“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
-Ursula K. Le Guin
I had a very special way of upsetting myself when I was child: I would start thinking of ways all my loved ones could die.
“What if a sudden heart-attack kills Mom?”
“Ani could slip and crack her head open!”
“One day, Jamal could just never wake up…”
And stuff like never failed to make me cry. It was unnecessarily pessimistic, yeah, but I thought it was useful. Loneliness is what I fear the most. So I thought if I got all my crying out as a child, thenI wouldn’t cry when the actual thing happened.
But that’s stupid, I realized it as I matured. The Bristlecone Pine Tree can live for more than three millennia. How many times has it experienced death? Surely a gazillion of times! A Clark’s Nutcracker builds its nest on the Bristlecone’s branches? Well, it dies in 17 years, but the Bristlecone still stands, unchanging. What about a human baby? TheBristlecone can observe the baby for decades, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50; it can observe as the baby’s skin goes from plump and soft to skinny and wrinkled; it can observe as the baby’s eyes get murkier and murkier; as the baby’s interests get muddier and muddier; it can observe the baby as long as it wants to, but at the end of the day, the baby will die and the Bristlecone will survive. That is the cycle of life and a process the Bristlecone has experienced year after year.
I’m not saying that I won’t cry over the death of my family…I love my family, and I will mourn them until the water in my eyes dries out. But after it all, I will pick myself up and carry myself the same as I did before. Because that is what a Bristlecone Pine Tree would do.
Ahja Hawkins is a 15-year-old living in Gretna, Louisiana. She attends the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and is currently in her second year of high school. She’s gotten an honorable mention in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, won third place in the Pinkie Gordon Lane Poetry Competition, and is now being published in Under the Madness magazine. She has a strong love for performance poetry. This piece won First Place in our Flash CNF Contest for writers ages 13-15.