He used to live there, in the house under that tree. The tree would flower in the spring, blooms blazing bright red and orange under the California sun. There’d be a carpet in the colours of autumn on the ground and the sun would glint gold between the leaves above.
We sat there, on that carpet, many an afternoon. It felt like we were the only people alive. Even then there was an uncanny silence surrounding us. The green orchards, fruit and busy workers that were just miles distant seemed a world away, and that dusty road never saw any traffic. Just barren land all around, and this one, single spot of colour, bathed in the light of life.
When he was gone, the light went away. I go there every week to his house, and keep it perfectly clean, as though he’s just away on a trip and will be back home any day soon. I go there every week, but I can’t stop the life seeping out of it.
The flowers don’t bloom any more, the branches have curled up as though in sorrow. Even the light doesn’t glint golden; everything is grey and brown, just as it is all around. The ground is dry and burnt, no carpet to soften it, just spiny seeds.
All that remains are the memories that linger in the air, haunting that tree and that house like so many spirits of the dead. Now I go there not to exult in the present but to drift into the past, a past that was golden and warm. I exist like that tree, alive but bereft of life, warped by the past and uncaring of the future.