In obscurity, Aveline peered out her bedroom window. One quarter of an inch she raised the slat on the blind. That was enough. At first, only the paint chipped away from the slat. Now, a half-moon shaped itself on the spot where her thumb and forefinger rested nearly a thousand times a day. On that spot, the worn wood felt like the smoothness of stones that tumbled for a hundred miles or more from the mountains all the way to the creek out back.
When was the last time she gathered stones from that creek? Fifteen years ago?
On stifling August days when her hair and shirt melted into her skin, they used to roll up their trousers and wade in the creek hand-in-hand, all the while collecting flat, smooth stones until their pocket seams threatened to unravel. He wanted to let go and skip stones even though the current greedily tugged at his little legs. “Hold onto my hand, honey, or you’ll be swept away,” she would caution. Undeterred he would squeal, "Didja see that, Mommy!" as another stone skated across the water until it trickled into nothingness.
The solitary tree – a requiem for her son - stood up on the hill. Encircled by the heavens, the tree waited as Aveline outlined it again by sight, tracing every branch, every twig, every bud. Soon the grass beneath the tree would be green again, and pregnant buds would give way to leaf. She knew it, and she felt it.