by Jen Brubacher
Daisy vaguely remembered the scent of pine, thick and sharp, and the sound of grasshoppers buzzing in long grass. But when the topic first love came up anywhere, for the rest of her life, what burst forward in her mind with the most intensity was the hot pain of wood slivers beneath her fingernails, and blood running down to her wrists.
“It has to be forever,” Larry Boy said, and at the time it was the most romantic thing she’d ever heard. He didn’t just want to kiss her, he wanted to kiss her forever. They would be together forever. For a twelve year old girl forever meant that everything bad she’d ever experienced would never happen again. Forever meant it was real.
Daisy came to despise forever. But on that day it was a caress. So she nodded and set her fingers to the tree. Larry had already smacked at the bark with his shoe until they had a smooth grey trunk, and there they would set their initials down for good.
“You first,” he said.
The bark had been soft, almost wet. The trunk was not. Daisy dug her thumbnail into the wood and felt it give only just, unyielding with age and the experience of being a tree. Her young girl nails were nothing. She was determined. She used both hands, digging hard, gritting teeth. Teeth might have been a more useful tool. Her fingernails produced minor results before she started to bleed.
“Ow,” she said, and sucked at her fingers. The ends of a dozen splinters touched her tongue.
Larry looked horrified.
“Your turn?” Daisy offered.
But then he didn’t want to kiss her once, let alone forever.
Photo: Two Trees by Dave Pearson on flickr