From my bedroom window I could see it not far away in our grassy fields, rich green leaves bathed by sunlight
with juicy citrus hanging from curved branches and an ancient body filled with life. The orange tree. Our tree.
The place where we used to share secrets, jokes, stories and spend most of our warm summer days. The place where you gave me life. And the place where you lost yours.
I had a dream about you last night. It was a hot summer morning and we were sitting on our usual branch, sipping pink lemonade, while you sang a song about sexy pirates and Luke Skywalker.
You always had a crush on him, which was funny given that he wasn’t really your type of guy. You kept on with the song until you couldn’t come up with verses anymore.
You sighed, a bit exhausted from so much singing, but pretty content with our little fun.
After a few moments, you grew quiet and slowly moved your body to stare at me with those kind and joyful eyes that I knew so well.
“I’m still here, you know? I don’t think I’ll ever leave.” You said, breaking the silent and touching the tree trunk gently, while gazing at the branches.
“I think I’m part of this place in aways that are beyond my comprehension. And so are you. But You know that already, don’t you?”. I was about the answer, when I opened my eyes.
When I woke up from dream, I knew it was time to go back there. Back to our roots. It had been a year since I last sat foot near that tree.
Your memory was way too present in our old friend, which made it so hard for me to face it again.
But I couldn’t take my dream out of my head, so I put on my shoes and walked off the door, holding my breath while taking the first few steps.
My heart was twisting inside of me, aching with my decision, but I kept walking. After a few minutes, I reached the tree.
I climbed to our usual spot and sat there, trying to position myself in a way that would allow you to sit by my side. Old habits never die, I guess.
I looked at the sky and closed my eyes. I could feel the sun between the branches, kissing my skin, and the smell of flowers in the air mixed with the citric scent of the oranges surrounding me.
I could still feel your presence there, so bright, so vibrant. I couldn’t help but thinking about the last time I saw you and what you told me.
You asked me to bring you here, even though you were too weak to climb. I helped you the best way I could, until we reached our spot. You looked so tired.
It was the first time I ever saw the glittering of your eyes starting to lose intensity, even though you still looked happy.
I touched your bare head where there once was your characteristic orange mane. You closed your eyes and smiled.
“I’ll miss this”, you said.
“Summer. Us. This tree”. Your smile faded a bit. You opened your eyes and stared at me. “There’s something I never told you.
I never intended to tell you because I know you wouldn’t believe me, but right now I have nothing to lose”. Your smile was back again, a bit sarcastic.
“Sounds serious”, I said, forcing a serious face.
You took a deep breath, even though at that point that was something you could barely do. I felt my heart squeezing in my chest after seeing you liked that and I fought the urge to cry.
“When I was 6”, you started, “ I met a girl here on this tree. I used to call her Lani.
I saw her from the window and came here to ask her to leave because it was my tree and I didn’t want to share. After a lot of arguing, we ended up becoming friends.
I told mom and dad about her and at first they thought she was real, they even invited her over, but soon they realized she was actually my “imaginary” friend,
given that once I introduced her to them, they couldn’t see her at all. They didn’t care much about it, though.
Imaginary friends are common, right? But Lani was way too real for me to be considered imaginary.
I just accepted the fact that mom and dad couldn’t see her, which made our friendship way more special.
I few days after I turned 7, she disappeared. I cried for days and days, she was my best friend, how could she just disappear? I couldn’t understand it. Mom and dad started to get worried.
They took me to see a few psychologists, but of course, none of them believed me and always had a quick “diagnose” for what I was going through.
That same month, when nothing seemed to keep me excited, mom took me here, to the orange tree.
She said she had always loved that tree, that’s why she named me “Cam”, which means “Orange”, as you already know.
She said I was her most precious thing, along with dad and that old tree, and that it saddened her seeing me so desolated. But she had some good news. She told me she was pregnant. Of you.
And guess what? Best news I’ve ever received.
When you were finally born, something weird happened. The minute I saw your face, I felt as if I was about to choke.
You were just a newborn, but there was something about your face that was extremely familiar. Your bright green eyes were exactly like the ones of my missing friend.
I thought I was imagining things, so I tried to ignored it, though I asked mom and dad if we could name you “Alani”, as in “orange tree”, and kinda as a tribute to my friend’s name.
They were absolutely delighted about the idea since they both shared the same passion for our old tree. It was the perfect name for our new family member.
The years went by and everyday you looked more and more like my Lani. By the time you reached age 6, which was the same age I met her, you were both exactly the same.
Same features, same personality, same...everything.
I was so incredibly astonished by the miracle and weirdness of it all, that I spent years trying to understand how could something like that be real.
I researched and researched, joined some crazy esoteric groups and even talked to so called “witches”, but I still never got a plausible answer.
I never mentioned this to our parents because I’m pretty sure they would have sent me to see an specialist again, so I kept my mouth shut.
Thankfully, they never found out about any of my researches. At least I don’t think they did. So I kept my secret.
I don’t think I’m crazy, but if I am, I’m the luckiest nutty in the entire universe. I got you. And you are both my best friend and my sister.
I could have never asked for more in my short life”, you said finally, closing your eyes while tears rolled down your face.
I remember staring at you for quite some time. I didn’t know how to react to such a story. It was too much to process at that time.
I never believed any of your crazy stories, but I loved hearing them because your were the only one who ever made me believe in magic,
even if it was just while you narrated those fascinating tales. But for some reason, after hearing about Lani and me, I felt I could trust you on this.
It made sense in my head, even though I couldn’t possibly explain how.
I never loved anyone as much as I loved you, and this incredible connection we had might as well have been something magical.
But by the time I managed to compose myself and find the words to explain my thoughts, you smiled and kissed my cheeks.
“I know, Alani, I know you believe me”, you said with a cracked voice, before closing your eyes and resting your head on my shoulders, just to start falling a minute later,
like one of the oranges from our tree.