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April 16th, 1801
The little boy has already asked his mother about the stone. She told him it wasn’t a stone, it was a seed. The boy knows what you do with seeds, he watches his father and brother in the fields.
He chooses the spot carefully, a bare patch of earth, slightly damp, but not too wet. He digs up a handful of earth.
Is it deep enough? No, he decides. He wants the seed to be safe, deep inside the earth where he imagines it will be warm. He digs for a bit longer, but it is hard work and he soon decides it must be deep enough.
He puts the seed in the hole. For a moment he is sad, because he won’t be able to see it any longer after he buries it, but then he thinks it will be safe, and have a place to grow. He whispers good-bye, and fills the hole, hoping there is something good for supper.
June 21st, 1818
It was her skirts that were stopping her from jumping up and climbing. She could not take them off and there were so many. But the tree was so tempting. It was not very big, but no matter, she was small, it was the prefect fit, she’d seen the boys climbing. It was only her skirts.
The chin-strap of her bonnet itched and the sun was too bright. She reached up and her finger-tips just brushed the lower-most branch. But she wasn’t allowed. She couldn’t get her skirts dirty.
So much was just out of her reach, it was only her skirts.
July 12th, 1940
The sun is just setting, it casts a golden glow through the leaves of the acorn tree. The young man and the young lady stand together at it’s base. The woman cries gently, silently.
“Please.” Is all she says.
The young man brushes the trunk of the tree with his finger tips. He takes out a knife. He carves a small heart.
“I’ll come home.”
The girl places her hand on her stomach, and nods.
October 17th, 1941
The woman sits beside the tree. She closes her eyes and a tear leaks through her lids. The runs her fingertips over the heart.
May 28th, 1982
The young girl has a plan. Her hair is dragged back into a hasty ponytail. She carries a jar of nails, a hammer and excitement. The tree’s perfect for a fort. Two branches form a V-shape. Just right.
She picks up her hammer, a nail and a piece of wood she brought here earlier. She holds the stick up to the tree and begins to hammer.
The noise is ugly. She stops, not liking the echoes. She starts again, she feels the resistance when the nail bites into the trunk of the tree. She hammers once more. A bird leaves its nesting place. She lets the hammer fall. She no longer wants to build a fort.
The girl takes a step backwards, onto a nail. It pierces her skin, and she can see blood. She looks at the tree, and imagines blood pouring down it’s trunk. She turns and runs.
It’s the man’s last job of the day, after this, he’ll get to go home, see his wife, his children.
He’s looking at the tree. It’s big and the light filtering through it’s branches has a golden hue. It’s canopy is enormous, stretching across the sky, and little pieces of blue peek through. There’s a heart carved into the trunk, but the man doesn’t see this, he’s thinking that the trunk is awfully wide and it might be hard to cut down. It’s an oak thee he realizes, picking up an acorn laying on the ground.
It’s hard to believe, he thinks, that something so small can grow to be so big.
He fiddles with his thick protective gloves and, shrugging his shoulders, takes a last look at the tree. Then he heads to his truck to retrieve and chainsaw, and finish the last job of the day.