Uncategorized, Writing 101

Writing 101: The Red Maple Tree

Good evening!

I’ve decided this evening to work on yesterday’s writing 101 assignment which I didn’t get a chance to look at yesterday. The assignment today was to write a particular scene (more on that in a moment) and the twist was to write it from three different perspectives. An idea for how the scene would play out jumped to mind immediately, but I wasn’t sure if I should write it. And then, once I decided to write it, I wasn’t sure if I should post it. You see, the scene I’ve written is in a much more serious tone than my stories typically are. It was a different type of story for me. I thought about figuring out a way to change my idea of the scene to write it in the light, humorous manner I’m more comfortable in, but where is the challenge in that? So I went ahead with it.

I’m not going to post a blog concluding paragraph at the end, so I’ll ask for some feedback up front. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’d love to hear what you think about my more serious approach to the topic. Did I convince you? Did I take too long to get to the main points? Or did you like the pacing? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.


The Red Maple Tree

The Scene: Three people in a park. A young man and a young woman walk down the path. An old woman sits on a bench knitting a small red sweater.


The Old Woman:

It was one of those beautiful autumn days that she could never stay inside for. Just warm enough that you could sit outside and enjoy the day, just cool enough to require a sweater and slacks. Oh, how her daughters laughed when she called them slacks. Never out loud, mind you, but she could see it in their eyes. She could always see it in her babies eyes. Even all grown up babies with babies of their own. The maple she sat under had already begun to turn the fiery red of the season. The same red as the sweater she worked on for her oldest grand-baby’s birthday. Oh how little Talia’s eyes would light up when she saw her gift – the colour of the maple tree in autumn. How that baby loved this season. Just like her old Gammy. She’d have to call her daughter and have her bring Talia over for the afternoon tomorrow – she’d love to play in the shade under the fire tree. Maybe they’d bring a picnic and have a tea party… Yes, she’d call her daughter that evening to arrange it.


The Young Woman:

It was a perfect autumn day. The kind that made you think of apples and blue jeans; sweaters and tea. The kind of day that told you to forget all your troubles and come out and play. And so they’d come out to… play? Not likely. They hadn’t “played” in weeks. Not since…

She was amazed he’d come out to walk at all. She’d never expected him to actually meet her at the door. One O’Clock she’d said. I’m going for a walk in the park at One O’Clock and I’d like you to come. And he had. Jeans, Sweater and runners he was there. For a moment she’d been afraid she’d start to cry when she saw him standing there. And that would have ruined everything. But she’d kept it together. Not all that surprising, really, she hadn’t cried in days. Couldn’t. It was better that way. One of them had to have it together. Someone had to bring back normalcy. The boys needed it. They needed to know that life could go on. Needed to know that the sun could still shine. That they would be okay. That Mommy and Daddy would be okay. After all, at three years old they didn’t fully understand…

How could they understand? She didn’t even understand. The questions were just different. The boys asked “when?” and “where?” Over and over again. She just asked “why?”… But look at her. This walk was supposed to bring a sliver of sunshine. After all, Cheyenne would have loved this day. She would have run ahead on the path towards the tree in her little jeans and tee-shirt and that red sweater we could never get her out of. She loved that tree. Would have especially loved it today… in the process of turning fiery red. No, she wouldn’t let her thoughts stray again. She would enjoy this perfect autumn day for her precious Cheyenne.


The Young Man:

He didn’t know why he’d come. It was the kind of day his wife would describe as perfect. She’d always loved the autumn. Loved going on walks with him to enjoy the changing leaves. He’d proposed on a day like today, in this very park. He’d been happy then… but that was a lifetime ago. Now he couldn’t even bring himself to take the hand of the woman beside him. Why had he even come?

It was better inside. Inside where he could almost convince himself that everything was the same, that nothing had changed. The same. He didn’t know why he kept telling himself that lie. Why he kept believing it. Nothing was the same. He’d never hidden away in his office before; never insisted the door stay closed. Never shut out his family so completely before. But that was…Before… He never should have come out today.

But there’d been something in his wife’s voice that had pulled him out. Something that had made him slip into his jeans and a clean sweater. Somehow, at five minutes to one he’d found himself tying his shoelaces. He glanced over at her now. And then snapped his eyes away. He couldn’t look at her. Couldn’t bear to look into her eyes. He needed to find somewhere else to look. Something else to focus on. Anything.

A flash of red… there under the old maple tree that Chey…under the old maple tree. What did that old woman have in her hands? No. It couldn’t be. He staggered. Stopped.

A small red sweater. Fiery red. Just like the leaves of the old maple tree. Just like the one… just like the one that his baby girl used to wear. His Princess… His Cheyenne… Cheyenne…

For the first time since that day he felt a tear fall down his face. And then another. For the first time since that day he didn’t try to stop it. He felt his wife slip her hand into his and then wrap her arms around him. And for the first time since that day, he didn’t pull away.


The Young Woman:

She didn’t know what made him stop. Didn’t know what changed. She heard her baby girls name on his lips. Their baby girl. Their Cheyenne.

She turned and saw tears running down his face. She didn’t know what had happened. Didn’t know what had changed. But she knew he hadn’t resisted when she’d grabbed hold of his hand. Hadn’t pulled back when she’d reached up to hold him. And as they stood there, in the shade of the old maple tree, she knew they’d be okay.

A forget all your troubles kind of day? Not a chance. They would never forget. But somehow, someday, Mommy and Daddy would be okay.

The End.


2 thoughts on “Writing 101: The Red Maple Tree”

  1. Ok. Feedback. Loved the pacing and the revelation was gradual enough so there were a few ‘Aha’ moments when I started piecing it together.

    Love how you used the old woman as a catalyst for the husband to reach a catharsis.

    One thing. I thought the phrase, “Not a chance” in the last paragraph was a little easy-going. It didn’t seem to fit the overall mood.

    Very well done!

  2. I wasn’t sure where you were going when I started to read the old woman, but the man’s part definitely pulled me in and made me want to keep reading. Nicely done.

    If you have any spare time, I’d love it if you could check out my blog!

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