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the tree in our garden

by EvaR14


I remember when the tree in our garden was small. 

It's branches reached up into the sky, searching for something, anything. Young and hopeful. I remember us standing next to it, fingertips stretched out as we tried to reach its tallest leaves. I remember the first time I touched them, the pride I felt as you watched, laughing. You'd been able to touch it months before I ever could. 

It was taller when we started high school. 

Remember when we used to sit in its branches, swinging our legs and threatening to push each other off? Mum always told us to be careful: it wasn't strong enough to support us, she said. It must've been though, because its branches never snapped. Neither of us ever fell. 

After a while, you had so much studying to do you couldn't sit with me every night. You never knew, but Mum used to shout after dark when she realised I'd been sitting there for hours. I practised jumping down and running in quickly so I wouldn't get in trouble. There's a scar above my knee from when I jumped a moment too fast. 

I thought about how you'd never have stayed out after dark. You always did the right thing. I was jealous of you then. Mum never seemed angry at you.

When you left for college, it was fully grown. 

Mum didn't shout at me for sitting outside anymore. She said I was too old to be shouted at. Besides, I'd be leaving for college too in a year, and there'd be nobody to shout at me there. I had to learn to look after myself. The first few nights after you'd left, I sat in its branches as it grew dark, leaning against the thickest branch of the tree. It was big enough then that it wasn't uncomfortable to sit in, and I never had to worry about falling. Mum looked at me funny when I stumbled inside at sunrise, tired and sad, eyes red from missing you. She never said anything though: I was too old to be told off. 

When I left for college, I thought about the tree. 

In the afternoons I would lie in my new room, eyes burning through the ceiling as I wondered why I'd left - why you hadn't warned me about how tiring this all was. How lonely it felt. Work piled up beside me as I slept through classes, missed assignments and refused to think about any of it. I remember worrying as I lay there, still as my ceiling, that one day everything would crash down on top of me and I'd be crushed under the weight of everything I hadn't done. I wished I had the courage to phone you. Or just send a text. 

I wanted to be back home. I longed to feel like I did when we were kids. I thought about our dumb competitions - how we'd see who could climb to the top of the tree, who could run from the house to the tree and back fastest. You always won, of course, but that didn't matter. It was fun. 

It was in September that year that Mum phoned me, voice small and restrained. 

"He's dead." 

I didn't know how to respond. I said "okay", put the phone down, and didn't speak to her until 2 weeks later when I got the train home for your funeral.

I didn't cry at your funeral. I'm sorry - I just couldn't. Everything felt unreal, like I was in the middle of some strange dream that would end in an hour. I thought I might wake up and be five again, reaching up towards the tallest leaves on the tree, hearing your laugh from behind me. The thought that you were gone was too much. 

Yesterday, Mum cut down the tree. 

She didn't tell me but I heard a chainsaw outside. I watched from my room as it's branches fell to the ground and I thought of you. I thought of every time you'd sat perched in those branches, just out of reach, and I cried. I thought of all the times we'd raced back and forth between the tree and our house, you just inches ahead of me. My chest ached and my body curled in on itself, my hands closed tightly into fists and my eyelids screwed shut. I never got to say goodbye to you.


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Sun May 23, 2021 7:14 am
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Carina wrote a review...



Hi EvaR14! Here for a quick review. :)

I loved the symbolism of this short story. Right away I knew that the tree symbolized something important: youth, lost time, and a deteriorating friendship. A life that was no longer here. I loved how you kept incorporating that theme throughout the story. Nicely done.

The end gave me goosebumps. The MC and the friend used to sit together and reach their hands up high in the sky towards the top branches, and the MC would still do that even without the friend since he was away. But when the friend passed, the tree must pass too. That is excellent symbolism that tugged at my heartstrings, especially with the last sentence. The MC never got to say goodbye to the friend, nor to the tree.

This piece almost feels poetic, which I adore. I do suggest adding more poetic elements, like metaphors or similes. Perhaps other subtle elements too, like alliteration and imagery. This could easily be done by incorporating the five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. Show me the story of their youth on the tree -- don't just tell me.

Hopefully this helps. I love narrative shorts like these, so this was just a delight to read. Thank you for sharing, and keep writing!

~Carina



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EvaR14 says...


thanks for the review <3



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Sun May 23, 2021 6:53 am
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!!

First Impression: Well...this was a pretty powerful little story here...it started out innocently enough but the progression of this life story esque thing...ended in...well what you'd expect life to end in...well lemme get down to more details down below.

Anyway let's get right to it,

I remember when the tree in our garden was small.

It's branches reached up into the sky, searching for something, anything. Young and hopeful. I remember us standing next to it, fingertips stretched out as we tried to reach its tallest leaves. I remember the first time I touched them, the pride I felt as you watched, laughing. You'd been able to touch it months before I ever could.


Hmm...well this seems like the start to a pretty wholesome little story so far....at least it appears to be so far...xD...a nice relaxing setting and then the talk of them trying to see if they can reach the tallest branches....definitely seems like some really nice memories here.

It was taller when we started high school.

Remember when we used to sit in its branches, swinging our legs and threatening to push each other off? Mum always told us to be careful: it wasn't strong enough to support us, she said. It must've been though, because its branches never snapped. Neither of us ever fell.


Well this seems like a collection of pretty innocent memories so far...showcasing how this tree seems to be taking part in them slowly growing up alongside it. It definitely feels like a lovely little story so far.

After a while, you had so much studying to do you couldn't sit with me every night. You never knew, but Mum used to shout after dark when she realised I'd been sitting there for hours. I practised jumping down and running in quickly so I wouldn't get in trouble. There's a scar above my knee from when I jumped a moment too fast.


Hmm....well having to grow up can do that to ya...and practicing a nice quick in and out strategy for things like this is definitely something we can all relate to in our childhood. xD

I thought about how you'd never have stayed out after dark. You always did the right thing. I was jealous of you then. Mum never seemed angry at you.

When you left for college, it was fully grown.

Mum didn't shout at me for sitting outside anymore. She said I was too old to be shouted at. Besides, I'd be leaving for college too in a year, and there'd be nobody to shout at me there. I had to learn to look after myself. The first few nights after you'd left, I sat in its branches as it grew dark, leaning against the thickest branch of the tree. It was big enough then that it wasn't uncomfortable to sit in, and I never had to worry about falling. Mum looked at me funny when I stumbled inside at sunrise, tired and sad, eyes red from missing you. She never said anything though: I was too old to be told off.


Aww...well this is taking on a bit of a sad note here....with the older sibling having to leave for college but well...that does happen...well...it seems like its just the natural course of life playing out here so far.

When I left for college, I thought about the tree.

In the afternoons I would lie in my new room, eyes burning through the ceiling as I wondered why I'd left - why you hadn't warned me about how tiring this all was. How lonely it felt. Work piled up beside me as I slept through classes, missed assignments and refused to think about any of it. I remember worrying as I lay there, still as my ceiling, that one day everything would crash down on top of me and I'd be crushed under the weight of everything I hadn't done. I wished I had the courage to phone you. Or just send a text.


Ooof...well that certainly sounds like it would make for a very rough college experience there...oh dear...this is not sounding good.

I wanted to be back home. I longed to feel like I did when we were kids. I thought about our dumb competitions - how we'd see who could climb to the top of the tree, who could run from the house to the tree and back fastest. You always won, of course, but that didn't matter. It was fun.


Well...that would definitely seems like a detour to an time of innocence that would help this one out tremendously...well...let's see where this goes I guess...its slowly becoming sadder here as we go on.

It was in September that year that Mum phoned me, voice small and restrained.

"He's dead."

I didn't know how to respond. I said "okay", put the phone down, and didn't speak to her until 2 weeks later when I got the train home for your funeral.


Well...that definitely did not end well...oh dear...never could've imagined it could possibly lead to a conclusion quite this sad.

I didn't cry at your funeral. I'm sorry - I just couldn't. Everything felt unreal, like I was in the middle of some strange dream that would end in an hour. I thought I might wake up and be five again, reaching up towards the tallest leaves on the tree, hearing your laugh from behind me. The thought that you were gone was too much.


Well that state of denial is definitely quite realistic to the situation here. Its hard to imagine just how much of a shock this would come as to someone in the situation of our pov character here.

Yesterday, Mum cut down the tree.

She didn't tell me but I heard a chainsaw outside. I watched from my room as it's branches fell to the ground and I thought of you. I thought of every time you'd sat perched in those branches, just out of reach, and I cried. I thought of all the times we'd raced back and forth between the tree and our house, you just inches ahead of me. My chest ached and my body curled in on itself, my hands closed tightly into fists and my eyelids screwed shut. I never got to say goodbye to you.


Well...a very sad ending to that seemingly innocent and wholesome story...but ehh...a fitting one...ending with the chopping of the tree and signifying the proper destruction of the wholesome memories of a time long past.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Well...this was quite a story this one...its definitely really well written and you can really resonate with the thoughts of our pov character here. Well...not too much else for me to say here...soo...until next time. :D

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry



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EvaR14 says...


thank you :)



HarryHardy says...


:D




"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves."
— William Shakespeare