The tree stands where it is, its spiny appendages creaking with age.  Like an energetic grandchild, a breeze gallops around its feet, climbing up its leafless limbs like a jungle gym.  A branch at the rear cracks.  "Ooh," the tree groans and shifts its weight.

The breeze calms down, and only a few hairy limbs on the tiptop of the tree rustle now.  The tree sighs: "I've been here for so long, my path has grown over.  You're the only one who visits me now, sweet wind."

The tree holds its breath.  Everything is still.  "And even you, dear wind, never stay for long," it mumbles to no one.

But wait!  Specks of black, tiny v's silhouetted against the sky appear in the east!  The tree's heart leaps in its trunk!  But the birds fly over and do not land in its limbs.  The branches sag and twilight creeps in.

Suddenly, a gust of the wind dashes through the field and swirls down the path.  The tree lifts its trunk.  Crunch, crunch.  A boy appears from the west.  The tree barely breathes.  The boy walks towards the tree, humming like the breeze.  Climbing onto the lowest branch, he sits there, singing, until the moonrise hangs low in the purple night.

A raindrop falls from the clear night sky and lands on the boy's hand.  The boy looks up, smiles, pats the tree, and is gone.

photo by sean schmidt.

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