With a rap on her door, he holds a canvas under his arm. She already knows he is leaving, moving on to better things, a house all his own. Still, when she sees Chris on the other side of her threshold, the girl's eyes fill with water. She doesn’t want to lose the neighbour, now her friend, she shares the second story with.
“I want you to have this,” he says. Showing her a canvas with a painted gnarly tree, he proceeds to tell her of how it came to be. And he proceeds to tell her of the tree’s transformation after he witnessed the disaster on that fateful day. His brush had knotted up the roots into colourful, unique squares below ground level, each representing someone he holds in his heart. And upon one westward branch, a black bird sits, klimt’s influence upon him visible in the dark, prescient figure.
“Do you know what today’s date is, Chris?” she asks, because it is clear by something he says that he does not. “It’s September 11th...”
The shock on his face speaks to her of a synchronicity. Proudly, rightfully, and bearing much joy for the girl, it sits on her wall, still these thirty-six seasons later. She calls it her happy painting. Still, it reminds her of loss, and of unwanted change that flows in and out of her life. Along with the magnificent roots borne of love, the black bird sits on his limb.