He moved into the house freshman year of high school. The tree was already grown enough to sit outside his second story bedroom window. When it was windy it would scratch the siding and when he’d seen a scary movie it would throw shadows in his room and make it difficult to fall asleep.
Sophomore year he met her, so just as he was able to convince himself that there were no such things as monsters he found another reason to have difficulties getting to sleep.
Not all nights spent tossing and turning on your bed are scary.
They were friends and they dated and they had arguments and they grew up.
When they were in college they were friends and they dated and they had arguments and he found that he missed the sound of branches on his window at night. When it got really windy and yet remained silent he had no alternative but to miss her.
His parents were killed in an accident his senior year. He wished that he had missed them more when they were alive. He felt angry at himself for all the hours he had missed her when they could have been spent homesick.
When he graduated he moved back into his house. She got a job in another city. Her last night in town they went out and got drunk and made a promise that if in ten years they hadn’t both found someone they would reunite and get married and live happily ever after. They agreed on the meeting place and the day and the time and then they kissed goodbye.
Nine years and nine months later there was a storm and the tree outside his bedroom window fell down. It cost a fortune to remove and he was disappointed to find that they couldn’t install another tree of equal size in its place. Eventually he went out and bought two small trees and placed them close enough that they would have no option but to grow into each other.
One for his dad.
One for his mom.
The first windy night after the tree had toppled to the ground he sat on his bed and missed the noise of branches scraping the house. He missed his parents. After all the years that had passed he missed her.
And remembered the promise they had made.
The next morning he bought the plane ticket.
The next night he drew a tree on his window blind.
It wasn’t enough.
The next day he bought a small fan and a transparent curtain to put over the blind. On that he drew smaller branches. That night he put the fan on the ground on its slowest setting to blow against the curtain and make the branches sway.
So much effort to try and recapture something that was gone.
He had decided that it was best not to remind the girl of their meeting. Chances are that she’d forgotten and it would hurt too much to hear it.
A few months later he walked into a barber shop with a picture of how he wanted his hair to look. In fairness to the barber, it was a very common style but the model that the hair sat on was shirtless and buff and he knew however much he emulated the cut that his client would be disappointed.
He was, but the next day he boarded the flight anyway. He pulled down the little shade over the window and drew a few branches.
He knew she wouldn’t be there but he hailed a cab and was dropped off out front of their agreed upon destination.
He closed his eyes and thought to himself “Please…”
He opened his eyes and said out loud “Please…”
He walked down the little corridor and his heart ached and he repeated the word “Please” one more time.
He turned the corner and she was there.