Half Life

To the right of the tree, the sun shines brightly, dappling the ground beneath it. The lime-green leaves reflect the sunlight. They glisten softly in the golden glow of late afternoon. They look like well-cut emeralds; their fragile structure adding to the illusion. Bright sunflowers peak out from beneath the tree. Their lemon-coloured leaves matching that of the sunshine surrounding the scene. Their cores, rough, deep brown and full of seeds, promise more sunshine in the days to come. Smaller pink, purple and white flowers surround them, a young deer standing beside them. The tree’s grey-brown branches stretch out like an open hand reaching out to help someone up. The rough bark provides easy passages for the ants, harvesting any crumbs from picnics hosted there. Behind the tree, a field of rolling green grass gives way to a cobblestone path. Pine trees in the distance outline a park, where happy families come to revel in the honey-coloured days, coral sunsets, and dark nights. Through this it is easy to see the bright white stars that cover the sky like a paint-splattered blanket smothering the light of the day. Beside the concrete path, away from the park, is a peaceful pond. Reeds border the pond, in which an extensive family of ducks make their homes. Ducklings play together on the surface of the pond, while the adults watch over them with pride. The sky is white, streaked with orange clouds reflecting the sunlight. On the horizon, a city of silver skyscrapers watches over the wondrous tranquillity of the scene.
To the left of the tree, blackened husks of sunflowers stand on the brink of death. Their wilted petals litter the ground, the seeds faded. The tree’s empty, plain grey branches show no leaves. Any leaves that once held tight to the tree’s arms have long since decomposed. Dirty moss growing up the side of the tree is the only life that can be seen, except for a single vulture that stands with pride on the tree, overlooking a scene of absolute devastation. A cracked, dirt-covered path weaves past the tree tracing the rocky, grey terrain. The path wanders through a grey land. The brightest colour is the dirty brown-green of the moss. The stench of half-decomposing food and rubbish increases as the path reaches a pile of black dirt. The pile is over fifty metres tall. Smoke brushes the tip as it wafts away from the buildings in the distance. A simple black outline consisting of rectangles and triangles with smoky shapes wafts from the tops. The outline is in the tell-tale shape of a factory. The sky is a musky grey, streaked with black smoke from production.
The tree stands between the stark opposites. Half of the tree is brimming with life. The other half is dark and desolate. From the front, it covers the faded line between the two worlds. The line that marks life and death, cleanliness and pollution. That line – that line is so thin.

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