The morning after the dance Susan slept in. I left her in bed and went for an early morning walk to think about John Simmonds. Petesabooty tagged along. It's warming up around here so there's an optimism in the air. At least for me.
We ended up, inevitably, at the Trees. I sat on their wooden walkway and stared out through the canopy of twisted lines into the grey-blue sky, imagining what it must've looked like for Mr. Simmonds so many years before. The contorting branches split the air like a shattered windshield. Petesabooty was sitting beside me sharing the view.
"What do you see, Pete?" I asked. "Just some trees? Or something more?" His eyes didn't seem quite as soul-less as they had before. He wore the same stupid grin all dogs are burdened with, but his careless gaze into the Trees got me seriously contemplating his perspective. His and Mr. Simmonds'. And Susan's, Clarke's, Mrs. Scurfield's; what did they see when they came out here?
The exact same thing as me. And yet not.
When I got back to the house two hours later Susan had coffee ready for me. "Your little seedling looks good," she said as I stepped through the door.
"Yeah. I'm almost becoming fond of it. Almost."
"I know. It sorta snuck up on you, didn't it?"
"Yes. It's completely absurd."
"Why?" she asked with a smirk.
I smirked back. "Don't you think it's odd?"
"I don't know, Matthew. I sorta think the Trees are wonderful."
"Yes. Frightening too sometimes, of course. But mostly wonderful."
"I think I'm beginning to, I dunno, understand that point of view," I said slowly. Susan's eyebrows lifted and she lowered her head, looking ready for a punchline to arrive. "It's just that," I stammered -growing self-conscious, "well, maybe they mean something a little different than I thought they did." I waited for Susan's reaction. She was motionless for a while. Expressionless too. Then her shoulders dropped all their tension and she stepped toward me smiling. The entire house seemed to shiver.