The Mystery of the Cherry Tree


 I hate cherry trees…
That color of the flower petals which seem to have sucked blood, that rugged bark which makes you think of the corpse of a man who died of starvation. And above all, in the shade of that trunk, it’s waiting for it even now. For a new sacrifice…
Why would grown-ups hold parties around that thing? I cannot understand. Ah…It’s so annoying even to remember that. Even if so many years have passed since, and I’m reaching my end, I cannot push that incident away from my memories.
It was the spring when I had entered middle school. On my way home I was passing as usual by a row of cherry trees along the river together with my school friend K, when we saw one cherry tree we had never noticed before, which made no flowers bloom and seemed to be rotten.
We stopped in front of that tree. ‘Oh, this tree’s already dead. It’d be good if they cut it soon’ said K and kicked the tree. I said nothing and was just watching but K went again ‘Ugh!’ and plucked a twig of that cherry tree; of course I thought that would be bad, so I said ‘Let’s just go’, urging K who was holding the broken twig in his hand to get out of that row of trees. At the crossroads in front of the bookstore we said ‘Bye. See you tomorrow’ and were parting until next morning but I was left with a feeling of guilt so I turned around to tell K: ‘You’d better throw that away’, but ended up doubting my own eyes. The twig that K was carrying looked like a dried up human arm. ‘Ah!’ Though it leaked in a low voice, K must have heard me.
‘What?’ and turned toward me. What K was holding was beyond any doubt the twig broken earlier.
The following day K didn’t come to school. I asked the teacher:
‘Is there something up with K?’
The teacher answered:
‘Yes. Actually…we received a call from his mother. He’s been missing since yesterday evening. You were together on your way home yesterday, right? Do you know anything about it?’
‘I…I don’t know anything.’
At my answer, the teacher said ‘I see. Well, if you happen to recall anything, tell me’, then left briskly. I was troubled all day by it – to tell the teacher or not, about that cherry tree, but in the end: ‘What if he gets angry at me too?’ At this thought, I said nothing and let the things as they were, waiting for that school day to end.
For some reason or another with dark feelings I went home on the way which went behind the school building, but, when I came near that row of cherry trees, I stood in astonishment. Huh?! When I passed by it in the morning that cherry tree had been as before, withered and rotten, but during only a few hours had made flowers bloom.
‘How can this be…?’
I was terrified so I went home as fast as I could, confined myself in my room and covered myself in the bed, shivering with fear. Not even at dinner time did I come down, so mother got worried and came to call me, but I refused: ‘I feel bad so I don’t want to eat.’ I was so afraid that I couldn’t even sleep. I only waited for morning to come.

The following day I was on my way to school with a heavy heart, but because I didn’t want to pass by that row of trees, I chose to take a roundabout way. Thinking only about that cherry tree, I was feeling really bad, therefore during the break I went to the school infirmary; there I found my classmate T and, against my better judgment, I told him about the tree.
‘Really?! I wanna see that tree.’
It raised his interest so we went together after school to see it.
‘This one?’ asked T after looking from all sides at the row of trees, while kicking that cherry tree the same way as K had done.
‘H-hey!’ I stopped him in haste, but he said:
‘It’s OK. It’s no problem. Look! I’ll even do this.’ And just broke off a twig of that tree.
This was too much for me so I left him behind and went home, where I confined myself in my room again and spent a sleepless night, praying that T would come to school the next day.
Of course, T didn’t come to school. This time I was called by the teacher and asked to explain the circumstances, but I said nothing about the cherry tree or about T breaking off a twig of it. I had decided in my heart: ‘I have no choice but to do something about it.’
When I returned home, I took out a saw from the small storage room in the garden, then waited for my family to fall asleep deep in the night and sneaked away from the house.
The row of cherry trees looked totally different than they did during the day. It was so eerie that my feet were cramped, but gathering my courage, I walked to that cherry tree and cut it from the root overnight. When I put the saw to the trunk, I expected that something should appear, but contrary to my feeling, nothing happened, and all that was left afterwards was the huge cherry tree lying on the ground and the chip of wood.
After that, I don’t know what happened to K or to T or to that tree…
I’m now writing this story lying on my bed in the hospital.

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