The Sad Tree looked like it was crying. Pop always said not to go near it but of course Nate and I did. That was my big brother Nate, not my Nate Hansen, the neighbor boy.

I was falling asleep on a Saturday night in front of the tube watching reruns of Mash. The lamp beside the couch was on and cast a sleepy light about the room. It was like the house itself was falling asleep as my eyes closed slightly then opened when there was a bit of loud talking from the television.

I must have dozed off there for a second or two because I began to dream. I dreamed of a old Quade Creek, up the road from our house. It was all grown over now, even in my dream, but once there had been a path that lead to two it for the first people who lived around here. In my dream I snuck through the bushes trying to be all quiet like, though why I was trying to be quiet I don’t really remember, but I was. Salmonberry bushes and stinging nettles were in my way so I grabbed up a stick and started chopping them down.

When I got to the creek there was a great big salmon in it. Biggest fish I’d ever seen in the wild–we got a chinese restaurant that’s got a bunch of coy fish that are bigger, but those ones are so friendly they’ll come up and you can pat them on their heads. Coy ain’t got no teach so getting bit ‘innit a problem with them.

So this big salmon in the creek in my dream looked in some kind of trouble. The plastic rings from a sixer of beer were wrapped around it’s head and one of it’s fins. I’d never seen a salmon in that little creek of ours so I was surprised and sad for the poor animal. I hurried forward and kneeled down to help the thing, to grab it by the tail and work snap the plastic so the fish could go free and maybe make baby salmon.

I pushed my hands into the water, but it weren’t cold at all. It felt more like a warm summer breeze. And I started tearing at the plastic. But just then a hand shot out of the flowing water. It shot up out of nowhere and grabbed my arm and started shaking. I yelped, as it was covered in slime and had dirt caked under the fingernails and felt like a vice around my arm.

I fluttered my eyes and it was only Nate shaking me by the arm.

“Neill. Neill,” he was saying. “You’re just dreaming is all. Come on out of it.”

So I did that. Came out of my dreaming mind and I asked him, “What you want, Nate?”

“I’m going to the Sad Tree.”

“Why you going there? You know Pop told us not too,” I said.

Nate shrugged. I think he was about 13 or 14 at the time, which would put me around 11 or 12.



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