Tree of Memories
Isabella Del Mar was born in Brazil on February 16, 1987. Life for her was hard when she was a baby. She never knew her padre who ran away the moment he knew her mama was pregnant. She hardly knew her mama either, because she died of typhoid when Isabella was only four.
After the death of her mother, Bella moved in with her abuelita. Bella's abuelita was the only family she had ever known. No one else wanted to take her because she had been born out of wedlock; however, her abuelita had jumped at the occasion.
Bella's abuelita lived on a farm in the country. The farm had been named, Granarbol, after the giant trees covering her land. Once Bella saw Granarbol, she fell in love with it. The massive trees made her feel protected from the outside world.
Among the many trees there was one little tree that had a nice sturdy branch about ten feet above the ground. Bella's abuelita had always thought that the little tree resembled Bella because of its smallness and uniqueness. So it was no surprise that Bella was fond of the tree.
One day, Bella's abuelita saw Bella fall asleep under the shade of the tree, and an idea formed in her head. She grabbed a rope and a tire and headed down toward the tree. She swung the rope over the branch and tied it to the tire to make a swing. When Bella awoke she found the tire swinging over her. She jumped up and got into the swing, and her abuelita pushed her high into the sky.
The tire swing became Bella's favorite place to be. She loved trying to see how high she could swing herself. There were even times when she pushed her abuelita in the swing. When they were under that little tree, nothing else mattered.
One day the subject of Bella's future came up. Neither of them liked to talk about the inevitable, but it had to be discussed.
"So Bella what do you see in your future? Do you plan to go to college in America?"
"Abuelita, I would never leave this place. It's my home and always will be."
"Si, mi amor, this will always be your home. But I want you to know that it's fine if you eventually leave but always know that I will be here waiting for your return."
After high school in Brazil, Bella moved to New York and attended NYU. She told her abuelita that she would return when she graduated from college; however, that was not the case. Over the four years at NYU she grew to love New York.
Bella forgot where her real home was. She stopped talking to her abuelita and never gave home a thought. She lost her Spanish accent over the years, and started to adapt a New York accent.
After college, Bella got a job as a legal secretary for a huge law firm. She was always swamped with work. It was a miracle if she ever got more than six hours of sleep. Nonetheless, she loved her job.
"Isabella, are you ready to go to lunch? Hey, Isabella. You all right there?"
"Huh? Oh yeah. I'll be right there "
"So Isabella, what were you daydreaming about?" Isabella's best friend, Hannah, asked her over lunch.
"Oh, just my grandmother and my home in Brazil."
"What was your home like? You never talk about it."
"Oh, it was wonderful. I lived with my grandmother in Brazil on a farm with these huge, Iwminous trees that covered the yard. We had so much fun together." Bella replied slipping off into a vivid daydream, "Oh, I remember there was this tire swing. It was my fondest childhood memory. Somehow I'd forgotten about the safety I felt under that tree."
"It sounds wonderful. Why did you leave?" Hannah asked munching on her salad.
"I grew up and reality hit me. I realized if I wanted a job I needed a college degree. My abuelita made me realize the best choice for me was America. There was another world out there for me to see."
"I know what you mean. Reality sucks. What I wouldn't give for a trip to anywhere. You know you're lucky. You have a reason to travel."
"You're Irish right?" Bella asked while Hannah nodded her head, "Well why don't you pretend that you have family there. I'm sure there are many McNally's there."
"Ha, you're a clever one." Hannah continued to eat her lunch. Then a smile spread across her face. "I can be clever, too. You should go visit Brazil for Christmas. I'm sure that your grandmother would be overjoyed to see you again."
At that moment, Bella recalled her abuelita constantly reminded her, "I will always be here waiting for your return." She knew it was time to go back home. Anyway, she was certain Hannah would never stop pushing the idea. So Bella decided to book a flight.
Bella landed in Rio de Janeiro at 8a.m. She rented a car and started on her way home. When she pulled up in the driveway, all the memories came flooding back to her. She started to regret that she had ever left home.
As Bella stepped out of the car her abuelita came out of the house to see who had arrived. Once Bella's abuelita caught site of her she froze. She could not believe her eyes that her Bella had come home to her. She started to cry and ran toward Bella with open arms.
"Mi amor, is it really you?" Bella's abuelita said, with tears in her eyes as she hugged Bella.
"Si, abuelita, it's me. I have missed you so much."
"Let me have a look at you." Bella's abuelita said as she pulled away from the hug. "Bellisima. So how have you been? I want to know everything."
"Oh, I have so much to tell you."
