I do not remember where I began. My first memories are dew speckled, just like that cloudy Monday morning, I felt a cold wet hand dunk me into the moist ground. I still remember the exhilaration that swept through me. If only she could hear my voice, she would have known I exclaimed, “Bless you girl! I will care for you with my life, and your family, and the generations after. You brought me home.” I watched her small mud-soaked boots fade away from my sight, and for the first time felt reassured knowing I’d see her again. Through the dew, the sun rays shone, making them shine like diamonds.
Diamonds. Yes, that’s where I was before. Behind a faded olive bench, across the street from a tiny shop with an ornate blue door and glass windows marked with stylized blue letters that read Forever Diamonds.
I’d spend all day watching people going in and out of this little store, and observing them through the windows. It puzzled me, how Mr. Birch could get the women come out of his shop smiling ear to ear, with a skip in their step, and even a twirl sometimes, while the men seemed to want to either cry or beat him to pulp or sometimes both.
It feels like a long time ago, when the town’s most popular teen couple celebrated their prom night with a candlelit dinner on my bench, ignorant of my existence, until the ultimate question popped up. “What if we go to college?” He said, “Let’s take it one step at a time.” Even I know that’s a wrong move.
And there they were, the two of them, having an epic fight of their life, when they should have been dancing and partying with their friends back at the school. I don’t know what came over him, must have hit his head when she pushed him away. He saw me, eyes widened as if a switched turned on. He reached out and yanked me out of my hiding space, caught her arm and thrust me into her hand. He said, “I love you. That’s all that matters for now. We will figure it out.” She was steaming mad and taken aback. She threw me to the ground, and stormed off. The last thing I remember are the sound of his footsteps and their voices echoing into the darkness, as I lay by the side of the bench staring at her corsage that shared my fate.
Oh! That’s right. I spent half my life thinking I was born under that bench. Thanks to divorces good things happen. Mr. and Mrs. Bloom lived just a couple of streets away from Forever Diamonds.
I heard the story a hundred times, and there were a hundred versions. Most of them had him being the jerk, leaving poor Mrs. Bloom to fend for herself and the big house, while he moved to his new girlfriend’s beach house. It must be hard to go through breakups alone. People always seem to need another person or thing to break whenever they go through a breakup. Word is, everyone kept telling Mrs. Bloom that she should have someone who can help her through it. Bless her for deciding to come to us that day instead of going on a date or the dog shelter. I’d much rather she break me. She was a gentle soul, so much that she eventually decided to leave me under that bench and brave her situation all alone. I did hear that she is married again, to that good man Mr. Thorne. Good for her. Mother really loved her spirit.
I miss mother. I can feel her in me, telling me what to do, in my memories, in her spirit, but it is not the same. Mother used to say that we can’t always be around, but we have to make the most of what time we do have on this planet. She taught me the code of giving, and that’s what I want to do now, for this little girl. It is quite trying isn’t it? When you are one in seven billion and immaterial to anyone around you. You are certainly unique and have skills that nobody else possesses, but sometimes, you are just used for your purpose and thrown across the street while the job is done. Doesn’t that make you think whether all that effort is worth it?
Mother just gave, gave and gave, all her life, just to have her babies taken away from her, and get hacked to death. It tore us all apart to see her fall when the first blow hit. She did not protest, instead, in her final goodbye, she asked us to continue doing what she did all her life. At first I was enraged, but limited to my abilities. What could I do? They had all the power! When Mrs. Bloom came to get me, she could have broken me. I got lucky and lived a little longer than the rest of the hobos do under the park benches. When the prom king maimed me, I screamed for help. There was no ambulance, there were no paramedics, there weren’t even people who came to see the pain he inflicted upon me.
I’d have been happy if she accepted me when he trusted me to her. Instead she dumped me on the ground like I was trash, and that hurt. I thought humans were different from other beings on the planet as they had a higher level of consciousness. Turns out, it is a power limited to a privileged few. As I lay there strewn like trash across a shop that sold compressed carbon like it was treasure, the familiar yet disgruntling noise of a garbage truck jolted me back to reality. Scoop and wham! I was in the back of the truck, reeking of rotten fruit, decaying meat, pheromones from nearly thousand different people. My last recollection before all senses were stifled is of me thrashing around in all the trash reaching for food that could save my life.
I must have gotten something to eat, or I wouldn’t have been alive. I woke up in a landfill on a pile of rocks at the edge of the property. I must have fallen out while they were unloading or something, else I’d be buried underneath a mountain of garbage, long dead by now. I lay waiting, counting seconds, minutes, hours, and what felt like eons until she came along, humming. I think she was looking for treasure, which is odd considering where we were at the moment – a landfill with acres of worthless, smelly, sticky, useless junk.
She reminded me of Mrs. Bloom, the way she cradled me in her tiny hands. She peered at me, solemnly examining the damage caused by the ordeal I had been through. Her faded orange jersey read Sakura, that must have been her name. She smiled at me as if she knew I was listening and said, “Let’s take a trip Bough.” I was never given a name, not even by my mother. Drawing out a crumpled hand kerchief from a tiny pant pocket, she laid it out inside the front basket of an old kids’ bicycle. The prom queen came to mind, the way she handled me (totally opposite of course), like I was an egg shell she would break, delicately placing me on the hanky. As we took a ride, the clouds began to shower upon us. Plop! Plop! The drops got heavier by every mile. She never slowed down, instead she seemed to enjoy the rains almost as if she was taking it all in to get stronger. I, on the other hand, was overjoyed to bathe in the cleansing waters of the heaven. It felt like mother sent them to heal me, and cure me of all the pain and hunger.
Eventually, she stopped at a tiny cottage standing within a white picket fence, with beautiful green thatches in the front yard that were studded with a kaleidoscope of flowers and crotons. Around the back we went, splashing water on the grass with every footstep until he reached the corner of her backyard. She looked down at me, and said, “Don’t worry Bough. You are home now. You’ll be fine now.” She picked up a tiny shovel lying at the corner of the backyard and dug out a little mud with one hand. When she was done, she stuck me into the wet ground. Oh, that’s right. It was not dew, it was rain! It was a rainy Monday morning.
It has been a few decades, Sakura is all grown up and we are the best of friends. She does all the talking of course, and she knows I love to listen. I did as I promised, grew well and tall, protected her from sun and rain. I was there for her through her breakups and makeups. I was the shoulder to cry on, the lap to play on, and the sofa to lay on, sometimes, even the bed to lie on. It’s funny how people bond. Ours is quite peculiar and extremely special. She is a wonderful godmother to my children, as I am to hers. She may not be around forever, but I do know that the time we have, we will make the most of it. And the time after, we continue with the legacy.
The Story of Bough Sakura,
The Cherry Blossom Tree.