tree dwellers

this place. it’s like my home. but the sun never fully shines. it only peeps out of the corner of your eye. too distant to notice its warmth. close enough to admire its beauty. it’s dark, but we can see. dimly lit in a way that highlights favorable traits. and hides our flaws. carefully tucking them away in a place where they can simply be. exist without facing scrutiny.

this place functions the same way as the world we know of. we drive cars. have jobs. take our children to parks. play softball. a place where inhabitants are half asleep. glazed over with the similar hue of old friends chuckling over a glass of wine, reminiscing. we trust our neighbors. we trust outsiders. we trust the ones in power.
i am not a fully convinced. i live in the trees. watching these beings. carefully taking notes. testing their limits. testing my limits. reporting back. i look like them. i talk like them. i can walk like them. although i prefer flying. they have no idea what i really am. and neither do i. mirrors don’t exist in this place. i have to assume i blend in. sometimes i question if they even notice me in their semi conscious state.
i enjoy interacting with them. connecting. i go to the park sometimes. run around with the little ones. i can’t quite explain the feeling i get when the little ones laugh. they laugh for seemingly no reason. but it’s contagious. i don’t understand why, but when they laugh, i laugh. i feel good.
i’ve taken a liking to some of these tiny creatures. deece especially. she’s littler than most of them. dark skinned with pigtails. she wears overalls and plastic mary jane shoes. running and stumbling around the playground all by herself. she doesn’t look like a child. more like an itty bitty adult with baby proportions. we don’t speak the same language. we don’t need to. we both understand the language of the playground. running around. chasing each other. laughing. she reminds me of myself. a part of me that was left behind when i crossed over. maybe it’s her fiercely independent spirit. totally comfortable showing up to the playground alone. not caring or even thinking about whether or not she’ll meet other kids and make friends that day. she’s too busy having fun and feeling invincible. or maybe it’s her name. deece. the name my brother gave me as a 2 year old unable to pronounce “grace.” when she laughs, it feeds a starving part of my existence. one day her aunt showed up and i had to slip away. back into the trees.
it’s difficult for me to slip away when the adults are there. if a child sees me jumping into the sky, its no big deal. kids see things all the time. imaginary friends. misinterpretation of situations due to their lens of innocence. but adults. they’re different. if there’s only one, i can get away with it.  nobody will believe them. they don’t even believe themselves. they’d rather go back to sleep like everyone else. but when there are multiple witnesses, slipping away is more difficult. being discovered might result in losing my privileges.
deece’s aunt saw me. so i had to be cool. pretend i’m one of them. shallow conversation. obligatory greetings, introductions, and goodbyes. playing by their rules. walking into the woods. using these clunky feet i have. and when i’m certain nobody is around, go up.
one of my favorite things to do is jump over cars in traffic. what are they gonna do, try to stop me? by the time they’d turn around and do a double take, i’d be so high up there’s no way they can do anything.
im in the middle of jumping over cars when i spot a tree in the distance. or did the tree spot me? this tree has a golden glow to it. the way a campfire lights up your face. it’s massive. tall, thick, strong. the perfect playground. i have to check it out.
i love this tree. the branches are so high up. i feel like i’m a mile in the sky. high enough to go undetected by the sleepers.  perched on thick branches i can trust. i discover something so wonderful about this tree. it’s an apple tree. the best apples i’ve ever tasted. crisp, juicy, and just the perfect balance between sweet and tart. i see a sign posted. nailed into the tree. “Property of the U.S. government.” fuck that. more like property of planet earth. as i munch away, i throw a bunch of the apples down to the ground as people pass by. they have no idea this is an apple tree.
free snacks. compliments of the U.S. government.
i have to be careful as i toss down these government apples. i don’t wanna bop anyone on the head. this has to be well calculated and perfectly timed. i keep a careful watch of the ones walking by. most of them are in small groups or pairs.
and then, a break in the pattern. a child. a small boy. alone. looking for something. looking for someone. he’s lost. i have no choice but to offer help. down i go.
he’s looking for his mom. says he last saw her at the safeway. she went inside to grab milk and eggs. next thing he knows he’s here. roaming around aimlessly in the forest. there isn’t a safeway for at least 400 miles. of course i don’t tell him this. he’s not ready to know. we’ll call her and i’ll help cover up the holes in his story. bringing him back. to sleep.
i ask for her phone number.
415… something. it ends in 99. he doesn’t remember the rest. alarms start buzzing in my head. this number is familiar to me. 415. san francisco area code. it makes sense. safeway. they don’t have safeways here. they have safeways in san francisco. i have to bring him back. i have to go back. i have to go back to san francisco. i finally have an excuse.
how else is this kid gonna make it?
we prepare for takeoff.
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