by Anjali Kamaleson
I had been browsing the small potted trees at the greenhouse when I saw an elegant branch in a Mason jar, roots sprouting at the bottom. I looked at the tag. Weeping Willow. We’d recently moved to a new town and something for the yard, like a willow, would be a unique addition.
“What’re you looking at?” My mom asked, coming up behind me.
“Weeping Willow. Isn’t it pretty? It’d be nice to plant one in the backyard, hmm?”
“Yeah,” she replied with a nod, a look on her face that I couldn’t decipher. She smiled. “Maybe someday.”
A month later, on my birthday, my mom gave me strangely shaped package. Inside were two weeping willows of my own. I went to the backyard and planted them side by side.
“Someday when they’re bigger, I’ll put a bench between them,” I said to Mom, with a smile.
Sun and rain. Wind and snow.They grew, strong and tall. One particularly violent storm, one of my willows was struck by lightning. I thought about getting another one, for the bench. But one willow works just as fine as two.
Soon after, my dad got a new job, far away. I said goodbye to my willow. I wouldn’t get to put a bench there. Maybe I would plant another willow at the new place. Maybe I would get a bench too.
The new house had a small backyard, hardly enough room for a weeping willow, let alone two. I silently hoped we might move again, to a house with a bigger backyard for my willows and bench. But we didn’t.
Years passed. I went off to college and though my days were a whirlwind of classes, friends, and studying, I remembered my willow. I vowed that as soon as I graduated, I would go find my willow.
Weeks after I graduated, I bought a quaint stone bench, packed it in my car, and drove back to my old home. My willow still stood. Taller, stronger, lovelier, prouder, towering over all the other trees. Nestled under the flowing, feathery branches was a little bench. A little girl sat on the bench and from a distance I saw a peaceful expression on her face. She was content, she belonged.
Birds sang in the trees. A squirrel darted across the yard, and butterflies danced in the breeze. The little girl looked up and saw me. I smiled and waved. She hesitantly waved back. I decided it was time. I was going to go; and this time I didn’t mind so much. My bench was waiting in my car, along with the prospects of a new beginning, a new home, underneath a new willow tree.