“So, I'm just going to… y-you know… um,” Brandon stammered.
“Well, I dunno, it sounds weird now. Does it? Sound… weird?” Ray made an attempt for a forced laugh, but it ended up making his words even more awkward.
“Nah,” Hal replied uncertainty. “You’re just asking us to… scratch your *ahem* rotting *ahem* bark.”
Somehow, the great tree in front of them blushed in a slightly reddish colour. There was a large chunk of bark on his back that was mushy, and almost falling off. Brandon prodded it with a tentative finger when, in disgust, he realized it had sunk right into the mush of Ray’s back like pudding. “Oh! I haven’t got that spot itched in such a long time!” He sighed with joy and satisfaction.
Brandon winced. Ray was already enjoying himself. “Just a little to the left, no, your right.”
Brandon pushed his finger in deeper, and found that half of it could be submerged in goop. Brandon began to itch, and cringed as parts of the rotting bark melted of Ray’s back. “Oooh! This is better than any day at the spa… I’ve heard it’s something like this.”
“C’mon, Hal!” Brandon urged.
“Nah,” Hal waved his hand. “I’m afraid it might make my hand mushy.” Brandon rolled his eyes. He had read up on creatures, that was not possible. Brandon knew that his colleague just wanted an excuse to stay away from Ray’s decomposing backside.
As Brandon scratched, the muck slid off like mud. At the end, when there was a small crater left in Ray’s thick trunk. Brandon picked some bugs from the now dry wood. “Ah, man, thanks!” Ray sighed with relief. “I don’t know what I would do without you! That’s been there for such a long time! It just might take a while to heal up.”
“Actually,” Hal started, “I might have something to offer…” He swung his bag over one shoulder and stuck his hand in. “Remember I had that cool…” He mumbled, rummaging around in his bag. “Thing… Where is it? … Ah, there we go.”
From his bag, he pulled a brilliant glass jar full of dazzling green liquid. It shone and reflected the sunlight all over the trees. Hal was holding it triumphantly in the air because he had found it, but Brandon thought it just looked pretty epic.
“What is it?” Ray asked, excited. Suddenly, his mood darkened. Brandon could almost see it smoking off Ray’s branches. “It doesn’t have anything to do with m-magic… right?”
Hal shook his head quickly. “It’s some plant fertilizer from Mag-” Hal stopped himself and grew a little bit pink. “I mean, my friend found it in his garden. He’s positive it’s all natural.” Then, he added in a low voice, “I wouldn’t be able to bring it if it wasn’t.”
Ray studied the glowing fluid for a few more seconds, and then said, “Eh, it can’t be too bad… Plus, my back is hurting like heck!”
Brandon regarded the large dent in Ray’s bark. “No kidding!”
The forest seemed to freeze at quiet as Hal pulled at the sealed lid of the glass bottle. The Pop! It made when it finally broke free sounded deafening. Ray carefully watched it as Hal poured a few drops gingerly onto the big tree.
The change was almost immediate. The fertilizer hadn’t even seeped into the wood when a bulge formed. Then, with impossible speed, the tree regrew until the area was smooth and seamless. An arm-like branch reached down to feel it. Ray let out a holler of joy. “Just like new!”
Hal smiled as rays of moonlight began to stream through the forest pathways. “Bye, Ray.”
Ray’s golden eyes glittered with joy. “Bye.”