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by Sebnem E. Sanders

Surrounded by greenery from many different species, a lonely Cercis siliquastrum tree stood in the middle of the park. Many moons ago a bee had carried pollen to this spot from Cercis’ ancestors, all established on the hills overlooking the channel and the ancient city. After the rains and sunshine, its roots had woven their way into the soft, fertile soil. Taking strength from the nourishment of Mother Earth, a cluster of tight leaves upon a thin stem poked through the ground.

Claiming they existed before any religion, the Cercis family preferred to use the Latin name. Some unthinking human had given them the common name of Judas Tree. This, they believed, was defamation, since they were wrongly associated with a crime they did not commit. But the label remained, shadowing their unique beauty in springtime. Red Bud, Love Tree, Tree of Life and other names were found more acceptable, though, in this part of the world, their blossoms ranged from soft pink to deep purple.

As Cercis grew, she witnessed many life stories around her. She preferred the visitors who came to the park all year round to those who only noticed her in her purple glory between early April and May. Youth and beauty only for a month, each year. Still, her existence was better than the humans’, whose splendour only lasted a short time and never returned.

She remembered her faithful friend Alice. Ever since her parents had brought her to the park when she was small, a strong bond had developed between them. Little Alice was beguiled by the confetti of Cercis’ petals which she called pink rain. As a teenager, she read her books under Cercis’ canopy, brought her friends and boyfriends, and later her husband and children to share with them her attachment to her tree.

Cercis was definitely her tree, her tree of life. Alice came to see her through all seasons and could hardly leave her side during the blossoming. She talked to Cercis. Love, joy, problems, frustrations and accomplishments, all of this and much more she confided in her. Cercis listened. She couldn’t talk back, but she understood. Sometimes she responded by shaking her branches, dropping a leaf on her friend’s lap or showering her with pink petals. Alice always touched her, stroked her trunk and her flowers.

After many blossoming seasons of friendship, Cercis noticed something. Alice was aging. For a while she disappeared. Cercis waited for her, yet Alice did not show up. Cercis felt lonely. She did know what to think. That spring her daughter brought Alice in a wheelchair and positioned her next to her trunk. Alice raised her right hand and stroked her. Her left arm remained stationary. Alice did not speak, but Cercis could read her thoughts. I missed you, my tree of life. I’ve been ill. I hope to see you again, but I’m not sure. Perhaps in another life. Maybe you will remember me.

Cercis trembled all the way down to her roots and shed her blossoms on her. Pink rain. Alice picked one from her lap and kissed it.

Alice never came back after that. Cercis understood. Humans pass away and they go into the earth. Trees die standing.

Sebnem E. Sanders is a native of Istanbul, Turkey. Currently she lives on the eastern shores of the southern Aegean where she dreams and writes flash fiction and flash poesy, as well as longer works of fiction. Her flash stories have been published on the Harper Collins Authonomy Blog, The Drabble, Sick Lit Magazine and Twisted Sister Lit Mag. More information on her work can be found at her website, https://sebnemsanders.wordpress.com/, where she publishes some of her work. She can also be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sebnemsanders.