Author : Sarah Klein

As soon as the hovercar came to a stop, they opened their doors and jumped out as fast as they could. Nicole strode toward the object, her eyes bright with joy. Drew dusted off his pants and approached more slowly, squinting in the hot sun. They’d been searching over the landscape for miles and miles for something – Drew didn’t know what. There wasn’t much life left since the wars, and they’d mostly been looking at miles of sand, but a large green patch had miraculously appeared.

“What is it?” he asked, cocking his head and frowning quizzically.

“A tree,” said Nicole, as she placed her hand carefully on the bark. “This is a pretty big one. Most of the ones left are small. I’m surprised there’s one all by itself out here.” She wiped sweat from her brow with her other hand.

“What happened to them?” Drew asked tentatively. She stared at the tree a long time before answering.

“People,” she muttered, as she shut her eyes and began to tremble.

“Hey, hey, wait,” said Drew, with a hint of concern in his voice. He placed his hand on her shoulder. “What is it?”

She opened her eyes slowly and turned her intense gaze in his direction. “Do you know what a forest is?” she asked. He shook his head. “Of course not,” she said, sighing. She placed her hand gently on his and directed it towards one part and then another of the tree.

“This is a branch,” she said patiently, dragging his hand to the end of it. “See how others come off of it?” Drew nodded. “And these are leaves. They’re green now, see? In the autumn they change color – red, yellow, orange…” She trailed off, lost in her thoughts.

Drew started to laugh, but stopped himself when he saw her face. A single tear slid from the corner of her eye.

“They do,” she said quietly. “They really do.”

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