Monday, 28 February 2011

The Family Tree

By Iain Cosgrove
Earl Grey tea

I have lived in this house all my life. As I gaze out on the morning I can’t quite identify what is wrong until I realise the horizon is different.

I know it’s a cliché, but oh how the mighty had fallen. He was always so straight, so erect, and so proud. He was massive and omnipresent on his small hillock, challenging the heavens to do their worst. He must have really angered the Gods this time. He carried his lightning scars like a badge of honour, and shrugged off all the Gales that nature threw at him.

But like all living things, his time has come. Last night’s storm has uprooted him like a weed; tossing him aside like a weak rooted sapling.

As I step through the carnage, I notice the white swing; moss covered, flaking paint, the sounds of my children and grandchildren shrieking with delight returned anew. ‘Higher Dad, Higher!’ they shrieked. 'Higher Grandad, Higher!' as he cradled them safely in the massive solidity of his branches.

We grew up together, him and me. Like most friends, we hurt each other too. If I turned to the side in front of a mirror, I could see the ten inch scar he inflicted on me as a child; I was trying to rob him of his juiciest fruit. And I can still see the unthinking and thoughtless wounds the six inch nails from my tree house made. And of course there was the heart and arrow carved into the base. Alan loves Helen.

She squeezes my shoulder; she has seen me from the house and has silently joined me in mourning. We walk through the splayed out branches, surveying the damage like dazed soldiers on a battlefield. 'Don’t worry love,' she says, wiping a tear from my eye. 'We’ll give him the send off he deserves.'

***

So here I am, rocking back and forth, safe again in his gentle caress. I am particularly fond of the chair, but he had given us so much more. We found a carpenter who listened to what we wanted and lovingly re-formed him so that he remained a part of our lives; a true member of the family. And as I look across the glowing embers of his remnants, I see my great grandchild asleep in his loving embrace. If I squint over the top of my glasses I can just make out a heart with an arrow through it on the headboard of the crib.

I nod to myself in satisfaction. I think he would have understood. I go back to my book, rocking gently as the wet wood crackles in the heart



My Name is Iain Cosgrove. I was born in Canada to English parents. I was educated in the UK and went on to study at Brighton Polytechnic, before starting a career in IT. I moved to Dublin, Ireland in 1988 with my future wife, and subsequently got married and had three sons. I am currently an IT Director and have been writing in my spare time for the last 15 years. I have written two novels, a number of short stories and have a number of projects underway, including an idea for a short story collection. But nothing published so far! Here's hoping.

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