The Cherry Tree in my Sister’s Room
Sophie cried when they chopped the tree down. She hadn’t realised what it meant.
She looked out the window at the tarmac where petals used to make confetti. The Neruda she was reading was face down on the window ledge, the spine split. Men in yellow jackets were chopping down the tree in the school grounds at the back of our house. Their saws buzzed through branches like wasps. My sister shook.
She stayed in her room, staring at the stump, then, she sat on the edge of my bed.
‘Touch,’ she said, ‘Smell.’
She was quivering, excited and nervous looking at the same time. I sniffed the upturned petal of her palm. It had the feint smell of flowers in the rain.
I looked at my sister closely, her smooth cheek and hands. Sophie’s skin was cherry blossom, flawlessly soft. It looked as if a wrong move would through it. If I squeezed her hand too hard it would weep and bruise.
All April my sister blushed. She was a shock of pink, swept up, out she rushed to touch the boy next door. Mid May, bits of her started to dry up. Sophie rested by the open window in her room.
‘Why?’ I cried.
‘I wanted someone to be to me what wind is to the trees, just once,’ she said.
Sophie smiled, then, her lips, courted by a breeze, blew out into the almost summer day.