The River loved the tree. The big Tree with fuzzy caterpillar leaves right at the river's star-crossed bank. The Tree surrounded by water lilies and ferns, like a gaggle of admirers. The River and the Tree were close. The River fed the tree with its crystalline-sweet waters, letting the roots swell to the size of a swollen puffy lip. The Tree would caress the river's surface with his long, leafy, velvet fingers in appreciation, sending the river into a flurry of babbling and heart-wrenching swirls. Tree was tall and broad, sun-baked to perfection.

River looked up to the tree, both in the literal sense and in the sense that River felt inferior. Being a part of the ground, unable to see beyond, is enough to make anyone disappear inside themselves. River was lost in the shadows of Tree, shadows that were deep-seated and chilled River to the bone.

Tree was perfect in River's wet, blue eyes. Except for one itty bitty and yet profoundly crucial-as-breathing thing: Tree was a user. Tree knew what River felt. He exploited that feeling without remorse. He took and took and took and took and took. Draining the very life from the River. Typically River was glad to do it, glad to give Tree every single itty-bitty thing. It was true, after all, that Tree could not give back the same way he took, and he did bring critters and flitters to fish from River in the sunny springtime and sweet summertime.

But lately, Tree had been ignoring River more and more and more and more. The River became grumbly and churning, glaring up at the Tree with glinting pebble-eyes. Tree was too busy lifting his broccoli head to the sun to notice the storm that was broiling beneath him. The churning became too much, boiling River from the inside out, swelling her banks until Tree was engulfed. Tree floundered and tried to escape, but River's fury was too fiery and impossible to escape. Soon, Tree was swept away, rustling the caterpillar leaves like mad to be rescued. River didn't stop until Tree disappeared under the roiling depths. And she was calm and felt the life flowing into her again. Her life is her own again.

Days and days go by, and River begins to feel an ache. She misses Tree, even with his using and abusing. She didn't realize how much she needed him, to feel worth something. But that's wrong, isn't it? What else can you feel when you're used to being in someone's deep bone-chilling shadow? River had no idea who she was without Tree. She had killed him. How could she? He was all she had. River grew depressed, and her lively water turned sluggish and shallow. Her anguish was felt by the water lilies and ferns, the critters and flitters. She had no tears left to cry, as her water evaporated. As her last drop slides down a pebble in her bed, all she could think of was Tree, and how he could have saved.