A tragic tale for poor dear Pip
Inspired by ‘True Tales of American Life’, edited by Paul Auster
There was someone in the tree. MY tree. On MY branch. It was a boy. I was twelve, and horrified. I thought nobody knew about the tree. I called it the Magic Faraway Tree- had done since we first moved to that house and I found it, and I’m sure my parents thought it was just a bench or a stump in the park bordering our back garden. The tree was right on the border between us and the park. I was never sure whether it was ours, or everyone’s- legally. But I was absolutely certain that it didn’t matter whose land it was on, it was MY tree. And now some boy was in it.
I went up there, to that specific branch, every day except when it rained or I had school- and if it was light enough when I’d done my homework, often then as well. After the weeks turned into months of practice, I knew the exact route to get me up there in a couple of minutes, with some food and a book in my backpack. That was the thing- I think my parents thought that I must be playing outside. Healthy and active. But my ass was pretty much always just up that tree reading a book. MY branch in MY tree was perfectly shaped for my back, wide enough that I didn’t have to worry about falling off, sturdy, sheltered by the other branches from the excesses of the sun and wind.
I thought about shouting up at the boy from where I stood, but decided that would mean he was operating from a position of power. I think my Mum had said something like that when she was commenting on the news once. The branch was definitely strong enough for two people (though that wasn’t the point, of course). I climbed up, and took out my book, daring him to ask what I was doing.
I read, or tried to read, and waited. For a few minutes, nothing happened. I started to get annoyed. I was attempting Dickens for the first time and I needed to concentrate. But I couldn’t. There was a boy in my tree.
“A tragic tale for poor dear Pip”
Even with the annoyance and consciousness of him, it took me a moment to realise he was talking to me. I remember now that first thing he said, even though it was the start of a conversation that went on for most of the afternoon. He had come up there to get away from some boys who were making fun of him for reading. He was still in my tree, but I supposed I could understand that. He didn’t tease me, not even a little bit. We talked. We actually listened. I didn’t know his name, hadn’t seen him around.
That evening I went home and thought about the boy in my tree in a way that I hadn’t really thought about any boys before. But the next day he wasn’t at the tree. Or the day after that. After several days, I gave up.
The summer ended and school began again. I was still trying to work my way through the same book. I wasn’t really concentrating on what was going on around me as English class began, and I vaguely heard my teacher tell us we had a new classmate. I kept reading. Some noise next to me told me that someone had sat down at the empty desk next to mine.
“A tragic tale for poor dear Pip,” and there he was again.