By Jacob Pardo (’23)
Once upon a time, in the long ago when tall creatures walked in herds among the earth, a small seed fell from his mother tree and landed upon the ground. Before he could take root, he was trampled underfoot, and left cracked where he landed. Although he was small, and although he was left cracked in the footprint of a giant, the seed knew that he could one day grow tall, taller than the creature that had so carelessly stomped on him, and taller even than his mother tree. He knew he would, because he knew he could.
Mustering up all his strength, the cracked seed took root — he buried himself in the soil, sipping up some refreshing water and cozying up against the roots of his mother tree. In a matter of weeks, the cracked seed grew up into the small seedling. Although he was small, and although he was not nearly as tall as the stomping creatures, he stood proudly, knowing that he would one day tower over all the forest.
But life was not so simple for the short seedling; when he was only a few weeks old, the clouds blotted out the sky, and it began to rain. A welcome sign, he thought, as water was the source of life, and the more he drank, the taller he would grow. But the rain did not stop, it kept on for many days and many nights until it flowed past him in rivers, and the soil began to lift up, threatening to leave hold of his roots. But the short sapling held on tightly, grasping onto the roots of his mother tree, knowing that one day the rain would stop, and he could grow taller than the cleansing streams. One day, he dreamed, he would grow taller even than the clouds.
When the clouds gave way to the sunlight and all the puddles had dried up, the seedling was once again free to grow. In a manner of months, the small seedling grew into a proud sapling. Although he was not yet a tree, he reveled in how much he had grown, and in how the ground he had once been so close to was inching ever farther away. But growth was only just beginning for the small sapling, and he was not yet free from the dangers of the earth. As the months went by, it seemed that rain was becoming rarer and rarer, and the sapling rejoiced, eager to soak up the sunshine and wary of the rivers which threatened to wash him away. But, the longer the sun stared down at the sapling, the dryer he began to feel. It was not long before he shriveled up in want of water, and the ground around him began to crack and split like hard clay. The sapling thirsted, shriveling up in the hot sun, but still clung to the earth, knowing that he would one day be allowed to taste water again.
It was then that the sapling was caught by surprise — his mother tree began to pass on what was left of her moisture to him through her roots. The sapling felt sad, as he knew she needed the water as much as he did, but was still relieved not to suffer so much in the hot sun. Eventually, after months of waiting, the sky gave way to clouds, and the rain fell again.
Once he had perked up again with water, and once he felt that his mother tree was also drinking her share, the sapling was once again free to grow. In a matter of years, the sapling grew and grew, until eventually he became a tree. And the tree grew and grew, until one day he was half the height of his mother tree. Although he was not the tallest in the forest, he still rejoiced, as he had outgrown the careless creatures who had trampled him all those years ago. The tree knew that he would continue to grow, taller than his mother tree, taller than the clouds, and one day, he dreamed, taller than the sky. He was already too tall to get trampled, too rooted to be washed away, and big enough to hold water through the summer.
But the perils of the earth would not be outgrown so easily. Although he did not know what had started it, and although he did not know what to do about it, the tree recognized the feeling of fire. He could feel the pain of the forest around him, he could sense the smoke of his fallen siblings, and, as he grasped his mother tree in fear, he once again felt as vulnerable as a little cracked seed. But his mother tree was not afraid — even as she fell, she knew that she would block the path of the flames, sparing her little tree.
After the flames had died, and the rain had washed away the ash, the tree stood lonely in the forest. Although he was sad, he knew that he would one day sew seeds of his own, and that he could one day spare another sapling’s life.
Now the tallest tree in his vicinity, the tree was left free to grow. And in a manner of decades, he grew tall — taller than the creatures who had stomped him, taller than the puddles, taller than his mother tree and even taller than the clouds. The tall tree stood proudly in the forest, thinking of being cracked, of being nearly drowned, of facing the first dry summer, of the sacrifices made to allow him to grow, and he felt happy. He had grown up strong because he knew he could, and he knew that one day, his saplings would grow strong too. The tree knew that he could accomplish anything, and began to reach toward the sky.
And then he got cut down to build a parking lot, the end.