Summer, 2008. In Minny’s front yard, her the tree was lush with bright, emerald colored leaves. Ants ran up and down the trunk, in a hurry as though they had somewhere important to be.
School had just gotten out half an hour ago, and Minny had graduated the eighth grade. She and her friend Cecile sat in the tree’s branches, where they always hung out, their backpacks and bikes in a haphazardly formed pile underneath it. Minny pulled her hair into a ponytail, the black rubber snapping on her fingers. It was far too warm to have hair on her neck.
“What do you think, could I hang off of here with just my legs?” Cecile asked. Her eyes sparkled with the idea of a challenge.
“Yeah, I bet you could.” Minny looked down, trying to guess how much damage would be done by a six foot head-first drop. “Be careful, though.”
“Count how long I can do it,” Cecile said, and pitched backwards, squeezing the branch under her knees. Once Minny had reached 15, Cecile started to grab back at the branch with her hand.
“Let me help you,” Minny laughed, taking Cecile’s hand and trying to pull her up. But, Cecile’s weight overwhelmed her. A surprised scream slipped past Minny’s lips as the pair fell out of the tree, and they hit the ground with a jarring impact. Minny got up, dusting the dirt off of her black leggings.
Cecile remained on the ground, giving a loud groan. “My leg… There’s something wrong with my leg...” Her face scrunched up in pain.
Minny’s eyes widened. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry! Are you bleeding?” Minny crouched down, and tried to see if there was any visible damage.
Cecile jumped up with a war cry, and Minny fell back, startled. “I got you! You should’ve seen your face!” She snorted with laughter.
“That wasn’t funny!” Minny said, but she was smiling all the same. “Really though, you’re okay?”
“You don’t need to worry so much.” Cecile stared back up at the tree. “This time, I’m going to jump out of it, and we’re going to see if I can land on my feet.” Minny rolled her eyes, amused. Only Cecile would want to go right back up there again.
Fall, 2008. Leaves cascaded down from her tree. They were shades of gold and red, reminding Minny of the gryffindor themed scarf she had in her bedroom. She wished she were wearing it; it was somewhat chilly. The first frost had happened a few days prior, and everything was slightly crunchy under her feet as she walked to school.
She greeted her neighbor’s son as she passed him. He was only four, and his round cheeks were flushed red. He smiled at her brightly from underneath a slightly too large green hat. His mother waved at her from the kitchen window, a steaming mug in her hands.
Minny’s backpack was heavy on her shoulders, and she slipped her fingers under the straps to try to offset the weight. She was carrying her math textbook today, because she wanted to get to school early and study for her test. I probably should’ve studied on Wednesday, she chided herself, but she was well aware that she would just pull the same procrastination for the next unit’s test. She shrugged. It had worked thus far.
Her phone emitted a small ding noise, and she set down her backpack to retrieve the phone from her front pocket. She took a moment to push her shoulders back, her bones satisfyingly cracking. Her friend had texted her, he wanted to meet at the school store before class started. So much for studying. How absolutely tragic, she thought, the hint of a smile on her lips.
Winter, 2008. Her father was stringing up ice blue lights on her now barren tree. The tip of Minny’s nose was freezing, and her fingers were starting to get stiff in her coat pocket. She was tempted to go inside, but part of her relished the sting of the cold on her skin. Just a few more minutes. “Next year we should get multicolored lights,” she mused, imagining how fun the tree would look. “Like, Christmas colors or something.”
Her father stepped back from the tree, picturing it. “That could be interesting.” He chuckled. “Your mother is rather attached to these ones, though. We used them at our wedding.”
Minny’s face lit up. She loved hearing stories about her parents before she was born. “It was an outdoor wedding, then? Was it winter?”
“It was. It was freezing, and your mother’s dress was covered in fur, and she looked like an angel.” Her father finished the last light, and plugged them into the extension cord. The lights flickered before turning all the way on, shining brightly in the night. “These lights are older than you, you know.”
She giggled, and pulled her polaroid camera out of her jacket pocket. “Move, please. I need to take a picture.” She looked through the viewfinder, trying to fit in as much of the tree as possible. Click! The picture slid out of the slot.
“It’s not the best picture I’ve ever seen,” Her father joked, pointing to the currently all gray image. Minny rolled her eyes. “Besides, I put up all these lights, and I don’t even get to be in the picture?”
She pulled her phone out of her other pocket, and swiped up into the camera app, flipping it into front facing mode. Her father put his arm around her shoulder, and they smiled into the camera. The lights shined like stars behind them.
Spring, 2009. Minny was biking home from Cecile’s house. The color of the sky matched her grey eyeshadow, and raindrops drizzled over her skin. Piles of dirty snow were gradually melting, and water trickled down the street underneath her tires.
She stopped for a moment as she approached the tree, its damp leaves dripping water onto her. She frowned, she noticed that a ring of tulips were planted around its trunk. She detested them, they were too yellow, and they looked childish, and she just wanted to tear them up from the ground.
But she did not. She just grazed the tree lightly with her fingers, and got back on her bike. She biked two blocks down and one to the right to her new apartment building, where she shared her yard with six other families, and there was nothing but unkempt shrubbery in it.