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The Not So Giving Tree
The Giving Tree. Doesn’t that sound lovely? Some bubbly, heart-warming guy must have come up with that one. How nauseating. It makes me sound like some kinda’ saint or something. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m the finest tree you’ll find around, but I’m no saint.
This entire hullabaloo began when some kid came running by my trunk one day and decided that I had been waiting my whole life to sacrifice myself for his petty needs. The sappy version of our encounter says I actually asked HIM to climb my branches and play with me and bla bla bla. I guess to an observer it could have looked that way, but all I said to the boy was, “Go away and leave me alone.”
Perhaps you’re thinking I was a bit harsh on him, however I was really enjoying the quiet of that fall day and wasn’t looking for company. You would think that he would have gotten the hint but that twerp decided instead that “Go away” meant “Please climb on me and crawl along my trunk like a pesky termite,” so up he came.
Now trees are famous for their patience but this kid really had a way of pushing my branches. I had no choice other than to pelt him with apples. Hey, they don’t hurt that much. Who would imagine that this oblivious boy actually thought I was giving him free apples and he started collecting them while wearing the goofiest smile on his face, intending to sell them in the city? Man, do I hate kids.
Anyway, after he hopped away with his “free apples”, I didn’t expect to see him again. I mean, why come somewhere you’re not welcome? I don’t know although this boy must have ‘cause guess who came walking up the hill five years later, hoping to reminisce?
Look, I’m usually a very polite tree but I’d rather be processed into tissues before I’d give this guy a proper greeting.
Don’t think that put him down though, oooh no, in fact he had something entirely different on his mind than pleasantries. You should sit down for this. That little devil took out an ax and started whacking me with it! Down came my branches as I watched him in horror stacking my limbs into a nice neat pile. I suppose the author of that sickening book about me thought I asked the boy to cut down my branches, too? Of course, ‘cause that’s just every tree’s dream.
I was fuming with anger when that young man carried my branches away, but I consoled myself with the notion that he’d be gone for good this time. My peace of mind lasted only a few years though ‘cause surprise, surprise, there was the kid again climbing up the hill.
What did he want this time? I was nothing more than a trunk. Even the most giving of giving trees would have a hard time offering anything more at this point.
The boy looked at me while he scratched his chin, obviously brainstorming about the next stage of my destruction. Out came the ax again and away went my trunk. All the while he was saying something about a new boat, as if he actually thought that I would believe that this was a good cause. Yeah, as if an afternoon cruising down the Hudson River was worth my dignity.
I was reduced to nothing more than a stump and I was finally happy because I knew that kid was out of my leaves once and for all. I mean, I had nothing left to give. Why would he come back?
The seasons passed quickly after that and I was at last able to enjoy the many years of serenity I had been craving. I barely thought about the pesky kid at all. I never wondered where he was or how he was or if he’d ever come to visit me again.
The day did come though, when I saw the boy trekking up the hill, a cane firmly grasped in his hand. Probably one of my branches, I’ll bet. A thin smile lifted the corners of his mouth and I thought for a moment that he might be happy to see me. After all, that was quite understandable; I’m pretty special.
I stared at him for a while and then quietly said, “Why are you here?” The old man, formerly the little boy, looked at me guiltily but didn’t speak. “I have nothing left for you,” I continued.
He looked at me with sad eyes and said, “I’m old. I can’t go to the market and sell apples, build myself a house, or sail in a boat. All I seem to be able to do these days is sit.”
Hey, I’m no fool, I got the hint, and I watched him quietly as he sat himself on my stump. I suddenly realized that somehow, that once pesky kid and I had become friends over time.
The truth is I’m not that warm “Giving Tree” that I’m known to be. However, I’ll admit, it wasn’t so bad having some company, even if it meant giving up some things to get it.