Green: A brief tale of childhood (sample page)

The house was lovely: a two-story, red brick home located in a beautiful suburban neighborhood, far from sirens or taxicabs or back alleys or fear. The yard was well kept, with lush St. Augustine grass and a small garden on the side of the house, bursting with flowers. Sometimes the scent hung on the air and made the whole world seem happy and peaceful.

The tree was enormous, an oak in the grand old tradition, with branches that spread out in all directions, perfect for climbing and exploration. Its canopy of leaves was like a green dome, a verdant expanse soaking up the sun. The family that planted this tree had gone some thirty-five years ago, but new families had come. Some had stayed longer, some for only very short periods of time, but all had been welcome in the shadow of the tree. The little girl, Carla, who climbed the tree almost every day now and watched the world go by from under that canopy, had lived in the house with her family for almost two years. In all of two years, the tree had never spoken to Carla.

Until today.


 Carla propped herself between two limbs, so that they held her sitting form like two outstretched arms, rough but friendly. She watched as her brother and his friends played down the street. She had not been invited, of course, since Brandon and his friends were all thirteen and fourteen, and Carla was only eight. The green surrounded her: in the leaves, and the grass down below, a comforting color that seemed to support her just as much as the limbs of the tree did. She smiled.

“There they go,” she said, with a matter-of-fact tone.

Around her the leaves rustled in the wind, and a sound came out of that rustling, a contradictory sound. From the papery whispering of the leaves emerged a deep, comforting voice. A father’s voice.

“Do you want to go and play with your brother and his friends?”

“No,” Carla replied without a moment’s hesitation. “They’re icky.”

A trembling of the limbs served as laughter to the great old tree.

“Good,” said the tree, “I enjoy your company.”

Carla smiled. No one had ever said that to her before.

She spent the day in the arms of the tree (and they did indeed look like arms, almost bending to hold her comfortably), and when her mother called her for dinner she waited almost fifteen minutes before climbing down.

As she walked toward the front door, the tree called out after her: “Enjoy your dinner, Carla!”

She turned and looked up. “Hey! What’s your name?”

“Mr. Green.”

Carla gazed up into the crown of leaves and thought for a moment that it was a good name, a fitting name.


This story and 8 other short stories as well as 1 prose poem are now available for your Kindle device or app as an Amazon Kindle eBook titled “The Rubberband Man and Other Stories”. You can buy all of them for just 99 CENTS!

Buy through Amazon (Kindle Edition available now)

Buy the Kobo eBooks version here:

Buy the Barnes & Noble Nook edition here:

(c) 1990 by J. David Clarke


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