Angelica sat on the raised root of a Morton Bay Fig tree. She was deep in thought, wrestling with the situation she found herself in. She cupped her chin in her hand and gazed through the hanging spindly juvenile roots of the tree. A passing breeze wound through the mass of thin brown threads and they washed from side to side like seaweed seeking an anchor.
The roots lifted from the ground like a giant’s clenched hand and the spaces between the fingers were paved with dust and patches of grass boldly struggling to keep alive despite the huge spread out branches stopping the sun from passing through to touch the ground.
She leaned back against the tawny trunk, closing her eyes. A tiny tear wended its way down her cheeks. She wondered if for every victory there was an accompanying defeat. Five days ago she buried her beloved father. A popular man, she had catered for fifty people. A great weight descended on her as she looked at the pile of dishes and the cards and flowers filling the room. Not wanting to attend to the immediate task of cleaning up, she checked her emails as a distraction.
There were two emails. One from the University from which she had just graduated with an Honours degree in Anthropology and another from her partner of five years. The first was inviting her to do her doctorate. Had he been there her father would have been incredibly proud and with her spirits mixed with sadness and surging joy, she opened the second email thinking it might be an apology from Stephen for missing the funeral. Instead it was a short note saying that he had found a new partner with more time to spend with him. She stared at the screen, disbelieving. The timing could not have been worse. She was cracking like an earthenware vase that had dropped.
She replied to the email with a curt, ‘Okay.’
The tears raged through her as she fled the house and made her way to Albert Park where she sought the solace of the Morton Bay Fig trees.
Unexpected movement made her open her eyes. An old man sat on the root beside her and as he stroked his white beard he said, “You look like you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.”
“It feels like it,” she mumbled, quickly wiping away the tears.
He looked off into the distance. “Hmm. I know life can feel like that sometimes.”
She tilted her head to examine him. The breeze caught her long brown hair, and a lock washed over her face. Pushing it to one side, she asked, “Who are you?”
He gave a nonchalant shrug and grinned. “I live here.”
Looking to where he pointed, she could see a rolled up sleeping bag and a small cooker in the hollowed out area of the tree.
Disbelief filled her round face.
“No, surely not.”
He nodded emphatically. “Yes.” He looked away into the distance as if thinking hard.
“Every storm passes,” he said. “Take heart.”