Chapter 2: A Beech

Chapter 2: A Beech

A Chapter by Mika Franolich

Samantha finds friendship in someone she's only ever wanted to punch.


Chapter 2: A Beech

My roommate finally got home at ten at night. She works odd hours both day and night, so she’s almost never here. When she is, she is likely to be found crashed on the floor, sleeping away. There’s a pallet made up in the living room just for that (it also serves as our couch). Her job is demanding, and by the time she manages to stumble up the stairs to our apartment, she’s almost always so exhausted she can’t bring herself to go another step. I worry for her a lot of the time. She tells me I worry too much, but if I don’t nobody will, so I just ignore her when she says that.

“Samantha!” she called as she opened the door.

“In the kitchen!”

I heard her heels bounce across the floor as she kicked them off. She walked into the kitchen, and I looked up for a moment from the grilled cheeses’ I was making to see her leaning against the archway, arms crossed.

“How was your day?”

“Sam, we need to talk.” she replied briskly, suddenly authoritarian-like.


“What is it?” I asked in a bewildered voice.

“I got a letter from the school today…” yep that’s definitely uh-oh worthy, “and they say that if you arrive late even one more time you’re getting an O.S.S.”


“You know they’re looking for any reason to kick you out! Why would you give them one?”

“Let them try. I may not have the best attendance record at Montgomery High, but I’m top of my class. It’s not like they can do anything, or will, for that matter.”

“That chance is one you can’t afford to take. Start getting to school on time.”


“Because I don’t want you to end up where I am!” she shouted before forcing herself to calm down. She strode towards me and gave me a kiss on the head. “Fix it, Samantha, for your sake.”

The next day I arrived to school on time. I got there two minutes early and ducked behind a dumpster, where nobody would see me. I stayed crouched there until the warning bell rang, at which point I jumped up and ran towards my first class. Throughout the day I kept far away from Michael and his gang of half-wits, quickly dashing to the other side of the hallway anytime I saw them walking my way.

Not soon enough the day was over. It’s Friday, my day off, so I went straight home, ready to throw on some pretty clothes and go out on the town. I had just gotten my makeup done when I heard a knock on the door. I opened it to see Xavier standing outside.

“Hi Sam, do you want to hangout?” were the first words I was met with. At least I thought they were words. They were all said in one really fast string. I blinked rapidly, trying to see if this really was a dream. Unfortunately, every time my eyes opened, there he was.

“What, what- what the hell are you doing here? How did you get in? And what did you just say?”

I watched him grow red from embarrassment. I suppose it had finally dawned on him how foolish he had sounded.

He brandished the pizza box he had in his hands. “I figured you wouldn’t let me in-”

“You thought right.”

“So I grabbed a pizza box that was in the trash and waited for someone to come by and let me in. As for why I’m here, I was wondering if you would like to hang out with me. Maybe. You know, it’s cool if you don’t.” he continued on as if I hadn’t said a word. Fortunately it was in a much more composed manner so I was actually able to understand what he was saying, though I couldn’t believe it. It was a longer line of gibberish than what he had said before. Him hang out with me? Even better, me hang out with him? It was even worse of an idea than Freud becoming a psychoanalyst.

“Is this a trick? Because I’m not stupid enough to fall for it, I promise you!”

“No, it’s not, I swear!” he responded earnestly, hands held up in a sign of peace. “Look, if you want you can choose the place to go- then you’ll know it isn’t.”

“Fine. Let’s go to Skins.”


“Yeah, Skins. You know, the LGBT bar down on Hermann.”

All of the color in Xavier’s face left his tan skin in a New York second, leaving him bleach white as his eyes went wide with terror.

“I’m just kidding! Geez, you take a joke as easily as you likely take a di-”

“Hey!” he protested, producing a hearty laugh from me.

It took us an hour to get to where I’d had in mind. The destination required hiking through dense woods where thick foliage, like grasping hands, grabbed ahold of you and kept you in place.

I broke out of the woods into a clearing and fell with a peaceful sigh to the soft ground, stretching my legs over the edge of the cliff; I heard Xavier still crashing through the underbrush behind me, his breathing labored. He finally made it through and came to a dead stop.

