When I was born, the great tree stood, proud and firm out the front of my house. It was one of the first things I saw after my mother returned from the hospital. It's the only thing I remember seeing. It's the only memory I have from my first year of life.
I remember when I was three, and I tripped down the path. I scraped my knee badly, and bruised the palms of my hands. I remember refusing to cry, and shout, though I could not stand and walk myself, for the pain in my leg was too great…
And I remember how suddenly, a strong wind blew, and the leaves from the great tree spun down around me, like dancing fairies. I remember laughing so loud that my mother rushed outside, and saw me, with my injured knee. If the leaves from the great tree had not danced around me that day, I doubt my mother would have found me until much later.
I recall a time, when I was seven, and rather foolish. I remember my best friend, Samuel, daring me to climb the great tree. At that age, I was susceptible to peer pressure, and rather egotistical, so I accepted his challenge. However, the great tree was massive. It was tall, and wide, and full of birds and other animals.
I remember how scared I was when I was about half-way up. The ground seemed so far away, and the branches around me seemed like the were miles away, though the logical part of my mind knew that the branches were within arms reach…
I slipped, and fell. I remember how the fear rushed through me when I missed a branch, and fell towards the hard, concrete ground below. I remember my friend's screams, loud, and piercing, and I remember screwing my eyes shut, in horror.
Then there was a bang, and I was still alive. I had landed on a branch, which seemed to have come from nowhere. My back was sore, but the I had not fallen far enough to be injured badly. I remember the confusion on Samuel's face when I reached the bottom of the tree again.
'The branch came from nowhere', he swore, before he walked inside with me, apologising for daring me to do such a dangerous thing. However, I had not listened, as I had been curious about his previous statement. When I went back the next day, the branch I had fallen on seemed to have disappeared.
Then there was a time, when I was twelve. It was my first day, and as I was heading out to catch the bus, I recall the nervous, churning feeling in my stomach. I paused in driveway, wondering if I should go at all. There would be no Samuel, no Rachel, no Benny. No Clark, no Spencer, and no Elliot. There was no one I cared about at high school.
But then the great tree rustled, and crisp, red autumn leaves rained down on me, and I knew that if I wanted to succeed in life, I needed to go to school. I remember glancing at the tree, as it swayed slightly, as if waving goodbye. That first day had been wonderful.
However, everything changed after my fourteenth birthday.
You see, even though the great tree was something close to my heart, it was never actually mine. It was actually out the front of my neighbour's house, which made it there property. I dislike calling a tree property, considering it's a living thing.
I remember how Angelina, the mother of the children next door, hated the great tree. She thought it was annoying. She always complained about how it blocked the sun, and was too big, and she always called it the 'hideous weed'. Naturally, I did not like her very much.
However, after time, she had decided that because she did not like the tree, she would remove it. I remember how disgusted my mother was, and how angry my father felt. My siblings refused to play with the neighbour's children, and I did not speak with anyone.
I recall overhearing Angelina on the phone, as I left for school one morning. She was talking to the council, and was explaining how the great tree needed to be cut down, because the roots were too large, and dangerous. I remember shivering in anger, as I walked onto the bus.
And then five months later, it was gone. My mother had picked me up early from school, with a depressed look on her face. My sisters sat quietly in the backseat, distressed, and my father looked empty.
I remember how confused I was, when we drove home, and then I remember the horrible feeling I felt in my stomach, and in my heart, when I saw the empty space where the great tree used to be. All that was left was the stump.
I snarl at the moment of Angelina's face, her sharp features pulled into a cruel smirk of victory. I remember the urge to push her down, and hurt her, as she laughed nastily. The great tree had saved my life, and helped me move on with my life. It had been there for my entire life, and then she had gone and ripped it down.
I remember how depressed I was, hiding in my room. Some would say I was overreacting, but I wasn't. The great tree was living, and beautiful, unlike most humans, and Angelina had gone and killed the magnificent being, like it was nothing.
I remember how five months later, when Summer hit, how her house boiled in the heat of the day, and I remember laughing, as I heard her complain. I remember how her husband gave her a disapproving look, and how her children remained silent, as if blaming her for the heat.
And then I remember walking down on evening, to look at the stump. I recall sitting down beside, it, and counting the rings. It had been seventy-five years old. I remember smiling, as I heard Angelina moan once more about the heat, now that the great tree's shade was no longer their to protect their household from the sun.
The great tree had been an important part of my life. It was there when I was born, and it watched over me through my childhood, and the beginning of my teenage years. I remember how it saved me, and made me laugh, and brought my joy. I remember it's beauty. It had true, natural beauty.
And, finally, I remember the smile that plastered itself on my face when I saw a small, tiny sprout, springing out of the stump, and I laughed. One day, another great tree would stand tall here, once again.
Maybe this time, I'd protect it from all threats. Maybe this time, I'll save the great tree, and the rest of the natural world with it.