Thursday, April 7, 2016

... sitting in a tree

Our first month in the Solomon Islands was spent getting acclimated to the culture, language, and missionary group we were part of.  We had been recruited to this specific group through a college friend my parents knew from a Christian camp in Texas.  During the first week or so that we were in Honiara, we went to their house for dinner.  

The four of us kids found ourselves standing in a hesitant half circle with the four of them.  The eldest of them spoke first.  

"You know those bottles of oil they sell by the side of the road?"  Actually, I didn't know.  I hadn't been very far away from our rented house since we got to Honiara.  Later though, I saw that, industrious Islanders did indeed set up mats under the banyan trees.  On these were displayed bottles of richly amber coconut oil, made by pressing coconut meat leached in the sun.  

"Yeah, I've seen them," my brother said, although he probably hadn't.  

"Nick and I used to think that it looked like pee.  So one time we pissed in some bottles and set up a mat and sold them."  He had all of our attention now.

"Did someone actually buy it?"  I asked, with horrified fascination.

"Yeah, one guy did."

"What did you do after that?"  We were breathless.

"We felt bad, and threw the money after the car as it drove away, and then ran away really fast."  That he would voluntarily confess to selling his own bodily fluids and then repent in a crisis of conscience elevated this boy to the level of conflicted anti-hero in my mind, which is the very best sort of hero, of course.

After dinner, the eight of us escaped into the fragrant night to play hide and seek in the dark.  The youngest were selected to be the seekers, and the rest of us scattered into the shadows.  

I didn't hear him until he was right next to me.  "Come on, I know the best place to hide," he said.  So I went, because when the anti-hero summons, of course, you go. 

He led me to a mango tree, its sturdy trunk round and smooth.  We stopped for just a minute beneath the deeper shadows, the glossy leaves glinting darkly in the starlight.  I could hear rustlings and muted conversations of the other kids dimly through the dark, and thought that here was his hiding spot.  It didn't seem so good to me.  

"Come on," he said again.  And his dusty bare feet disappeared up into the tree.  Thus summoned, I followed.  

We climbed up through the murky night, the mango limbs pinwheeling in a spiralled ladder towards the sky.  He perched on one limb and I on its twin.  We both sat, the comforting cocoon of leaves pushing out the murmuring night.  We sat in breathless silence, listening hard for the sounds of the others.  Listening hard for the sounds of our breathing.  

And the velvet darkness fell. 

And the only stars were my eyes.

We hid there until the call came from the adults that it was time for my family to go.  It could have been hours or just a few velvet minutes.  

We climbed as chastely down as we had gone up, leaving behind the secret thrill of a hidden place.  

Just a few stolen moments where two kids sat in a mango cave and became the night.

2 comments:

  1. really great and brings back memories. Nothing like being up in a mango tree.

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  2. 3 Studies PROVE Why Coconut Oil Kills Belly Fat.

    This means that you actually get rid of fat by eating coconut fats (also coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 studies from big medicinal journals are sure to turn the traditional nutrition world upside down!

    ReplyDelete