Sam Ruffell: A Childhood Memory

Sam Ruffell, Creative Writing Student

                                                                        The Tree 

I wouldn’t refer to myself as an owner of childhood memories that left a huge souvenir of thoughts recounting what had happened or anything that was even profound enough to be other than something peculiar or out of the ordinary that occured to me during my younger years. However, from time to time something will come along that perhaps is a bit more intriguing than your average recollection of events more suitable for anything other than a dinner time bull session. 

This culmination of events took place when I was still quite youthful. I was actively in the middle of the phase most children go through when everything their parents say is not only the wrong answer, but even if it was, the child still wouldn’t follow the rule anyway. The directive given to me and my two younger siblings was the cautious warning about climbing a certain tree in the backyard. I couldn’t possibly recall what type of tree it was but that wasn’t the important part of why the tree was a deterrent for us children. 

This tree was the best climbing tree a child could ask for. It wasn’t the tallest tree, but the arms of the beast reached far up into the air giving ample room for someone to grab onto and jump off of. The problem with this natural jungle gym was that there were so many branches that some were cut off by the previous owner. Left in its place were the nubs of said branches, some dull and some sharp. 

With a false bit of courage and a pinch of rebellion, my parents’ message about the dangers of climbing this tree went into my right ear and straight out the left. A day or two must have passed before my sister and I took initiative and decided to conquer that tree. It was just standing there, almost arrogantly staring at us as if to convey the fact that it knew we didn’t have the guts to climb it. I had different plans however, and my sister was by my side as back up.

 The two of us went outside to play in the afternoon sun and I started my treck. I must have only been 5 or 6 feet above the ground before I could feel the supposedly sturdy branch I was standing upon weaken below my weight. Quickly thinking, I jumped from the tree knowing that a 6-foot drop wasn’t going to be too much trouble. After my initial jump, my foot must have collided with one of these nubs making me trip and not travel as far as I intended to. Gravity started pulling me down and before I knew it my forehead came in contact with another one of these pesky nubs. Soon I felt the sensation of blood pouring from my head. I touched my forehead with my hand and realizing that my hand was completely covered in blood after only a few seconds of placing it on the wound, I soon became worried. I then came to the realization that I was not on the ground and was still in the air and in fact upside down. I looked up to see that one of my laces on my beaten Converse shoes had become perfectly tangled with yet another nub from this godforsaken tree. 

I was only about two feet from the ground but the blood was rushing to my head, and I wasn’t thinking straight. I grasped for the lace to try and untangle myself, but I came to no avail. With panic starting to set in, I called for my right-hand man who was off doing something else. She noticed the ordeal I was in and became as panicked as I was in about a fourth of the time. As any child would, she started screaming her head off for mother and ran to the house. 

I finally managed to untangle myself and fell to the ground, landing with a soft thud. As fast as I could, I made a dash for the back door but after turning the doorknob I realized we were locked out. My sister was already halfway to the front door, and I knew I could catch up with her if I didn’t bleed to death right here on the back patio. Finally I made it to the front, and once inside, the two of us made enough noise calling out for mommy to drown out a sizable orchestra. 

Knowing how life or death this situation was, I sprinted to the medicine cabinet and started looking for bandages. Throwing bottles of Advil and cough syrup to the side, I soon realized that this may be the end. Finally my mom came into the kitchen and saw what had taken place. She calmly grabbed a towel and placed it on my head. Bringing me to the sink she rinsed the wound and cleaned up the crime scene that had taken place on my face. 

After 5 more minutes of calming my sister and I down, she asked me if I wanted to see the cut. Expecting to see part of my skull and brain peaking out, I hesitantly said yes. Walking to the mirror, I saw a cut the size of a small thumb tack and the opening to be about the width of a piece of mechanical pencil lead. Knowing I was in safe hands, I was bandaged up and sent on my way. To this day I have never taken the risk of climbing that tree again.