The Willow Tree
Isabella Mae Gripton, Grade 6, Stanwell Park Public School
Finalist in the 'Dream Big 2013' competition
Sam lay down. Her fingers moved across the bark, its sap pulsing through beneath it, like a
heart beating under its rough, wrinkled skin. Sighing heavily, she closed her eyes to a
“Grandma, are trees alive?” Sam asked as she and Grandma talked in the shade of the willow tree.
“Of course,” her Grandma answered, her sunburnt face wrinkling into a smile.
“Then why can’t they talk?” Sam said, shading her eyes from a patch of sunlight.
“They can, they just talk differently. Can you hear that?” she whispered. The willow’s leaves rustled as the wind ran its fingertips through its branches. It was as if the tree was sighing with contentment. Sam nodded thoughtfully.
“That’s how they communicate. I would like to be this tree; to look out at the valleys, to stretch my branches, to be free,” Grandma said, and before Sam could ask another question Grandma took off her flower hat and pulled it onto Sam, covering her whole face. The last thing she remembered that day, was Grandma and her laughing as they looked up at the sky.
Sam rolled to her side. Opening her eyes, the first thing she saw was a dead leaf, just like Grandma. Quick flashes of memories filled her mind. The memories she had tried to forget...
Once again they were under the willow tree. Autumn was showing through; the leaves changing colour. Surrounding them was a patch of red leaves, like a pile of poppies. Sam was playing with a dandelion she had found. As she blew on it and watched the white puff of seeds fly away, Grandma talked, her eyes distant, as if remembering something. She was saying, “I’m tired, so tired. If only I could be like the willow tree... I may have to go away soon, Sam,” she said. Sam hadn’t been listening to Grandma, but as she said these words she jerked her head up.
“Grandma, don’t go, I’ll miss you,” she pouted. Grandma’s eyes focused again, as if realising she wasn’t alone. Sam heard her mother calling her name, and stood up. Grandma told her sleepily, “You go ahead, I’ll catch up.” Even with Grandma’s orders, she stood down by the hill and waited. For a long time all was still. After a while she went to where Grandma was lying. Her eyelids were shut and her flower hat lay limply beside her. Sam couldn’t hear her breathing at all. She knelt beside her and shook her hand, trying to wake her. Her hand was cold.
“Grandma?” Sam whispered. “Grandma!”
The memory clouded over and faded, leaving her alone. Sam let a tear roll down her cheek, and took off Grandma’s hat. She set it down next to the willow tree, and took out her knife. She carved some words with a sad smile.
To Grandma, you may be gone, but you’re still with us - in memory, and in the willow tree.