Oneshot: Life of a Tree

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I am a tree, offering my limbs as refuge for the tired birds.

Their chirping surrounds me, penetrates me, like the harmony of the sounds of spring. They build their nests on my arms, pluck my twigs for their walls.  I do not mind; they will grow back. My job is the keeper, the protector, of these fragile works of nature. Surely some sacrifices must be stomached, accepted.

Near my roots, flowers bloom, feeding on the succulent soil that covers my base. Cool, green moss complements the growth, forming its own ecosystem, a self-sustaining world right near my feet.

Kites fly; sometimes they escape into the wide, crisp air. Other times, my leaves catch hold of them, embracing them in their grasp until the wind comes along and, in a brief moment of grace, sets them free again, soaring.

I am a tree, giving shade to the tired, the weak, the wanderer.

The outline of my body forms a cloudy lining on the ground, the well-trodden grass swishing back and forth in the draft created by my existence. The sun’s intensifying rays seek to penetrate my cover, but the green leaves, strong in their youth, hold strong and don’t yield to the unforgiving heat.

The shadow they create becomes a natural blank canvas, on which is drawn a picnic cloth, a tent, wet clothes spread out to try, a panting dog with his tongue drooping across the grass. Rarely does it remain blank.

I am a tree, bidding farewell to my leaves, one by one.

It is a bittersweet time, as my thousands of leaves turn from a festive red and yellow to a fading maroon and brown. Eventually, the winds carry them down, settling them neatly on the grass, and the fallen stars soon cover my roots in the hundreds, still seeking my protection even in death.

Dusk and sunset bring forth the steadily advancing cold, frothing its way across the season, and every night I can feel the cold snake its tendrils an inch deeper into my inside.

Yet, there is beauty – in the squirrels that seek out my crevices for their survival, in the final laughter of picnics, in the last vestigal rays of the sun as it sinks beyond the clouds. It seems to be taunting, a final blissful moment of pastoral beauty.

I am a tree, standing sentinel in the snow.

The world slowly turns grey, the dead leaves are buried under mountains of white.

Loneliness pervades me, as I am laid bare in the elements that pound away at my fragile bark. My last leaf is stripped away, and I watch as it gently floats up, then down, carried far away by the shivering winds that travel across the snow at a brisk clip.

The snow becomes something ever-present: everywhere I see, it falls, on my limbs, my trunks, my head.

Yet, I soldier on, wordlessly bearing the weight of the white snow on my shoulders, knowing that there will be a day when the last droplet of snowflake melts away, when the sun will return from its perch beyond the clouds, when I will be able to greet the new, blossoming flowers of the first spring rain.

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