A twelve year old boy yelled as he opened the iron gate to the house that was like all the others in the street except that its name plate said 'Pipiriki'. Dog came running to the boy all teeth and wagging tail, so pleased to see him that he could hardly even bark.
Boy looked through the letterbox in the middle of the door to see the long hall dimly lit by the open back door. Pushing the door open he walked down the hall, looked in at the quiet bedrooms to either side and noticed the familiar high beds that were so hard to climb into, but felt like a cool secure glove when you finally did. Passing the lounge with dog trailing behind, he stopped at the entrance to the dining room.
He glanced around the room and into the adjoining kitchen.
It's the same, he thought.
The feeling he got from this house he could not describe. It was good. To the left across the room was the pantry, full of every delight a twelve year old boy could wish for. Ginger snaps, arrowroot biscuits to dunk in your tea, nuts and dried fruits and mint slices.
He opened the pantry door and breathed in the mingled odours of spices, biscuits, cakes and candy. The same, he thought.
Squeal, went his sneakers. Slam, went the wire door.
He drew in a breath of roses, and breathed out a sigh of happiness. It was the same too. It covered a third of the sky and all of boy's mind, it was simply a tree.
He stood and took in the scene - the rosebushes and their thorns which you could break off and stick onto your face, the backyard, the strawberry patch, the toolshed. The tree!
The sky was summer blue as boy sat in a fork of the tree. He felt secure, happy, untouchable. From here he could see the grey flour mills that stood against the sky like huge spaceships. Next to them the park, then the train line, the houses, the lane, and next door. Everything. But no one could see him.
He looked down to see dog lying in the shade next to the trunk of the tree. The tree was especially large as two trunks grew out of the ground together, one reaching straight upwards, the other bending sideways at first, twisting and turning till finally at last branches sprung off everywhere to end in a sea of green.
Boy sat halfway up the bigger of the two trunks, letting himself blend with the rocking motion of the tree as a soft summer breeze swayed it back and forth. All around him was green. Outside this green were only smudges of colour, indefinite unreality. Time flew like the sparrows that zipped through the warm air. He drifted into sleep.
Boy woke to hear his grandmother calling to him from the back door. He slid down the trunk, jumped off over dog and landed, rolling on the grass. He stood up and ran down the yard to the nicest person on earth, his grandmother, Nan.
Sitting in the cool dining room, boy wiped the jam and cream from his mouth which had just taken a bite from a scone so perfect it should never have been baked, as no scone would ever taste as good again. He sipped his tea from the thin porcelain cup, his eyes following the pink roses that wove around its rim. His grandmother sat opposite him as delicate and gentle as the teacup. She was handsome through the wrinkled skin which sank in hollows under high cheek bones. In her simplicity she could not believe that anybody could really mean to do any wrong. Her seeming ignorance was just compassionate forgiveness, pure optimism and complete faith in the ultimate goodness of the human soul. Her ingenuousness was childlike, she needed to yield no authority as anything she asked was a pleasure to do. She cooked beautiful food and made the perfect cup of tea, let you stay up late on warm summer nights, and never let you go to sleep without tucking you in. She had a heart of gold.
The twelve year old boy looked around the room at the crockery cupboard, with its stained glass windows and odds-and-ends drawers, the simple wooden table and chairs, the lace tablecloth and the delightful promising pantry with the grandfather clock standing guard near its door.
Boy it's good to be alive!
The oppressive heat made even the grass seem noisy. The young man paused to take in the view of the overgrown backyard, with its broken down toolshed and the jacaranda tree. The tree's trunks were overgrown with ivy, the branches empty of leaves as it slowly died. He felt glad that the simple happiness he had once experienced here, and later lost in the maze of a confused world was found once again within his own heart.
His grandmother had died, the roses were overgrown and the tree was withering but still that joy of life was there inside him, and now a knowing of why it is such joy was there as well. Once again he climbed the tree, sank into its branches and breathed the summer breeze, relaxing into its gentle rocking motion. It whispered: you can only go back to where you came from when you go back inside.