The Prompt for this story is from, by Julie Duffy.

A young boy dug a hole, fighting with the big shovel until he’d made a space deep enough to lower the pine sapling into it. “Mom, can you help me?” 

Together, they packed the loose soil around the sapling. Mom brought over some rocks to arrange around it, “so it doesn’t get mowed by accident this summer.” The boy thought that was a good idea.

He watered it faithfully for many days. Eventually, however, he forgot about it as young boys often do. But somehow, it still grew.

And grew.

And grew.


“I’m so proud of you, Honey,” my mom says to me as I drive her home from my high school graduation. “You worked so hard for this.”

“Not as hard as you.”

“Oh, please, don’t make me cry.” But Mom reaches over and places her hand on mine as I steer us onto our street.

I pull into the driveway and there it is: my tree. Five times my height now, or maybe more. I don’t remember the last time I watered it, and I look over at my mom as I shift into park. 

She’s done more for me than I’ll ever know.

“Mom? Can you take a picture of me with that tree?”

We get out and make our way to the middle of the yard, where the tree stands, tall and beautiful. Mom smiles a little too brightly as she holds up her phone and directs me to face her and smile. But I have a different idea.

I kneel beside the tree, hoping to approximate the height I once was. Mom seems to get the idea, and lowers her phone. “Would you like a shovel?”

I smile. “I’ll get it,” I say. I find the shovel, then return to my previous pose, now with the shovel upright beside me, the blade in the ground and the shaft in my hand. Mom takes her picture– several shots, just to be sure.

I join her and hand her the shovel. “Your turn,” I say.

“What do you mean?”

I use the hood of the car as a tripod and support the phone with a stack of library books from the back seat. I set up the camera timer, then turn to my mom.

“You never gave up on me,” I say. “I stopped taking care of that tree, but you never stopped caring for me.”

Mom looks up at me, her eyes shining. “I don’t–”

But I cut off whatever she was about to say, and gently turn her face toward the car. 

“Say cheese.”

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