One year, spring never came. That is to say, the actual, physical season still came. The rains cleared up and the weather warmed and the sun shone as bright and cheerful as ever, but the flowers never bloomed and the grass stayed withered and the trees remained just as barren as they ever were. Everyone had an opinion on it, of course. Lay people said of course it was pollution and GMOs and global warming and the bees disappearing. Some people thought it was a sign from a vengeful god. The scientists on TV said they didn't know, and talked at great length about how they didn't know and what they didn't know.

My friends and I mostly just figured that maybe it was coming late this year, that soon everything would be bright and cheerful again and the city would feel alive. So we wandered the streets and acted like the trees weren't dying, like the sun in the sky didn't feel hostile and alien. We tried to ignore the food shortages and the subsequent riots. We stayed behind when everyone fled to lands that hadn't been utterly forsaken.

Then my friends fled and I was here alone, living on the scraps that were left behind when everyone fled. Every day I'd stop in and water the tree my father used to take care of, before his hands and his back got too bad for him to do the work, and, of course, before he fled elsewhere. The routine grounded me, and the hope that tending to this poor, dying tree might finally bear fruit kept me going.

But it was getting increasingly difficult to find food. I'd stockpiled enough to get me to the lands where things still grew, if those hadn't been swallowed up as well, but when the time came I didn't want to leave. This was home. This was important. I decided I would wait here, either until death claimed me, or until life finally returned to the tree.

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