“CameloT” by Kimberly Lee

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“Every action has an equal reaction.” That’s the only explanation for why I climbed a tree last month, in wedge heels. Scaling a tree might just be the equal reaction to someone breaking up with you via a note in your lunch bag.

I sat at my desk, imagining him spreading mustard on wheat, layering turkey with Gouda. Cutting the apple, sprinkling lemon juice. Was the note already written, laying there beside the spread of organic ingredients? Or did he scribble it after gingerly placing the items in my floral lunch bag?

This was important.

I looked out at my tree, seeking answers. Yes, ‘my tree’. My desk at CameloT faces a forest; I have a tree.

Ross, the tech genius behind CameloT, loves medieval stuff. His passion project was establishing a forest on CameloT’s grounds, where workers could ride like knights. The forest includes 500 trees on ten acres, plus a barn for the accoutrements—costumes, horses, swords.

One tree stands taller than the rest. Ross wanted it “fixed”, but the forest-makers had moved on to Dubai. The tree stayed, I adopted it. Like me, it’s an outlier that can’t be tamed. Which was probably why I’d gotten dumped with a lunch note.

I never go on the “rides”. I look out, see the suckers and the horses’ hinds as they take off, splashes of color. Silliness. I hadn’t even ventured out for a stroll until the note. But here I go. Angling my shoes, I grasp at branches, haul myself up. The roughness feels good on my palms. Up high, I see the top of the building. Someone’s doing tai chi up there; the movements put me at peace. Freeing a hand, I mimic him. When he lifts his leg, I follow suit, forgetting my location. As I lower my leg, my foot slips. Unable to grab anything, I pitch forward. My mind plays the sound my body will make as it hits the ground.

I awake in branches, a low-slung nest. The top of my tree is gone, exposing the sky. I see the trunk, firmly rooted. I climb out, move away, turn back. The tree is bent down, folded upon itself, adult talking to child. The foliage of the tree’s top is the nest. Heading away, I look back, see the tree rising to its original position. I watch until it again stands majestic, above the rest.

I can’t tell anyone about this—they’ll start hanging around my space like I’m the oracle. Ross will fly scientists in. No one can know about my tree.

♦ ♦ ♦

“Ready?” Ross beams, guiding his horse to the exit. “Onward!”

I adjust the wreath around my head, gather my gown, pull myself up. Tap Canterbury with my moccasin. He responds, follows the group. Deep in the forest, I pull the reins—it’s time. We approach my tree and slow. I look up at it and nod. A few leaves fall. I tap Canterbury with my heel and we fly by.

 

Kimberly Lee left the practice of law some years ago to focus on motherhood, community work, and creative pursuits. Her work has appeared in (mac)ro(mic), The Satirist, Literary Mama’s Blog, Foliate Oak, and Toasted Cheese, among others. She lives in Southern California with her husband and children.

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