The Tree at the Center

There was a flower Rana liked, and so she built her life around it.
At first she only spent time beneath its boughs, enjoying their shade in the summer, and their fruit in the spring, and the lovely color that blessed their leaves in the fall. She could sit beneath the tree for hours, listening to it whisper in the wind.
She came to love the tree so much that she never wanted to leave it, and so Rana and her husband built a house around the tree. It was like no house she had seen before, for they built it in the shape of a circle, with the tree in a little courtyard at its heart. From every room of the house, she could observe the tree through a window and take in the peace and joy that it brought to her mind.
Rana loved to watch its flowers bloom and its petals fall in the spring. She loved the sweet taste of its fruit, which she harvested as it ripened, keeping some for her family and selling the rest. Content settled deep into her heart in the fall as its leaves changed. Every year, she collected the finest among them to press and dry. In the winter, her children loved to lick and shatter the icicles that hung from its branches.
But the fruit was also a burden, for that which she didn’t harvest fell upon the ground and rotted, becoming a nuisance underfoot. The leaves which fell in the fall, whose beauty she loved, needed to be raked, and cleared from the eaves of her circular home. And in the winter, sometimes, the branches fell.
Rana came to resent the tree, and the way she’d built her life around it. The little things that she had once loved came to be bothersome instead. Then in the winter, a branch fell upon the roof of her circular home, piercing through into the warm safety of her house and stabbing her daughter through the leg.
Her daughter lived, but, the doctor said, she would forever be scarred. Rana realized she had made a mistake. She had built her home, and her life, around something fallible — and dangerous, in its own way. Perhaps it was her reliance, and her forced proximity, which brought the danger, and the potential for pain. Perhaps those things would have existed regardless. She knew only that she wanted the tree gone.
Her husband cut it down, and that winter, they burned its wood in fires. From time to time, Rana looked out the windows toward the empty space at the center of her home, and she wept for the loss. Then she wept harder, for it was a loss she had brought upon herself for building around the tree in the first place.

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