The Last Tree
You remember the night your father chopped down the last tree in your family garden. You have fond memories of that old oak as it stood by the boundary fence, but it was dry and barren of leaf. You remember how the sharp axe struck the brittle bark, how it bit deep into the trunk. Chips of wood flew out around your father, as he wrecked the mammoth evergreen; though green no more. Most of all you recall the cuts and scratches he suffered from the branches and twigs that clawed the back of his hands and attacked at his tear filled face.
By the break of dawn your father was all that stood in the garden. As he stumbled back into the house you watched him head to the bathroom, and heard the running water in the shower. Rushing outside you stood staring into the rough open wound where that tall tree had once grown.
When your father returned, his hair still soaked from the shower, he employed your aid in tearing the roots out from the ground. Even now you feel the childish joy found in literally uprooting the secret boughs beneath the pristine green, green, grass. Afterwards the garden was a ruined web of earthen lines, ruptured veins of soil, writhing with disturbed worms and burrowing bugs. The early birds feasted well on this banquet.
Your father took the roots and added them to the mound of chopped kindling resting by the side of the house. As you helped with the last of the tree’s long sinewy fibers you looked around seeing the stillness of the street. All of this has been done before your neighbors awoke. The two of you had been industrious and worked hard. No one had known what you were about.
Now like the hungry birds in the garden you and your father broke fast. The blue lights came through the window while you were sitting at the kitchen table. The cereal crackling in your bowl and the sirens and the voices and the banging on the front door all merge into one memory, one confused-chocolate-milk-flavored-memory.
You were led off to play, but saw them take the axe away from your father, and then take your father away in the ambulance. They eventually took you away as well. And that is how you came to be here in this large building, that is not your home. This is a place where you are surrounded by so many trees. Far too many trees...
But you still remember. Your father showed you how to chop down, and uproot trees. How to remove the evergreen leaves from your life. You remember how your father did it, how he washed the blood off his hands and face afterwards. You remember it all clearly, and explain it to them over and over.
This is your most cherished memory. This is the memory they want you to put aside and forget, but you hold onto it dearly …the memory of that night… when your mother tucked you in for the last time.
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