The Remembering Tree

old tree

© Sandra Crook

When Jake was seven, he and his brothers and sisters were taken away to strange lands, to forests and deserts, to where dragons and demons were found. He lived and lived and nearly died in those lands, fighting the war of restoration, of good vs. evil. But years had passed.

When Jake was seven, he found his way home again. Years had passed but he was still seven.

Mom said Dad would be out of the hospital soon. She had a lot to do to get ready for Dad to go home, so Jake and his siblings stayed with Grandpa for the past week.

When Jake was seven, he was at his Grandpa’s house. He used to like video games, the old ones Dad showed him, like Pac-Man and Mario Brothers. But that was before. This is now and now is different.

Grandpa has a tree in his backyard. He thinks it’s just a tree, old, probably rotting. Grandpa says he’ll get around to cutting it down one day for firewood.

He doesn’t know it’s a remembering tree.

Jake remembers being five and climbing it for the first time. His older brother Taylor teased him, said he was too chicken. Jake climbed the tree and fell, breaking his arm. Jake remembers the pain, the fear. He remembers the hospital and the cast. He remembers Taylor crying, saying he was sorry, saying he loved him.

The remembering tree helps Jake see himself when he was five-and-a-half. He climbed the tree up and he climbed the tree down. He didn’t fall. He didn’t break his arm. His oldest sister Mandy said she was scared to death. Taylor said he was proud. Paris was inside Grandpa’s house reading a book and Zooey was petting the neighbor’s cat.

Jake was seven when he was taken away. He found an old dragon who lived in a tree. The tree was a lot bigger than the remembering tree, but the remembering tree remembers. So does the dragon.

“I remember you, Jake. You remember me. The trees remember each other. Your Grandpa’s tree and my home tree.”

“You didn’t forget me. You’re still there.”

“Of course, Jake. I told you. I told you I’d always remember. I told you that if you missed me, if you remembered hard enough, I’d still be there.”

“But this is just an old tree in my Grandpa’s backyard. You live in a magic forest under a big, big tree. How…?”

“They’re all trees,” whispered the dragon from around a corner no one could see. “All trees are remembering trees. All trees know. I love you, Jake. You are a good boy. You helped save us all. Now you’re home. Your Daddy’s getting better. Go. Go make some new memories, Jake. Go make them good ones.”

Grandpa called out from the back porch. “Jake! Your Mom’s got your Dad on the phone.”

When Jake was seven he ran back inside, back to where he belonged. His Daddy was coming home soon. They’d make new good memories together.

Earlier today, I wrote Adventure’s Bitter Memories based on Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s latest flash fiction challenge. You can find stories based on that prompt at InLinkz.com. However, in reading the other stories based on the prompt, I happened to make a comment about a “remembering tree”. I was suddenly struck with a new idea for the prompt.

I can’t post more than one story for the same prompt, but I often create expanded stories based on the original. In The Whisperer and Mr. Covingham’s Secret, I showcased the youngest child Zooey. In the aforementioned “Adventure’s Bitter Memories,” I focused on Taylor and his twin sister Paris. Now, I’m introducing Jake.

Lots of clues about the end of the journey for the five Davidson children, but not so much about the beginning and the middle. That’s yet to come.

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