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Once there was a tree that grew between an abandoned shoe factory and a fish market, on a little up-and-coming industrial street in Bushwick.

And she loved a little boy.

And every day the boy would come and he would shake her leaves onto the ground and use them as a pillow while he napped
when he was supposed to be at school.

He would carve naughty words into her trunk.

And drape his Vineyard Vines cardigan over her branches.

And throw her apples at the bigger kids trying to steal his sneakers.

The boy loved the tree almost as much as his Nintendo Switch.

And the tree was happy.

But time went by and the boy grew older. The abandoned shoe factory was turned into an avant-garde art gallery, and the fish market became a tapas restaurant.

And the tree was often alone, surrounded by small fences designed to keep animals from defecating on her.

Then one day the boy came to the tree.

And the tree said, “Come climb my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and be happy.”

The boy adjusted his knitted beanie. “I’m taking a gap year before starting at my safety school, and I really need something to do.”

The tree was perplexed. “I don’t know what any of those words mean, but nothing passes time better than hanging out with your best friend, the tree.”

“Actually, I’ve always wanted to open my own craft cidery business on 6th Avenue,” said the boy.

“Take my apples, boy, and buy a cider press and live your truth.”

And so the boy had some of his buddies climb up the tree and gather her apples and carry them away.

And the tree was happy.

But the craft cider market was saturated, and the boy’s investors pulled out, so he stayed away for a long time…

And the tree was sad.

And then one day, the boy came back, in tight pants adorned by unnecessary hemp suspenders.

The tree was now covered in posters for up-and-coming bands playing at the furniture store/hookah lounge that occupied the abandoned shoe factory. She trembled with joy. “Come, Boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches. No one’s looking. It’s not weird or anything.”

“I am too busy writing my novel,” said the boy. “I need someone to support me while I spend my days at Mr. Bean’s Coffee hashing out my parent-issues in a thinly-guised erotic mystery set in Greenpoint.”

The tree just kind of stared at him.

“Can you fund me via my Patreon page?” the boy asked.

The tree said, “I’m a tree, so I have no bank account, but you can cut off my branches and turn them into something you can sell. Then you will have money to finish writing.” And the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to whittle into miniature pan flutes to sell for exorbitant prices at Brooklyn Flea.

And the tree was happy.

But the boy stayed away for a long time. The old fish market was now an artisanal ices shop that specialized in garlic-and-grapefruit sorbet.

And when he came back, the tree shivered with the excitement of reliving the past.

“Come, Boy,” she whispered, “come and play.”

“I am a father now, to twin boys named Baden and Faden. My wife and I are looking for a nice place to eat brunch, then we’re heading to IKEA to purchase a Bugaboo and a new apothecary table.”

The tree was disappointed and said, “I don’t know what any of those words mean, but you can cut down my trunk and make a table out of it. Then you can be happy.”

And so the boy cut down her trunk and hired someone on TaskFinder to carve it into an apothecary table, and he, his wife, and Baden and Faden ate gluten-free pancakes with huckleberry compote off it.

And the tree was happy… but not really. She missed the old neighborhood and didn’t understand why her block needed three vegan cupcake shops. She was confused by the boy; who would actually read a 1,000-page erotic novel about his parents?

And after a long time, the boy came back again.

By now, the tree was surrounded by a small community garden share that provided antibiotic-free organic produce for the farm-to-table café operating out of the old fish market. The boy had more hair on his face than the top of his head, and the tree almost didn’t recognize him if not for his ironic T-shirt.

“I am sorry, Boy,” sighed the tree. “but I have nothing left to give you — my apples are gone.”

“Cideries are passé — it’s all about home-brewed cognac now,” said the boy.

“My branches are gone,” said the tree. “You can’t swing on them—”

“I have bursitis in my joints, and take herbal supplements just to be able to update my music blog,” said the boy.

“My trunk is gone,” said the tree. “You cannot climb—"

“This vintage Beetlejuice shirt actually cost $200, so I probably shouldn’t get it dirty.”

The tree was at a loss.

“I don’t need very much now,” said the boy, “just a quiet place to sit and look at house listings on my phone. It’s a buyer’s market, and I could really use more space, so moving to the suburbs make sense.”

“Well,” said the tree, “an old stump is good for sitting and scrolling through Zillow. Come, Boy, sit and find your dream house in a good school district, near a Costco.”

And the boy did.

And the tree was happy.