I recognized the boy from years before. He hadn’t visited in a long while but there was no mistaking those round, brown eyes, tousled blonde hair, and crooked smile. I knew him in an instant and I was gladdened by his return.
“This used to be my favorite spot as a kid,” he whispered to the girl who sat beside him, her head on his shoulder.
I’d suspected as much. He used to tramp through the long grasses of the field, stick in hand, to stop
under my branches. Sometimes he fought imaginary foes, swinging his stick like a mighty sword. On especially warm days, the boy laid beneath the shade I offered. He peered through the gaps of my leaves and boughs, winking at the sun.
A particularly happy memory for me was the time he stood beside me, his hand occasionally resting on my trunk, and recited again and again a wordy, lofty speech by someone named Shakespeare, or Puck perhaps. (These names I discerned from the boy’s grumblings at moments when he lost his place.) I recall with delight the final recitation, when he delivered every line with clarity. His smile, his whoop of satisfaction. It was a fine day.
Now he has returned. Grown tall and muscular. His voice is richer yet still full of his younger self. And he has brought his girl. They sit against my trunk, their backs warming the bark. She is lovely; brown, thick hair reaching halfway down her back, cheeks and lips pink with happiness. He looks at her as at a jewel. It is early in spring, the sun only beginning to recover its heat after the long days and nights of winter. His girl – Carly, he calls her – snuggles closer under his arm and the smile on his face is perfect. The hum of their conversation blends with the breeze. It is steady, soothing, and confident, reminding me of a song a man sang once long ago as he walked along the stream to a destination unknown.
The boy and his girl stay until the field is afire with the sun dipping low and bright behind it. I hear Carly promise to come back again with him and I am filled with a share of the hope I see in the boy’s face.
They do come back. They do, and I shall tell you what became of them.