Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Holiday Short Story Contest Adult Winners; First Place the Tree

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Holiday Short Story Contest Adult Winners; First Place the Tree

Article excerpt

Byline: Freddie Pennington

The tree had been there for a long, long time. Longer than the abandoned and dilapidated frame house nestled next to it.

Both had been sturdy and strong, weathering many storms, but now their time here was over.

Simon was here alone to say goodbye, for none of the cousins had cared to come along. It was not as easy for him as he had hoped. In a few days they would sign away all rights to the family homestead. Bulldozers would come soon and all the rolling acres would be turned into rows of houses.

He gave a deep sigh as he sat down under the tree. He leaned back against the peeling bark remembering all the times he had sat in this same spot. He knew it was time to move forward. He would now be a rich man, a new life awaited him, and the cousins would also benefit from the sale. His grandfather had advised him many years ago that eventually there would be a time to sell, to wait for the right moment; now that moment had arrived.

Still, he had a troubled mind. Guilt hounded him over profiting so well from his people, who had struggled farming the land. He had a sense that his ancestors' lingering spirits were sadly watching as well. Of course they are not, he thought.

"How silly of me," he spoke aloud. The tree creaked as if in answer, but he was not comforted.

He stood, remembering too well the games children played under its sheltering arms. There were initials carved into its stately trunk, rope scars on its branches from many swings that had been hung there. The tree had witnessed generations of laughter, weddings, births, the seasons rolling through the times of great joy and great sadness. How many broken hearts and broken dreams been confessed here, or in its shade, some secret stolen kisses?

The tree wore a shape of drooping sadness and been slowly dying for some years; he knew it would fall naturally if left on its own. A soft wind blew and a small limb fell as though it read his thoughts. …

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