The Taking Tree
By Hell Silverstein
Once there was a tree…
And she hated a little boy.
And every day the boy would come
And bother the animals who made their home in the tree.
He would tear branches off of her and throw rocks at her
And when he was tired, he would sit and pick her bark off.
And the boy loved the tree… Very much…
And the tree hated him.
But time went by, And the boy grew older. And the tree was often alone. The tree used this time to plot revenge against the boy.
One day, the boy came to the tree and the tree said:
"Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be “happy.”
"I am too big to climb and play,” said the boy. "But maybe once more for old time’s sake."
The boy climbed the tree and sat on one of her branches
And the tree let the branch break off her trunk, sending the boy hurtling to the ground.
The boy landed on his stomach and scraped his knees
And the boy shouted, “Stupid tree!” as he went home to tend to his wounds.
The tree saw the tears in the boy’s eyes… And the tree was happy.
And then one day, the boy came back, holding a canvas and rope, and he said:
"Hello tree. I forgive you for what happened last time. I know you didn’t do it on purpose. Can I use you and this fence post to support my hammock?"
"Of course, Boy," said the tree, "You can cut into me. Then you will be able to relax and be happy."
And so the boy hung one end of his hammock on the fence
And the other on a hook he drilled into the tree.
The boy was happy… until the tree lubricated the hole with sap and made it fall out of her.
The boy fell to the ground and landed on his back.
And the boy cried, “Stupid tree! I’m never coming back!” then stumbled off in great pain.
The tree saw the way the boy hobbled off… And the tree was happy.
The boy stayed away for a long time. And when he came back, the tree was filled with hate.
The boy’s parents parked their car under the tree
And the boy and his parents went for a walk.
The boy was still upset at the tree and did not talk to her.
The tree waited for them to return…
And when they did, she let her mightiest branch fall on the front of the car,
Instantly killing the boy’s parents.
This hurt the tree, but seeing the boy’s tears made the pain worth it…
And the boy exclaimed, “WHY, TREE? WHY?! YOU KILLED MOM AND DAD, TREE!”
"Sorry, Boy," she said without much sincerity, "It was an accident."
"SCREW YOU, TREE!" said the boy. "I HATE YOU!"
The boy was broken inside as he spoke with the police… And the tree was happy.
After some time, the boy came back since the tree was near the cemetery.
The tree shook with joy and she said to the boy, “Sorry about your parents, Boy. That is very sad.”
"Leave me alone, tree," said the boy, "I know you don’t mean it. You look too happy to really be sad."
"I’m not going to lie to you anymore, Boy" she said, "I hate you. You are selfish. You hurt me. You tore my branches off. You threw rocks at me. You bothered the animals who live in me."
"I don’t like you, Boy," the tree continued, "And now your parents’ decomposing bodies will provide me with nutrients. I will become bigger and stronger as they become less and less real. I hate you, Boy."
The boy began to throw rocks at the tree…
And his eyes filled with tears…
And the boy collapsed in sadness…
And the tree was happy.