The Last Tree Christmas

“I just cut down the tree my parents planted the day that I was born.” That’s how my story in the Fall 1981 issue of Night Voyages began.

It’s an end-of-the-world tale, and the inversion of the title is meant literally—the story takes place in a time when Christmas trees—in fact, trees in general—are about to become a thing of the past.

This was one the first few stories I wrote after my return from the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop in 1979. At the time, completing it, I felt that I had finally figured this writing thing out, and that it would be smooth sailing from then on.

Little did I know that I would always be still figuring it out. I imagine that someday I will be repeating something similar to what the artist Hokusai said when he was an old man: “If Heaven had only granted me five more years, I could have become a real painter.”