When my partner leaves at 5am, I am left blissfully alone, to listen to the blue jays screech and watch the tree glow outside my window. It’s that eerie light that happens in late spring, when the sun shines a certain way and the leaves turn towards heaven. The dew glistens and the morning is like a prayer.
I saw it one June morning–a fruit hanging from a branch. I remembered the plum tree in our backyard when I was growing up in 1980s Brooklyn.
I started climbing the tree when I was five. I scuffed my sneakers and scraped my legs. Once, I poked myself so hard on my side with a branch, that I bled through my t-shirt. I didn’t care that mom didn’t approve. She’d yell,“Bajate d’alli, machuda!”, but I kept scrambling up. There, I’d imagine a life where my mother was as gentle with me as she was with the seeds she planted in the soil beneath the plum tree. Seeds that became tomatoes, peppers, sunflowers and cilantro.
I’m 41 now, and mom is still not tender. That plum tree was cut down years ago.
When I saw the fruit outside my window, heavy enough to bow the branch, I ran out to look more closely. It’s a crabapple tree. Different, but the same. I can see it from wherever I write: on the deck, on the couch in the living room, when I look to my left in my writing room.
It’s always there–a tree–saving my life.
(Just got a rejection for this flash CNF piece but I have a soft spot for it (and trees) so I decided to post it here. It’s said that when Stephen King was starting out, he used to put all his rejection letters from publishers on a nail on a wall. After years of work, the refusals became softer. I’m not Stephen King. I don’t have to be, I’m Vanessa Martir…but this is my form of posting a rejection slip on a wall.)