The wooden skeleton stood slouched in the center of the museum’s glass enclosure. Six—maybe seven—leaves hung in total—I remember how I used to draw an abundance of them, marking them onto paper only to discard them with dissatisfaction. I wish I hadn’t: it was a waste of paper and a withered memory.
Barren soil bit at its roots, barking at the children who press their faces onto the glass hoping to memorize the lines of age that scratched the skeleton’s trunk. A child traces its outline with a hesitant finger. I never thought that a tree’s tears would look dry.
When I turned 17, nature turned resentful—in truth, I used to think it was my fault. I thought that the downpours, droughts, famine—all of it was because of me. In similar veracity, I suppose it was my fault: I’m human. The human race is rightfully subject to nature’s wrath. We want and we take and we want all over again in an insatiable cycle.
I am regrettably human in every aspect.
It’s amusing how we long for those we have destroyed: language, culture, experience, trees—how superficial of us to regret events that could have been inevitably avoided, and how cowardly it is for us to regret it in the name of youth.
A child’s laughter echoes through the museum.
My eyes snap to the caged tree. How wonderful, her voice carries. Can you believe they used to grow without the chamber? She taps her friend on the shoulder. They said that if we are careful we might see them grow in the wild! She smiles widely. All we have to do is make the right choices.
She laughs again, singing about the pictures of flowers her mom shows before bedtime—an unbelievable folktale she longs to believe. I hope there will be a tree for me and another for you, she says. And maybe we could have a garden.
A tear falls over my smile. They want and hope and want and hope: the child is so perfectly human in every aspect.