I climb higher and higher into the branches.
“What are you doing, Boab?” shouted my brother from the ground, his hands on his hips, his face pouting slightly.
“Declaring this tree as mine.” I bellowed back and begin to rummage in my backpack. I was prepared. I had stolen borrowed some of dad’s tool from the shed and some wood and had even made a sign.
“What are you talking about?” he yelled back but I ignored him and he began muttering and trying to find a way to follow me up. Why couldn’t he see it? This tree had everything we needed. It was perfect. It even had some well-located holes and branches to allow me to climb, my brother being a little shorter was struggling. I hear him puff and pant with exertion then as he gets a little closer I reached down my hand and pulled him up.
“Woww…” he exhaled loudly looking around at the canopy of branches.
“See.” I say and smiled in my triumph, maybe there was hope for him after all.
“Aren’t you worried about that?” he pointed to a large hole in the centre of the tree.
“What? The hole? No, that’s what makes this tree perfect – we are going to climb in and make it a den. No-one will find it and no-one will see it?”
“But won’t it be dark?”
“Well, we’ll hollow out a few light holes.” Dan looks at me with a face that conveys his doubt at the plan but putting trust in his older brother nods, I nod back and we got to work. Within a few hours, we had a ladder in and out of the tree, a sign declaring the den as ours and a second ladder ready to be dropped into the hole.
“Boab, aren’t you scared something might be in there?” Dan asks thrusting his chubby finger in the direction of the hole.
“Well,” I hesitate, I hadn’t really thought of that, then my resolve returns. “We’ve been banging around all day Dan, if something was down there, it would have run off or ran at us by now.”
Grabbing hold of the rope I launched myself into the tight space. At first, the opening seemed to get narrower and narrowed my backpack scraping tightly against the wall. When I glanced back out towards the light I could see Dan large eyes peering over the edge his mouth hanging upon in a little o shape. I focussed on the task and began climbing further and further down, looking at Dan was making me nervous. I hadn’t realised white quite how engrossed I was until Dan’s little voice echoed down the tree trunk.
“Boab, are you still there? Are you alright?” his worried voice echoed down to me. I looked up expecting to see him and realised I couldn’t. Actually I couldn’t see much, I gulped a little admitting to myself I hadn’t really expected it to be this dark. But the hole was opening wider again and my backpack no longer scraped off the side. So I must be near the bottom I thought and with this little bit of reassurance, I kept going lower and lower giving a quick “I’m fine” up the hole to Dan.
I went from climbing steadily to placing my foot on a hard surface. It actually took me by surprise and I feel unsteadily from the room to the ground landing quite painfully onto my knees with an oomph. I stayed still for a few minutes listening. What if Dan had been right and there was someone else down here? After nothing but silence greeted me, I rummaged in my backpack pulling out the lamps from my dad’s workshop. Flicking the first one on I glance up towards the hole I had climbed through and was shocked to see the roots of trees coming through the ceiling.
“Wow,” The sound escaped my mouth without me knowing and was quickly followed by Dan’s eager voice.
“What? What is it Boab? What have you found? Is it safe?”
I ignored him for a minute as I moved my torch around the room. I struggled to take it in, it was a large circular space with more tree roots covering the walls. Beside one of the walls, there were two chairs. Shining the torch carefully on the floor I made my way to the wall, my mind struggling to take in what I could see… books. Between the lines of the roots, someone had placed books. I moved the torch around and everywhere I looked was more and more. Someone had used the gnarled roots as bookshelves.
“Dan, quick climb down you’ve got to see this.”
I ran back to my backpack and pulled out the other torches. I placed them on the floor around the room so that their light filled the room. In every space, there seemed to be more and more books. I pulled the sheets off of the chairs then stepped back into the middle of the room to admire my work just as Dan got to the bottom. He glanced around the room.
“Wow,” I turned and grinned at him.
“Boab, you found a secret cave filled with books.”
Walking over to the shelf I lifted one of the dusty books off and blew on it as hard as I could. Opening it I sat on one of the chairs and smiled up at Dan.
“No Dan, I found a secret cave filled with treasure”.