0 comments

Fiction Speculative Romance

 It was March on the relatively unknown island of Yeltina. The tropical island breeze blew across the Pacific southeast and across the island, causing waves upon the beaches and fluttering in the palm tree leaves. The population of 200,000 lived in peace fairly secluded from most of the rest of the world. Over the years, only a few travelers had made their way to the unheard of land, leaving the culture untouched from outsiders' hands. The natives held great pride in their culture and traditions, from the brightly colored fabrics used to make blankets and skirts, to the tradition meals of meatballs, rice, and coconut milk. But there was one aspect of their culture that drew special attention to anyone who had visited this country: the matchmaking tree.

The matchmaking tree had grown in the center of the island many, many years ago. It had a solid trunk measuring 26 inches in diameter and stood tall at 20 feet. Its branches grew outwards and drooped down so everyone could easily reach the long leaves that sprouted from them. If you looked closely at the ends of the branches drooping down, you would notice tiny objects tied to them, almost like the tropical palm tree alternative to hanging ornaments on a Christmas evergreen. But these objects were being used for so much more than just decoration. They were placed on the tree in the hopes of finding love.

For the last 50 years or so, the people of Yeltina had used the matchmaking tree to find a life-long partner for them. Each person brings to the tree something special to them, something small enough that it can be easily tied to the tree branch but holding an enormous amount of meaning to the person. Then, they look at the other objects hanging from the tree in the hopes that one will stand out to them. They are searching for what is incredibly important to someone else and if it is important to them as well, it is a sign that they would be a good match. Occasionally, one person may match with someone but they may not match back. Or there might not be anything that stands out to them on the tree just yet. The matchmaking tree takes patience and once you find the object, you then have to find the person who put it on the tree. It can takes some time to find your perfect match, but that is often the way it is in the game of life and love.

And so our story brings us to pretty 24-year-old Ana looking for the perfect match. She stood under the hanging branches of the tree looking on in wonderment. Her colorful traditional skirt blew in the wind along with the branches as she scanned for an empty branch to hang her token. She had spent a great deal of time choosing her token as she wanted it to be a perfect representation of who she was and what she loved. But needing to be small and light enough to hang from the tree made it difficult. She loved a variety of things but the most important to her was music. Obviously it would be almost impossible to hang an actual instrument, however, so her options were limited as to how to represent that love through a single token on a tree. After thinking about it for a few days and digging through all of her possessions, a single object had been found suitable. She found a spot between the leaves to tie her treasure: a blue plastic guitar pick.

Ana said a quick prayer for a speedy and suitable match, kissed her guitar pick goodbye, and tied it to the tree branch. A small sigh escaped her lips as her let the guitar pick slip from her hand, hanging from the tree until someone deemed it worthy enough to pick up again. Ana looked around at all the other objects hanging from the tree. There were hundreds, it seemed. How would her tiny piece of plastic ever receive any attention? But there was nothing she could do but wait. She began to circle the tree looking at the objects left to see if one stood out to her. There were a variety of novelty items up for grabs. A dog tag (from a dog lover), an old picture of a couple (family importance), a pen (a writer, possibly), a necklace (a fashion obsession), and a lot more that were more obscure. Ana was fascinated by many of them and wondered the story behind their placement on the tree, but not enough that she felt like she connected with it and would take it as a possible match.

The sun was beginning to set as Ana wandered around the tree looking at the different objects and speculating their meanings. It was about time she headed back home. She had just decided to give up on her search for the time being when the setting sun's light reflected off of something and sparkled into Ana's eye. She peered closer to see what it was. She discovered it was a copper compass, shining back the sun's rays as it swayed back and forth on the branch in the breeze. A compass? Ana pondered what the meaning could be. She pulled the compass towards herself to get a better look at it. It didn't even seem to point north. Maybe it was broken, she thought. But why hang a broken compass on the tree? Her intrigue pulled the compass closer to herself and farther away from the tree until the string that was tying it to the branch snapped.

“Oops,” Ana said out loud to herself. Guess that means I'm taking this one, she thought. It would be very interesting to find out who this one belonged to. She put the compass in the pocket of her skirt and made her way home as the sun set behind her.