They went inside and sat by the fire to talk. Bella told her abuelita about her life in college and at the firm. Then she started talking about her friends and all the great things she had experienced in New York. After she finished with her story, Bella asked about everything that had happened at Granarbol.
"Nothing much has changed here. Although," Bella's abuelita remembered, "That sweet family down the road moved to Spain, and now there's a new family living there."
"Too bad, I didn't get to say goodbye. They were so nice." Bella sighed, "Anything else? How's my tire swing?"
Bella's abuelita fell silent. She folded her hands in her lap and looked down at them.
"Abuelita, what happened?"
"There was a storm about a year ago. It . . . Bella how do I say this? Well a bolt of lightning hit the tree and the branch broke off taking the tire swing with it."
"Oh," Bella whispered, "Were you safe?" Bella asked, suddenly realizing the real worry.
"I was fine. I was over at Senor Sanchez's house. The storm never hit there."
"I'm glad to hear it," Bella sighed with relief. "Sorry to change the subject, but can we go see the tree?"
"Of course," Bella's abuelita smiled with wisdom.
"Let's go," Bella laughed, and they both walked hand-in-hand out of the house towards the garden of trees. When they reached the little tree. Bella saw the tire swing on the ground and started to remember all the great times she had under the braches of this tree.
Bella walked over to the tire and untied it from the branch. She carried it over to the tree and hung it up where the branch used to be. Then Bella and her abuelita fell asleep under the tree together, like old times.
Sonny Smith: a name I remember well. When I knew him, he was twelve years old and only five feet tall. He had sandy blond hair and deep blue eyes.
I met him when he started working on his father's farm in the green pastures of Colorado. I was hired to take care of the horses in the barn for two months while Sonny's father, Bill tried to sell them. Bill never came around the stables because of an accident that had happened a month before I arrived.
Bill had bought a new horse for his sixteen year-old son Elton, Sonny's older brother. The horse was a breathtaking white five-year old Andalusian stallion named Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver had been broken, but hadn't been handled a lot so he was still green. Bill decided to let Elton work with the horse and train him. Then they would get him acquainted with cows and herding.
Dreamweaver wasn't any trouble at first. He learned leg and voice commands over the months Elton worked with him. However, Dreamweaver was skittish. The slightest peculiar sound or movement could make him jump ten feet in the air or skid to a stop unexpectedly. Nevertheless, Elton brushed the stallion's shyness off as a bad habit he would grow out of.
It was a bright sunny day in June when the tragedy occurred. Elton had decided that the time had come for Dreamweaver to meet the cows and start herding them.
"Dad, I've decided today's the day."
"Son, you sure he's ready to be around cows? He is still a little skittish."
"Yep, Pop, I feel today is the day. He has been going well the past few days and I think now is a better time than ever for him to meet the cows."
It all started fine. Dreamweaver was saddled up and walked to the arena. Elton brought him to a steady lope around the arena while Bill brought two cows from pasture. Elton had pulled Dreamweaver to a skidding stop and started backing him up. When Bill let the cows go in the arena, Elton brought the horse around to face them.
Then things started going wrong. As soon as Dreamweaver saw the cows coming toward him he spooked. He hunched his back, jumping into the air, then kicked out his rear legs. Elton felt himself sliding to one side and tried to hold on. Then the stallion reared and Elton lost his balance and fell, hitting the ground hard, falling into a coma. The stallion was frantic and kept bucking. He landed on Elton a couple of times before Bill could reach him.
When Elton was taken to the hospital he was still in a coma. Bill found he couldn't tell Sonny what had happened to his brother. Elton and Sonny had been very close and Bill didn't have the heart to make him cry. However, once Sonny looked into his father's watery-blue eyes he understood.
Two weeks passed with Elton still in his coma. Then, finally one day, while Sonny and Bill were visiting Elton, he came out of his coma. Sonny and his father were brought to tears of joy and relief; however, it didn't last long. Elton's doctor Emilio Zarz, pulled Bill aside and told him about Elton's condition. The blow of Dreamweaver's kicks had pulverized Elton's spine, and he wouldn't be able to walk again.
Elton left the hospital a week later in a wheelchair. Bill did everything possible to accommodate his son's return. A ramp was put in for Elton's wheelchair. Bill even moved Elton's room downstairs so he wouldn't have to be carried upstairs.
That's when Bill stopped coming around the stables. He couldn't bear the thought of seeing Dreamweaver, or any horse, for that matter. He started looking for jobs in town so he could move his family away from this awful place. He was offered a job to teach agriculture to college students.
