Best Days Gone

There once was a tire, tied to a rope, hanging from my strongest limb.  On that tire, the wee boy would swing, his mother pushing him, his hair floating through the breeze she created.  His laugh was my favourite sound.  It was hearty and full of life and was bursting with bliss.  It meant I was worth something to him.  I made him happy and he brought me joy I’d never known before.

Sometimes the boy and his mother would lay out a blanket beneath me and I would protect them from the sun’s unrelenting heat.  They would sit on that blanket and eat their lunch before running into the lake to swim and splash and then dry themselves on the ground above my roots.  I was there for their enjoyment and their protection and they kept me company through the long summer days.  We loved each other, the three of us.

But then one summer, their visits began getting shorter.  He was growing bigger, you see, and the tire swing pulled on my limbs so very hard.  I tried to stay strong, but I just couldn’t hold him.  My branch broke and the boy fell and I could feel the mother’s disappointment.  She was disappointed in me and she was disappointed that time was passing so quickly.  Her boy was growing, sure, but it was my fault I couldn’t hold him and I lost a piece of them that day.  I was no longer strong and my shade fell with my branch.  They could still sun themselves by my side, but they didn’t need me.  I was in the way and their laughter was no longer mine to share.

As the tides began to come closer, they blanketed the once sandy beach and pushed the boy and his mother away for good.  The water rushed around me, wrapping itself through my roots and up my trunk.  I was alone for the first time since I was a sapling, since I was planted near this lake that is now my only friend.

Years passed and the loneliness was all consuming, but I kept my memories close.  I grew older and taller, weather-worn and water-logged. Then the boy came to me, less a boy and more a man, with his own child in tow.  His hair was graying and he was as tall as my lowest branch.  He had grown into a fine looking man, but he had no laugh for me that day.  They wore fishing boots that came up to their waist to protect them from the lake around me.  He carried with him a box.  He held it tight in one hand and the hand of his daughter in the other.  They looked forlorn and I wished more than ever I could have stayed strong for him so many years ago.  The little girl let go of her father’s hand and she turned to me, looking up.

“Is this the tree, daddy?”

“That’s the one, sweetheart.  Grandma used to bring me here every summer when I was small.”

The man looked down at the box, sighed a heavy breath, and pulled back the elastic that was holding it shut.  He closed his eyes and whispered for his daughter to do the same.  The breeze caught their hair just then, sending it aflutter, and I remembered the boy in that tire, his mother pushing.  Those days were my best days.

He opened his eyes and crouched down to the girl.  They both took hold of the box and tipped it gently in the wind, sending delicate ash through the air, past my leaves, to settle afloat upon the surface of the glass-calm water around me.  The two watched as it was swallowed into the lake, then turned to walk away.  The man stopped for a moment at my trunk, looked up as he touched my bark, and then he left for good.

***

I am participating in the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. Each week I’ll be tackling a challenge issued by another writer participating in the exercise. This week, Alphy Michaud gave me this:

Google Image search “tree by a lake” and pick a photo that inspires you.

Write a short short that includes imagery from the photo.  Complete story arc.

I’ve never written from the point of view of a tree before…

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19 thoughts on “Best Days Gone

  1. Great job. Excellent emotional imagery. Love the loss and the growing apart. Your voice was very strong in the beginning and the end, but faltered a little in the middle…your word selection was not as bold. I loved the story from the tree’s perspective.

    I have not read The Giving Tree either.

      • Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. First, let me start by saying that I love your story. I don’t think that anything is wrong with it.

        The first two sentences of the fourth and fifth paragraphs. The short sentences with abrupt stop of the period that begin the paragraphs, make the transition into a new emotion harsh for me. You tell me how the tree is feeling, but I don’t feel the tree’s emotions. I don’t feel the significance of the tides starting to move closer or the years passing.

        Again, I only mention this because the rest of the story is very emotive. As a reader, I want the empathy I feel for the tree to continue throughout, not take a pause in the middle.

        You have a lovely voice in this story and please don’t think that I want to intrude on it. I’m selfish, and just want more of it. 🙂

        • No, I see what you mean. I think I fixed it, even just a little, by blending them with the sentences following them. I think it might read easier now.

  2. The imagery was excellent. That’s a unique way of telling th estory (through the tree). I actually liked the middle. It was warm and juxapositioned welll with the suddeness of the start and the end.

    good stuff Jen

  3. Who would have thought a tree would have such a beautiful, sad story to tell. You did an amazing job on this challenge and the photo that inspired you is beautiful as well.

  4. This reminded me SO MUCH of The Giving Tree. You have to read it, Jen. It’s very short. I read it to my son before bed a lot of nights, it’s very sad. I love doing the voice of the tree when I’m reading to him.

    I love trees.

  5. Pingback: The Week In Review: July 4-8

  6. Ok, so i HAVE NOT read the Giving Tree and feel that I don’t need to since I’ve read your story. THIS was heart-wrenching! And, the mother’s ashes! I could’ve cried. Such a good idea to tell the story from the tree’s point of view. Seriously amazing.

  7. You anthropomorphized the hell of out of that tree! Loved this – really, really good. I think it’s my favourite of your Indie Ink prompts so far.

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