Nicholas approached the tree.
The wind felt the same; it smelt the same. Was it the same? Was he inhaling his own breath, exhaled thirty years ago?
Nicholas came beneath the shade of the tree and memories flickered all around him. Some would call them hallucinations, but he knows they are not real. A child cries out and the sound is swallowed by time.
These are the tulpa of memory and remembering; these are the ghosts of people yet living.
Nicholas touched the bark and it felt rough beneath his palm.
How many lifetimes have you lead, old friend? Nicholas thought. How many have I?
Deep within us are parts, perhaps, that existed then.
But I am no longer the same man.
And you are no longer the same tree.
Is there sadness in these realisations? If so, then who do we grieve for—the tree or the boy?
Or do we simply grieve for the past, an intangible slipping away?
Does the alchemist grieve for the lead that is transmuted into gold?