Driving her son to school, she saw the perfect tree. The perfect tree stood small and twisted upon the center divider. It commanded its cousins, suburbanly spaced along the same divider. It commanded the giant eucalyptuses that lined the old road. It was centerpoint of a universe of weeds and flowers, cars and houses, birds, beetles, clouds, dust, stone, gutters, children, and crumpled paper. She drove over the small lip of the road onto the sidewalk and the dead leaves, parking. Her son asked was something wrong? She opened her door, walked across onto the median, and sat in the dirt, facing the tree.
Her son followed but did not understand. After a while, he walked toward school.
That afternoon, the phone rang in her car. That afternoon, she received a parking ticket. That evening, her husband came and sat with her beneath the tree. He said some words that seemed like gentle pleading. He left, he came back, he fell asleep at her feet while she sat.
Dawn speared through the eucalyptus, painting patches on the perfect tree. The perfect tree had a thousand red elbows. The perfect tree offered the world its berries, its light, its air, its scent of apple, of dust, chocolate, rubber, marjoram, closet floors. Its leaves were a chaos on which it would be impossible to improve. She breathed the oxygen of its photosynthesis. She drew a finger across a branch, leaving an invisible trace of her skin’s oil. Her husband brought breakfast, cancelled her classes, defended her rights against the police. A friend drove her car away.
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