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October 2014 QUOTE OF THE MONTH: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” - Native American Proverb
March 08
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Melissa Liotta , St Ignatius College Prep High, SF
Mr. Tree
Andrew Shahamiri, St Ignatius High School , San Francisco

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Mr. Tree
By Andrew Shahamiri
Grade 12
St Ignatius High School
San Francisco, CA

Not long ago, in a land not much different then ours lived an inquisitive young boy.  His soft, natural hair would flow behind his head as he traversed the green pastured lands of his world, a saint with a halo of electrifying blond.  In equal comparison was the treasure of his face, two emerald portals, pouring out the understanding of an innocent soul upon a world all too old and crippled to believe in untouched awe.  In all other respects he was your typical young boy of seven years, interested in the land around and before him, yet not for the reason of the land’s existence, but for the juvenile exploration of it. 

On one such day, like all others before it, the young boy set out from his home in the mountains to explore the world.  He had already, in his seven-year tenure, mapped out the nine deserts of what he called the Desertlands, located in the east, and so decided not to head east.  The day before he had traveled north to investigate the odd caves and the sleepy creatures who dwelled in the dark abysses of what the young boy called the Darkholes, and so decided not to head north.  And unfortunately heading south was completely out of the question.  Ever since the age of five and three quarters when the boy discovered that his beautiful land ended and dropped off into nothing but a turquoise liquid, which wasn’t even worth drinking because of the unpleasant taste it left on his sensitive tongue, he had stayed away from the south.  He called that area the Endlands, and so decided not to head south.  With but one option left, the young boy headed right, due west, into unchartered land, smiling and whistling as he went.

Soon the green pastured lands of acquaintance gave way to brush.  Brush gave way to tall soldiers eclipsing the sky, towering over the young boy with arms of jade, olive, lime, and eccentric kiwi cascading down to the young boy’s head, hugging him as he walked below the rich canopy of joyous horticulture.  The occupants of this land were gregarious beings who would break into song as soon as the boy’s silhouette emerged over the shining horizon.  

The young boy decided he liked this land very much.   And as he was thinking of a name for the west, he came across a private nook in the forest where carols and hums gave way to a deadly silence radiating from but one solitary being, standing alone and remote in a shady spot.  The young boy, still high from the festivity of the rest of the forest, moved closer to this dismal entity.  He was actually much bigger than the rest of the beings, though the young boy would never have noticed this had he not approached him to talk.  As he gazed at this being, the boy ventured a guess that it was four to five times larger than the others, a Goliath among David’s.  

“Excuse me, sir.  May I ask what you are?” asked the boy.

The creature, lined with the wrinkles of time, breathed deeply before opening his eyes to see whom his visitor was.  After what seemed to the boy an eon, the morose being opened his mouth to speak, “I, young boy, am a Tree.”

“A Tree.  I see.  Why are you not drunk with merriness as the others are, Mr. Tree?” the boy questioned.

“I have lived and understood young boy.  That is why you see me as I am today,” answered the Tree in a voice riddled with the spirit of forlorn wisdom.

“Mr. Tree,” the young boy began, “I wish to help you make merry.  Pray tell, what may I do in order to convince you to smile and sing like the others?”

Looking at the young boy with a sadness, that words do little justice towards, the Tree spoke, “Young boy, there is nothing you can do for me now.  The world is as it was and as it shall be.  It begrudges change, shaking its fists with rage at the mere mention of it.  I long ago gave up on such childish fancies.”  

Closing his eyes and furrowing his eyebrows the tree spoke his last line, “Now, young boy, leave me so I may rest.”

And so with that weary, melancholic interview with the Tree, the young boy ventured off into the rest of the forest where he soon forgot about Mr. Tree, his memory replaced with that of the other jocular, merry trees.  As the young boy left the west to head to his home in the mountains, he decided he would call this land the Happylands.

On one such day, like all others before it, the young boy set out from his home in the mountains to explore the world.  He had already, in his nine-year tenure of experience, mapped out the entire jungles past the Desertlands in the east, which he called the Vinelands, and so decided not to head east.   The day before he had traveled north atop the caves of the Darkholes to investigate the rainbows that would pop into the sky only at night, of which he called the Colorspace.  And unfortunately heading south was completely out of the question ever since the age of eight and one quarter when the boy discovered that not only could he not enjoy the taste of the turquoise liquid at the Endlands, but that if he stuck his head into it for too long, he oddly stopped breathing.  With but one option left at hand the young boy headed right, due west, to the Happylands, a place he had not seen for two years.  

Soon the green pastured lands of acquaintance gave way to brush and brush gave way to nothing.  The young boy scratched his head.  Where were the merry tree folk?  He must not have traveled long enough he thought.  And with that explanation blanketing his apprehension, keeping his understanding warm and comforted, the young boy continued to walk in search of the Happylands so he could sing with the cheery tree folk.  

Eventually, the young boy came upon a familiar face, Mr. Tree.  His eyes were wide open, his wrinkles seemed deeper, etched into the bark of his trunk permanently, forming a paint- stained canvas complexion of agony beyond that of anything the young boy could recognize.  

Taking one step forward the boy called out to Mr. Tree, for the first time in his life with an ounce of hesitancy, “Mr. Tree, are you all right?  You look very sad.”

Turning his gaze upon the young boy, recognizing his existence by his side for the first time since the boy walked towards him, the Tree spoke, “Young boy, there is nothing you can do for me now.”

Looking around the young boy asked, “Mr. Tree, please tell, what happened to the other trees?  The ones much smaller than you, but filled not with sorrow, but glee and laughter?”

Tears began to slowly and quietly roll down the Tree’s gnarled features as he gathered enough energy to draw the words he wished to use forth, “They are all gone young boy.  They are gone like those before them, and before those, others.”

“What do you mean gone?” asked the young boy, for he had never experienced loss and its existence had no root in him.  “Where did they go, Mr. Tree?”

“Creatures, shadowed and veiled, with instruments of carnage come to this forest of merriment every four years, and like you, young boy, make friends with the young, carefree trees.  However, much unlike you, these creatures trick the trees into friendship and with a swish of their instruments murder my brothers and sisters.”

The word, new and sinister, crept into the young boy’s pure soul and began to take hold, opening the world, east, north, south, and west in a new way, an evil way.  The emerald orbs and electric blond halo began to dim, as the young boy lost his blissful youth and innocence, and simply was left as a boy, lost.

Sitting in his house made of wood on the mountain, with his axe hung up above the fireplace, a man watches out his window as he vides carpenters and stone masons erecting another house with freshly sawed wood and good familial intention.  He walks to his study, opens his desk drawer, and pulls out a dusty, yellowing piece of parchment, cracked at the edges, and beginning to fall apart.  He opens it and smoothes the map out over his desk, while dipping his quill in ink and raising his hand in the air over etched words such as, “Desertlands…. Darkholes…. Colorspace…. Vinelands,” until he reaches the western region of the map where the word, “Happylands” is written.  With a slash of his quill it is scratched out and in its stead the man writes a new word…. “Worklands.”