Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Climbing Trees

A huge Oak tree grew along our farm’s property line. Lush, green grasses sprouted under expansive shade the tree provided. The area was like a secret meadow intended for only my brother and I.

On windy days I’d venture away from the house and spin in circles in the meadow, allowing the tall grasses to tickle at my legs. My hair whipped my face, but I’d smile—this was heaven.

One afternoon Dad nailed boards into the trunk of the Oak, so Kris and I could climb up and imagine worlds far beyond the one we lived in. We discussed imaginary wars and how we wanted to design our military base high up in the branches.

We could see for miles. Rows and rows of cotton made up the landscape to our right, and grazing cattle filled the fields to our left. Every white bud on the plants was an enemy; each cow was something we had to protect.

Mom called for dinner.

“We’ll discuss storming the alien ship tomorrow,” Kris said, climbing down the tree. He waited for me at the bottom. “You coming?”

Suddenly the ground appeared far away. My hands sweat and I imagined falling on my back with the wind knocked out of me. Shaking my head, I said, “How do I get down?”

Kris arched his eyebrow. “The same way you got up.”

“It’s not the same way.” I leaned forward, everything inside me screaming to cling to a branch for dear life. The first board was further away than I’d remembered. How was I supposed to get my scrawny legs to it? My face flashed hot; my stomach turned. “Can you get Dad?”

“Just come down,” he said. “You got up, you can get down.”

“Please . . . .”

Kris propped his hands on his hips and shook his head.

Mom called for us again.

“We’re going to get in trouble if you don’t hurry.”

His voice teased at my fears. What was worse, falling and dying or having Mom and Dad mad at me?

“Please go get Dad?”

Kris narrowed his eyes. “You’re acting like a baby. Just lie on your stomach, hold onto a branch and slide your feet over the side.”

“What if my feet miss?”

“I’ll tell you which way to go.”

Getting on my stomach, I followed Kris’ instructions to the letter, but my feet found nothing but stairless bark. I lost my resolve and scrambled back to the top. “I can’t do it.”

I turned around, but Kris was gone. I was alone, standing in a tall tree in what used to be my favorite meadow. How could he leave me? Where did he go? How was I going to get down?

So not to lose my balance and fall, I sat down and folded my legs over each other. Twenty minutes later, I started screaming for my brother or dad or mom—whoever would come, but no one did.

Five or six more times I attempted to climb down, but couldn’t find the stairs. I wound up paralyzed by fear, dangling on the trunk.

Then I heard my dad whistling. The normally agitating sound was sweet relief to my nerves.

“Dad,” I screamed.

He carried a ladder and headed straight for me.

Struggling to maintain my grip, I sighed when the I felt the metals steps beneath my feet. I climbed down and hugged my dad. “Why did Kris leave me?”

“He thought you’d find your way down eventually. Guess I’ll have to add another step for you.”

My hands stung; my heart raced, but I was down and alive. On solid ground. I swore never to go up that tree again, and to punch my brother as soon as I got in the house.


  1. I like it, Krystal! Personal experience?

  2. Yes, all my blog entries (aside from Six Sundays and Guest Posts) are personal experiences. I'm glad you enjoyed. :-)

  3. Anonymous9/20/2011

    LOL! I always had more trouble getting on a ladder at the top than I did getting off of one. I was so afraid it would slide and I'd be a goner. I hope you punched him HARD. ;c)

  4. Fourth! Man I missed the first spot.... I love climbing trees but always have been too much of a wuss to manage to pass the first branch.

    Yay! Loved it!

  5. I liked it.Reminds me of being a kid myself playing in trees.

  6. I did punch him, Sarah. Then I got in trouble.

    JKP - I didn't realize I was a wuss until too late! I'm glad you didn't get up and get stuck like I did.

    Thank you, Jerel. Playing in trees was great...until it was time to get down.

  7. I love your descriptions...and your stories! I probably would have done the same thing:)

  8. Very awesome detail.I like your descriptions must be easy to dictate from personal experiences. Nicely done.

  9. Anonymous9/20/2011

    So your dad was going to build an extra step, but I'm wondering: Would you ever go up in that stinkin' tree again??

  10. Thank you, Tania and Nyotaimori! Glad you two enjoy them.

    Ha, David! He did build the extra step, and they tried to FORCE me to face my fears. But, no, I didn't go up the tree again. I did play in its shade though. :-)

  11. Anonymous9/20/2011

    Yeah, why the heck WOULD you go up in that tree again after bro totally freaked you out!?

  12. I understand why my bro did what he did...he was trying to help me get over my fear, but that stupid step wasn't high enough!! :-)

  13. Great descriptive writing. Made me feel it, including that first queasy step.

  14. Anonymous9/20/2011

    I've never had the best head for heights either, but I never seemed to have a problem climbing trees as a kid. My friends and I dragged a wooden pallet up into a nearby tree one summer, nailed some carpet to it, and basically spent the whole summer up there. Ah, good times :-)

  15. Thank you so much C.E. :-) Didn't mean to make you queasy.

    Ahh, tree houses weren't my thing, Derek. They would have been, had I not been stuck up there.

  16. Is it only girls and cats that get stuck up trees?

  17. Anonymous9/20/2011

    Beautiful descriptions and wonderful dialogue. I could have been there and I really don't like heights.

  18. Oooh...I have a story about a pregnant cat stuck in a tree! Thanks, Joe. Now I have to write about that.

    Thank you tatummaggie! I don't like heights either!

  19. Love ithe simple clarity of this piece. I'm snotteriing with a head cold but reading this over a hot toddy has cheered me up no end. Now, a question for you, are you submitting any of these personal experiences for publication? And dare I ask, if not, why not?

  20. Felt like I was there! I enjoyed "Climbing Trees" :) and I had to let out a little laugh (hehe) about you going to punch your brother lol I'd say that was some tough love on both sides ;) well written post!

  21. Another great one, Krystal. I think it's mean that your brother ditched you, and I absolutely would have punched him myself.

    The post started giving me the "warm and fuzzy" feeling with the beautiful meadow and the gorgeous scene, and then it turned into fear in a second. I felt that twist. This means you rock. As usual.

  22. A lovely story - nearly missed it in my unwell state. I think your dad was fab, and I think your brother meant well. I love the way you turn from a quiet scared little girl to someone who is going to beat up her brother in the wink of an eye. LOL

  23. Lovely post, Krystal.

  24. Lovely! I don't know how you write these short stories all the time! I just can't manage a short story...much less non-fiction!

  25. love love love love love love this post.l

  26. Connie - and he deserved every bruise I gave him!

    Amberr - glad I could give you the woosies. You writing yet?

    Louise - My brother did mean well, but that tree was REALLY tall.

    Thank you, Stavros.

    Ashley, the memories just kind of hit me and I write them. Glad you enjoy.

    Michelle - Are you sure you love it?

  27. With every post I’m more and more convinced that you’re a master in narrative, dialogue and the short story. You weave so many emotions into such a short piece and your reader feels every one of them; they in turn spark relived memories within us as well. Makes me hungrier to see what you can do when you have the space of a novel to create. I’m completely smitten with your writing.


  28. That was a good one about the tree. No wonder you became a writer. You have already seen heaven and you are trying to get back to that perfect past on paper.

  29. Thank you, Chandleur. I wouldn't say my past is perfect. There's a lot of pain in there too. Just haven't gotten there yet. ;-)


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