They remembered the fires. The pounding of the hammer. The freezing cold of the water, and then the finishing touches. The man filing the rough edges, and checking their locks.
They remembered the arms of the man. They’d held his arms high over his head, while the whip came down again and again. They remembered being left where everyone could see. They hadn’t been cleaned.
They remembered the arms of the woman. She tried to stop the man from taking the boy away. They’d held her, and she stayed. He left. She cursed them, and the man. He took them off when the bleeding stopped.
They remembered the day they wound up in the tree. The people sang all around. The big white house sat quiet, the family pretending not to hide inside. The man took them from their hook, and flung them, end over end, up into the tree. And they stayed there. It was nice to be out of sight.
The rain came, and washed them clean. The snow came with the cold, like the waters before. The summer heat came and went, and the cold came again. The tree began to swallow them. It felt good to be held, not to hold. Winds came, and more rain. More cold, and more heat.
Things changed around them. The white house was empty. There was no more screaming or singing or crying. It was quiet. They liked that.
Then the singing started again, but different. People came, but no one noticed them so high up in the tree, almost one with it. Just a little longer.
The people dragged the white house away. The tree grew. Now only one of them remained. The other was inside, held like they held so many. They would be together again soon. The tree would keep them forever out of sight.
The lady came one more time. She looked at the tree, and was glad. The chains that held were gone, surrounded by green new life. And it was good.