Frozen Summer

The names on that tree would upset her. God knows that they upset me. About a year ago they broke my heart, but I’ve come to accept that trees grow in seasons and so do I.
Your name looks like a six year old carved it, and perhaps that’s what we were at heart – six years old. Damning consequences because we didn’t know what they were yet.
My name is straighter, more careful. There’s a plus sign between us. You plus me. I realized how much those syllables added together meant to me. Now it’s you plus her but that tree will never know it. To that tree, the roots rising thick out of the ground because they wanted to be seen, too, to that tree it’s always you and me. To that tree it’s forever Summer.
To that tree, leaves never dropped and turned into Fall and you still call me on the phone to tell me how that conversation at work got you thinking about life.
Well, you got me thinking about life, too – it doesn’t know but we all do. I would like to be that tree, to be a museum frozen in a New York winter and to not know. To not know that there’s a new her and new syllables. To not know that it’s been cut down, that I had a new him, too. But there were termites inside my soul even though I called the exterminator. I think he got lost because even I don’t know the address.
I could drive over there and run my thumb over the clumsy letters in the bark, and it wouldn’t feel like the rough edges of my heart anymore. It would feel like the past and I would wonder if I could find the address to there, too.
I have been back to the tree. I’ve been back there many times when the sun sets and the tiny ants running through my thoughts run over there.
I pause in the dusk. I couldn’t pause what was coming. The part where we weren’t really six years old, and the part where neither of us knew what to say. I still wouldn’t know what to say besides the exhaust in your running car smelled good because I like the smell of gasoline. I guess something about me likes the thought of poison.
Sometimes when someone talks about chips I think about woodchips and axes and mulch. We drive around the city and cry under the same moon and move in and out of lives, but the tree just looks at its toes and never moves. One day maybe the exterminator will fix his GPS and he can fix me.
For now I’m growing. I’m growing up. I get rained on and breathe in the sun and whipped by the wind too. The difference between that tree and me is it will never know and I always will.

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12 thoughts on “Frozen Summer

  1. You filed this under “fiction” but in reading, one could never know it. You express it just as (if) you were/are living it. I could use a pile of big words to tell you how good I think this piece is; I’ll just say, well done.

  2. Hyperion

    The feel of genuine emotion and imagery in the story reaches deep. The words gave me pause as my own marked trees came into view. Yes, well done.

  3. To add on what Sha’Tara said, this falls more under the category of “Creative non-fiction”, or simply “prose.” Other than that, I appreciate the subtle nuances of your writing, and the scene and emotions you painted feel very real and alive; it’s easy to relate to this piece. Lovely writing, thanks for the read. 🙂

  4. This piece has a strong voice that drives the narrative. I was drawn in and captivated from the start. I love the way that you kept the tree metaphor going without it starting to feel contrived. I am not sure I can come up with enough good things to say about it.

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