Tree

I climbed a tree.

Well, it was back when I was a kid.

I used to live in an apartment complex. It was a nice, peaceful thing with us children making chaos every now and then.
Across from us, there was a suburban culdesac one brick wall away. It was like in the Sandlot, or some other movie with a nice neighborhood. There were no black people there; it was all filled with white people, house to house to house. The lawns were fresh cut and watered, the drveways were clean. It was a big contrast to my apartments, a bleak little region with grass trampled from football and bikes, dirt and leaves scattered across the sidewalks; littered with mixed mutts from all origins.

At the edge of the culdesac stood a tree. As a kid, it seemed about 3 or 4 stories high, it's probably not all that high now that I know my bearings in the world. Either way, it stood tall and solid, a brace for the sun every morning. There were no leaves. It was rooted in the backyard of a house that seemed more like a seaside shack, almost from a different world in this gleaming little suburbia section. The house itself was owned by an elderly man, rocking back and forth in perfect rhythm with the sways of the treetops in the breeze.

As a kid, we had a guardian. His name was Christopher, a 17 year old black guy with a heart of gold. Being the gentle giant he was, he had hidden rebellions that he cut off before they left his head. That day, however, something escaped.



Now for the story. That day, I got my bike and rode up to the gray brick wall, peering over the top at that tree. I had always wanted to climb it, but never actually managed over the wall. That day, Christopher and all the other kids gathered around the wall to watch me try and hop over. I never really got over, just a hand or two on the top. Chris, having his rebellion, launched me over with the words "You wanna climb it, then go and climb!".

Over the wall, the grass really did seem greener. I was basking in the glory of it all when a white kid, not much older than me, glared at me with an intense look and then ran screaming home "Mom, we have new black neighbors!" I snapped out of it, lost my train of thought, and ran, fast and strong. I reached the shack and burst through the backyard door, almost gliding from my speed. The tree was high and mighty, almost begging me to climb. I hopped up the side of an ancient clubhouse and clambered in, scaling out the window to the top of it and climbing on up.

I hit close to the top and got stuck. My feet were on a flimsy branch, my hands clasped to one just as skinny. The one I held on to broke, leaving me gripping a diagonal twig tied to the tree with only a few fibers keeping them together. I freaked, hugged the tree like a mother, and slid down as slowly as a snail. I hit the clubhouse, jumped out, and sprinted back to my neighborhood. Christopher hauled me up, congratulated me, and never said a word about it again.


I still think about that tree.

The End

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