“Woah,” he sighed as he took it all in, his breath immediately slowing, and I could only guess that the serene beauty of the scene before us had calmed his racing heart as it had mine.

We were perched over a valley; far below us, but close enough that we could still clearly see, there was a winding river. Dark shadows darted through it. As we watched, one of the shadows jumped, and light played across it. Others followed it, one after the other, sending flashes of pink and red as they broke through the waters secretive depths. Dahoons, dogwoods, birch trees, buckeyes- all of those trees and more lined the shores, casting their shadows over the water and stretching their roots towards it as if to leave the history of their lives in the sparkling azure waves, where they could always be read. Across the rolling hills you could see their colors proudly held aloft towards the suns- the deepest greens, with pink from magnolias and white from the dogwoods scattered about. Above us hung a beech tree- we’d squirmed our way in between it’s thick, protective branches until we came to the large opening I had known would be on the other side of that thick weave of branches. The boughs above us hung over us as if to shield us from all the ugliness that was outside of these woods, and the rest of the branches hung around us, so nothing could see us and the only thing we could see was the rolling hills and gorgeous waters before us.

“It’s…” Xavier began.

“Magical.” I finished.

He sat gently down beside me, looking out over the scene that was spread before us. It was so ethereal it seemed as if a piece of heaven itself had fallen to the earth. When I looked out over this valley, it almost made me believe there was a God, because something this purely beautiful could not simply be the handiwork of something as constant but flawed as science.

“How did you find this place?”

I brought my knees up against my chest, resting my chin against them and wrapping my arms around my legs. I considered how to answer his question- there was so much that went into this story, but so little I wanted to explain.

“I got it in my head one day to go see how long I could survive outside of my home. I was going to go to the city, originally, where there were plenty of people to get lost in and so many opportunities, but it would have been too predictable. I would have been found. So, I read up on how to survive in the wilderness and went hiking through the woods. That’s when I found this place.”

“I get it. My parents are bad, too.”

“I know,” was my simple reply as I reached out and wrapped a comforting arm around him. I gave him a reassuring squeeze before letting go,

“How long did you last out here?”

I thought back on that day and wiped away a tear. “Only one day.” I said, fighting to keep a tremor out of my voice.

“What made you go back? Did you see a snake?” he tried to laugh off what I’d told him with a joke.

“No.” I gave a shaky laugh. “No, I found this place.”

“I- I don’t understand.” Xavier stuttered.

“It was so peaceful, so beautiful. I sat here and my head cleared. I realized that, as much as we fought and as much as I thought I hated them, I couldn’t just leave my parents. I thought they would be devastated. Of course, it turns out I was mistaken. They weren’t worried. In fact, when I got back, they threw me out. I was disowned and left on the streets.” I remarked bitterly, frustratedly dashing away another tear that worked its way past.

“Then your apartment…”

“I live there with a roommate. Did you really think a parent would allow that kind of squalor? That I lived with a happy family in that tiny little place? Wake up. No family lives like that!”

Xavier was quiet for a moment, and when he finally spoke his voice was low and held a note of anger. “I live with a mother who made her own personal game. For every breath you breathe, snort cocaine. I come home to a squalid little apartment every damn day, and I’m lucky if my mom is passed out on the couch and my dad is off f*****g some new s**t. I can’t go into the system because it’s more screwed up then my life is, so I stay.”

“I’m sorry.” I told him softly, and this time I meant it. I had gone too far.

He breathed out slowly. “It’s alright. It’s just… I see myself in you, and I hate it. No person deserves that kind of treatment from a parent.”
“You’re… you’re a surprising man, Xavier. Everything I’ve learned about you, well…. Suffice it to say you’re not anything like what I believed you to be.”

We stared out over the valley for a while, just sitting with nothing but our thoughts and each other to keep us company.

“I have a question.” Xavier broke the silence.


“How did you remember how to find this place?”

I gave him a weak smile. “I remember every single step of that first journey. From the way the light played through the leaves to the animals that crossed my path. Remembering this place was no hardship.”

