The tree stands tall, a moving symbol of my childhood, swaying gently in the wind. Tendrils of clouds fight for power in the limitless sky, representing the extreme nostalgia tearing away at my mind. We leave in seven minutes. I leave it behind in seven minutes.
l look at the tree for what may be the last time and the ridged, worn-out bark stares back at me. Standing under the eternal comfort of its leaves, I wonder at how they will never fall again. The nest of a sparrow sits amongst the tree’s highest boughs, threatening to fall at any moment. Gnarled roots hang from the lower branches and their age takes me back to a time when I swung from their younger selves. A flower falls on my shoulder, a final offering from the tree. The flower is a faded shade of pink, almost white, but it still looks fresh, alive, healthy.
Leaves crunch beneath my feet as I shift my stance and I stop, afraid to disturb the profound silence that prevailed only seconds ago. It is too late. I can hear the leaves rustling with every breath of the air as unwelcome shrieks enter the back of my mind. There is a soft whisper, a pat of my shoulder while a horn sounds in the distance. I ignore them, trying instead to take in the scene before me. A portrait of serenity, untouched by any man. I listen closer and can almost hear the leaves whispering amongst themselves. Whispering of the past, the present, the future.
The sweet scent of the flower’s nectar pervades my senses and I inhale slowly, savoring every second. The freshness of the greenery radiates off the tree and though it may appear ordinary, I can still pinpoint the singular scent of the tree. I could always identify the combination of sulfurous rotten fruit, sugary nectar, and memories. I can smell the cast I had on when I broke my leg, the pizza I have shared with my friends, and the salt of my tears after a particularly heated argument with my parents. And then, I can smell the dust and smoke slowly entering from the road, and I check again. Three more minutes.
The flower is soft under my fingers and I let it drop gently to the ground. An unexpected raindrop lands on my arm and I am glad that the heavens mourn instead of me. Another sudden push from behind makes me fall to the ground. I notice a hand extended towards me but do not rise, welcoming the comfort of the cool, familiar ground. I run my hands over the tree trunk, my fingers finding the deep gash that led me to the tree in the first place. A splinter jumps out at my hand, and I pull away quickly, now bleeding tears of loss.
Sitting in the car, my thoughts return to the tree. I message my friends a quick goodbye, they came to meet me yesterday anyway. I press the home button only to see a photo of the tree again. I smile sadly and remind myself that I will find another. It will not be the same, but I will manage. I can move on.