The tree is dead. That's obvious. The tree has been dead a long time. I know this, what I don't know was how long the dead tree had been standing there. For as long as I can remember that tree had been there, never growing. That's what I nicknamed it, the tree that never grows. My dad won't let me throw it out; he keeps saying it's special or something. I don't get it, it's just a dead tree. A twig. Standing in the window for everyone to see, bringing odd or disgusted looks when strangers that walk up to our door. It brings shame and embarressment to me. Every time someone looks at it I can practically hear what they're thinking. Why would they keep a dead tree? And worst of all from those who knew. They can't even keep a tree alive, they would think, why would they have been able to keep a toddler alive? And every time they came around I would be reminded of exactly what happened that day. Of how I hadn't been paying good enough attention. Of how he just walked out into the highway, at 9:00 at night. Of how that car was so large and the driver couldn't see him. Of how I heard everything from the horn to the utter and horrible sound as the car hit him. Of how my parents believed I had intentionally sent him out to the road to be killed. I think the tree is still around because of him, because of what happened. I think my dad's too scared to let go of it. He's too scared to let go of anything now. Every time I ask about the tree he doesn't say anything. That's pretty much all he does whenever I try to talk to him. Sometimes I get a grunt out of him, or maybe a nod, or sometimes even a yes or no. I still think he blames me for what happened. My mom did, I'm sure. My mom's gone now. She left. She left me. She left me alone with him. Couldn't she have brought me with her? I'm sure even life on the move would be better than this. This house with him in it. This town with everyone who knows what happened. This school where my friends still look at me with pity. Anything would be better than this. It has to be. This is torture. Every morning I have to hear his sobs. I pretend not to hear them. I pretend that I'm still asleep when I can hear him across the hall. My dad hasn't changed the room. It still has all his stuffed animals, the sheets he was supposed to be asleep on, his clothes in the drawers, his toys still strewn around the room. I have to pretend I don't see it every morning. I have to pretend that tree in the window isn't there. It reminds me of him. It reminds me of him because it reminds my father of him. It reminded my mom of him. She'd once tried to throw it out. My dad almost hit her. If I pretend it's not there then I can pretend everything's fine. I can pretend that I don't cry myself to sleep every night. I can pretend that I don't have to go to a psychiatrist every Thursday. I can pretend that I don't skip half my classes because I still cry my eyes red in the bathroom. I can pretend that I'm not Melanie Brooks and I didn't let my two year old brother walk out onto the highway almost a year ago.