The Stormtree

“If Grandfather tree dies, there will never be any more trees,” The girl-child said as she stood on the brown, crackly grass that made up the front yard.

“Of course there will,” her father said, placing one enormous-seeming hand gently over her platinum pixie cut hair, “We have a seed.”

“But it can’t grow! It won’t have anyone to talk to!”

“Our neighbors have seeds too,” Mommy said, trailing one perfumed hand under her daughter’s chin, “We will each plant one tree, and they can grow up together and have each other to talk to. Everyone was just waiting for grandfather’s passing.”

“I don’t want Grandfather tree to die!” she wailed.

“No one does, darling, it’s just a fact of life,” Daddy said.

Mommy said, “It’s the way things are.”

“Things are wrong,” Daenera said, “I’ve seen pictures of whole forests of grandfather trees. There should be gobs of them!”

Daddy looked at the neighbors standing in their yard, looking at him. Then he looked up and down the block at all the other families, standing on their empty squares of dirt. They had all saved all of their kitchen scraps for a year, building a community compost pile so that they would have nutrients to put in the bottom of the holes they would dig when grandfather tree died. Everyone had saved seeds from something. His tree would be a pecan tree. He smiled a sorry smile, and asked Daenera, “Would you like to plant the seed?”

Daenera’s eyes got big, she snuffled a couple more times and then held out her hand. Daddy placed the pecan in her tiny hand. It took up most of her palm. She sucked in her bottom lip, clenching it between her tiny teeth. Stepping up to the hole they’d dug, she looked around for Daddy. He came behind her, carrying a bucket full of rich black stuff that looked a lot like the stuff from the coffee pot. Now Daenera looked up and down the street.

Other families had gone to the holes they’d dug for their seeds too. Maybe Daddy was right. Maybe the trees could all grow up together. Maybe they would have somebody to talk to after all. Somebody better than one little girl, who wasn’t even enough company to keep grandfather tree alive. She tipped her little hand and watched the seed land in the soft dark stuff at the bottom of the hole. All of the others dropped in their seeds too, and a big cheer went up from all around the neighborhood.

That afternoon, there were hot dogs and games. Lots of families kept digging holes and even rows and planting seeds all day long. Daenera had a picture from her picture book stuck in her head. There were rolling hills that were green, and there were bushes and even – yes- even trees. She hoped one day to even hear birds singing that didn’t have to live at the zoo.

There was a roll of thunder on the horizon. For once, it even looked like rain.

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