The Tree | Skillshare Projects

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The Tree

It had happened again. I fell for my dear bother’s trap, and found myself up a tree with no way down. Left up here for the amusement of the squirrels. I wondered who would find me this time.

Would it be my mother? She would be home at 5’Oclock sharp to start our dinner, wearing her diner uniform. She would ask my big brother what had happened to me, and she would believe his innocent expression when he would tell her, “I don’t know… “

Maybe the nice lady next door, Edith, would see me. She liked to bake us kids cookies, and “non-discretely” watch my brother and me for my mom. You would see her peak out her drawn curtain and peer at our yard between old reruns and her soaps. She was old, older than mom, but she always seemed happy to talk to us kids when she would find the occasion to come out of her house.

I really hoped it would not be the fire department again. The last time I got stuck up a bigger tree and they had to come, lights blazing. They brought out the really big ladder and some smelly man, sweat gleaming down his pudgy face, climbed up it to coax me down. My mom was crying that time; I don’t like to see my mom cry.

The last time I remember my mom crying it was when dad got sick. She really cried then, like a faucet turned on inside her and could not turn off again. It was a long time of crying, and dad stopped playing with me and my brother so often. Then on the day he didn’t wake up, mom’s tears stopped. I heard her tell my brother “I have no more tears”.

Until, that is, I got stuck up the first tree. This tree was a behemoth, as wide as my uncle Bob, or “Blob” I heard a cousin call him once. This tree was as tall as the empire state building. One that fateful day, my brother wanted to play! I was so overjoyed by the prospect; no one had played with me in such a long time.

He told me we would play a game called “King Kong”. He would be King Kong and I would be the helpless damsel in distress. I hated when he made me play girl parts, but I ignored it that time. So he tied up my wrists and ankles, and threw me over his shoulder. He then climbed up the behemoth tree, and stuck me up the tallest branches.

That time took my mom till after dinner to worry about where I had gone. She was so busy working two jobs; she often left us to our own devises. I think the general confines of our dead end street, and the constant watching of Edith, Mom believed we couldn’t get into too much trouble. That night, Mom also believed my brother when he told her he did not know where I was.

The funny thing about that time was I could see them from my tree. That high up, I could see the whole world. I saw our dead-end street and its two houses that resided there. Our house with its tidy yard and brick exterior and Edith’s with a more wild yard and ever drawn curtains. I watched as Mom came home and took off her white apron from the dinner. I watched her cook dinner and set out three plates, and watched her realize I wasn’t home yet.

Then the lights, and sirens, and big smelly fireman. I really hopped it wouldn’t happen that way again this time. Maybe I should have known better this time, again my brother wanted to play with me. He never acknowledges my existence unless he wants to torture me. But, I get so lonely. Call me a masochist if you will. –masochist how do I know that word, maybe I read too much -

Crap! I am starting to go crazy up here, I am even arguing with my inner self. Last time there was infinitely more to do and see. This time the neighborhood is quite, everyone is inside getting ready for dinner. I can smell stew brewing at Edith’s house.

Wait, everyone is eating dinner… that’s not right, mom should have been home long before now. She always arrives at our driveway at 5’Oclock sharp. Like if she arrives on time places the world is one step further from chaos.

There she is! “Mom! Mom!” I call out from the tree. From my vantage point, I can see she is tired looking. Her uniform, which was pressed and clean when she left this morning, is covered in food and grime. Her hair has fallen out of it’s tight bun. For a moment she looks as old as Edith.

She looks up, her pale face drops. “Alexandra!” I hate when she calls me that.

“What are you doing up there?” I just stare at her; I have never been very good at saying out loud what is on my mind.

“I’ll call the fire department.” She tells me. “NO! Please Mom, not that!”

She shakes her head at me, and if it is possible looks even more tired than when she first came to the house. She walks away mumbling something about “kids” and “the death of me”. I try to keep my composure and not cry, because I know if I cry she will cry.

She has found a big latter that dad uses to hang our Christmas lights. She bites the inside of her lip and looks up at me. “Why do you keep doing this to me Alexandra?”

Again, I can’t make the words come to my lips. Why can’t I just tell her that I feel invisible, and for these fleeting moments I feel seen?

She slowly climbs up the latter to where I am in the tree.

“What game was it this time, Alex?”

How did she know? “Cowboys and Indians” I reply meekly.

“How in the world did that involve you being tied up in a tree?”

I just look at her, and bore into her blue eyes. She sighs, “Never mind”.

She undoes the ties around my wrists first, and starts rubbing them to get the blood flowing again. Then she undoes my legs. “You need to stop letting him convincing you to play these games, I worry one day he is going to put you some place you can’t be reached.”

Wait, she knows it’s Peter and his ideas that lead me in these situations. “How did..?” I trail off.

“Oh Alex, a mother knows everything. I know it’s been rough since Daddy died. But I am trying to keep going on. Daddy would want us all to keep going on.” This was the first time that she had talked about Dad, since he died.

“I miss him Mommy” I blurt out; tears start to gather in my eyes.

“Oh sweetie, I miss him too.” She then grabs me up as only a mom can do in a big hug and we cry up at the top of the tree for what seems like days. “I will try to better Alex, if you can try to do better for me too.” “I will try Mommy” I promise.

 

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