A Single Leaf
“The most beautiful things on this earth are the ones that grow out of it.” Timothy couldn’t help replaying his grandfather’s favorite phrase in his head. On the 10th anniversary of his death, Timothy could barely function. His grandfather had been the most important thing in his life until he had died of heart failure. Now the only thing Timothy had left of him was the tree they had planted when he was four. Unsurprisingly, this turned into the most important thing in Timothy’s life.
Timothy II had been a huge activist in saving nature and habitats from the never ending hunger of mankind. He had lived to a ripe old age of 90, and Timothy was grateful for that, but he missed his grandpa so much. He had been the only one in the world who really made sense.
Now 14, Timothy was starting to develop his grandfather’s views on the world. It seemed to Timothy that the earth had turned into huge land of conflict and hate. The only salvation for him was the sycamore tree in his backyard. In the year 3019 there weren’t many sycamore trees left. The government had taken just about all the land, and the air was so polluted that it was almost impossible for a living thing like a tree to live. However, Timothy’s grandfather’s tree still stood tall and strong, except for a small diseased spot in the center of the trunk. Every day Timothy would go and sit by it when he arrived home from school. He would feel the smooth, dark brown bark and sit in between the two biggest roots. He would often try to count the emerald green leaves that stretched on the branches high above his head. Then he would look at the diseased spot in the center of the trunk, a small knot of blackness that grew each day. It saddened him, but it was so small, he expected the tree would fight it off.
Today, after arriving home from school, Timothy followed his regular pattern. He grabbed an artificial apple from the kitchen counter and walked out the back door to his favorite seat, right next to the tree. As he sat, Timothy tried not to think about his grandpa too much; he had been blinking back tears all day. Instead, he thought about what real apples had tasted like. He had never had one, but his grandpa had always talked about the old fruits and veggies, “Yes Timothy! You could go to the grocery store and buy them by the dozen! Or, even better, you could grow them and pick them right off the tree!” This had always seemed the most exciting to Timothy, picking them right off the tree… he kicked himself for letting himself think about his grandpa again. That’s all he seemed to be able to think about anymore. The information everyone else was feeding him was garbage it seemed. At school they were taught drills on how to survive attacks from other countries, like bombings or gas releases. They were also taught how to live off of the food they were given, because every family received only a certain amount. At home - well - his mom was never home, forced to work to support their family, and his dad had died fighting in the army when he was only 10.
Therefore, Timothy simply sat by the tree, not letting those poisonous ideas fill his head. He didn’t care what they were taught at school - he saw through the lies that everything and everyone told him - commercials, the radio, teachers, politicians, even friends. They all tried to pretend like everything was okay, but he knew it wasn’t. It made him want to scream. Did they not see the world falling apart right in front of them? Here was everyone fighting with each other and then stopping, acting like it was okay. Everything was okay.
Timothy didn’t see that. He saw people fighting over race - who cares what color one’s skin is? Then there was gender. One little thing and everyone would blow up at each other. At school, the classroom was one big Jenga game. One piece pulled out of place, one word out of place and everyone blew up.
Sitting by the tree, feeling the cool, squishy earth underneath him, Timothy let go of his resistance and wondered what his grandpa would have thought of the world today. Timothy could just see his bright blue eyes crinkling and the tears spilling from his eyes. He wished he could do something - they both had, but they just couldn’t.
So Timothy went on his way, through each day, each week, each year, listening to the same drone, of phony happiness here, waging war, arguing there. Each day, the sickened spot of the tree grew and grew. He didn’t let it enter his head though. Every day without fail he would go and sit under the great sycamore tree and think of his grandpa.
Days turned into years and Timothy found himself 30 years old, sitting next to the same tree, in the same yard, outside the same house, but the world had changed. His mom had passed away, leaving him alone. The sycamore tree had also changed. The diseased spot had taken over most of it, leaving only spots of healthiness almost overtaken by the black of infection. The tree was withered and had shrunk in size to only a few feet tall. Timothy still sat there, his arm wrapped around it, thinking of his grandpa. “Dog-gone it Timmy, you let the world ruin itself!” And so it had. Everyday the turmoil grew worse and more violent. Food and clean water had grown scarce, and so had clean air. In fact, a huge asteroid was predicted to hit next month. Every person in his country was invited to a safe spot underground, but Timothy knew it was no use. As usual, he could see through the fake-happy faces. He knew it was the size of half the earth and would crush all of them. He would be in his usual spot; right next to the tree.
The asteroid did hit one month later, and Timothy was sitting next to the tree. The asteroid did crush the earth, and the only thing left was a single emerald green leaf, floating through the tortured air.