Only when the pain of his headache caused flashes of light large enough to interfere with his observation time at the telescope did Ansel go to the doctor. He expected a prescription. He received a terminal prognosis: an acorn had been planted in his brain. Based on the growth rate of the roots, Ansel had two weeks left as a human.
His family celebrated with desserts and too much wine. Being a relative of a tree brought them far more prestige than Ansel’s career as an astronomer. His boyfriend kissed him gently and left. Ansel didn’t blame him – Salah loved to travel and cuddle and oak trees weren’t known for either of those activities.
The observatory director scheduled Ansel an extra hour at the telescope so he could look at as many stars as possible, one last time.
On his final day, Ansel’s brother pushed the wheelchair to the end of the trail, then carried Ansel on his back to the small clearing on the side of the mountain. Ansel managed to squeeze Theo’s hand in thanks and farewell before he passed out from the pain.
Ansel expected the transformation to end his life. Instead, the bark became his skin and the leaves became his eyes. And every night, for hundreds of years, Ansel gazed at the stars.