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The tree of life

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“And to my son, Desmond Ray, I, Dale Ray, his father, leave all of my possessions. My house, my cars, my fortune, my everything is to be given to my son Desmond. I love you and know that I will be with you (in your heart) through all your troubles in life. Never give up, my son.” The lawyer read the will, in a loud, monotone voice. His face was stoic, emotionless. My heart was pounding, my eyes filled up with tears. The last five words stabbed me in the heart with a slow, steady pain. I was not prepared for this. My father, my closest friend, the most intelligent person I knew, my hero, was gone. My mother had died in a brutal car accident just two years ago. I was not prepared for this. He had died a natural death; the doctors did not find any unnatural disease or cause of the death. The lawyer handed me the will, gave me his greeting and uttered the insincere, common words, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” Anger rushed through me, I was angry. Angry at my father, at everyone and anyone. Angry that I had not said goodbye, had not been able to tell my father everything. Angry that he was gone, without warning.

My father had always been one of the smartest people I’d ever known. He was one of the smartest people in the world. He was an explorer, an archeologist, and always so eager to uncover the unknown wonders in the world. He was the most famous explorer in the world, known for discovering fossils of the Nazarenes, the tombs of the 12 apostles, and the translation of many ancient languages. I am nothing like my father. Through many broadcasts, interviews, lectures, people have asked my father, “What is you’re son going to do? Will he help uncover the next big thing? Will Desmond Ray become the next big explorer?” As always, his publicist would enter in right there and say that Dale would no longer be answering questions. In reality, I never wanted to be the next “Dale.” I wanted to be me. I just wanted to live a normal life, with out the burden of always trying living up to the highest standards of my intelligent, quick-witted, explorer father. I never wanted to be an explorer, until today.

As the lawyer handed over the will, the feeling of regret and sorrow washed over me. Looking at the will was tearing a hole in my heart. I could feel the slow ripping and tearing of my heart. My father was gone. Tears welled up in my eyes and I could not control them. They rolled down my face as fast as the pouring rain in a monsoon. Drip, drop, drip, drop. The tears fell onto the will, smearing the ink. By this time I was already in my room, finally alone. I looked down into the will, staring at my father’s signature. The memories of time with my father passed through my mind. I felt lost. As I looked closer, I noticed my tears had smudged the ink on the will. Oh no! I thought. But wait, letters began to form in light ink on the back of the will as my tears darkened the color of the page. I turned the will over and allowed my tears to fall, revealing more letters. The message read, “Talkae muccah lae a punka itkiki puba.” The message rang through my head. I thought of the language my father and I had created when we were younger, and it suddenly came to me. The clues will come at the toes of the mascot. Toes of the mascot? I thought. Excitement, rejoice, exhilaration, and nervousness ran through my veins. Those words meant hope to me. Although I knew it wasn’t true, I felt as if solving this mystery would bring my father back to me. I ran down to the family library and while rustling through the books on the shelves, I found the book. The Guide of being a Great School Mascot. My father and I used to joke about this book all the time. We would laugh at the requirements and embarrassing things that mascots would have to do. The chapters were labeled by parts of the eagle mascot costume. I turned the pages, occasionally glancing at the bottom left corner, waiting for the word toes to show up. It finally came. I turned to the first page of the toes section of the manual, and in the top right corner four numbers were written in fine, sharp black ink in the hand writing of my father. The numbers read 5846. Five, eight, four, six… five, eight, four, six. The numbers ran through my head as I filtered through memories, wondering where these familiar numbers had come from. I glanced around my room, hoping for a clue. As I looked around, again, I filtered through memories. What did these numbers mean? Just as the words ran through my mind, I saw it. I quickly ran down the spiral stairs, rushing to get the answer. In our glass table, there was a tree, and surrounding it, rocks. Rocks with numbers written on them. I pushed and shoved the rocks around on the table until I found a groove, meant for four specific rocks. I searched until I found the four rocks that fit into the corresponding holes. Five, Eight, Four, Six. Click. A glass formed over the display of rocks and the tabletop opened. In the center of the table was a groove, made specifically for a certain book. A torn up, black diary lay in the middle of the table. As I read through the diary, I encountered thousands of descriptive stories, and explanations of all of my father’s discoveries. The last chapter was labeled, the tree of life. As I opened to the first page of the chapter, a disk fell out of the diary.

“If you’re listening to this, Desmond, then I most surely am dead.” The first sentence of the disk tore holes in my heart. He looked distressed, worried, and tired. I continued watching the video – it was a tale of my fathers latest exploration, The Tree Of Life. The disk contained a map, and clues, in order to find the tree of life. “Be safe, my son. Pick the darkest leaf on the tree, and bring it back to my body. The tree of life can grant me back my life.” Every word made me all the more determined to find the tree of life for my father.

Unannounced, I took off for the trip. I took my dog along with me. While analyzing the map, I attempted to piece the information given to me by my father together. The journey was going to be hard, and long, but as long as I could see my father’s smile one last time, I was willing to do anything.

I came across many obstacles in my journey, but those of natural obstacles. I journeyed for days, weeks, but could not find what I was looking for. I explored the forests, the mountains, the rivers, every physical aspect of the X marks the spot on the map but could not seem to find the entrance to the tree of life.

While searching for the entrance, I decided it was time to take a break. My back was aching from carrying the heavy supply backpack with all of Puka and my needs. I settled against a big boulder, placing my backpack down by my side. But as I leaned against the boulder, it seemed to tip, ache, and move a little bit back, revealing a hole under the rock. Curious to see what was under the boulder I pushed it with all my might, and to my surprise the boulder was light. It was not a real boulder. It revealed an entrance, with a ladder. I looked down the hole, judging by the mere image of the ladder, I thought it was about an 100 feet drop. I grabbed the backpack and Puka. It was difficult to climb down the ladder with a squirmy dog in one of your hands. Yet, I still reached the bottom at some point. As I stepped off the last step of the ladder, I turned, anxious to see what was there.
I turned around, and there it was. The tree of life. I heard a click, and felt a cold object being held to my temple. It was a gun.





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