In the woods outside town there's a tree where my best friend and I became blood brothers. There's a tree where my sister and I would spend hours, playing and climbing and laughing, like kids do. There's a tree just over the river, where I took my girlfriend on our first date, where we kissed the first time.

I still remember the feeling of the dirt and the roots and branches and the rocks and the leaves for all those places. I remember the light filtering green through the leaves on spring days where the river was overflowing with snowmelt.

There's a tree where my girlfriend kissed me and said good bye and promised she'd come back one day. She had branches in her hair because she'd tripped over a branch running to catch up with me. I'd been running away because I knew she had to leave and I was afraid to hear her say good bye. She had scrapes on her knees and elbows. She was beautiful.

She's written letters since then. I never read any of them, but there's a pile of them on my desk. I'm afraid of a lot of things. Sometimes she calls and her voice is the saddest thing I've ever heard.

My initials are on all those trees, and some others, too. I've always lived in those woods. And there's one thing all those trees have in common: all of them are things that will never happen again.

It's been hot and dry lately and there's a steady wind. I've gathered up some pine needles and some fallen wood and I've got my lighter. The fire takes, and I get on my bike and ride home. A few hours later the town's nothing but sirens and smoke, and little red flames on the horizon.

No comments: