“She’s dying, you know,” he whispered, tracing the rough bark
under the palm of his hand, an invisible trail that lead to the
looming willow’s roots forming under his touch.
“Who?” she asked, sitting beside him.
His lips curved into a slight frown, though his brow was furrowed
with impatience and annoyance. “Mother Nature.”
“We’re killing her. She provides us a home, and in thanks we destroy
her, skin and bones.”
The girl remained silent, thankful for the shade of the weeping
willow’s drooping leaves as she curled her finger around one of the
vines. A leaf departed from the rest, and she imagined it as a single
tear, dropping towards the Earth.
“And they may never get to meet her, the one’s who aren’t here yet.
Won’t know her comforting embrace as she shifts the hair from our
eyes, or her beaming smile in the radiant warmth. Their eyes will
never know her beauty. Only the wreckage and destruction of her
aftermath.”
“Her veins are these roots, reaching across lands and connecting us
all to one home. She ignores borderlines because there are none;
she doesn’t differentiate or discriminate by location.”
His hands continued to trace the thick roots resting near-hidden
under a blanket of leaves, the vibrant red and orange hues creating
their own quilt pattern. The roots snaked their way to another thick
tree trunk, though neither could tell what type of tree it belonged
to. All that remained now was a stump.
“We’re not the only beings that occupy this space,” he said, kneeling
towards the skeletal remains of the tree. Around the base of the
stump were thin branches, pinecones, and scattered acorns. “Some
poor creatures just had their homes hijacked, so that we may use it
instead,” he shook his head in dismay as he stood, slowly leading
her towards the edge of the forest.
A brook separated them from the towering city, buildings blocking
their view of the sun. A mist was drawn around the town, which
seemed cold and unwelcoming in comparison to the vibrant flowers
that currently surrounded them. The clear stream rushed against
the dark stones that scattered the water’s path, its roaring current
breaking the silence.
“I wonder if they’ll know this clarity,” she said, kneeling towards the
brook to cup water between her hands. His fingers wrapped around
her wrist and pulled it back, and he shook his head.
“They won’t. This will be dry by then. The environmental sciences
will become a thin chapter in their history books. Or perhaps there
will be an entire book, solely for the history of the planet that once
was. A planet they likely won’t occupy.”
“This entire forest will be burned for the land, once the stronger
trees are cut,” he said, motioning to his right. “And this brook will
be bone dry, the water bottled up and sold. These are no one’s to
take, yet they are.”
They walked a bit farther, until the roar of the stream was drowned
out by the freeway above.
“We’ve created monsters,” he said, pointing towards the cars as
they zoomed past. “Their breath will boil the air.”
“There will be something better, after cars. I’m sure they’re working
on it right now. Something not nearly so destructive.”
“These generation’s innovations have been reeked chaos long
enough that the damage is done. But they’re not the worst kind of
monsters here,” he said, turning his back to the highway as he
headed back to the forest. “We are.”
Her head swayed towards the highway, then to the boy, and back
again. She frowned, running towards him to catch up.
“We’re killing her,” he repeated, resting once again against the roots
of the willow. The girl blinked at him, surprised by the calm in his
voice.
“So what do we do? Petition the mayor, hold a rally? There must be
something!”
“We warn the children,” he said, stifling a yawn. “Warn them that
their children won’t know this place the way we do. That if we take
Mother Nature for granted, she will abandon us. Flowers won’t
bloom, water will be drained, and this Earth will slowly selfdestruct.
They need to grow up with that thought drilled into them,
so that consideration for a solution is as natural as this forest.”
The wind howled, and the vines above them rustled and swayed as
if the looming willow were singing its own sad song.
“Do you hear them?” he whispered, his ears perked towards the
sound. The entire forest was suddenly alive with sound; the crunch
of leaves as scampering critters ran across the carpeted ground, the
plunk of acorns as they hit the hard soil, the chirping birds as they
flew with the wind.
“They’re living now, while they still can.”
The girl looked around, seeing the home the forest provided as a
whole. Her eyes focused on the roots below, watching them wind a
path farther than she could see.
“You said the roots connect us?” she asked, pointing to the snaking
trail of the willow’s tubers. She didn’t wait for an answer. “All of us?
Without differentiating?”
He nodded, brushing his hand once more against the willow’s roots.
“So this responsibility is all of ours,” she said. “If this Earth is for all
of us, then the responsibility must be shared. This is a worldwide
obligation.”
“A worldwide obligation to save the world,” he said, smiling.
“Mother will be so pleased.”