I won a comp. in one of my groups with this one and am thinking of writing a book around it at some stage.
††††††††††††††††††††††††† The Oak Tree.
" Daddy, Daddy." Clattering feet announced the arrival of my children. Four faces looked up at me expectantly and George, the youngest demanded. " You must comeÖÖNOW!í
Then everyone spoke at once. Words tumbling over each other but I got the message. Their cat was stuck up the old oak tree and they expected me to get it down.
Several choice words went through my head but I remembered the old adage ĎNot in front of the childrení and kept them firmly between gritted teeth.
Four faces full of the belief that daddy could do anything. Little did they know that daddy had feet of clay. Daddy was not the slayer of dragons and definitely not the rescuer of kittens. NOT.
"Well letís go and have a look then" and I let them lead me to the bottom of the garden to the old oak tree. Where Sweetums (stupid name for a cat but thatís what the kids wanted) was indeed perched in the uppermost branches, shivering in fright.
I took several deep breaths and willed myself to believe I could do this.
"Right letís get the ladder and see if I can get her to climb down to me. That wonít be so far for her to climb down"
Please, let this work. Damn I hate heights. Just hope I donít throw up climbing that ladder. I know itís going to be short so that cat better come down to me. I cannot, just cannot climb that tree. I will not be sick. I can do this.
Four pairs of eyes were glued on me as I rested the ladder firmly against the tree and checked that it was stable. Their belief was unquestioning. Daddy would save Sweetums
OK, here goes. The first foot is the worst. Donít look down. I can do this. Breathe. God, how did I get up here Iím at the top of the ladder.
ĎSweetumsÖ..Here Sweetumsí daft name for an animal. Next pet we get weíll call a manly name even if it is a girl.
Sweetums eyed me glassily and refused to budge Ď. Címon you mangy cat get down here at once. Youíll be mince meat if you donítí This last I said under my breath as children have a habit of taking adultís threats literally. They donít understand that we donít always mean what we say in the heat of the moment.
Alright then Iíll have to do this the hard way. I can do this. I can climb trees. I will not fall out of trees. No donít think about falling that reminds me of height. Reminds of nausea. Reminds meÖnoÖno DON"T LOOK DOWN.
ĎDaddy, are you alright" Gracie yelled up anxiously. ĎYou wonít fall will you?í This sparked worry in the others that something might happen to Daddy. Daddy was all they had since Mummy went to heaven and they had this terror of being left alone.
ĎIím fine Gracie. Just taking time out to figure the best way to reach Sweetums.í Itís only a little lie.
I took some deep breaths then carefully raised my right hand and pulled down on a branch. It held firm so I looked for another foothold that would take me closer to the cat. Slowly I inched towards her. Iíve done it. Now just have to get the pair of us down. Iíll put her inside my shirt and just pray she doesnít put her claws in me.
ĎIíve got her kids, now be quiet as we donít want to frighten Sweetums any more.í I could feel Sweetums warm, furry body quivering against my chest and made reassuring sounds to soothe her.
I carefully felt around for the top rung of the ladder, then began my journey downward.
My four children welcomed me to the ground like a hero and made a fuss of Sweetums.
That night, after the children were in bed I sat with a whisky and thought over the dayís events. I felt ten feet tall. I had not let my children down and shown them that daddy had feet of clay. It was not revealed that I was not the hero they thought. Moreover I had not let my fear of heights prevent me from saving the cat therefore I DID deserve a pat on the back. As I sat by the fire I raised my glass and gave a toast to my wedding photo. Ah, Libby you would have been proud of me today. I climbed that tree maybe not as quick as you did but I did it, my beautiful tomboy. I miss you so.