“Do you think that trees have feelings?” Gloria said, stretching her long legs up the trunk of a weeping willow. The stark paleness against the tree made them look like they were painted with clown make up, but that was just Gloria, as pale as the day was long.
“Feelings? Like being happy or sad? I don’t think so, because then why would they stand so still for so long, wouldn’t they get, I don’t know, bored?”
“Really, Ben? You don’t think they are waiting for the right time to wake up? Maybe they are just patient. Or maybe time is different for them.”
“I think you’re taking Mr. Lipson’s history class a little too seriously.” He watched a dragon fly flit across the still lake, the setting sun a buttery pond of light on the water.
“He said that some people believed that trees are magical and are gateways to other realms.”
“Mr. Lipson smells like rum, I think that should tell you all you need to know.”
She snorted and bounced her heels against the bark. “Maybe. I don’t know, but I like it here in the edge of the forest, it feels calm. Like I belong.”
“Sure Gloria, your pale as, you are need the canopy of trees to stop you from turning as red as a lobster.”
She shoved him gently, but her heart wasn’t in it. She sat up and pressed her back against the tree, facing down the path and into the forest. “Maybe one day you’ll come here, and I’ll be a tree? Maybe one day it will all make sense?”
He shook his head and didn’t tell her what he heard their parents talking about. Gloria was sick. The Cancer had come back and was in her bones, he didn’t know what it meant but they were crying.
Her nose crinkled, and she pulled him against her, like she knew what he was thinking.
“Ask them to bury me out here. Plant an oak tree on top of my ashes,” she said in a quiet voice. She wasn’t sad, she was never sad, she was quietly accepting, like she always knew she wouldn’t be here long.