The Tree

short story about growing old
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Short Story


I can’t remember the first time I saw the sun. Memories only go back to when I was about three years old, and by then I was about four feet tall. I lived on the corner of two streets, but they were never that busy. Always the same people going back and forth all day long. My home was on the smaller side; a one story with beige siding. I’d look into the windows just to see what was going on, and sometimes, looking back at me, would be a little boy.

I had grown by the time the boy finally approached me. He looked up at me and studied me, but I was too tall for us to play together. His dad mowed the lawn a lot, kept it pretty short. The boy would ride on his dad’s lap, and he’d scream when his dad would go in circles around me. On sunny days, him and his parents would be outside playing and eating. They would play tag, and would let the boy win. He was far too small to keep up with them, so I guess it makes sense just to let him feel good.

The year goes by fast until it hits winter. Everything seems to slow down then. I’m always tired, and piece-by-piece I fall a part. The wind would pick up, and these pieces of me would blow away down the street and out of sight. The boy didn’t come out to see me often when it was winter.

The first day of spring is my favorite day of the year; when the sunlight hits me, and I feel the warmth on my back. The boy was taller now, and so was I. Now, he was no longer the only one. There was another much smaller boy. When I would look into the windows, the smaller boy would be looking back at me. I had come to know the taller boy by David, as that is what everyone seemed to call him. He would come outside and climb my arms, and we would sit together and watch the sun go down. Once the light disappeared behind the horizon, he would jump down, look at me for a second, and then go back inside.

It seems every boy loves football when they hit a certain age. David and his brother and their father would always be outside when the weather permitted, tossing around the ball and chasing after one another. They would go around me, dodging each other, and using my arms to try to jump over the other. I never saw myself as a football player, but it definitely was never a bad time. David and his brother would sit on my arms and watch the sun go down. When it went behind the horizon, both would jump down, look at me for a second, and then go back inside.

Yelling coming from the house was more common now. Every few days the boys’ father would slam the door and drive away in his truck. At first the brothers would run out together and yell at him to come back. Eventually they stopped running out after him, and eventually I stopped seeing their father anymore.

I saw less and less of David and his brother. They’d leave home early in their cars, and then come back very late. I was always alone in the yard now. I would look into the windows, but I never saw much. The grass was longer than usual, the neighborhood older than it was, and I taller.

The boys were gone by next summer, and their mother put the house up for sale. Everyday I just stood in the yard, watching cars go by and watching the lawn service poorly cut the grass. The boys’ mother started coming out to see me. At first she would just walk around me or sit by me. One day at sunset, she came out of the house. She climbed up my arms, and watched the sun go out of sight. She got down and looked at me, nodded, and went inside.

The house had been empty for some time. Months passed, seasons changed, my leaves fell off. It’s funny, for standing here so long you’d think I had my fill of this world, its people. You’d think it would be all right to be alone. You’d think I wouldn’t feel the years go by.

Spring had started not too long ago when a moving truck showed up in front of my home. A young couple got out, holding their young daughter. The grass was mowed again, and lights were on in the house at night. I’d look into the windows just to see what was going on, and sometimes, looking back at me, would be a little girl.



photograph by Kristy Kravchenko


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