London led the way through the ancient forest, their footfalls muffled by the dense bed of needles that carpeted the floor. Occasionally a shaft of light would penetrate the canopy, brilliant and golden against the dim green background of shrubbery.
“Are we there yet? Why are we out in the woods. Are we gonna respawn?” Marv complained as children do. London grinned looking back for a moment at the child, Ezekiel bringing up the rear a few feet back. A small troop of woodland creatures had for some reason decided to follow him. A small doe, some squirrels and a pair of wild turkey had fallen into step along the way.
London walked around a trunk of deep russets and ocher browns. A smaller, but no less impressive tree split the path. A few moments later she clambered over a giant root, turning to see Marv lifted over the same partially buried tree root and carefully lowered into her arms. They walked deeper into the forest for about another hour. To Ezekiel and Marvin it was a random place in the woods, to London, it was familiar to her as rhythm of her heartbeat.
Squatting down she looked the boy in the eye, worrying her bottom lip with her teeth. “So, remember when we were in the room and we were talking about.. your.. your dad?” The boy nods, his face screwing up slightly, “Well, when I said goodbye to my dad, I came here.” she paused and looked away, letting her eyes unfocus as she remembered, her voice taking on a soft, sad tone. “I uh, I had my parents cremated, and bought a pair of saplings. Back then climate change was still being argued against about by old idiots who cared more about money than the planet. Even though the proof was all around them.”
The boy nodded slowly, feeling very small as they stood. Even the turkeys had fallen silent but watchful. “Some of these trees are older than..people. They might have been sprouts on Pangea, maybe saw dinosaurs, the rise of mammals, the introduction of humans to this land. To have survived this long boggles the mind and gives me so much hope. It even makes me a little excited for the future. Just a little though, because people are..well, people.”
Marv gave her a look, dragging her from where ever she was going with her rambling speech. Shaking her head she pointed to a pair of smaller trees set close together in a clearing. Standing up, London slowly walked over and placed her palm against one of the trunks, its bark firm and rough against her palm, her thumb rubbing slowly across the edge of papery layers of tree skin, “Sequoia sempervirens is the sole living species of the genus Sequoia in the cypress family Cupressacae. They are also among the oldest living things on Earth. I planted them together a long time ago in honor of my parents Because I couldn’t live in a world where they weren’t together. I like to think that a part of them lives in these trees. I’m relieved and glad other me felt the same.” The last part was mumbled beneath her breath.
“But London, these trees are like, a BILLION years old! They’re so big! There’s no way you planted those.” Marv crossed his arm, sulky expression clouding his features like an angry cloud.
“Not a billion, just a thousand. Give or take a few decades. It’s complicated. Study hard and we can make a game about it one day. Maybe.” She looked back at him and smiled before lifting her eyes to Ezekiel. Marv followed her gaze and melted into peals of laughter at the sight of the angel as he sat hunched over, squirrels running across the breath of his shoulders as he carefully stroked one of the turkeys along it’s back. Returning her attention to the task at hand, a smile pulling at her mouth even as her eyes rolled skyward London, stood and stretched a bit before offering the boy her hand. “Now, If you’d like, we could plant a tree for your dad here as well. You can’t go wrong with planting trees. And you can tell me about your new place. Are there pets? Do you want a pet? I can build you one of you’re not allowed to have a live one.”