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Rated: G

The Tree

By Austenwoolf

How many chances have I let slip out of my hand?
How many goodnight kisses could have turned into so much more?
How many times has she stood beside me while I faced my greatest demons?
Could I have overcome them without her?

These questions float around in my head, keeping me awake at night. Everything I am today is irrevocably entwined in her.

Growing up I always felt alone, my Father was a hard man to know, sometimes cold and harsh, even now. I remember sneaking out of my house at night, the thrill of breaking a rule, the thrill of freedom, even if it was only imagined. I can still smell the crisp clean air so cold that it stung my lungs on every breath, not that I cared, the discomfort was all part of the ritual. The stars and pale Alaskan moon would shine down through the canopy of trees creating an eerie otherworld where time stood still. In this world, anything was possible, in this world I was already a grown man no longer subject to my Father's disinterest.

On these nightly walks, I always ended up in the same place, under a massive tree. I was first drawn to the tree because of the way it stood in the middle of a clearing with no other trees close by. It seemed so proud and strong, regal almost in its solitude. I remember wishing I could be like that tree, alone but noble. It was not until I got closer to it that I found out where its true strength lay. As I walked up closer to the tree for the fist time, I saw that what I thought had been a loner was actually two trees grown into one. I could see in the waning moonlight were the two trees were separated their trunks seeming to bend toward one another until they finally touched, then slowly began to weave their separate bodies into one.

I was fourteen when I first saw the tree, and at the time I did not realize how important that it was, but over the years, I went back there many times. Something about the idea fascinated me, two living things growing together, becoming stronger because of it. I went to say good-bye to that tree before I left for the academy, silly I know, but somehow I could not help it. I can still remember the feel of the rough bark under my fingers, and the sound of the branches shifting in the breeze.

The first time she touched me I thought of that tree. When she pressed her small body up against me, and her mind brushed my own, I finally understood what it would mean to be that tree. Two who had become one.

Over the years of mutual hurt I would think back on that tree, wonder if it was still there, still noble and proud. Somehow the thought of it still standing made the pain of losing her lessen a little. Even now when I look at her I think of the tree, and I cannot help but wonder if I will ever get another chance, a chance to hold her in my arms again and merge my body with hers and know that we are one.