There was an oak tree in my foot.
It happened when I stepped out onto the deck to snatch dry clothes from the rail before the dark and damp set in.
I heard a crunch under my bare foot, but didn’t realize what had happened until the next morning when I saw the small acorn, splintered and crushed, and felt the bruise in my heel.
By then it was too late.
In the night the bits of acorn in my heel had sprouted thin white tendrils.
The tendrils wound through plains of muscle, delicate vein tunnels, nerves lit up like small cities.
The roots stretched toward the extremities of my left foot, only ceasing their growth when they reached the tip of my big toe.
Then the acorn shards in my heel began to thicken.
The next night while I slept, a tree trunk the circumference of a ChapStick tube poked softly through the bandage I had carefully applied.
It grew downward, splayed into parallel arcs. Leaves fluttered out, already yellow and orange.
The tiny oak grew acorns of its own and dropped them until they littered the foot of my bed like a forest floor.
The oak tree lived an entire lifetime in one night, hurrying so that by the time I endeavored to put my feet on the floor the next morning, it would only be a stump, a splinter in my heel.
Oak trees aren’t unintelligent, you see.
When mom plucked out the splinter, it was only a splinter.
And when I found a tangled clump of bark and crumbling leaves at the foot of my bed, I blamed the dog.