Like a Tree Planted, my science fiction novel:
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Miranda lives in future San Diego, a city enclosed in a Dome because chemicals destroyed the natural world. Everything is made of plastic, and wood is more valuable than gold. The daughter of scientists, Miranda is Keeper of The Last Tree, which is dying. She is also great-granddaughter of the famous environmentalist Gabrielle Leigh who foresaw the trees’ destruction. By means of The Archives, a multimedia library, Miranda studies Gabrielle’s life. Each “visit” through The Portal becomes more real, and Miranda gradually materializes in Twentieth-Century Oregon to explore the Pacific Northwest evergreen forests. She breathes pine-scented air, sees stars and waterfalls, tastes real food like chocolate, and wears cotton clothes. She watches Gabrielle fall in love and is caught in a battle between loggers and “greens.” After Gabrielle’s husband is killed and their child born in a snow-bound cabin, Miranda tries to stop the other tragedies the Archives foretold. She almost forgets her own world. Back under the future Dome, her family and boyfriend try to keep her from being trapped in the past. Government security forces, afraid that the outside world is too dangerous to explore, hunt them down. Miranda and Gabrielle struggle, between two places and times, to reintroduce trees to the future and lead people outside The Dome.
Once again, I am drawn into Gabrielle’s world. I take off my shoes in the Hall of Trees, my toes feeling the grass carpet. On either side grow plants and flowers–ferns nearly as tall as I, tropical lilies white against dark green fronds, poinsettia plants with fiery leaves. I pass the many aisles, only half interested, noticing again the holes–the many holes spaced equally on the floor, holes once filled with trees.
Now there is only One. A bluegum eucalyptus, it stands at the path’s end, its hundred-foot crown reaching toward our dome. Its clumps of thin-leaved branches sway slightly in the “wind” that breezes the Hall, its trunk mottled with peeling bark. Odd, to me it resembles a photograph I saw once in the Archives–a tall African dancer under a mask.
I pause in the tree’s shelter, look up at the leaves. Each seems to dance a separate dance. Does each have its own piece of life? I pick up a newly-fallen leaf, break it, and smell the sap. How sweet for a tree without blossoms or seeds.
I bend down and press a blue button, and the Tree is enveloped by moisture. Tiny droplets of water drip from the lower boughs to my head and lashes. Another button–a brown one–rolls away the moss at the Tree’s base, revealing plastiground, in which the Tree’s roots wrap themselves.
“More vitamins for you?” I ask aloud, pressing the red button. A pink liquid streams toward the Tree’s roots.
What good will it do? I wonder. You are dying. I feel like hitting the tree’s indifferent trunk, shocking it to life. Continue reading