“Is it already that time of year?” Mr. Sieversii said, standing beside the open gate to the orchard of apple trees.
“Yes,” she answered.
Mr. Sieversii silently turned away, disappearing down the path.
Melissa wandered into the orchard. Fresh scents of life filled her nose as the steady buzz of productive insects permeated the air. Her father, Byron, brought her here among the trees when she was young. It was usually once a year, just as the petals were ready to tumble from the branches. She recalled her father’s unerring ability to know when the leaves would fall as if called there.
Warm, gentle gusts of wind raked through tree branches, threatening to douse her in a deluge of petals. As she walked among the trees, Melissa recalled their long talks in the orchard until they had grown grew apart over the years.
“Why are we here again, Dad?”
“I want to tell you why I have often brought you out here so many times.”
“I plant one for each person who leaves me each year, so that they may remain connected to me and I to them. This one is Jeff, Amy, Liz, William, and Jack. The names reflect the passage of my time and life here.”
“Why trees, Dad?”
“Because a tree is solid, reliable, and dependable like friends. These trees are my friends who’re here to give as a symbol because they left too early but may continue to give in the form of their sweet fruit, just like friendship. And, hopefully, many of these trees shall outlast you, me, and, maybe, even time.”
She remembered it all. Then, she recalled another talk.
“Maybe one day, if I’m lucky enough, you’ll leave a tree for me. Look up.”
Melissa saw the times he pointed at the trees’ blossoms. She looked up. The first flower drifted down on a light breath of wind, brushing lightly against her nose, a greeting from a friend long gone.