www.whyville.net Aug 26, 2012 Weekly Issue

Veteran Times Writer

I Should Have Shown That I Cared

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I walked along the sidewalk that led from here to there. I had taken this path a dozen times, and the forest around me was a familiar scene. Around me were lush, green grasses and lively trees. Their leaves swayed back and forth, shaking hands with one another and intertwining their fingers with those of other trees. I saw their love and it made me wish for someone of my own. I let it go as my attention was drawn to another tree.

Its leaves were a much darker hue than those around it, it's trunk twisted in an unattractive fashion. I could see that a few of the leaves were beginning to turn crisp and brown, though still clinging to the fraying branches as if begging to hold on.

The tree made me sad, but I kept walking.

The rest of my trip was lovely and pleasant and the trees around me were beautiful and happy. They smiled and socialized with one another. I could hear them whisper to each other as the wind rustled through their leaves, and I wondered if they were talking about the ugly tree. There was no way to be sure.

I pushed the thought out of my head and went home.

The next day came and I found myself along the same path I took the day before. The trees still had their glossy green leaves, their perfection hardly believable, yet there it was. The way they seemed flawless made the ugliness of the next tree I saw seem more noticeable. I could see it beginning to droop to one side as its leaves lost their green color and turned a lonely brown. They shriveled and wept as I looked away and tried to forget about it. I wanted to help it, but I didn't know how.

The tree made me sad, but I kept walking.

The beautiful trees around me made me forget about the dying tree and focus on them. They were more important than that other tree; they were better. The other one wasn't anything special.

I wondered if the ugly tree had any friends as I continued home.

The same thought entered my mind again the next day while I walked along my usual path. I saw the trees dance and sway and I noticed the ugly tree losing its dead leaves. I could see the deep gashes along the bark. The branches were split and some had even come completely off and littered the walk way. I kicked them away and wished for the tree's sake it would someday look like the other trees.

The tree made me sad, but I kept walking.

And I continued walking away from the tree day after day. I noticed it looking worse and worse, deteriorating from the inside out, yet I didn't stop. It wasn't my problem; why should I care? I had thought about helping it, but there wasn't anything I could do, was there?

I continued walking away until one day I realized something strange; the tree wasn't there anymore. I looked around the forest and noticed it too was different. The beautiful trees were no longer dancing and swaying, their happiness no longer seeming to overpower me. The only thing I could do was stare at the stump in front of me and notice the emptiness the tree once had filled.

I wished I would have done something to help the tree. I wished that I would have helped repair its branches or water it. Perhaps I could have shown it I cared or done something to make a difference in its life. I should have helped it before it was too late. I should have told it I cared instead of letting myself forget its sadness and focus on the world around me. I should have shown that I care.

I sat down on the stump and cried.

Author's Note: No one is unimportant enough to walk away from.


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