“I need more endurance,” she mutters to herself on the way home. She felt alive in the middle of the soccer game. But by the end, she was tired.
The result of the game is no longer her priority. Running light and long. That’s enough.
Nothing is more boring than jogging at the same speed. She is still a kid, but she knows about sacrificing the present for the future. Running is about just doing, enjoying the right now.
On the next corner is her house. She was born and grew up in that house, so she can find it with her eyes closed. But she is still unfamiliar with the new building stuck to her house — it looks like a typical two-story house, but the new building is filled with plants.
It was originally her grandfather’s house, and they had lived there together. He was a good friend to her. He used to read her poems under the ash tree in the backyard.
After his death, the tree became her grandfather and her shelter. When she was upset, under the tree she could be calm. Even though she hadn’t fully understood the poems, they reminded her of her grandfather, so the time under the tree was magically healing.
During her parents’ sabbatical year in Germany, the emerald green ash borer swept through the town. The tree couldn’t avoid the widespread infestation. When her family returned from Germany, the precious shelter was gone.
And she lost her grandfather again.
Her parents — who couldn’t understand the depth of her loss — got an idea. They couldn’t get back her grandfather, but they could make another shelter.
It was impossible to plant another big tree. Like the new parkway ash trees replaced by the city, small trees on her grandfather’s spot would call attention to the emptiness. So they decided to build a house full of plants instead. They wanted to give her the feeling of the tree and the opportunity to care for something.
At first she wasn’t interested. Whenever she went into the greenhouse, she just had a quick look around. She didn’t want this new room. She pretended to be apathetic.
She gets home and sneaks into the greenhouse. She remembers every plant’s place. It took her a week. Today, with a quick look, she finds a baby leaf on one plant. A leaf that looks like a baby hand. With surprise, she leaves for her room and looks up its name on the Internet. It is Schefflera Arboricola.
“Shefflera Arboriola,” she murmurs. “When I called his name, he came to me and became a flower.”
It is part of one of her grandfather’s favorite poems. Now she realizes the meaning.
She recalls her grandfather’s smile.