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The tree on the shore

by Kat Beyer

A prince put an apple on the orchard wall by the river. He told the apple, "Wait here until I get back."

He didn't come back. A bird ate the apple and dropped a seed on the riverbank, where it did what seeds do best.

The third king of the Two Lands camped under the apple tree, on his way to a campaign in the East.

The Emperor of All Between the Rivers rode under the apple tree. He took one heavy, yellow apple in his heavy, ringed hand, and kept riding.

The twelfth Queen of the Three Oceans hung a target from the apple tree. The Queen hit the target, but an assassin had better aim.

A boat came down the river. A young woman stepped out of it and came to the dying tree.

She bowed to it.

"Thank you for waiting," she said. She picked the last apple and ate it, swallowing one seed. She waited until she was sure. Then she said, "When you are born, we will come back here and plant a tree."

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