The Family Tree

Story by Jon Moray

I was formed nearly three seasons ago among a family of matured Sequoia redwoods. My mother, Mama Red, sprouted me from her trunk and lovingly protected me from the elements of the frigid winter months. As my roots grow, I can touch the surrounding trees forming a strong family bond.

I look up and see tall trees that have lived well over two centuries. They tickle the clouds with their branches and sway in rhythm with the refreshing breeze. They are the first to taste the virgin winter snow, but being the runt, I bathe in their showering needles in the autumn.

Their roots locked in mine sturdy my frame as I am nurtured and educated in my youth with stories of survival and nature’s fury. Stories are communicated between us through our roots that act as a pipeline of information transferred from tree to tree. 

Sister Lorraine, three trees down from me, loves to emote the story of the human pair that lovingly carved their devotion to each other on her bark many years ago. She compared the etching to an itch relieved by a soothing scratch as her fondness of the memory is evident in her vibrating rumble at her trunk.

Old Ben, the elder Sequoia that has lived well over three centuries, has endured many territorial battles that left several bullets lodged in his bark. A distinct whistle is audible from his wounds when a strong wind passes through. His stories of survival leave me awed and fearful of future conflicts.

Mama Red is reserved in her thoughts, only displaying her emotions on memorable occasions, ever fearful of losing a young redwood to a wild storm.

Other sentiments shared by the elders are of sweet singing birds nesting at their treetops, basking in the glow of the morning sun, or enjoying the first drops of a gentle rainstorm. The childlike banter in the tall redwoods are unleashed as their branches playfully reshape the clouds into giant snowballs and bounce the flakes between them. 

As I barely see the rustling movements of their arms far above me, I wonder if I will ever be that tall, to live to maturity and enjoy the wondrous gifts mother nature spills out onto the earth. Their remembrances that flow through my roots paint me envious and all too eager to grow tall. I long to be one of the first to greet the innocence of the morning, to wrestle with prevailing winds and marvel at the mysterious illumination of the moon and stars.

For now, I share the coolness of the morning moisture at my base with my family of towers. The day shows the potential of enticing temperatures and nature-loving visitors. There is a warm buzz reverberating through our roots that translates into eternal love for each other. 

Sister Lorraine echoes an alert that directs all the trees towards the nature trail where a young couple steps lively towards us. Hand in hand, they playfully detour off the path toward my family of redwoods. They snake around Old Ben, momentarily study Mama Red, and after a whispering debate, they stop in front of me.

The passionate couple trade kisses that emit a smacking sound that makes my roots flutter through to Mama Red. The couple embraces and verbally expresses their love for each other. The male produces a Swiss army knife from his jeans pocket and flips it open to reveal a blade that reflects a blinding light from the sun. They share another kiss, and the male breaks away and studies the contours of my slender bark with his fingers. His touch leaves me bursting in anticipation as Sister Lorraine’s roots vibrate her excitement through to me. He brings the blade to my skin and lightly traces his artistic outline. He pierces my outer ring as I feel his passion with each linear stroke. Letters are etched, and after a tilt of the head, he finishes with a heart that feels as satisfying as Sister Lorraine’s experience. The couple admires the finished carving and walk away, arm-in-arm, as I marvel at my new tattoo. My joy is echoed through to the redwoods in the forest. Our roots are linked like an endless chain, and I wonder if all the trees can feel the love I share with my forest family.

Jon Moray has been writing short stories for over a decade, and his work has appeared in several online and print markets. He enjoys his family, sports, music, and the ocean.

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