We would like to introduce the newest contributing member of the Tied To The Post writing team. McKale Simpson has been a Trader in Training for several years and has reluctantly agreed to lend a story she produced in her Honors English class. Instead of reading the missives of two old crusties we offer-up a fresh face and attitude. We hope you enjoy McKale's personal narrative as much as we do.
I curl up on my couch, trying to ignore the roar of the chain saw in my front yard. I bury myself in my book, desperately attempting to escape into the story that no matter how hard I try, I can’t interest myself in. “Ugh.” I groan and stand up, stretching my legs and hearing my hip joints pop. I slowly amble into the gloomy and dark kitchen, where my mom stands gazing out the window with tears pooling in her eyes. I rest my elbows on the cool, black countertop that chills my skin and makes goose bumps appear on my forearms. I can see the reflection of the gray clouds in the countertop, realizing that they mirror my mood exactly. I resign to watch them chopping at my tree and soon taste droplets of salt water on my lips. I didn’t realize I was crying until now. I know my older sister, Alyssa, and my dad probably think that we are being silly. Maybe we are, but I don’t care right now. All I want is for them to stop.
As I witness the bare branches slapping then rebounding off of the ground, I am wrenched back to when I was five years old. It’s a bright and sunny afternoon and I can see my eleven year-old brother, Spenser, sitting in the fork of my maple tree. He’s laughing gleefully and shouts, “Mom! Look how high I am!” My mom softly shouts back, “Wow Spenser! Be careful!” I can see the grin stretched ear to ear across his face; you can practically feel the pride radiating off of him. I turn my head to look at my sister’s jealous face. “Mo-om. I’m nine years old and I want to climb the tree, too!” My mom turns to her with a genuinely sympathetic look on her face. “Both of you can’t fit in the tree at the same time. As soon as Spenser get’s down, it’s your turn. OK?” Alyssa’s lips pucker and her forehead wrinkles, making her eyebrows almost meet as her facial expression turns from a questioning look into a scowl. “Fine,” she huffs, and folds her arms into a tight pretzel. Soon, Spenser descends the ladder, and Alyssa skips to the trunk and begins to climb with the help of my father. She sits in the maple, shouting, “Ohmagosh! It is soooo cool up here!” As she steps down the rungs a couple of minutes later my dad asks, “McKale, do you wanna climb up?” My eyes pop and I look up at my mom to confirm that I really am allowed. She nods her head with an affirmative smile and I scamper over to my dad, who chuckles at the look of thrill on my face. I slowly put one foot on a rung, then the next, still having trouble believing that I am actually permitted to sit in my maple tree. When I get to the top, I plop down in the wide fork and gape at the view before me. “Whoa,” I whisper. I can see everything from here! All too soon my parents are telling me it’s time to get down. I slowly descend and look up at my maple, wishing I could stay up there forever.
Now it’s the Fourth of July and the parade is about to begin. I can see the Honor Guard beginning to march down the hill and I hurry to find a shady spot beneath my tree. I sit beneath a low hanging branch where I can touch the leaves that are the size of my hand. Out of the corner of my eye I realize that everyone else is standing, so I hop up and place my right hand over my heart. As the soldiers pass, I hear my grandma sigh and say, “It is so hot out today.” She begins to fan herself and declares, “I’m glad we have the tree to sit under,” and takes a seat. I notice my cousin heading over to me with a smile and he questions, “Why don’t you come down and watch the parade with us on the street?” I shrug and say, “I dunno. I guess cuz I don’t have a bag to put my candy in,” but I know this isn’t the real reason. I could simply run inside and pull one out of the drawer by the sink. Ever since I turned twelve, I don’t particularly care about the candy anymore. What I really want is to just sit in the shade under my maple and watch the parade. “Oh!” he replies, grinning, “I have an extra one right here!” He pulls a grocery bag out of his back pocket. “Gree-aat!” I utter with a forced smile, and we saunter down the driveway to the curb where the rest of my younger cousins are sitting. I love my cousins, but it is blistering hot and I would just like to park myself under my tree and sip the delectable raspberry lemonade that my dad made this morning. After about 15 floats, I’ve had enough of sitting on the curb and slip off while my cousins are battling it out for candy on the asphalt. I pour myself a cup of the lemonade, find my nice, shady spot and plunk into the lush grass. I tilt my head back and observe the small, red-breasted robin that flits from branch to branch. My cat is attempting to catch the little bird, but failing miserably. I notice a rather large lady bug with seven spots that is climbing up one of the huge leaves toward a teeny, neon green aphid. I know that I should want to sit with my cousins, but sitting here beneath my tree, I am content.
“AlYsssssaaaaa.” I have been trying to get my eleven-year-old sister to come out and play with me for ages. There is this huge pile of leaves sitting in our front yard beneath my bare maple tree, just beckoning for us to jump in it. “Well, I don’t really have time to play with a little third grader,” she chides while rolling her eyes, “but I guess I could spare a couple minutes.” She says this as if she is doing me a favor, but I know she is just as excited as I am. My suspicions are confirmed as we dash out the front door and belly flop into the orange and yellow mountain. “Hey!” she hollers, “I have an idea! Let’s find a ball, throw it into the pile and try to find it! Whoever finds it first wins!” “OK!” I enthusiastically agree, because this sounds like the best idea I’ve heard all day. We sprint to the garage and discover a dark blue rubber ball. We rush back to the front yard and fling the ball into the mound. We look at each other with smiles and a glint in our eyes and hurl ourselves into the heap of leaves. We giggle hysterically because this is the most fun we’ve ever had. After a couple minutes, Alyssa surfaces with the blue ball in her hand with a wide, toothy grin. “Do it again! Do it again!” I holler. “I’m gonna find it this time!” We have decided that it’s only fair if we close our eyes, so we don’t know where the ball goes. We stand back, both pretending to close our eyes tight and toss the ball into the pile. I dive in and after a few moments, feel my hand close around the hard rubber. Victory! After multiple rematches of this game, we hear our mom call, “Come inside girls! You’re gonna freeze out there!” Alyssa and I look at each other with a pout, but obediently run to the porch. We shake out our shirts that were filled with leaves as we walk up the steps and in the door. We stand in the kitchen with red cheeks and runny noses, but we don’t care. We just had the time of our lives beneath my maple tree.
The growl of the chainsaw jerks me back to the present. I witness the tears streaming down my mom’s face and when I look out the window to my maple tree, I understand why. All the branches, all the limbs, are cut off and they are hacking my tree completely down. I hear one last roar of the chainsaw and the trunk falls in slow motion. My maple collapses to the ground. It feels as if the reverberation goes through my entire body, but I know this is impossible. I realize I am crying freely now, but I honestly don’t care who sees. I hate these people. “No, no you don’t,” I tell myself. I understand that it is not their fault my tree died, and they are just doing their job. They can hack my maple tree down, but they can’t take away my precious memories.
With Warm Regards,
McKale, Barry, Steve and the Team.