Family Tree – by Rob Nisbet (Adult)

Dad says he planted the apple tree the day I was born.  There was a comparison every birthday to see which of us was taller: the tree won every time.  Last year I tried to climb it, but I fell and scratched a scar down my left arm.  Now we are both twelve.  The tree may be bigger, but this year I’d grown enough to reach that first branch.  I hooked a leg over it and managed to scramble up without falling.  There is another fork in the trunk higher up, sturdy enough to take my weight, and that’s where I sit.
From here I can see over the fence, into the alley that leads from the estate to the shops.  The ‘parade’ Dad calls it, like it’s some kind of marching band.
A man walks past, older than me but young I guess, with a woman on his arm; she’s pregnant and bulging.  They see me in the white blossoms.  “I climbed trees at your age.”  I can see that his left arm is scarred too.  “You need a shelf up there – for a snack.”
I tell Dad and he fits an old tray in place suspended on garden string.  I take up a sandwich every day for lunch.  The flowers bulge into tiny apples.  I watch the people below and wonder if I’ll ever walk past, with a girl on my arm.
The apples turn red over the summer.  There is an old man who walks a dog.  They are both slow.  I decide to get a dog too, when I’m as old as him.  The dog barks up, and I am spotted among the leaves.  “Throw me an apple,” says the old man.  I do; he catches it awkwardly in his left hand, but he doesn’t eat it.  “I want it for the pips,” he says.  “I’m going to grow a tree just like that one.”
I don’t know whether he does or not.  I climb up the bare winter branches, but I don’t see him again.
Learn more about the contest which inspired this story:  Fleur 2020-04 Apple Tree
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