The Doll Tree

February 1, 2013
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The Doll Tree

The light dappled in through the shutters on our window. Although my breathing was fine, the dust was illuminated by the sunlight and my breathing eventually grew anxious.(5) My pacing was loud, but not loud enough to attract the attention of the neighbors. That was the job of the house. Its gloomy, frightening back story led the whole neighborhood to view it as a burden. Fortunately, it was morning and everyone, besides me as usual, had somewhere to be. I was always excited to bounce on the couch, pry open the shutters most subtly, and let my eyes do the work, watching the town pass by just like the time did.(6) I first saw Walter Cunningham, alone and dirty as usual, kicking the ground, bored, and searching every last inch of Maycomb’s sidewalk for just one Indian head. Along came Atticus Finch crossing the street without acknowledging anybody but his children. This was quite selfish of him, but that really wasn’t his character. He always knew me as Arthur Radley, the gentle teenager. The Ewells were next. Burris, a nastly little critter, gargled up a loogie, and spat on the ground without a care, hands in his pocket and cocky as ever.(3) Man, he was so dirty, I swear there were flies hovering around him. As usual, Miss Rachel scolded them all and hatefully yelled, “Stay outta my pond you rotten children.” Then out of the corner of my eye, they came trotting down the street. “Jem, reckon there’s something in the tree today?” asked Scout to her older brother Jem. I only knew their names because Atticus told me when they were born. “Naw Scout,” replied Jem, “we best be getting to school now.” They skipped down the street, and all of a sudden, the block was deserted.
It was nearly summertime, and I was shocked to see the leaves falling from the chinaberry tree, like it was autumn.(1) At this point, the entire neighborhood had receded into their home, reclusively, shutting out from the outside world. But, I wasn’t one to judge. Locked up for years, I chose to not show my face, but I did want to contact the folk.(2) Therefore, I’d been watching over those two children, helping them out. The two dolls resembled them, and I hoped that they would notice that. All I had to do was just place them in the tree, without anyone seeing me. The suspense of the task was intense, but my brother was in bed, so it was my chance. The doorknob was cold and covered by shadows, so when I grasped my hand around it I calmed down and the bullets of sweat stopped moving. My eyes hadn’t fully adjusted to sunlight, so I was pretty sensitive to the usual Maycomb weather. As I yanked the door back, I stumbled a little bit and the porch creaked to the sound of my foot hitting it ever so gently.
I sprinted, but I made sure it wasn’t loud, so I ran heel to toe working on my technique. Reaching into my pocket, the immediate touch of my dry-cracked hands on the yarn head with bangs made my insides grow warmer. I shoved them into the tree most deliberately. “Darn house! That monster ate up my sunhat! Where’d it disappear to this time!” complained Miss Maudie. Around this time of day, she always watered her plants. Those blue azaleas were her prized possession and she guarded them with her life and would probably stab anyone with her hedge clippers if they even laid a finger on them. I recognized the situation, left the object of Jem hanging out haphazardly, and didn’t look back.

I could never tell I was helping those kids or toying with them. Whenever I placed something valuable in that old oak tree, I asked myself that question. My brother ranted on about that tree, always complaining about how little value it had, saying that it was dying and is he cut it down now, he would be putting it out of its misery. I hoped he wouldn’t, but I realized he wouldn’t be able to. Everybody on the block was so vigilant, and worried about everyone else, he wouldn’t find the time. Although my brother Nathan wasn’t accomplished and never followed through with his plans, I always did. Expect for that one task of going outside.

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