We live from hand to mouth, finding what we can to sustain ourselves as we go along. The spot we picked near the highway truck stop is sheltered from the worst weather as well as prying eyes and fortunately is also close enough to a residential area that we can find free firewood easily. The wife is tired of this life, spending each early morning in the truck stop bathroom wiping the night off the kids then carting them the two blocks to the bus stop and hustling away before embarrassment and other children arrive. I spend the days looking for sustenance for my family. Today I lucked up on some yardmen taking down a tree; I asked what they were going to do with the parted tree and was told that if I wanted it, I could have it. As I placed it, armload after armload, I noticed the sap, the lifeblood of the tree, as it drooled out of some sections. I wondered if I could count the rings, even of the smallest sections; how much older than I was this thing that would give a night or two of warmth and cooking fuel to my family? I hesitated, touching the still-living leaves on one piece, and cried.
Written for this week’s ForthePromptless, where our subject is counterintuition.