The Purpose Of A Tree


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4 min
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Image of Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
Her blossoms open as the dawn warms her branches. “The purpose of this tree,” I sigh to myself, “is simply for the nourishment of animals’ bodies, and nourishment of my soul” A home to a bird family, her leaves seem to sing. Matching that with the sun’s rays, she seems to be a-flame. As I begun to turn from the window, I could’ve swore she was smiling.

Spring’s noontime sky is perfectly light blue with white puffs sprinkled around. The light pink petals she is adorned with glow against the blue and fly on the clouds.

Butterflies flutter around her, being nourished by the pollen and nectar she provides- giving her a third purpose.

As spring comes to an end, her blossoms disappear and cherries take their place. At sunset, when she has taken the spotlight, I join her. Setting on her lowest branch, I bite into the first ripe cherry I see. My mouth is filled with tart, yet sweet juice as its flesh becomes mush in my mouth. I close my eyes and hum as the flavor sends me into a world of bliss.

The sun has almost faded, only small layer giving the world a dim light. “Farewell my tree.” I pat her strong trunk as I grab yet another cherry. “Thank you for sharing your blessings with me. I hope you never forget your purpose.”

Once in my home, I close my blinds, not to be opened until tomorrow, when summer arrives.

The summer sun is almost searing my arms and back as I climb her branches. They almost seem like her arms, pushing me up, helping me go as high as possible before the branches are thin and weak. Resting on the strongest of her high branches, eating cherries and watching the birds eat her fallen fruit, I become lost in thought about the many purposes of a simple tree until a strange new creature yanks me back to reality. About an inch long, with an orange head and a seemingly transparent tube body, crawling along as if it owns her. “You are no caterpillar or butterfly. What purpose does my tree have for you?” It paused and almost looked at me sensing the change in vibration before carrying on again thinking it ruled my tree.

Climbing down, I begin to notice more and more of those cloudy orange, tubular insects. “What do they want with my tree??” the birds at the base of my tree fly away as I hit them with the cherry seeds I meant to simply drop near them.

Summer is nearly over, and I’ve realized those creatures are not there to peacefully take part of my tree’s goodness. They’re multiplying and taking advantage of her willingness to give. They’re slowly devouring her insides creating trails up, down, and all around. However, she was too loving to find a way to kill them and send them away with the birds.

A chill is in the air as I climb down her trunk for the last time this summer. The pink and orange hue of the sunset causes my tree to glow and it dawns on me that her leaves have strangely begun to lose their purple peace early and are trading it for the youthful yellow that truly signifies age.

“Well my friend,” I pat her trunk slowly. “Fall has come early to you, but that doesn’t mean you have no purpose. Never forget your purpose.”

Strolling down a nearby trail, I look at all the trees just barely changing colors. Some are a subtle yellow while others are light orange looking like starter flames causing me to think of my dimming yellow tree. I turn to a large maple and stroke his scratchy trunk “My tree turned a few weeks ago. And I can no longer climb her nimble branches...but... she is my tree.” He catches me as I fall with the crack in my voice as I force out those last words. “A-and she has a very.. important... purpose.”

I return home to my tree and begin telling her how I fell and sobbed to another tree. “How embarrassing. Who talks to trees thinking they’ll talk back? Or Understand?” The breaks in my voice reflect the breaks in my heart as I look at my fading tree. No longer strong enough to hold anything but small birds that are no longer there. The creatures took advantage of her kindness and they ruined her from the inside out. Soon enough, I fear, she may lose the strength to hold even herself up.

My ears acknowledge the crunching of the leaves underneath my feet only after I feel them racking my whole body. My knees grow weak and I fall before I can open my door. Shaking, I turn over to look at my... dying tree. Her leaves have all fallen to the ground excepting a few holding strong to her branches. They too, do not want to let go. The leaves are no longer yellow. They have been clouded to be a light brown.

Her branches are no longer the friendly dark brown I grew so familiar with. They have been bleached to be a light gray. Her trunk, her strong, beautiful trunk, once covered in rich, black-brown bark, is now shredded. I see dark gray and holes. Trails made by those horrid creatures. “I’m going to burn them all!” I start to think, until another leaf falls from her branch. My mind stops. Another leaf drops, my heart drops with it, only to be thrust upward in my chest. Causing me to leap up and lunge forward.

Instinctively I pick up as many leaves as I can, trying to throw them to her, hoping she will grab them with the small fingers of her twigs. But all that happens, is more leaves falling down. I feel my heart shatter as a twig falls down and I realize she is giving up.

“NO!” I could not tell if I solely shouted in my head, or with my whole body. I throw the other twigs and leaves back up at her. “You can’t let those-those varmints win!!! You cannot let these go!!!” I crumble to the ground feeling like one of the shambled leaves. “Please,” I whisper. “Don’t let me go.”

I curl in a ball, a bundle of twigs and leaves in my arms. “You have a purpose. Please. Don’t forget.”

I wake up covered in a blanket of snow. I sit up and think to myself “This would be beautiful--the full pure white of fresh fallen snow--if it weren’t for the emptiness I feel inside.”

The wind aids me in my struggle to get up. I walk over to my tree. “Hello old friend” I pat her trunk like always, only this time, there’s a response.

“My friend! Have you come to life again?” Not wanting to grasp for empty promises, I pat her only once more. The response I receive, is not the warm greeting I half-hoped for. Instead, it was a cold, hollow, reply. Hollow, like my tree has become. Hollow, like the place where my heart used to be.

“No.” it was barely even a whisper as my two fists fall into her. It wasn’t forceful, yet true to her purpose, she broke as I did. And we fell together.
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