/ Sanjana Dhamankar

Fiction1 min reading time

So lonely was the old banyan tree that stood between Huntington Preparatory Academy and Valley Public School, that it reached out its wooden arms and asked the world into its embrace.

It yearned for stories, for adventures, for more than the lines on its leaves.

But when the world came, it wasn’t what the tree expected.

Once the world came in the form of a daydreaming flutist, and he made his melancholy music in the afternoon stupor. He’d scratched his name into the tree’s bark: Violet, like the flowers in his hair, like his nail polish, like his bruises.

The tree wanted to protect his fragile heart. Turns out he could do it himself.

Another time it came as two souls in love: a basketball player with nine fingers and an art history buff with acne scars. They hung origami cranes on the tree’s branches and wished on its falling leaves. He wished for an Ivy League college, vacations in Bali, real friends. She wished for a new prom dress, a signed first edition of Going Solo, immortality.

The tree wanted them to stay together, strong against all odds. Turns out they were doomed from the start.

And so, the cycle repeated, bringing the tree a scrawny fourth grader hiding from bullies, a mourning father with his dead twins’ shoes, and so much worse. And it hurt the tree, to offer mere respite instead of solutions; it hurt to be so useless.

Little did it know that on life’s road of thorns, the respite it offered was gift enough.