Monday, May 10, 2010

As Retold by Sadako: The Giving Tree

Once upon a time, there was a tree. And she loved a little boy. Everyday the boy's parents would send him alone, unaccompanied, into the forest. The boy would play hide and seek with the tree, and make a crown from the her leaves. He'd swing in her branches.

When he was hungry he would eat from her apples. When he was tired he would sleep in the shade. And the tree was grateful to finally have a human companion whose parents and friends didn't throw around words like "Delusional" or "Schizophrenic" when he spent all his time in the woods alone talking to a tree.

The boy got older. The tree watched him fraternize with other, female friends. She seethed when she saw his and his lover's initials written on the tree over "M.E. + T." She wept leaves onto his lover's head as they smiled together under her branches.

One day, the boy came to the tree.

"You never write," she said. "You never call."

"I'm older now. I want to buy things and have fun."

"With that whore of yours?"

"Tree, I told you, she's not a whore, she's a pole dancer. Anyway, I need money."

"Oh, poor you! Go on. Take all my apples and sell them--

"I can make do with half--

"No, no. What do I need with apples now that no lonely psychologically disturbed children come to visit me? Take them all."

The boy took the apples. And the tree had a reason to kvetch when she met with the other trees that week. And she was happy.

The boy came back later. The tree said, "Come play in my branches."

The boy said, "I'm too old for climbing branches. I'm sad. I need a house so I can have a wife and 2.5 kids. But I can't afford one yet."

"Your fleshy parents never taught you about the concept of renting?"

"Hey, why throw money down the hatch every month when I can live inside the body parts of my best girl, eh?"


"You know there's no fleshy girl I'd prefer to slaughter and then climb inside."

"Oh, you," said the tree. "Go on, then. Ignore my screams of pain as you amputate my limbs."

"Speak up, hon, my earphones are on."

The boy took the branches and left. And the tree was happy.

The Lorax came by and left pamphlets for the environmental league meeting. "Tree, you are the poster child for self hating wildlife. Get yourself some self-respect, woman."

Soon, the boy came back.

"I'm old and sad, and my wife left me. I want a mid-life mobile and a toupee."

"I told you that tramp was no good. Well, cut down my trunk and fashion a really cool, swinging hot rod."

The boy did so. He cut down the trunk, taking off the initials of himself and his first girlfriend and leaving those of himself and the tree. And the tree was vindictive with glee.

The boy stayed away for even longer. The tree wished she could remember the addressees on the mailing list of Dendrophiliacs Unite. She waited for the boy.

The boy came back. He was an old man.

The tree said, "My apples are gone. My branches are gone. My trunk is gone. I'm terrible, I look a mess. I have nothing else for you. You know, since you took it all and never call me. All I have is a stump."

The boy replied, "I'm too weak to chew apples. I'm too old to swing on branches. I'm too tired to climb you. I just want to rest."

"Really?" The tree trembled with joy. "You don't want to leave? Even to hang out with your cool, mobile friends? Even to use indoor plumbing? You promise? Well! Sit down and rest."

The boy sat down. He massaged his arthritic knees. He adjusted his colostomy bag. "I'm so tired I don't ever want to get up," he sighed, exhausted. And the tree was finally happy.

Consensus? Tree, take up a hobby. Submitting stuff to cake wrecks and playing canasta are good ones. Boy, would it kill you to pretend to have fun on her branches for a few minutes before commencing the violation of the natural world?