Tree

It was a balmy winter's morning. My branches were bare and covered in spiral designs of frost and ice. The wind was chilly. No birds perched on me because I had no cover of leaves with which to protect them, and most of them had migrated to the North anyway.

The loss of my leaves and the wind always left me bitter. I still remembered the events of the past. I still wished to change them.

As I thought of all this, Black Crow and White Dove came.

I watched as they became the best of friends. I watched as they grew up. I watched as they returned, time and time again, to this very same spot, whatever the season. They were there when I was thick with leaves; there when my leaves changed color; there when I was without a single leaf. I watched as they fell in love. I watched as they hesitated to express it. I watched and an urgency burned inside of me, knowing that if they did not do it now, they never ever would get a chance to.

I was right.

It was the beginning of a new year. The preparations for White Dove's party were underway.

Black Crow came to me. I know he was planning to confess. I know he was going to tell her. I felt relief, but there was a nagging feeling that it would still be too late. A feeling that something would eclipse that happiness, and I had to be prepared.

Proud Hawk came and swooped down on Black Crow with a pack of Hungry Vultures. I watched, helpless, as his blood spilled, his feathers matted with the drawing out of life's essence, looking weak. Proud Hawk took something from him and then left.

Rage suddenly boiled, like an uncontrollable volcano about to erupt in bubbling, molten-hot lava. I was not letting this happen.

I called the police and brought Black Crow to a hospital. But first, I gave a note for Proud Hawk. Give it to him, I said. He would remember, he would know when he read it.

When Black Crow recovered, I felt some measure of fulfillment and pride. But the relief came when White Dove arrived, flung herself into his arms, sobbing frantically. Relief came when he said, "I love you." Relief stayed when she said, "I love you, too."

Before they could both thank me, I had melted away.

I did not need thanks. I did not need acknowledgment. I just wanted the happy ending I never had.

I remembered the same things I went through. The days of denial, choice, and hesitation.

I remembered the girl of my dreams.

I remembered how she was torn from my grasp.

And that phrase, running through my head…

"Leaf departure because of Wind pursuit. Or because Tree didn't ask her to stay."

Spring was fast coming.

That was when I arrived home and saw her, with the twins, Summer and Winter, their eldest sister Autumn, and their youngest brother, Fall. I picked them up and kissed their cherubic little faces. And then I looked at her, my wife. Leaf smiled.

Yes, "Leaf departure because of Wind pursuit. Or because Tree didn't ask her to stay."

There was only one thing left unsaid.

"…But Leaf came back anyway."