The Tree

By Randy Lugo

That morning, the idea crossed Mary’s mind that she would never again see the sun pouring down like a shower of corn. It was raining, drops crashing blindly against the earth, the roof quivering after each thunder.

Like she did every morning, Mary fixed some coffee and sat in the kitchen to drink it and to admire the avocado tree she had planted on her patio — a tree that had never given her a single avocado.

“I don’t know if I can wait another thirty years for your avocados,” she exhaled. But the tree was busy fighting a battle with the wind and with the fat drops that were chopping its leaves and shredding its branches. Mary felt the same drops in her bones, pounding.

Maybe the phone rang that morning, but maybe Mary didn’t want to be on the phone. Maybe the tree, fed by the river, was in fact a hand coming down to earth to wave hello and a final goodbye to Mary, as she used to tell Clara, the nun from San Martin Hospice who took care of her on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Full of memories, she finished her coffee and turned on the little black radio she had perched on the windowsill. She forgot the rain for a moment, caught up in the lyrics that she would never forget, the ones about the star that learned to fly low, close to the earth so her lover could touch her. “He touches her with his naked hand, slow…” Mary hummed, smiling. Life wasn’t that bad, after all; the rain was just a dance partner for lonely hearts, a partner that wouldn’t abandon Mary Compas, the Queen of the Baralt Cabaret, on a Saturday morning after being diagnosed with a disease too ugly to be aired in the family. She was only depressed, not sick. Or she was sick, but not depressed.

Happiness was a smokescreen that hid the melancholy behind a gray veil. Gray, like the cloud that had carried along the morning storm which now took out the power with a thunderous boom, silencing the radio.

Sister Clara phoned Mary from the hospice to tell her she couldn’t make it, that the roads were flooded, but there was no answer. In the end, who knows what was on Mary’s mind that morning. Was she sad because of the rain? So let the rain answer. Did she see the first avocado on her tree, finally, and go out to pick it when the river burst its banks? Then let’s wait until the waters settle and ask the tree. It will still be out there, waving.

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Photograph by Flickr user emdot, used under a Creative Commons license.


Randy Lugo likes simple stuff like books, sunsets, and bikes. He works as a marketing copywriter during the day and is the author of A Few Bad Jokes and How to Be Confused All the Time. His forthcoming book, Los Polvos Ninjas, has been rewritten several times and, according to him, it hasn’t been published because he is still thinking about turning it into a movie script or just publishing it as a novel. Does his indecisive personality making him an intellectual wonderer? Maybe! In his free time, he participates in epic bicycle rides, wilderness-appreciation hikes and literature odysseys. Follow Randy on Facebook.

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