Tree of Life by Huon Evans

Tree of Life by Houn Evans

Winner (Children Category)

“Can’t we just buy the meat instead of doing it ourselves? ”, I asked for the millionth time.

“I already told you. We don’t have the money”, replied dad.

“Now go get a cow,” he orders. I trudge off to the paddock to go and get this week’s dinner.

We’ve lived on this 50-acre cattle farm on the outskirts of Townsville for as long as I can remember with little money to live off, just Mum, Dad and I. In the evenings, the sun sets over Hervey Range and dad sits on the porch reading the newspaper while mum lies in bed. She is sick and getting sicker. I like it here, although sometimes I wish we lived somewhere easier for mum.

In the morning the air is cool and the ground is damp with dew. Trudging out to the paddock, I see the cattle meandering around the tree line. As I get closer, I can see part of something wooden sticking out from the ground that the cows have uncovered. I’ll check it out tomorrow I think, as I grab a fat-looking heifer.

I can hear birds singing as the sun peeks over the horizon, filtering shards of gentle warm light into my room. After breakfast, I grab a shovel and run out into the paddock, locating the small, box-like object from the day before. I dig for the whole morning.

By lunch I’d uncovered half of the box. It is plain but has an air of mystery to it. As the sun skulks away like a wombat to its burrow, I finally drag it out. I can hardly contain myself as I jog back to the house, eager to show it to dad.

“Look at this Dad-,” I begin.

“I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news,” he interrupts. “Mums gone to the hospital. She has cancer.”

I’m speechless. I fling open the lid, trying to find something else to do, to stop the tears and take my mind off the news. A seed. Just a bland, smooth seed about the size of a 10 cent coin, sitting in the middle of this box that took so much effort to get. In anger, I get up and throw it out the nearby kitchen window.

I wake up from a troubled sleep the next morning. Shuffling into the kitchen, I see something unusual outside the window.

A single gold-tinged, apple-like fruit has grown at the top of a plant overnight where the seed had landed.

Later at the hospital I give the fruit to mum.

“Thankyou dear”, she says as she weakly accepts my meagre gift.

A week later mum has been discharged from hospital after a miraculous recovery. The doctors were baffled and could find no trace of the cancer.

They never explained mum’s full recovery and driving mum home to the farm, I notice the small tree has died and shrivelled up, only ever producing one of its golden apple-like fruits.

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