They took the trees in marshal fashion, snapping them up in neat rolls, with the leaves poking out either end. One by one, they loaded them on trucks and brought them down to the heart of the city. In the centre of the square, they began unrolling the bundles.
Leaves whispered as cranes hissed, and traffic roared around, unceasing. A handful of bikers slowed and conducted a minute Tour de France around the operation, staring emotionless at the busy construction.
One expected it to go on for weeks, but it was done in a day. They stacked the trees end-on-end, pouring upwards in a fountain of bark and leaves, rivalling the snapping flag atop the Town Hall. When it was done, people peered out from their windows, aghast at the vulgar intrusion—but uninterested in forging outside to observe it closer. When it was done, the workers left, their trucks trundling one by one back past the docks, and out of the city.
In the centre of the square, the Ferris Wheel stood, vibrant and growing and alive and out of place, reaching over city blocks and dripping shade down apartment building walls. For three days, people tried to ignore it. They walked past on quick feet, checking their watches and clutching their belongings close. They drove around branches when they fell, pretending at potholes. They paid no attention at all, until the Ferris Wheel had the audacity to grow a gate.
On it, a sign proclaimed: Opening Soon.
It’s one thing to ignore a dead thing, but a living thing is different—a living thing is an intrusion. Some people tried to pluck the branches off to show their friends. Look, I took a branch; look, I am fearless.
And yet, whenever anyone took a twig off—or even sliced into the trunk—it would grow back. The centre of the city would contain this Thing, and this Thing would remain.
The day came when the gate opened and the leaves rearranged themselves.
It was as if the forever grey sky had finally cracked up and let loose its downpour, with all its dreadful, waiting, humidity.
We dripped up the ladders to the seats and squelched ourselves into the seats. We stared between the branches as we rose over dead concrete and listless observers, now above us, draped out of windows and over balconies—now level, their vacant eyes meeting the gazes of our euphoria—now below us, falling away into greyness.
As we reached the apex, we sat back and thought our lives were complete. We wished never to descend back into the grey from which we came.
High above the city skyline, the Ferris Wheel turned with a gentle breeze. Leaves rustled, green and sharp against the clouds. It was a monstrous intrusion, cutting through decades of our lives—and yet it drew us all, gathering and sidling through those fresh and welcoming gates.
Tens of baskets collected us and bore us up, up into the dense foliage. Those that returned were always empty.