The Girl in the Tree

I sat there for a moment longer just taking in the air. My eyes closed to the world around me, I just breathed. I tasted the air each time it entered my lungs, coming in with a hint of peace and exiting with a lot of bitterness. The air itself was fresh and motivating. It invited life to continue, constantly pulling the oxygen out of plants and forcing itself down the throats of animals. Animals who gladly took it in without realizing the amount of work being done for its mere existence, but also for animals like me. Animals like me who knew, studied, and understood the work done for my survival, the key to life being shoved down my throat and into my lungs and yet I sat there ungrateful for every bit of it. I sat there wishing it would stop, but it continued still. The air knew how much my lungs valued the oxygen so much more than my desire to have it and so it continued to pour itself in and do its job no matter how many times I asked it to stop. The air, I guess, wanted me to stay and use it until my body could no longer do the part of the job the air could not force upon me; but that wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted the air to stop pouring into me and I intended to stop it.

I opened my eyes and stood up, turning away from the edge of the pond, I headed into the woods, dodging branches as I climbed up the hill. It was a steep climb but I had done it many times before and so I found ease in gathering enough speed to use mostly momentum to get far enough up the hill to the tree on the left side and grabbed the exposed root. I grasped the root firmly and used it to pull myself the rest of the way up the small hill. With one foot firmly on flat ground I began to turn around the tree that I had used to mount the hill and found myself standing next to the tree with my toes at the edge of the grass. Extending in front of the grass was maybe two feet of rock and then nothing but the pond below. I stepped onto the rock and sat criss-cross, hanging my fingertips over the edge. My fingers grazed the rock, not knowing what I was searching for until I found it. I wiggled a piece of the rock and pulled out a couple small stones. I laid them next to me on the edge and began drawing with the smallest one. It crumbled after just a couple incomprehensible lines and so I threw it over the edge and moved onto the next one. I continued this way until I was down to only one stone.

I drew a river and leafless trees with this stone. The trees hung over the water and dipped its branches into the water, threatening to fall but sturdy enough to hold themselves back from the temptation. The stone refused to let the water glisten how it did in my mind and so I drew the moon rising beyond the river and the reflection in the water but it still did no justice to the beauty I was imagining. Looking below me to the water and how it shined in the daylight, knowing it would do the same at night with the light of the stars and the moon, I remembered my purpose for climbing the hill. But looking down into the water then, I could only be grateful for being blessed with the existence of such beautiful scenery. The water below me glistened as it rippled from the slight breeze in the air and the sun behind the trees, and I thanked the air for pushing its way into my lungs no matter how many times I begged and pleaded for it to stop. I thanked the stones for loosening themselves in order for me to draw the image plaguing my mind as I wished for the scenery I drew. I thanked the stone for being dull and boring enough for me to long for the glistening water. I remained on the cliff edge for a while longer, taking in the beauty that surrounded me and wishing to always hold dearly the serenity it brought me.

Finishing with surrounding beauty, I laid back, resting my head in the grass behind me and staring up into the trees. I memorized the way the branches intertwined above me and the way the fatter-than-average squirrel weaved his way between the trees, running up one trunk and along a branch until it ended and taking a small leap to the next branch and running to the trunk. I closed my eyes and replayed this scenario with different animals than a squirrel. First it was a rat, and then a kitten, and then a gecko, and then a bear cub, and then a capuchin monkey, and finally a panda.

When I grew tired of coming up with new animals to run the same path, I sat up and looked over my drawing. I traced over the trees once more, unsure of what more it was missing. The stone would never glisten like water or shine like the light of the moon. The leafless trees seemed to stand out as missing something crucial and so I added a girl. She sat on a branch over the water hanging one foot off and swinging it as she looked out toward the moon. She relaxed in this position, comfortable and at peace in a world nothing can bother her in. She was alone and free, independent and reckless as she slept there in the tree as it leaned out toward the river.

Like what you read? Give Rachel Powers a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.