Becca touched the dry, withered stick poking out of the ground--all that was left of the peach tree she had planted three months before. What happened? The tiny branch broke beneath her hand and she stared at in disbelief. I watered you and gave you plant food; what else did you need?
She remembered the day she brought the small tree home; it wasn't much more than a stick then either, but it did have a few leaves growing on the little branches. Becca had carefully dug a hole, following the directions that came with her new tree, eased it into its new home, and tended it with vitamin B, as her mom had instructed. Images of deep-red peaches ripening in the sun filled her mind. When she was little, she had loved her family's peach trees. Their sturdy branches had provided the shade for the small fort she built, as well as safety when she needed to hide from her brother, who never tired of tickling and tormenting her. But mostly she enjoyed the fruit of the tree, the fuzzy, juicy peaches that she would pluck and eat, juice dripping down her chin.
Her tree was small; she would need to care for it for years before any peaches grew, but the memory of childhood peaches inspired her--she was ready to do whatever was necessary to help her little tree survive and someday grow peaches of its own. The first two weeks she kept the ground moist, watering everyday. Once she was sure it was adapting to its new environment, she switched to alternating days. Becca was happily rewarded as the branches began to sprout fragile green buds.
The weather moved from gentle spring days to harsh summer heat. Becca again watered her tree everyday to combat the unrelenting sunshine. Until the water bill arrived. Ouch! Watering the tree had almost doubled her bill. She considered her watering habits and decided to cut back. She reasoned that as long as the tree got water every other day, it would be alright. Maybe she would give it a little on days where it got extra hot.
Becca started her new routine and was pleased to see that her tree was still green. But after a few weeks the leaves began to wither, turning pale and crispy. They crumbled beneath her touch. Panicked, she again reverted to everyday watering; this time, however, she cut the watering time in half, so even though the tree was recieving water daily, the amount was unchanged. The little peach tree continued to die.
Fearing for her tree, Becca increased the water, but it was too late. Now it stood before her, a withered stick. The dry branch in her hand was all the evidence she needed. She had neglected her tree, had put other things before it, and now it was dead.