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Artwork By Leitu Bonnici

 

As the boy sprinted through the trees, his body jolted with each heavy footstep as it hit the ground. He felt his heart pounding as if it were a drum and the blood rushing through his face like a heat wave. Although the piercing cold wind was beginning to cut his numb face, the boy did not care. He ran until he could not take a single breath more and collapsed under a canopy of trees. The leaves below him crunched under his weight, and his eyes fell shut as if a bid to soften the blow. When he opened them, he saw the clear blue sky peering through the branches high above him; with beaming rays of light bouncing mosaic patterns over the canopy. As he took time to simply be, he noticed a vibrant parrot sailing from branch to branch. How he longed to see what it could see! As he breathed in and out, he smelt the sweet sap of the tall sycamore trees towering over him.

Amidst the silence, the boys’ serenity was abruptly disturbed by the sound of distant screams of laughter. After a moment of silence, he heard more laughter, just as robust as before. Curious, the boy rose from his bed of leaves and followed the sound. Although he was not typically socially inclined, the boy forgot all insecurities, emphatically drawn to the source of the disturbance. As he got closer to the sound, he noticed how joyous and carefree it seemed and his compulsion to reach it grew. And as it grew,  his pace quickened. Before he knew it, the boy was once again soaring through the trees. He felt the familiar rush of blood coursing through his veins and his heart pounding heavier than ever before.

The boy suddenly burst into a clearing in the trees and found himself surrounded by a group of three children he had never seen before. They stood frozen for a split second, startled by the sudden appearance of the boy, before one girl stepped towards him and offered her hand as if to say “welcome”. The boy looked at her, bewildered, for he had never experienced this companionship before. In a cloud, he felt an overwhelming calmness and trust he had never known and followed her without resistance.

She gripped his hand tightly as she ran, so briskly that he struggled to keep up. The other children ran alongside them, all it seemed with the same destination in mind. The boy was running in the middle of the pack; in the middle of an act of unity. He was no longer on the outside looking in through the window. Someone had let him in.

They kept running for what seemed like days to the boy, but he did not wish to tire. He watched his surroundings whip past him. The trees all blurred into a collage of greens and browns with the light mosaics dotting the surface. The air had become thin at the speed they were travelling, so when the pack finally slowed, the boy was relieved. They stopped and caught their breath in a comfortable silence. As the boy looked up, he saw they were standing below the most magnificent trees he had ever spied. They stood so tall and strong that he believed they never ended and their thick, sturdy branches reached so far outward they seemed to go on forever. More than anything, to the boy they looked inviting.

When the boy looked back towards the earth, he saw that the other children had each chosen a tree and were beginning to climb. The girl turned and spotted him staring and waved him to her tree. Again, he obeyed. He felt an overwhelming desire for the tree, and the girl allowed him to feel comfortable in his need. And so, he climbed. And as he climbed, he noticed the vibrant parrot again as it soared past his nose and watched it disappear high above him. He felt his heart pounding as it did when he ran, and felt the blood rushing through his veins with such gusto he felt as if it launched him from branch to branch. He turned and watched the others climb their trees with the same air of liberation he felt. Their laughter rang in his ears and he felt the wind on his face more and more as he climbed higher and higher; until the entire sun shone on his face.

The light was bright and warm on his skin. He squinted through the sun and looked around him to find each of the other children at the top of their trees alongside him, squealing with excitement as their skin glowed in golden sunlight. When he met the girl’s eyes, she beckoned him. And as if they were connected, the boy knew what she wanted to do. But she did not look fearful, and the boy noticed that he too was not fearful. With a smile, the girl turned around; and in a blink, she had disappeared from his sight. He did not hear a noise, but rather a most beautiful silence.

The boy looked up into the warm sun. He stayed for a while, and watched it slowly begin to set. Although he knew it happened each day, he felt as if today it was setting just for him. As it slowly melted into the earth, it surrounded the boy with deep oranges and pinks that extended as far as his eye could see. As he looked out, he felt free. He was at peace, yet had never felt more alive. He bathed in the still serenity that surrounded him and smiled. Throwing his arms back with careless force, the boy relished in the sun, and he flew.

But the next day, unlike every other, the sun did not rise.

Jaimee Bennetts

The author Jaimee Bennetts

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