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Blue Jay in Spring

Being a tree is not easy or peaceful as it seems

I flew through the brisk, cool air of the morning as a tiny seed, wondering where I would land. With a dull thud that echoed in my ears, I crashed onto the soft, crumbly dirt. The dirt was cool and soothing, and I fell asleep with nothing to do. After a year, I could finally get a clear view of where I had been lodged. Beside me, there was a peaceful lake with muddy brown water. All around me, there was a crowd of towering trees. Even the shrubs were taller than me. I looked around and saw the roots and stems of shrubs. Looking up, I saw their leaves. I looked higher and saw tree trunks. Looking even higher, layers of tree branches and leaves were present, with sunlight occasionally filtering through. Sometimes, small animals from the lake would scamper over the leaf litter on the forest floor. Everything was peaceful, and no bad events happened to me until five years later.

I was growing taller and enjoying myself as my branches grew denser and denser. Suddenly, I noticed a rolling, dark cloud in the distance. Within the hour, it was on top of the forest of conifers. With a deafening roar of thunder, huge drops fell like stones from the sky. They battered my branches painfully, and huge gusts of wind pushed me from side to side. Then, I was blinded by a flash of brilliant white light. Thankfully, it only lasted for half a second. A mysterious scorching pain started in my lower branches. I looked down and to my horror, I saw flames devouring my branches. Just when I thought the worst was over, the flames spread to another tree and before a minute had passed, the forest was burning down. The heat was so great that the raindrops sizzled and evaporated before they could even get near my branches. The whole forest was filled with an orange haze that distorted the shapes of trees around me. I thought I would topple when a great shower of strong water put out the flames. Looking up, I saw a machine that looked like a giant red bird. It continuously sprayed water from its underside that penetrated through the heat and put out the flickering flames. I silently thanked the red machine for saving my life. It took me three years to heal from that horrible lighting strike.

I looked around me and everywhere my eyes passed, plants were brown and dying. I could no longer hear the birds and insects that so often inhabited the area.

Just as I had barely finished healing, I noticed a small yellow patch on my upper branch. The patch quickly grew into a beehive. Day and night, I was forced to listen to their unceasing buzzes. Then, a large brown bear came to the base of my trunk and stared hungrily at the hive on the upper branches. It prowled around me, trying to find a way to reach the honey. I could almost see the gears in his head turning. Finally, it bunched its muscles and leapt into my branches. I swayed and my needles scattered in the air. I tried to right myself but the bear was too heavy. I could feel my roots coming out of the soft soil. Just when I thought I would fall, there was a tremendous crack and I swayed in the opposite direction. I felt like a frail piece of grass waving in the wind. As I stopped waving, I became aware of a horrible pain in my lower branches. I looked down to investigate and I was horrified by the sight. One of my largest branches had snapped off, leaving a large splintery wound. Then, the hive, which had been loosened, crashed down through my branches and broke out on the ground. Honey splashed everywhere, and it looked like a yellow splatter of abstract art on the ground. The bear began joyfully slurping up the delicious honey. The sight of the animal that had caused so much pain eating the sweet liquid made rage boil up inside me. I willed myself to topple and crush the bear, but my roots rooted me to the ground. It took me about four years to heal.

When I had finished healing, I noticed how thirsty I was. I had been so caught up in healing my wounds that I did not have time to think about water and rain. So, to quench my thirst, I tried to bring up water through the deep ground. I could not. To find a solution, I looked toward the lake. I was shocked to see that no water existed anymore and all that was left was the dry and cracked depression in the ground. I looked around me and everywhere my eyes passed, plants were brown and dying. I could no longer hear the birds and insects that so often inhabited the area.

In the next month, my situation became more dire. My brownish-red needles were dropping off. I was terrified because I could not make food for myself without water. I could not absorb sunlight either. The trees around me were all brown, and I could not see a single bit of green anywhere. A few trees were dead and it was devastating to see these old friends leaning at unnatural angles. I could not think of anything except how to get water.

Finally, after three years of drought, a moist breeze brushed my bark. A dark cloud passed overhead. Fat drops of rain fell into the forest. As soon as the liquid made contact with the parched soil, it disappeared immediately into the thirsty ground. The sound of raindrops hitting the trunks and bouncing off from dead leaves was the most soothing music I had ever heard. After about 15 minutes, the soil had drunk its fill and puddles formed on the now muddy ground. I gulped the water with delight as the life saving liquid flowed through my roots and to all parts of my trunk and branches. The rainstorm lasted only about half an hour, which was painfully short, but I knew that I would live long enough to absorb more water from the next storm. I survived the three-year drought. However, I only grew two centimeters in these years.

Four years later, a strange man carrying a shiny piece of metal on the end of a branch walked into my view. I wondered what he was doing when he suddenly swung the tool and hacked it into a tree beside me. It toppled down with a ground shaking crash. At each time another tree was cut down, I was trembling that it could have been me. By the time the sun was setting I was the only tree left within a radius of 200 meters. I was lonely, sleepless, and shivering the following nights and was confused whether I should long for the warm greeting from the morning sun or pray for a painless rest that I’d never wake from again.

In the coming winter, after a thick snow covered me, I was decorated by brightly colored ribbons, bells, and lanterns. A few families were standing around me. They sang and laughingly exclaimed: “What a perfect Christmas tree it is!” I felt alive again.

When spring came, a small wood cabin had been built near me. People walked inside and outside the cabin. Their tools made jaw-clenching sounds that made me cringe. Then, a small shed was built right beside me. Once it was fully built, I noticed that the shed was pushing at my trunk. I was leaning at a concerning angle. It took all my strength to not fall and collapse. I could almost feel my roots ripping out of the ground. I hoped the people living here would take the shed away. I grew like this for the next three years. There were no more Christmas decorations on me. The people sat indoors around a plastic tree with electric bulbs during the winter holidays instead.

One day, a professional-looking worker with a yellow helmet came. I was delighted! He was going to remove the shed. I happily watched him do his work as he prepared an assortment of tools. When he seemed ready, I prepared myself to sway in the opposite direction as the shed was removed. However, I felt myself tilting even more. I watched in horror as the ground rushed up to meet me. With a crash that rattled my heartwood, I fell onto the soft, crumbly dirt in the same way that a tiny seed begins its life.

Aiden Chen
Aiden Chen, 11
Edmonton, Canada

Cecilia Yang
Cecilia Yang, 12
San Jose, CA