The Tree Lives On
Writing Prompt: A couple plants a tree the week their baby is born. Write about their growing up together.
The week Vallary was born, Greg Fambila’s brother Tom sent him an acorn in the mail. Greg and his wife Betty were confused at first, but the note Tom left with the seed made sense of things. It read “Plant this acorn. Let it grow with her. May it’s roots be reflective of the ground she grows up on. May it’s growth be a reminder of her flourishing, and may its unmovingness be a symbol of the home she will always have with you.” The Fambila family thought the suggestion was a marvelous one. And so, on October 1st of 2016, a week after their little one saw their faces for the first time, they planted their very first tree together. They gave this sapling the most prestigious spot in their backyard, near the creek where the ground was fertile. Both felt that it simply wouldn’t do to give it anything less.
The baby Vallary grew quickly in some ways. Her black hair turned blonde and sapphire eyes grew bright as they came to know her parents. Likewise, a sapling sprouted from the ground. Its leaves were soft and emerald. It was a happy autumn indeed.
By the night of October 1st 2021, a new neighbor would have no notion of the way things had been five years ago.
Greg had loved deeply. And for five years, he had all he needed. Every morning before work, he kissed his wife and his child goodbye and told them he loved them. Then, he went to the kitchen to make his coffee and watch his little tree grow.
Things are different now. Betty Fambila passed on as a result of an automotive accident. Now when Greg wakes up, there is no one to kiss goodbye. He simply gets ready for the day and drives himself to the hospital so he can see his daughter. Her blonde hair falls out more and more each day. She does not seem to grow anymore.
During this morning’s trip, Greg is informed that Vallary’s cancer is not responding to the treatment. His daughter will need to be transferred to a hospital out of state. Mr. Fambila drives back home to pack a bag and leave with his Vallary. However, as he passes through the kitchen, he can not help but feel the glare of that oak tree. It stands there, proud and mocking. Greg feels so much anger towards it, he detours.
Storming out of his house like a mad man, he yells,
“You are a Lie! I hate you!” He storms over to his shed. When he cannot find his axe, he grabs his shovel. “You are coming out of the ground!” The tree gives no answer.
As Greg marches across the lawn and nears the oakling, he fails to see a rock as tall as his ankle lying in the grass. He trips over it, smacking his head on the shovel.
Just like that, the world is as it was a moment ago. All of Greg’s suffering lies alone with him, silently. There is no one there to wake him up. There is no one for him to kiss goodbye when he comes to. Though Greg has neighbors, some of which even see him throughout the day as he lays there, they do not help him. They, as the rest of mankind, have agreed to let each other suffer quietly and alone.
By the night of October 1st 2026, a new neighbor would have no notion of the way things had been five years ago. Greg Fambila gets up, goes to the kitchen and readies himself for work. He dresses differently than he had five years ago. Instead of slacks he is wearing jeans. In the place of a button down shirt, he has a sweater. Where there was a briefcase, now there is only a laptop. He pours his coffee. Then he pours a glass of milk.
“Vallary, honey?” He calls. A muffled,
“Yes dad?” Returns.
“Do you want eggs?”
“You got it.” Greg answers. He pivots to the stove and glances out the window. There is an oak tree gazing back at him. It is almost twenty feet tall now. Greg smiles gladly. His oak tree lives on.
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