I remember walking down the street, running actually, down the warm black asphalt to where it ended and turned into a field. There, my sister and I would run around the back of your yard. We were hired to take care of your dogs, feed them and check on them and put them inside for the night, for exorbitant amounts of money for what we were expected to do. But back then, spring was eternal, and so, it seemed, were our lives. So we'd spend hours down there, jumping on the trampoline and letting the perfect air breeze over our faces as we lay on the grass, chests rising and falling in perfect tandem. When my sister, after a few hours, grew bored, I told her to run home and I'd catch up.
I rarely did. Because when she left, your yard left me with secrets I could only hear in silence. Because I was ten years old and naïve and impressionable and maybe, just maybe, there was a little magic left in the world. I could hear the memories of trees as they swished and swayed, dappling the sunlight on my tank top. Those huge, old trees, taller than your house, lining the banks of the creek in your backyard. And sometimes, what the trees told me made me bury my face in the necks of your dogs and cry into their fur. But sometimes, it made me just close my eyes and all I saw was green, green, green. I tried once or twice to get friends or my sister to come, come hear what the trees had to say, but the trees stayed silent with their memories unless I was alone. Maybe it's because I wasn't born there and I didn't belong there and I still don't. Maybe it's because I was the only one who knew how to listen. So I stayed in your yard with your two dogs, and they could hear it too, they could hear how the world turned green. And we listened together, they and I did. The three of us, the three of us and the trees.
But spring isn't eternal, and neither are our lives. And one of your dogs came down with cancer, and soon you only had one. And then your husband shot himself outside, right by those trees, and I think he wanted those trees back in Vietnam to finally let him alone. I think all of their memories were tears. And after that, I never stayed long down at your house. It's not that I'm afraid of ghosts, it's just that I know the trees saw it all, and I didn't want to hear that memory. And I convinced myself that the endless spring was a fantasy.
But even now, I sometimes find a day and go down and listen. And the green washes through me, and I let it. I have to.
I always had to.
I had to hear the memories of the the trees.