There once was a seed who was flung out into the world by a storm. She flew high over mountains, lakes, rivers, and villages before she landed in the yard in front of a small cottage. She sat there for many months, until the time was right and she began to break out of her small shell into the ground, reaching out for water and dirt. She grew tall, through large storms, bitter winters, and sunshine in spring. She grew into a small tree, with many leaves, which grew along the branches that surrounded her and reached towards the ground like hair. The young children who lived in the cottage would come and play within her branches. She grew taller with every year, her branches growing longer and longer. The children grew also, and sometimes would climb up inside her branches to hide. At other times, their mother would sit nearby to be in the shade while she read her book. And the willow continued to grow, as the children grew bigger and stronger, and their parents smaller and weaker. Until one day the parents were gone, and the children came home for a while before leaving again. Then a new family moved in, a couple with no children. The weeping willow watched as the wife grew larger and larger, and then one day she stopped coming outside, but little screams could be heard from inside. The wife came back out after a while, carrying a small bundle in her arms. Then one day she unwrapped the bundle to reveal a baby. The baby grew bigger, and stronger, and had more siblings, and the couple cared for them. And then, one by one the children left. The mother cried, and the father helped them to pack for their journey. Then one day the youngest child left. The parents grew older, and smaller, and the children would visit sometimes, and sit under the willow tree, telling stories of their adventures outside the small cottage. The willow tree would listen, but she felt sick, unable to eat or drink from the water and earth that had always sated her hunger and thirst. She too grew smaller, lost her leaves, felt herself being torn away from life. And then one day a man came, with a large machine that made a lot of noise. And then he used the machine to begin slicing her open at her middle, the part she could still feel. And she watched as the man cut her open and left behind only a small stump, a tiny reminder of the tree that had once enjoyed watching the families of the cottage grow and change.