My Own Fight

June 13, 2010
By , Burnaby, Canada
I remember when I used to take walks along these paths with my wife, Rose on warm summer nights and just watch the stars from below. Everything was quiet and the trees would be so tall and filled with leaves that it would block all sounds from the busy street right beside the forest. I don’t think I’ve ever had to make a decision that would drive me nuts and so far, this situation beats all others. The night is just like every other summer nights, warm breeze that would ruffle my hair and the crickets chirping away. The rabbits are going to bed and the owls are just starting their day.

I come back home just in time to tuck my kids away into bed. Rose is downstairs sitting on her rocking chair rocking away with her eyes closed. I go down and sit on the couch across from her and I clear my throat. She opens her eyes and speaks. “How did the walk go?” “Didn’t help at all.” I looked down on my lap and I could hear Rose shuffling in her seat. “I think that you should do what your boss tells you. You’ve been at this job for like what, 12 years?” “13, actually.” I corrected her. “Exactly. There will be other parks that we can walk in and go for picnics. It’s not the end of the world, John. And you know that your company is going into depression. This is your break! Take the chance and go for it!” This is what I like about Rose. She’s always supportive of me. I know what she’s feeling but she still gives me the best. We were quiet for a few minutes and decided to call it a night and we both headed upstairs. Even if the conversation was over, the words were still racing through our heads.

This morning, my boss was asking me if I had signed the contract yet. Pressure is a hard emotion to control and I don’t know how long I’ll be able to hold it in. I went back into my office and sat on my leather armchair to think. All I have to do is sign a piece of paper and money will make itself. The building of the bank is no problem to me, I just have to sit right here and read paper works. I can manage to go on trips with my family more often and also use the money for other uses. However, the forest grew up with me. I ran through the woods, I went there for shelter from stress and even made my proposal to Rose there. We would take our kids there for brunches and a round of family football. This is the hardest decision I ever had to make and I’m sure everyone knows it.

I look over the model of the project again and I see the new bank standing where the heart of the forest would be. A few trees would be left up but the rest are replaced with stairs, cements and sidewalks. I finger the roof of the bank model and continue on thinking. After a few minutes, I go back to my desk, pick up a pen and sign the contract that would replace my memories that I have piled on for as long as I can remember.

I tell the family the bad news on the dinner table and everyone’s face goes into gloom. Clouds are hanging over their heads and Rose’s beautiful smile turns into a frown. Everyone knew we won’t be having those special moments in the forest ever again and the truth is nothing in life is fair. The project team will go to the forest tomorrow and I’ll have to say my goodbyes tonight. After the kids are in bed, I asked Rose to join me for our last summer walk in our forest.

The night is still and everything is silenced. No crickets are chirping and the owls aren’t hooting. Rose and I walk in peace while thinking about all the reminiscences that we shared together. We walked for more than an hour and when we returned home, the clock was chiming 12:00a.m.

The bulldozers were met by us in the forest. Rose and the kids were standing on the opposite side of the street watching the horror that was about to take over. Their faces were smeared with pain and sorrow. Apart from all that, my boss seemed pretty happy about it and the project team was pretty content at the fact that they got to knock down something.

The machine started to roar and fumes of black shot up the clear blue sky. The peacefulness of the forest was broken into pieces and the noise over-powered all other things. The bulldozer crushed the first tree that opened up the wilderness and suddenly I felt a fierce pain that shot inside of me. “STOP!” I cried out to the driver and waved my arms like a mad man. Everyone stared at me with amazed and surprised looks but I had to do this even if it was against my boss’ will. The eyes of the machine shut down and everything was quiet once again. “What on earth are you doing?!” My boss seemed quite angry and I felt like a little child for the first time in years. I carefully thought of what I should say. “I have decided to cancel this project and move this bank to where the old airport is standing right now.” My boss looked at me as if I was insane but he didn’t say a word to me. The silence between our words seemed like decades but finally my boss spoke up. “Alright. If that is what you want, we can move this to another location and start it fresh another day.”

Two weeks has passed by and I’m walking down the same paths I’ve walked down for many years. The forest is still in a good condition and the bank is being built at least 27 kilometers away. We tore down the old airport and started building the bank but everything was improvised. As I walk down the hill, I see the tree that sacrificed itself for the rest of the forest. The stump was still there but the trunk of the tree was fallen to one side and the tree looked lifeless. I walked over to the tree and touched the bark and felt the leaves that were being shaken by the wind.

While I was glimpsing the tree, something caught my eye. I stretched my neck forward and squinted my eyes to get a closer look. There were a few writings on the back of the tree trunk. ‘R.D+J.P’ was carved into the tree and a heart surrounded the words. I was in deep thought for a moment and I finally realized that the initials were Rosie’s and mine. Rosie Dwells and John Patterson. I felt a pang of guilt for even thinking about replacing this place with a bank. I regretted everything I have done and this tree was an evidence of my shame. I touched the bark of the tree once again and continued on walking down the hill.

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