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The Family Tree

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The Family Tree

The juice oozed from the crude marks I made in the soft, green flesh of the lone tree in my yard. I pushed my stick into the trunk harder and harder, meticulously spelling out the six letters of my name. Once complete, I scampered effortlessly onto my favorite branch which fit my six year-old frame perfectly, along with Molly the bear.

Of course, I ignored my father’s plea. I wanted my name written somewhere forever, no matter what I harmed in the process. It was just a tree, and my name was so small. I disobeyed my dad and thought nothing of it. I wanted my name written somewhere forever, even if it was recorded on the trunk of a tree in the front yard of a house in a forgotten town; in south Texas in the middle of no where. With a slight guilt I reluctantly continued, adding my dad’s name too so as to soften the punishment of my crime. I thought maybe, if he saw his name too, he would not become so disappointed. My hair stuck to my face with the sticky sap, I discarded the gnarled writing utensil and fled the scene with sticky sap smeared across my face.

In the days after, I slowly forgot about what I had done. Years later, I had no fondness towards the tree in which I had spent hours in its thick branches, laughing and playing in the secret world of childhood. Eventually my family sold the house and moved away from the small town which had cradled my youth. I was uprooted and placed elsewhere, in a place where my family began to wilt like a tree with too much sun. Either the soil was to dry or the sun too hot, but it did not matter. My family simply shriveled. I began to long for the place I had carelessly unappreciated in the past, the place I felt was my home and always had been.

After my father’s death, my family tree became warped and marred. Limbs no longer grew, and the leaves fell revealing barren branches. I longed for the old tree, the pristine tree where everything was right. I longed for the comfort, for the sunshine I had not felt for days. I longed for the names scratched in that old tree; just the names and nothing else. I long for the way they were, fresh, new, and oozing, the letters green and strong. I yearned to go back to find it, but so afraid to arrive and find it dying with the letters brown and shriveled.

But I can never go back, and I can never find the peace I look for. However, I can go home and retrace the letters with my fingers. I can feel the bark and the old lines I carved so carelessly, and know the price in which the scars were cut.





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