Orange is the Color of My True Love’s…
by Jeff Baker
Years afterward I went and looked for the tree. It was early October and the leaves had hit that point where they changed overnight. In this case, the tree had fanned out into a bright yellow and orange, like a ginger peacock.
The neighborhood had changed in the decades since. Still no sidewalks. Somehow I remembered sidewalks. A few of the trees were gone, some of the brick-shoebox-shaped-cookie-cutter houses had been enlarged with garages or a second story.
But the tree was still there. After all these years.
We’d hid in its branches, my friends and I played in there when the green leaves hid us from view in the summer. I read books in the tree and one night I tried to sleep in the tree when I tried to run away from home when I was about seven. Yes, I sat under the tree one weekend and read “A Separate Peace,” when it was assigned to us in high school.
And one cold winter night when I was sixteen, my friends and I had gotten some beer and ran around the tree in our basketball shorts and then my folks had unexpectedly came back home.
I stood in the yard and stared. My head came up to where the branches started, nearly six feet off the ground. I remembered scrambling up the trunk when I was a little kid. Jumping to grab a branch when I was in high school, one of the few times I climbed a tree when I was past grade school.
I was a lot older, I thought. Not much, I suddenly realized. This tree was in pictures my Mom and Dad had from when they bought the house about five years before I was born, three years before my sister and brother were born. It looked the same.
I looked around the neighborhood. There were a couple of families that still lived in the same houses from years ago, but there had been another family in this house, my old house, for years.
I looked around again, Nobody around. Nobody in my old house right now.
I reached up and hoisted myself into the golden-orange leaves of the tree.