THE TALLEST TREE

One of several stories in a collection called "Where the Children Go".




Tommy and Joey were always getting into trouble.
Tommy had a round face with glasses,
and Joey had a terribly pointy nose with three front teeth.
Individually, they were tough, but together they were tenacious.

Winter had just ended, and the snow became soft piles of mud.
The two boys met at their favorite tree, astonished at how it'd grown.
Anxious to burn the energy stored in the winter months, the boys began climbing.

It didn't take long before the casual climb became a race.
Each boy moving faster than the other,
Their eyes darting sideways just long enough to gauge their opponent's speed.

Hand over foot they climbed...
Higher and higher...
Never looking back, never looking down.

The two climbed for nearly 20 minutes before showing fatigue.
Their competition hadn't ended, but as the two looked up
They realized they couldn't even see the top of the tree.

"I think we should stop" suggested Tommy.
"That's only because I'm winning." snorted Joey.
Tommy, hated the idea of losing a race, so without another word,
He continued his ascension.

Hand over foot they climbed...
Higher and higher...
Never looking back, never looking down.

The two had climbed for a full hour.
They raised their heads to see there still was no top in sight.
"Maybe we should go back down." Joey suggested.
 Exhausted, Tommy nodded in agreement.

Hand over foot, the two climbed down...
Lower and lower...
Never looking back, never looking up.

Two hours had passed and no ground was in sight.
The boys became worried, tired, and anxious.
Then, in a moment of carelessness, Tommy's foot slipped from a branch,
and Joey watched as Tommy fell, vanishing through the branches.

Joey raced down the tree with more urgency than ever,
Calling out, "Tommy, are you okay?"
Though, not even an echo returned.

Hand over foot, Joey climbed down...
Lower and lower...
Never looking back, never looking up.

A full four hours had passed and still no ground in sight.
Joey was worried about his friend.
He was also worried about himself.
So Joey stopped to give his rubbery arms a chance to stiffen.

While Joey caught his breath, a noise cracked from the branches above.
It was Tommy, climbing down from overhead.
"How did you get up here?" Joey asked.
"How did you get down here? Tommy puzzled.

There was no bottom.
There was no top.
Hand over foot, the two climbed forever.
Never going back... Always looking down.



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