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.]