Roots

There’s only one way to get in and out of my neighborhood. Just one road. I drive down it every day and every night, gripping the wheel with regret and breathing what feels to be poison, waiting for the moment I pass It. It has lived there for as long as I can remember. As a child, I would sit in the backseat and stare out the window at things I didn’t understand. Condos, shrubbery, grocery stores, stagnant hopes and decayed dreams would pass by in a blissful blur as my impressionable mind would attempt to remember what number comes after eight. I would see It but I wouldn’t notice the hidden malice, realize the potential evil yet to be unearthed. It would blend into the rest of the surroundings, unnoticeable and banal. Now I only see It. In the backyard, by the pool, in the gardening section of Home Depot, I think I see It lurking about, waiting to strike again. I approached the city, begged them to rip It out of the ground. They said no, Alice. Its roots are so deep it would be impossible to excavate. No one can fault It for what happened. You don’t want to harm an innocent. But It is not an innocent. It killed my sister. And It taunts me. On the anniversary of her death It wears flowers to commemorate her memory, mocking the precious wisps of fleeting video clips playing on a loop in my head. Today, the sixth anniversary, It wears a morbid bouquet of pristine sunflowers. Six years ago to this day, at 12:46 AM on January 16th, my sister drove down the road, the one that tightens my muscles and grinds my teeth to pearly dust. At 12:47 AM on January 16th, she increased her speed to 54 miles per hour, exactly 14 miles per hour over the speed limit. And at 12:48 AM on January 16th, my sister lost control of her car and crashed into It. An eighty-seven-year-old oak tree, gnarled tree knots and wispy branches testament to its age. But don’t let It fool you. It is no weakling. It killed her instantly upon impact. It didn’t give her a chance to fight back. It stood its ground, resolute and proud, resolved to be the last one standing on this desolate suburban road. It won. It beat her, and now, It beats me as I drive past its proud branches day after day, bristling in the unforgiving winter breeze, showcasing a freshly laid bundle of flowers.

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