Under The Tree That Gave Us Shade

The arid sky shone its rays of light onto my face when I peered over the shade of the tree I was waiting on. I instinctively raised my hand in response to the sun as I turned towards the clouds. The slow breeze of summer washed over my face, and I could feel its soft embrace as it curled over my exposed neck, arms, and legs. Once the breeze died, I walked back into the shade and leaned onto the trunk of the tree, watching as leaves began falling out of season.  The day grew short as my mind began wandering into a time long past. I smiled as I began seeing images of her and of the tree that was much younger than it was now. I reveled in being able to see her again. And so I did.

“You’re only here for one more day right?” She said as we began walking up the hill that overlooked the town.  I remembered her as having vibrant hair, almost the color of the leaves, but somehow just different enough that I wouldn’t get the two confused. She had a white dress on that swayed in the summer breeze, and her skin was pale against the light of the sky.

“Yeah. Unless something comes up and my sister’s condition gets worse again, I’ll be leaving soon.” I remembered her voice as a light trill in the summer breeze. Her words carried itself in the wind, and danced around my ears before I heard them. I didn’t know how my voice sounded, but I was sure it was nothing of her kind.

“Do you think you’ll ever come back? To this town?” As we got to the top of the hill, I saw a large tree racing for the sky. It’s shade covered barely half of the area atop the hill, but it was inviting nonetheless.

“It was already hard getting up here–”

“Then the answer is no.” I turned to look at her with a small smile. She smiled back, and in her dark eyes I could see the dying clouds drifting on by. We walked over to the shade, and I peered over to see the town.

“This is a really a great place. I understand why my sister decided to move here–” I began to tell her, “My parents were so worried at first. But in reality, they had nothing to worry about. My sister made a place for herself here. A place beyond our parents, a place beyond our own expectations of her. It’s not in my power to intrude on that place.”

“I know,” she said in the dying wind. I had only visited this town in lieu of my sister, but upon my stay I was up to all kinds of exploration to mend my boredom. Meeting her was not part of any curriculum I had ever foresaw but I wouldn’t regret meeting her, nor would I regret having to leave her. We were just friends with too much time, and friends who could make that short instance of time just a little bit better. She had her problems and so did I and it was all I could ask that we had someone there in that instance where we were the most vulnerable.

“It’ll just be a little lonely, you know?” She said as she rolled onto the grass and peered through the branches in the tree.

“I know. Hell, I’ll be lonely going back. Staying here for two months, getting to know the people, and then having to leave. It’ll be lonely without all the company. It’ll be lonely not being able to wake up to the bakery’s kids. It’ll be lonely not being bombarded by the middle school kids whenever I walk past the beach. It’ll be lonely without this small town.” My time in that town grew short and fast. But it wasn’t that bad when I recounted all that happened to me. Everything happened in an instance of the wind. It blew in, and then died out. I was fine with that, but I couldn’t keep her out of my head. Rather, it was the moment we shared under the tree that gave us shade, that I couldn’t keep out of my head.

“It’s funny. No one here has ever been able to interest me like you have,” her smiles threatened to send me into another world, but I was far from falling into them.

“Probably because I’m not like anyone here. No offense.” She laughed.

“Right. But don’t you find that strange?”

“What’s strange about it? New things catch your eyes, and you’re interested in new things. So what?” She laughed again.

“Usually, new things scare people. And they are only interested in new things so that they can find out how to deal with them.”

“Is that right?”

“I’m sure of it.” The wind blew her hair into her face, and she lifted her hand to block it, but somewhere in that motion, I saw hesitation. The shade began expanding, and the dying sun behind us was shrinking. The clouds were racing away from the town, and I knew that things were going to be over.

“Nothing good ever came of this, huh?” She said as she lifted herself from the grass.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, being so–” She tripped on her words, “I mean–” She was having a hard time and began curling into her knees.

“Nothing good ever came of meeting you, is what I mean.” I smiled at her as she lifted her head up and jumped into the sky. She stretched her arms into the town and I felt like if she tried hard enough she would be able to grab it all in her palms.

“Do you really believe that?” She nodded.

“It’ll be better like that,” she said without a smile on her face.

“I guess it would be,” I agreed.  Those were the last words I told her. I never saw her again. My sister told me sometime after her recovery that the girl I met never got better.

The tree now was much larger, its shade enough to cover half of the hill, and the view of the town never changed from atop that hill. When I was done reliving that memory, I would smile into the town and listen to the wind. Sometimes in the whistle of the breeze, I would hear her voice again. I would hear her voice dance around my ears, and then I would remember her for just a little more.

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