Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Entry #64

For Every Life Lost
by Seamus Kearney


Some people reckon this old tree should’ve been hacked down years ago for all the bad luck it’s brought. They came close to it once, not long after the death of young Robbie Marechal - bless his soul - who left behind four little ones and a pregnant wife. I was one of those who volunteered to help, until the conservationists got all excited with petitions and court orders. Do you know it took a week before someone had the courage to cut down the rope? Disgraceful, when you think about it. A grieving wife didn’t need to see that.

Then there was the hot air balloonist, killed outright after miscalculating the tree’s height. Some say the branches must have reached up and actually grabbed hold of the basket, as the man would never have made such a basic mistake.

In the past 30 years alone there’ve been some seven deaths linked to this beauty: two suicides, two falls, the case of the balloonist and two car crashes. No wonder people stay away from the place. Who in their right mind wouldn’t just be a little bit sick with caution?

My wife maintains they’ve got it all wrong, though. She reckons that for every life lost, a thousand others have been blessed beneath these branches. Every year we come back for our anniversary picnic, and who am I to argue? It’s been 60 wonderful, healthy years since this tree witnessed our very first kiss.


[Seamus is a New Zealander, from Irish stock, now living in France. On top of his day job as a news journalist, he lives on a mixed diet of fiction and poetry. As well as working on a novel, he regularly features original short stories and poems on his blog.]

16 comments:

Sarah Hina said...

Great mixture of tragedy and affirmation, Seamus. I like how you flipped around the pathos in the last paragraph.

Strong voice and detail here. Enjoyed this! :)

Aerin said...

"some say the branches must have reached up" made me think of the trees in the Wizard of Oz. *grin* I was so afraid this would be a maudlin piece, but I love the way the end turns the bad luck into blessing, just because of one person's point of view.

paisley said...

very well done... humans will blame anything on any one... never trust their judgment....

JaneyV said...

I love the wife who can see through the drama to all the blessings brought by the tree. If only more people in life could do the same.

I'm so happy that you gave it an optimistic ending. It made me smile to think of the old couple, kissing under the tree still in love after 60 years.

Beautiful and hopeful.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

A wonderful reflection of life, Seamus, sorrow and joy, death and life, all captured together. Strong and evocative writing. Really well done.

Beth said...

This reminds me of that tale, Theif Gish. Gosh, I loved that because it was dark, kind of Tim Burtonesque, but had all that heart underneath it. I really enjoyed this one!

Beth said...

What the heck -- Theif Gish? OK, I typed Big Fish, but now Theif Gish is pretty catchy.

Hoodie said...

Wow, a great distinctive voice in this. I love the juxtoposition of superstition. This is very engaging, a standout.

Shameless said...

Hey, thanks for all your encouraging comments. I'm glad you liked it. :-)

Victor Bravo Monchego, Jr said...

One of my favourites. Strong voice.

SzélsőFa said...

I like how it represents people's vision about the events around them: blame some other.
It had a nice flow to it, too. Well done.

bluesugarpoet said...

I'm with SzélsőFa - "it's the tree's fault" is the easy answer. But there is wisdom to be gathered from one who has lived a long life...

Nicely done!

ChristineEldin said...

A tree with an agenda--gotta love it!!!
This was interesting and quirky. I enjoyed it very much!

Rob said...

Well done, I like how so many tragic stories are connected to the tree. Almost feels as if it warrants a collection of short stories, one for each case.

...hrm, I guess that's what this contest is, really.

jason evans said...

I like the counterposed theme at the end. The positive force against the fear of the dark ones. Well done!

Aine said...

It is just a tree after all...

Nice description of human nature's tendency to find meaning in the randomness of life.