And on a bright, lovely day, I am sitting with my first love. The sky is clear and the winds are calm. Patches of sunlight fall on the grass around us and the rocky hills above us. We are close to each other, perhaps we are holding hands. And I was certain that he was happy. Suddenly, he  turns and stares at me with piercing dark eyes,  eyes which grab on tight to the inside of my being. Still, it was a much calmer day and he asks me, “How would you describe a tree that’s abuzz with activity but hollow inside?”

The Hollow Tree

The tree stands tall in the redwood forest. It reaches for the sun in a tangle of rigid branches, not a single cloud in its way, as its canopy of bright, green leaves proudly present themselves for the sun and the moon. Sunlight hits the leaves, making them so vivid and soft, while moonlight paints them silver. The calm winds move around the tree, touching the homes of all the creatures that live there. The tree is their shelter, providing them with life until it ends. Among the maze of branches, there is a sparrow’s nest. The adult sparrow is the mother-bird,  nurturer of three baby sparrows. She spends her days scavenging worms for her beloved children, and her nights resting with them under her protective wing. One night, one of the baby sparrows died with no explanation as to how he ended up so unfortunate. The mother was devastated to find her baby dead after she’d kept him under her wing. Why did this baby bird go? What will happen to the others? Sometimes, children just die. And the tree stays still and waits.

Further down in the hollows of the tree, two squirrels live together. They are brothers. They often chase each other up and down the reddish brown bark when they cannot stand the stench of dying bark from inside the tree. One squirrel is very fast, champion of the chase. He  did not notice the missing baby bird in the nest when he was rushing by that morning as his brother did.

The squirrels are the only ones who know the secret of the tree with proud arms that soak up the sunlight and the moonlight alike. She is hollow inside, devoid of any activity or warmth. Listen closely, listen with your ear pressed against that beautiful bark. What is inside the redwood tree with reaching leaves? Can you hear the emptiness, as it moans about how it never got any light? The hollow tree’s suffering is completely hidden from the outside world, from the life it supports. One day, the tree will fall and all the life it has and all the life it loves will fall as well.

 

Esther Ben Ami, the Editor in Chief of the Harvest Tribune, has taken an interest in creative writing for as long as she can remember. While “The Hollow Tree” was born from the aftermath of loss, Esther has written more light-hearted pieces on this website as well, including “Cringeworthy Encounters“.

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