The following morning, a young man came to the matchmaking tree. Standing at six feet tall and with wavy brown hair, he looked a little different than the rest of the islanders. His name was Paul and at 26 years of age, he was at the tree hoping to find the love of his life. He had been here before, looking through all the left behind trinkets but nothing ever managed to capture his attention. This was the 12th time he had visited the tree in the past month and nothing ever came from his visits. But he kept coming back in maybe this time, there was something new he could find. He halfheartedly strolled around the tree, looking and not looking at the same time. He had just about given up hope of finding something different from everything he had already seen. His hand grazed the hanging leaves, not wanting to grab any of the objects. Suddenly, his hand stopped. Involuntarily, Paul found himself grasping a very small token in between his fingers. Unwinding his fingers, they opened to show a small plastic blue guitar pick. It was so small Paul hadn't even seen it from behind the leaves. Yet somehow, he was obviously drawn to it. A music lover, Paul assumed. He also loved music and had a guitar of his own. Thinking it might be a sign of a match, he broke the string holding the pick to the tree and putting it in his pocket, headed back to his home.

Ana sat in her front room flipping the compass over in her fingers. She knew which direction was north but this compass was not pointing that way. Who would want a broken compass? Why would it mean so much to someone? Different ideas cycled through her head. Maybe it was someone who liked to travel a lot. That would make sense since many travels used compasses. Or at least they used to. Ok, so a traveler. That's a good start. Ana had never actually left the island but she had always wanted to travel. But who travels with a broken compass?

On the other side of the island, Paul turned the blue guitar pick over and over in his hand. It was so small, so ordinary, so....not special. Not that that meant the owner wasn't special. It was just curious that whoever the owner was had chosen such a tiny token. But then again, if it was a music lover, there probably weren't very many options for suitable tokens. Taking a closer look, Paul could tell it was a medium weight pick, the brand name had been worn off from the thumb rubbing on it while playing, clearly well-used. I wonder what it feels like to play with it, Paul wondered, standing up and strolling over to his own guitar leaning against the window.

Ana decided to continue her pondering outside on the streets. She walked out the door and started walking, no destination in mind. She looked down at the compass in her hand and noticed she was actually walking in the direction the needle was pointing, even though that wasn't north. She figured she might as well continue on that pathway.

Guitar in hand, Paul went outside and took his music to the cafe next door. He enjoyed sitting on their patio and feeling the breeze as he drank his coffee. He suddenly felt in the mood to enjoy the breeze and play some music to test out this guitar pick. He got into position and realized he had no idea what song he wanted to play. He thought of his own token, a broken compass that in his parents' travels across the continents had accidentally landed them on what was now his beloved home. He thought of the songs they used to sing when he was growing up on the island. So he went with a beloved classic. Pick in hand, he began to strum and sing.

Ana felt like she had been walking for miles into the next village. But she didn't feel tired of walking. She was taking in the journey. As she walked, she began to hear the strums of a guitar. It was a familiar chord pattern, a song she knew but it took an added voice singing a verse before it finally clicked. As soon as the chorus hit, she felt compelled to sing along and follow the music to a cafe.

Paul suddenly was caught up in the song and singing louder than he had planned. But this piece was just the kind of song that you had to sing at the top of your lungs. “He turned to me as if to say/ 'Hurry, boy, she's waiting there for you!'”

Ana chimed her voice in as she approached the cafe. “It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you!/ There nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do!”

Paul found himself in a duet. “I bless the rains down in Africa!/ Gonna take some time to do the things we never had....” He looked up and met the eyes of the most beautiful girl he had ever met. Ana smiled and looked at his guitar. “You, umm...you play really well,” she said lightly.

“Thanks,” Paul replied, slightly embarrassed. He peered at the small copper object in the girl's hand. “Is that a compass?”

Ana looked down at what was in her hand. “Oh, yeah. I found in yesterday. But it's broken.”

Holding up the guitar pick, Paul pressed a question. “Did you find it on a tree, perhaps?”

Ana gasped. “That's my guitar pick!”

“And that's my compass.”

The matchmaking tree had done its job once again.

April 23, 2021 23:42

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

0 comments