Learning to Dance Again
By Mary Hayward
In the garden of an old house grew two big trees. One was an Ash tree. His branches were thick and strong. The other was a round, green, jolly, holly tree. Ash and Holly talked to each other all the time. Sometimes they argued. Sometimes they laughed.
They liked to talk about the time when the children were small.
In summer two little girls had played in the garden every single day. At Christmas they had collected holly to decorate the house. Holly was proud of her shining red berries. But now the children had grown up and moved to the city. When the old people died the house had been locked up. Now the windows were broken. Rain dripped through the roof. No-one came. Except for the birds. Hundreds of them. They built nests in the roof of the old house. They sang from Ash and Holly’s branches. When autumn came some birds flew away to Africa. Then Ash’s leaves turned yellow and danced around in the wind. That was when Ash always went to sleep for the winter. Holly with her green shining leaves and berries stayed awake all year round. She sheltered robins and wagtails from the icy winds. They fed on her juicy red berries.
Winters were always long. Holly missed her friend Ash. But she knew that when spring returned Ash would wakened up. Then he would grow new leaves from tiny buds. Holly could hardly wait to tell Ash about the deep snow, the ice and the long, dark nights.
This time Holly was worried. There were no buds growing on Ash’s branches, even though it was springtime. Maybe Ash was sick. Holly waited and waited and waited for Ash to wake up. She thought that if she was patient Ash would wake up, shake his branches and smile as he usually did. But this time Ash didn’t wake up. He had been infected by a tree disease and died. A man came and took Ash away. Holly missed her old friend. She wanted him back. She felt sad. She felt lonely. Sometimes she felt angry and scratched the birds with her prickles. Sometimes she thought that if she hadn’t argued with Ash, he would not have died. Often she expected to see her old friend again dancing in the breeze.
The next year workmen came to the old house. They put in new windows and doors. They mended the roof. All winter long they hammered and sawed. When it was fixed up a woman and her children moved into the house. They brought their dog, Coco with them. The boys chased Coco round and round the garden. Holly was not so lonely anymore.
One day the boys’ and their mother dug a deep hole. Into the hole they planted a tree. Holly knew by the shape of its leaves, that it was an oak tree. Holly liked her new little friend, Oak. She told Oak all about Ash. Sometimes Holly and Oak danced in the wind. They loved the feeling of rain bouncing off their leaves. But best of all, they loved to watch the children playing in the garden.
Now when Holly thinks about Ash she smiles and remembers all the fun they had. She is not as sad anymore. She has a new friend but she knows that she will never, ever forget her best friend, Ash.