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A Climb Tree
By Neil K
http://brevity.org/
The day we found it, it was late November. The house was relatively intact, but my wife was afraid it was still too close to the city. We thought it would be safe for a night, and then we'd move on. Then off somewhere in the blue twilight, we heard Maggie proclaiming she'd found a Climb Tree.

Perhaps you are ignorant of the species? A Climb Tree is a tree which a nine-year-old can climb. It must be slim and young. And -- most important -- with one very low branch, for your first vault off the ground.
You don't see a lot of Climb Trees these days. Competition from their own kind crowds out the small and gentle. But their worst enemies, of course, are us.

It was a miracle this Climb Tree had survived. It was in the yard of a house out in the country, where the former owners had torn up the ground with SUV tracks that went in endless circles. People kept doing stuff like like that in the first three years.

Do you think the yuppies who lived here ever had kids, and did those gum-cracking thumb-athletes ever try to make it to the third highest branch where the bird's nest was? And yell to daddy to come look at the pretty shells, and the funny-looking bird skeleton?
Nine years ago, the bodies were falling left and right. Cities became howling canyons in a matter of months. The scenes on the side of the road, you just try to forget.

We met lots of people like us at first, some good, some not so good. You learn to keep your distance. And every child I met born in that year had the same red markings in their eyes. They get larger every year. Their vision gets all confused, the bowl of scavenged Cheerios becomes a swirl of beige dots, and then it doesn't take too long.
I have cut down innumerable trees in the last decade and I sometimes wonder about what I'm seeing before my eyes in the fireplace. Am I watching years of accumulated life releasing itself all at once?

It burns brilliantly for one night, and the next morning you can sift the soft warm ash with your hands. But it doesn't remind you of anything.
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