by Gabi Wackford
“Ow!’ I just stepped on another of those plant’s pointy ends again didn’t I? They’re yellow and tall during the summer, taller than me, and during the winter only to my knees. They smell of dust and dry. They’re tough and my bare feet don’t like them much, but they’re tolerable. Plus on the bright side they’re beautiful when the wind blows. The sun would be setting, and I could just sit there and watch as the yellow rays of sun picked up the little plant’s heads and spun them in a million different directions.
Lily would look pretty in a picture like that, with her light brown hair swept up to the side by the wind, sitting down on her worn, ripped and resown jeans, her- bright green-on-sunny days-cool gray-on-rainy-days, eyes staring down smiling at a letter sent by some boy she met at school. Her feet tucked under her legs, one arm propped up on her knee and holding the letter and the other high in the air like she’s flying. She wouldn’t be barefoot, nobody in my family is ever barefoot except me. She’d be wearing her favorite slippers that she got for her birthday from her “He’s my friend thats a boy” that she wears everywhere. Doesn't matter if daddy has asked her to wash the dishes or walk the dog, doesn't matter one bit if it’s a school dance or bedtime, I’ve never seen her after that birthday without them. She probably even wears them in the shower.
I turn towards the fence that ends the rows and rows of these yellow sun dried plants and start to run. I’m much more likely to step on the pointy parts of the plants, but I love the feeling of the wind pushing back my hair from my face and my legs seem to like it too. I turn and wave goodbye to the fields of the yellow plants that sway when there’s a breeze right before it rains and say good evening to the metal wire fence.
I think Peter would love the fence. It heats up hotter than an oven in only spring, but he wouldn’t mind because of his shiny, new -looking boots with the little eagle clip on the right one and a tag that he refuses to snip off.
I climb up the fence my hands and feet not staying still for more time than it takes to count to ten. I jump when I reach the top but I don't’ fall; I take hold of the perfectly placed branch of my lime tree and use the force from my jump to swing myself up to sitting on the branch.
Kip would have loved it in the lime tree. He would have had his thousands of books and lists he made and the poems he thought no one knew about that he hide in his socks he called shoes.
The light came through the leaves like the sun rises through stained -glass windows. The arms of the tree were soft and the bark rubbed off and made your skin soft, supple and cool. The arms were never sharp or twisted, they always made slow turns and bended.
Though I called it a lime tree. it didn’t grow limes, it grew green gorgeous giblet-sized giving apples.
A giving apple is an apple you give someone when you just want to give them something but you're not really sure sure what they might like and your short-changed and you don’t have much to call a present. For example when Lucy shared her raisin chocolate chip cookie her mother had made just for her, with me simply because I had spilled my strawberry milk all over the floor and mother only buys one small bottle of strawberry milk for me every month, I gave her a giving apple to show her thanks. And my lime tree makes the very best giving apples.
I rubbed my barefeet against the tree bark to stop them from complaining about the scratchy yellow plant feeling that I got on the bottom of the souls of my overused tan little feet. I also pocketed two of the best apples I could spot, I was really hungry but you never take a giving apple for yourself, that’s the rules.
I climb down taking my time. And I almost laugh in relief as my feet touch the grass. I lower my heels into the ground slowly and feel the grass covered mud sink down. Its really more of a swamp then a forest, what's supposed to be dirt and hard earth is just chunky mud covered in a layer of sweet smelling grass.
I walk around let my barefeet get covered in mud, smiling with the feeling of cool liquid earth slide in between my toes.
I find my little lake in my forest and splash around until the mud has slid off and washed away.
I could spend hours in my forest, with the tall spaced trees reaching into the sky. The crying of birds mixed in with the slapping of water against the rocks. The five rocks that are the only surface that doesn't move or shift under weight. They’re the color of sand but have the texture of my little toy marbles I have at home and hide under my bed.
I love it here. The grass and mud and water all make my barefeet sing with joy and I feel happiest when I start smelling the dew from afar. I could spend hours upon hours here, never getting bored of the shapes the mud makes as it hits the sides of trees or the sound the water makes as it lands in the soft mud.
After I have my fun wandering around in my forest its dark enough the fence isn’t hot anymore and I take my time climbing it. I run back through the fields of yellow plants and onto the paved roads made mostly from cold tar. By the time I get back to my house on stilts because mother wanted a basement and daddy didn’t want to dig one, my feet are clean enough that they don't’ leave a trace when I walk through the orange carpet in the living room.
I find mine and Lily’s bed that smells like moths but feels like little cub bears and think about the things I’ll do tomorrow in my forest.