“But how?”

“I remembered because… with every step I took, I felt lighter. A weight slowly lifted and I felt free. Even if I was walking to my death, I can’t remember a time before that when I had felt so blissful. You remember a moment like that.”

“You get so much s**t from others for being trans. What is it like?” he asked suddenly, and I nibbled my lip, taken aback.

“Being trans, or being bullied so incessantly by others that you feel there is no life left in you?” I asked in return.

He had the decency to blush, realizing part of that had been by his doing. “Being trans.”

I hesitated, chewing my fingernail, trying to think of a way to describe it. Finally, I pointed to a hophornbeam tree below, a thin little thing that was moving with the wind. “You see that tree? It’s like many others in the forest. It fits right in, and you’d never be able to tell it from those of its kind. As the wind blows it sways with it, moving to match the rhythm of the others. They all dance to the same beat. That’s the normal people in society, or at least what those in society perceive to be normal. They conform to survive and so they are accepted into the group. And then, here’s me.” I turned towards the beech tree that hung above us, placing my hand tenderly on its bark.

“I stand strong against the winds and the storm, weathering every blow. I am unshakable- I refuse to conform or give in to the demands of the stronger forces around me. Because of that,” here, I gesture past the tree to show how the rest of the forest seems to recede away from it, “I am cast off from the group. And since I dare to stand against what is deemed proper convention, I am forced to bear the worst of the weather.” here, I swept my hand towards the valley. With the beech sitting on the hill as it was, the space around it entirely open, it would be confronted with the worst of the winds and the driving rain. There were no other sheltering branches to keep it protected.

“Would you ever want to be the other tree? Also, you should know that was the weirdest sentence I have ever said.”

I looked at him for a moment as I thought, and then looked back out over the valley, and a confident smile grew on my face as I realized the truth to that question. “No, I wouldn’t. I am myself, and that’s all I’ll ever want to be.” as I spoke those words I knew I’d never been more certain of anything in my life.

“I don’t think I want to be one anymore, either.”

“Sorry, you’re a hophornbeam. Just accept it, it will go easier for you.”

“Pffft, get out of here!” he laughed as he gave me a playful shove. I giggled as I fell. We sat in companionable silence by each other as the sun inched across the sky. We watched deers and bears and rabbits go by. The salmon continued frolicking through the waters, sending out their rainbow colors when they jumped into the air. We got up as the blue of the sky began to become streaked with russet orange and carmine pink. The crickets around us were beginning to sing, and below us the river had settled. It was truly magical.

We got back to my apartment and Xavier walked me up. He stopped me as I went to walk through the door. Grabbing my hand, he turned me around. “Samantha, I didn’t only come to hang out. Michael is going to do something- he hasn’t been able to get over the fact that he was interrupted the other day. Be careful, okay? He’s more worked up about this than usual.”

“Don’t worry Xavier. I always am careful. Good night.”

“Good night, Samantha.”

The next few days passed in a blur. Xavier didn’t stop by after that first day, so the only times I saw him were when I passed him in the hall. He never talked to me- when I saw him, he was always talking and laughing with Tony and Michael, usually with a few other people gathered around. He didn’t give any acknowledgement of my presence, but for that I couldn’t fault him. If I were cisgender I wouldn’t want to get caught up in the s**t associating with a trans person brought, either. It’s a difficult life, both for us and the people around us. So, once again, I was back to my normal life of being, for all intents and purposes, friendless. Yet, despite that, I felt stronger. Somehow I knew that the winds of time would never find me bending.

© 2017 Mika Franolich

Author's Note

Mika Franolich
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Little tip, try not to use the same noun twice in one sentence. Like in the clearing scene, switch between branch, limb and twig. Still love the story, can't wait for more.

Posted 1 Year Ago

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Added on November 5, 2017
Last Updated on November 8, 2017
Tags: Friendship, unlikely allies, hope, savior


Mika Franolich
Mika Franolich


Just a 20 year old college girl with... a plan? What plan? Review me and be warned... I will review you >:) haha, jk, I promise I'm nice. more..