Bill jumped at the opportunity and told his family they were moving. Sonny didn't want to move. He loved the farm and didn't want to move away from the wide open wilderness. There was also Dreamweaver.
See, I haven't told you, but Sonny loved Dreamweaver the first time he saw him. Sonny had always wished Dreamweaver were his horse. Even after his brother was thrown, Sonny still had admiration for the stallion.
Sonny begged his father to let him keep the horse, but his father wouldn't even think about it. In fact, Sonny's father made it clear that part of my job was to keep Sonny from even stepping in that animal's stall.
I have to admit myself that Dreamweaver was a magnificent horse, but he still had that habit of always getting frightened. The slightest thing made him flinch, even if it was just me feeding him or touching him. It was hard for me to understand why Sonny liked him so much. So I decided to ask him.
"What is it about Dreamweaver that you like? He's afraid of his own shadow. What makes you think you can handle him?"
"Don't you see it in his eyes?"
"His spirit, his hurt, the reason why he acts so frightened. When I look into his eye, everything else around me fades away. It's just him and me. Then he tries to tell me how his whole life he has always been in a small tight cage and that he knows nothing else. Then I understand. How is he supposed to react to the outside world if he has never experienced it?"
That night I sat up thinking about what Sonny said. I have never really looked any horse in the eye and tried to understand it. For me, horses were work and nothing more. I never really had a connection with any horse the way Sonny had with Dreamweaver. I envied him.
The next day when I was feeding the horses, I stopped in front of Dreamweaver's stall. He looked up at me as if to say, "So finally you notice me." As I looked into his eyes, I understood what Sonny saw. Dreamweaver was no dangerous beast, but a caged spirit. After that day I started letting Dreamweaver out in pasture every morning. He started getting used to things. He didn't get as frightened as he had before.
I'm sad to say that Sonny never got to ride that horse. A dressage trainer saw Dreamweaver and thought he had the making of a magnificent dressage horse. The man bought the stallion and shipped him to California. That was the last day I saw Dreamweaver or Sonny.
Dreamweaver became a famous dressage horse in California. He won medals left and right. Last I heard, Sonny grew up and built a horse facility. He teaches kids to ride and he also trains young horses. He has actually trained a couple of well-known horses.
As for me, I have never forgotten what Sonny taught me that day. I bought my own farm and a couple of horses. It's a great life. My favorite pal is named Dreamcatcher, after that magnificent stallion I knew so many years ago.
Hi. I'm Bartley Kishnove. I know this may surprise and alarm you, but I'm dead. I died about a year ago on July 28, 1989. The funeral was at this lovely little church in my hometown, Bruins, Illinois.
Bruins was a very close society. Everyone knew everyone else and everything about them. The people were different and unique. The one thing they had in common was that they were all loving Christians. Sunday at 8:00 a.m., everyone would attend mass in the only church in town.
My first known memory of that church was when I was five years old. I remember walking toward the church when my mother let go of my hand to talk to our neighbor. A crowd had gathered around and I lost sight of her. I was so terrified I started looking around to locate her but couldn't. Then I looked up at the church.
I started to walk toward the church but there was a bush in the way so I stopped to look at the steeple. I was so little that the church looked far away, giving it this blurry sense. The one thing I remember most was the cross on top of the steeple. It was an arrow pointing to heaven. It seemed as though it was trying to tell me something. That picture was my first real known memory, and it would also be my last.
Ever since that day I thought a lot about that memory. It made me think a lot about death and what comes after. See, I may not have told you, but I died of leukemia, which I was diagnosed with at the age of ten.
At first, I gave no thought to my leukemia. I just wanted to be a normal kid who played with his friends; and I was at first. I played with my friends everyday after school.
However, it didn't last long before the disease caught up with me I started growing weak and I became short of breath after playing with my friends.
My mother started worrying about my health and ordered me to come home after school. I was irritated with her but I was also a little relieved I had an excuse not to hang out with my friends. The disease had taken a lot out of me and I just didn't have enough energy to do everything T used to be able to do.
For six years, my life followed a daily routine. I went to school during the day and then afterwards T would go straight home, and fall asleep. Then there were the monthly treatments I received at the local hospital.
It was actually in those treatments when death haunted me the most. I always wondered when my day would come. When these thoughts came to mind, I always remembered the church. I constantly thought about the cross and what it was pointing to. Was God trying to tell me Heaven was nearer than I thought?
With every new day I felt weaker and closer to death. I knew the chemotherapy treatments were not helping at all. In fact, I felt as though the treatments were somehow sucking my life out of me. For example, there were times when I had to stay overnight at the hospital because I was too weak to move. My parents tried to pretend that everything would be all right, but I knew that wasn't the case.
