The Untoutched Tree

There I stood, silently, at the door step of a once familiar place, flooded with the memories that dwelled within its blackened, smouldering walls, the sound of children squealing and laughing joyously, replaced with silence and occasional shifting of floorboards around my feet, the wonderful aromas that seeped out of the oven as the mothers cooked, replaced with odours of smoke and damp ash. As i walked through the bones of my old home it had become apparent, nothing was left, anything still standing was deformed, distorted and quickly deteriorating resembling nothing of their younger selves.

The back wall separating the house from the garden had collapsed, revealing the back yard, the dwelling place of my childhood. As the ash fell slowly and gracefully like snow, coating the barren earth beneath it, i was startled, almost all the trees appeared sick and twisted, abandoned by their leaves, the grass was dry and lifeless yet at the centre of the garden stood a tree, incorrupt by the sadness and chaos that surrounded it, the base of the tree was encompassed by a patch of grass, completely untainted by the shroud of ash and smoke looming in the air.

On the lowest branch hung an poorly constructed swing, supported more by the vines than the withered rope they encapsulated, my friend Charlotte and i had made it the first summer i spent here. Carefully and with little faith i shifted my weight onto the swing causing the vines and rope to moan, It held me. As i gazed upon the magnificent trunk i saw the names of the people who had lived here, etched into the trees tough skin, one name after another, at the bottom of which i found my own.

As a boy, my mother and father struggled to keep our heads above water, the Great depression was at its worst and the pressure to support the family quickly caused my father to deteriorate. My mother said he had left to find a job but even from a young age i knew he had left us too. My mother and i moved from place to place,...