Sunday, February 20, 2011

That Tree

Hey, you know that tree in the middle of my backyard? I can never remember the kind it is, even though it's been out there my whole life. When Dad was alive, he'd always explain everything about it, in minute detail. Dad was like that. Too bad I never bothered to pay attention. But then, you'd know about that better than anyone, wouldn't you?

We used to spend summer afternoons climbing that tree. I'd tell you that girls weren't supposed to be playing with boys, but you never listened. Besides, you knew the truth was that you were my best friend. When we were too tired to climb anymore, we'd lie beneath its spreading branches and try to imagine what life would be like when we were grown-ups.

That tree was where we would be sit and talk as we got older, when climbing it lost its majesty. I'll never forget that windy spring weekend when you came over after my folks had left for a swap meet. You were kidding me about that unkempt hair of mine, which looked like it'd never met a comb. You ran your fingers through it to smooth it out.

I reached out and caressed your fingers as they played through my hair. I didn't know what I was feeling inside, but I knew I didn't want it to stop. You inched closer to me - slowly, almost imperceptibly. I met you halfway. Our eyes darted back and forth, neither of us certain of what we were about to do.

Then, we kissed. As my lips brushed yours, we had our first taste of that grown-up world of our dreams. Was it inevitable after all those years? Or was our coming of age somehow different and special?

Whenever I'd walk out the back door of the house, I'd think of that moment as soon as I laid eyes on the tree. A slight smile would cross my face at the memory. Even as time marched on, I always knew the tree would be there. It would be a sort of landmark to the two of us.

The tree is gone now. Lightning hit it last night and cleaved it in two. I'm sitting on the back porch looking at the charred remains, still not quite sure I believe it. The proud branches that seemed to envelope us are scattered all over the backyard. Eventually, I'll have to help Mom clean up this mess. I guess I'm just in shock right now.

Maybe that's why I'm writing this letter to you? I mean, I haven't seen you or spoken to you in years, and I got the feeling long ago that was a deliberate choice of yours. I wouldn't even know where to send you this letter, because I don't know where you are. Maybe by writing this, I'm pretending that our love isn't really as dead as the tree in my backyard.

I don't know what I'll do with this letter. I keep thinking I should seal it in an envelope and carry it with me, just in case I happen to run into you. That seems as likely as the tree magically healing itself tonight. More likely, I'll put it away and it will be lost amid other miscellaneous papers. It doesn't really matter what happens to a letter that will never be mailed.

That's all I had to say. I should probably get started on collecting these limbs, so I'll wrap this up. Just thought you might want to know about what happened. I assume that tree was as big a part of your life as it was mine.

Hope you're well, wherever you are.

(NOTE: All characters & events depicted in this entry are fictitious.)

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