Category A: Third Place (2020) Monash Short Story Writing Competition
Author: Talia Mills
Title: The cherry tree
In the woods near our house, where the trees grow tall and the grass is a picturesque green, we find the cherry tree. It is truly the most beautiful tree in the forest, growing leaves as green as the luscious grass, and cherries the size of the golf balls my father would hit on Sunday morning. The branches were strong enough to hold our whole family. However, the part of the cherry tree that I love most is the memories it keeps safe for me.
Before my mother was taken from me, we would run to the cherry tree at sunrise and dance with the fairies. My mother told me that if we were quiet, the fairies living in the tree would come out and say hello to us, for they loved the peacefulness of the empty forest. Every day we would sit quietly, waiting for the fairies. There wasn’t a morning we were disappointed. The fairies were the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. We danced like there was nothing wrong in the world. When my mum was taken away, I would go out every morning looking for the fairies, but I never saw them again. I guess the fairies didn’t like my noisy tears and broken heart. But I still have the memories.
Before my sister left me to join my mother, we would bake deserts every day. My sister was the best cook in our little village. Every one of our mouth-watering deserts had a cherry on the top. We would race through the woods and climb the cherry tree to the highest point. We could see our whole world from up there. Our father would be by the window every day, waiting for us to appear and wave at him from above. We would pick the cherry that grew at the very top of the tree. Even though only a day would pass before we came back, the cherry would always have regrown, exactly where we picked it the previous day. My sister didn’t believe me, but I knew the fairies Mum and I would dance with at sunrise were the reason the cherry was always waiting for us. After my sister left to join my mum, the cherry disappeared. I never saw it again. The spot in which it used to reside, remained empty. But I still have the memories.
My family is smaller now. Just me and my father, living in a house haunted by painful memories of what we have lost. That is why every day at sunrise I venture out into the woods, to sit below the cherry tree. I look back on the time spent dancing with fairies, the way we could escape all our problems when climbing the tree. I think about all that we have lost, but my heart no longer breaks because of it. No tears leave my eyes, for I still have the memories, and the love that came with them.