The Mimosa tree next to our carport was just the right shape for a little girl to climb. The notch in the trunk was low enough for me to step up into with a small foot, and then reaching up for a limb, I could pull myself up into the branches and hide in the green leafy fronds and pink poodle poofs of blossoms.
I got bigger. I turned into a fat, lumpish little girl. And the tree got older and more brittle. I would still climb up into the “v” of its trunk. But I couldn’t manage to haul myself up into the branches anymore.
My mom was gone one Saturday. I was home with my dad. He was watching a ball game. I decided it would be fun to climb into my tree, reach up to the highest limb I could, tie a rope and slide down.
When I did, the branch broke. I fell flat on my back with the branch and rope on top of me. I lay there for a couple of minutes silent. My dad stuck his head out the door to check on me and broke into a sprint when he saw me motionless on the ground.
He took me in his arms.
“Why didn’t you yell for me?,” he said.
“I couldn’t yell for help. I’d used up all my breath.”