The tree stands at the edge of a park on a cliff face that has a sign warning people not to go too close to the water’s edge. It’s not such an unsafe cliff face that it would crumble if you stood on it but imagine a blustery day where the hat you were wearing to keep the sun out of your eyes began to blow off your head and you were trying to hold the hat with one hand and the can of spraypaint with the other and you were aware of the dangers of the cliff face but you had to, just had to, draw that heart.
For your love.
So the wind blew and you shook up the can. And you held onto your hat, leaning into the wind as if becoming part of it for a moment might tame it or at the very least might make it look at you favourably, just long enough to do what you came for.
And as you moved towards the tree, ready to draw, you heard the waves below you swishing around as if they were frothing themselves up ready to gather either you or your hat right to them in case the wind decided to do her worst and blow you right over the edge.
And the leaves on the tree shook and gestured like little flags, egging you on but also mocking you as if to say: Write something nasty on our tree and we will let the wind do with you what you will.
So you take a deep breath and begin to draw. Your hand is shaking. The heart you draw is out of shape, clumsier than you’d like, but you feel at this moment with the way your own heart is beating that it is the best you can do and that somehow, in the strangest of ways, it is right.
And you stand back and look and wonder how one person, one girl could make you, the guy who is always landing himself in trouble, the would-be tough guy, turn his spray can to acts of love.
The heart looks right on the tree no matter what the wind might whisper. You feel glad you have done it. You tell your girl later and she is pleased. She likes little notes and hearts and declarations of love. She tells you she sees the heart when she walks her dog and her own heart expands all the way out to sea. And she says other people stop and look and say: A heart on the tree. How nice. I wonder who put it there. It must have been someone in love.
And you feel good. Right down to your toes. Because you are that someone in love.