south east London. Really, the depths. Actually, an abyss. He lives in an abyss in south east London and tries to write.

2010, Charles

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