“It’s not going to live, it’s dry,” my father judged from a branch he snapped haphazardly from our apricot tree in a pretense of expertise. “You guys might as well pull it out of the ground and save the nutrients.”
My mother winced at the mindlessness of her husband’s destruction, while I went to examine the wound and wondered if I should pray over it. Eventually, he left, lost interest and went to commentate on a fence needed to be mended.
“Maybe we shouldn’t have bought a tree from Costco in the first place,” my mother was ready to blame herself.
I didn’t know what to say, then: I was too busy imprinting my own sentiments upon the plant and collecting symbolic meanings to hang in the empty spaces among the branches where leaves should’ve been.
There had been rains, winds dry and hot enough to remind me of Taiwanese summers, parching suns and most of the time I’ve allowed myself to be distracted by the weather. Unbeknownst to my mother and I, my sentiments, grudges bore against the man who could so callously snap branches wore under the weather, and in the cracks of solid hatred life took root.
By the time we noticed the spaces where I hung metaphors on the apricot tree were taken over by buds of fresh green tender and hopeful, it was years later.
I’ve forgotten about the snapped branch.
My mother and I admired the apricot tree very, very much now. From a dry stick bullied and deemed worthless of even a chance to live it had woven a cloak of bright green, of promises. It didn’t matter what my father refused to admit, the wrongs he’s done snapping branches, breaking.
I was at the backyard today, after a representative from Laura’s House came to health class to identify the eight forms of abuses among relationships: I named monsters that I didn’t dare to name before. After greeting the apricot tree I saw beneath its sparse leaves — not a sign of illness but rather of the seasons that I didn’t know existed in California — the black branches like tendrils of unpleasant memories, hinges to an unfilled stained-glass window, reminiscent of a belt that could’ve fell.
It wasn’t. The branches weren’t like that anymore, for time had given it a new color, life, and now, blossoms pure white.
“They remind me of plum blossoms,” my mother referred to Taiwan’s national flower.
I had to disagree with her on this one: they only reminded me of a future, mounted on the shadow-like branches it’s conquered, pure, promising, empowering.