I met Zazie at the park on the first sun-baked day of spring. I was ablaze. I had an idea for a story and needed to share it with someone who could really take the heat. Zazie is open, wild, a free-thinker.
Trees talk to me.
I spilled the title first but before I could say another word, she retorted, trees don’t talk, B. I was taken aback, but got it together, insisting they do. She shook her head and smiled exactly like my husband when I first told him. Heat stung my cheeks, I argued, how do you know, you’re six years old? Zazie shook her head and slowly repeated, trees… don’t… talk. She caught my fluster and stared me down. Her eyes rolled. Her tongue stuck out of her mouth.
I felt my feet sink into the earth and knew then that it was time to expand the universe and blow her formally educated mind. I suggested she listen for herself, and pointed a few feet away. A towering 150 year-old Maple had been following our conversation with interest. It smiled, but at that point, only I could see. Zazie slipped her tongue back in her mouth and moseyed on over.
Imagine how many kids have told this tree their most secret secrets? I provoked. The Maple grunted her approval. Zazie gulped and looked back at me.
Closer, I said. Nervously, she touched the tree and inched her way in, fingers whispering over its ancient bark. The Maple sighed. Birds twittered in the sky.
Closer. Zazie leaned in. I could swear I saw her lips move.
Without warning, her arms burst open and wrapped around the Maple’s trunk and she hugged her tightly to her pounding chest. Her eyes squeezed shut and I could feel the power of her wish –
Talk to me.
I knew then that her resolve was broken, that Zazie’s heart and mind had opened wide. The birds tweeted her name through the branches. The sun winked down at her from the sky. Only now could she hear what she needed to know.
FAN THE FLAMES
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