Finally Free

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Once upon a time there was a tree. It was tall. It was green. Many people liked to go and look at the tree, but they were all afraid to climb it. Its branches were frail and breakable, and all the people were sure that the tree couldn't hold their weight.

But then one day, a boy of about 15 went up to the tree with unshed tears in his eyes. He was bigger and heavier than the others in his class and he was often teased about his weight. He looked up at the tree and decided, with enormous determination, that he would climb up to its highest limbs. Other people were standing at the base of the tree , thinking deep and meaningful thoughts, but they all stopped to watch as the boy grabbed a low branch and pulled himself up.

"Don't do it! You'll fall!" they all cried from the ground as the boy climbed higher and higher. He ignored them just as easily as he ignored the teasing at school.

He was almost to the top, where the thinnest and weakest branches were, when he heard the first crack and snap of a breaking branch. He put his left foot on a higher branch just as the one he had been standing on fell to the ground far below. His palms were sweaty and he was having a hard time hanging on, but he wouldn't stop now, he couldn't stop now.

He grabbed ahold of the highest and smallest branch sticking up at the very tip-top of the tree. Using both of his hands, he hoisted himself up. He stood up straight, clutching the branch tightly, and looked down at the large crowd that had gathered at the tree. They stared up at him with open mouths and awestruck eyes, and then they began to cheer. They shouted up at him words of encouragement and clapped their hands loudly. For that moment, the boy felt truly happy.

But happiness is often fleeting, and the boy could only stand there for so long. He knew that he would fall if he tried to climb down, for his arms and legs were aching and he was panting. He knew that he would fall if he stayed up there too long, for the branches were bending and creaking and his grip was loosening. So he spread his arms and leaped out into the wind, finally free.

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