My friend was big and strong. I hung out with him every day. They were jealous because none was brave enough, strong enough or smart enough to scale him. His trunk was too large to embrace, his branches too high to put them in reach of a single leap. They tried giving each other piggybacks but then the boy who succeeded found himself too high and at a loss to get down by himself. It was hopeless.
They resorted to mockery, a form of admiration I was well acquainted with. They called me Tarzan and made whooping noises. I paid them no mind, busy as I was exploring my friend’s nooks and crannies, high and higher. My Jane watched from afar. She got a rough idea where the holds were, the invisible bumps and depressions a secret passageway on the way up. I watched her the day she doggedly made her way to the lowest limb. We were built the same, a slight frame and a strong will. She rested on the first branch, one hand clutching a smaller branch, the other hovering, for balance. Her gaze stopped on the tree behind which I was hiding, her delighted smile an invitation to join her.
I climbed quickly – she made room for me on the branch. “I was afraid you would find me too bold.” She spoke as though we were in a salon. “Mylady,” I fumbled, “I am pleased you would deign enter my humble abode.” She lit up. She lit up! “Dear Sir, your abode houses hundreds of servants, food for the masses, and has a spectacular view. Few have reached such heights.” “Madam,” I bowed, “won’t you come to the penthouse?” She giggled. We cautiously climbed higher. I led the way so she could see where to place her hands and feet. She bravely sustained a few scratches as we forced our way down paths unfamiliar to her. When we stopped again, I delicately plucked twigs from her hair. She did not recoil at my touch, nor shriek when she saw insects. She actually followed an ant to the colony and stayed there awhile to observe the back and forth. I wanted to show her more.
We climbed still higher, the wind leading the branches and leaves in a slow dance. We were part of the music, inside the symphony. The bark, in turn rough and smooth, a score for the blind. She was humming unselfconsciously, standing on a branch, her arm wrapped around the trunk, her fingers tapping lightly. She too was grinning.
The descent was perilous. She was tired and unused to coming down blind. I was guiding her as best I could, creating a resting place for her feet with my hands. She asked to stop. She enquired, “What’s his name?” I did not hesitate. “Thor. Thor the Protector.” She nodded gravely.
We separated once our feet touched the ground. “Time for supper.” Her eyes into mine. Tomorrow, I pleaded silently. Tomorrow, her eyes replied.