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The Old Man and the Tree (standard:other, 669 words)
Author: BritGirlAdded: Dec 02 2002Views/Reads: 2684/1Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Title says it all
 



The Old Man and The Tree 

The old man looked up and gasped. He drew in his breath so sharply that
it hurt his chest. His hands tightened on the iron railings; his skin 
stretched taut over his knuckles. He stared transfixed at the tree. 

The late afternoon sunlight was shining down through its branches. The
leaves were illuminated and glowed gold before the old man's eyes. 
There were shades of brown, green and yellow, too numerous for the old 
man to count. His breath came hard and fast, billowing out in white 
clouds in front of him. The afternoon was so bitterly cold that the old 
man could feel it seeping into his joints, stiffening them as he stood 
gripping the park fence. 

He didn't care. He stood, drinking in the sight of the tree. Never
before had he guessed that so many shades of green could exist. The 
textures, the colours! They were sublime, exquisite and magnificent. 
The old man's eyes pricked with tears. No matter how many adjectives he 
thought of, he would never be able to adequately describe the beauty of 
the tree. He could paint it countless times and still be unable to 
replicate each subtle shade of colour. Even a photograph would not 
capture the living, breathing splendour of the sunlit tree. 

Tears spilled from the old man's eyes and trickled down his wrinkled
cheeks. He could never capture it. This breath-taking sight would 
vanish as the sun went down and he would never be able to regain it. 
His chest heaved as a sob shook him. How could this be? How many more 
sights like this had he walked past without ever noticing? How many 
more would he be permitted to see before he died? 

As his eyes gorged themselves on the magnificent sight before them, the
old man wondered if God or Satan was responsible for this. Surely only 
the hand of God could create such a thing of beauty. But maybe it was 
Satan. The Devil had crafted this wondrous sight as a form of torture. 
Such beauty could never be captured or possessed. A man could spend his 
whole life in vain trying to do so. Even his best efforts would be 
nothing more than a pitiful imitation. 

By now the old man was crying openly. His chest was racked with sobs and
tears were flowing freely down his face. As they blurred his eyes, the 
sun disappeared behind a bank of cloud and the tree lost its colour. It 
was just a plain, ordinary walnut tree. The old man choked as he tried 
to recover his breath. It was as if the tree had never been. As if it 
had always been this bland and lifeless. As if the feast of colour had 
been a momentary vision, a glimpse of something that had been cruelly 
snatched away. 

The old man wiped his face on his sleeve. His hands hurt when he tried
to unclench them from the railings. His breath made a nasty rattling 
sound in his lungs. He felt so tired, so very tired. He was still 
staring up at the tree but it merely gazed blankly back at him. The old 
man felt his knees beginning to shake and he gradually sank down to the 
ground, still clutching the fence. His legs folded underneath him as 
his breathing became more laboured. The cold wind dried the tears on 
his face and made his skin sting. His mouth opened and closed as he 
tried to form words. His eyes remained fixed on the tree above him. 

The dog walker, who found him, was given a nasty shock when she locked
gazes with the open eyes of the old man. His jaw hung open and spittle 
had gathered around the edges of his lips. The woman prodded him gently 
with the toe of her shoe and was surprised to see the tracks of tears 
on his face. 

"Poor old man," she said, to herself. "Poor crazy old man." 


   


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