As the years dragged on, death was the one thought that kept plaguing my mind. I stayed up nights wondering if my death would be swift or painful. When I did fall asleep, I had horrible nightmares that I would awake from with a sweat. I was sixteen when I realized that I needed to escape everything.
"Mom, Dad, I need to ask you something."
"Yes dear, what is it?" my mother asked with a smile on her face.
"I know you think that the treatments are helping me, but the truth is they are not. In fact, I feel worse that before I started them. I get so tired sometimes that when I walk down the stairs I have to rest after every step."
"Honey, why didn't you tell us?" my mother asked, running to my side to hug me.
"I didn't want to worry you. You guys seemed so sure that everything was fine."
"What are you trying to say Bartley?" my father asked.
"I don't want to have chemotherapy anymore. Also, I want to take a trip to get out of Bruins. I need to experience life before I die."
"Son, you're not going to die," he said shakily trying to force a smile on his face.
"Dad, stop denying it. You know I have not been improving. All I'm asking you for is to let me live my life before I go."
After hours and hours of trying to convince them, they finally gave in. They agreed to let me go if I promised I would continue with my treatments when I got back. Since it was my only choice, I agreed to their terms. Then I started planning my trip.
The first place I visited was Italy. I saw the leaning tower of Pisa and many other famous monuments. I even went to see an Italian Opera. It was amazing even though I didn't understand it. However, my most favorite thing about Italy was the food. The pizza and ice cream was ten times better in Italy than it was back home.
My next stop was Ireland. The land was the best part of Ireland. There were picturesque hills covered with luscious green grass and magnificent jagged mountains almost touching the sky. I also admired the expansive Irish castles.
My last stop, and my most favorite place, was Russia. My mother had spoken of Russia many times to me when I was little. However, I never dreamed that it would be so beautiful. The weather was constantly foggy and rainy, which for some unexplainable reason, made me feel at home.
I visited my relatives in Moscow. They were really nice. I felt like I had known them all my life. They told me vivid stories of the things they had experienced living in Russia. They even tried to teach me how to speak Russian.
I was really glad I took the trip. T had recovered over the three months of my trip. After leaving Bruins, I gradually got my strength and health back. I also stopped thinking about my death. I was enjoying my trip; however, I was homesick. I missed my parents and friends, and also that little church. I knew it was time to go home.
When I got back home, I found a crowd of my friends waiting to meet me. When I got off the plane they all rushed to give me hugs and ask how my trip was. After about an hour of stories my parents drove me home. I was so tired from the trip that when I got to my room I jumped into my bed and fell asleep.
Death. It's hard to describe what it's like. All I can say is that it is not a light at the end of the tunnel. When you die you just seem to appear before God in Heaven. God cannot be described with human words. He's too great. Just looking at him fills you with joy and love.
I decided to base this English project on photography. I had taken photography last semester and I really loved it. So when I heard about this project I decided I would do something with photography.
At first I was going to talk about the different types of photography and then show examples of pictures. However, I wasn't passionate about writing facts so I decided to write fiction I had decided to write poems I was inspired to write after looking at a picture. However, when I looked at other people's projects a lot of them had to do with poems so I decided against it.
After much thought I decided to write stories. I chose to create a story around a picture I took. The story could be about anything but it had to have a description of the picture somewhere in it.
For each story I wrote down an idea of a story that would fit with the picture. Then I wrote on some loose-leaf paper a story that came to mind. When I was writing I had no clue where I wanted the story to go until I was half way through. Then the whole story formed in my head and I knew how to incorporate the picture and where.
Then after I had finished writing the story down I typed it up on my computer. When I was typing the story I fixed a lot of things that didn't make sense. Then I had my mother and a friend look over and revise my paper. Then I fixed my mistakes and printed out the paper.
The only problem I really had with this project was with "Tree of Memories". At the time I started writing it I had a lot of final exams and projects due so I didn't have time to write my story down before I typed it up. The problem with this was that the first time I typed it out it was a little shaky so the second time I looked at it I had to practically right the whole thing over again.
I really liked this project. I learned that creative writing is fun. I used to thin it was hard to come up with stories but it's really not.
For this project writing down the story before typing it up was really helpful. T liked this process because I could just read off the paper and type what was on it, and if there was anything I needed to change or correct I could see it. I am really happy with my project. I actually really love the stories I wrote.
I think the only problem I had was that I started a little late on this project. I wish I hadn't spent so much time on deciding what to do. I probably wouldn't have been so stressed out if I had started earlier.