Questioning and understanding.
Later that night, Harvey and Rose both lay in their own beds quietly thinking about what had happened that afternoon. Both were trying to understand the actions and thoughts of each other. Harvey knew of this girl from next door but knew little about her. Rose always thought Harvey was weird, but today she saw a different side of him; a caring side that she could not stop thinking about.
Harvey tossed and turned all night desperately trying to remember things from their childhood. They had grown up together in the same street, but seldom talked. Harvey got up and looked at his reflection in his mirror, scanning his naked pale bony body.
“What could she possibly see in me anyway?” Harvey tried in vain to recollect memories of neighbourly encounters, as he glanced at his image in the mirror; pretending the reflection was a stranger.
“I remember both families frequented the Illawonga Hotel, but I was usually told to stay in the back of our Station wagon with a book. During school holidays, I did not see her as I was usually working with my father in his workshop. I hardly ever saw Rose walking to school, probably because I was always late; and I only vaguely remember her in the back corner of the classroom. . . Besides, how could I ever have gotten to know her, especially since she avoided boys? Perhaps all the arguments I heard over the fence with her stepfather contributed to her anti-boy attitude.”
Harvey tried hard to recollect more memories of Rose, whilst tidying his messy long brown hair in the mirror.
“Maybe she did notice me, but why would she invade my secret garden, is she a spy, what was her motive?”
Rose too tried to comprehend what she had witnessed that day, unsure of why she felt drawn into Harvey’s back yard. She thought she had little interest in his eccentricities, or maybe she did. What Rose heard this day, was poetry to her ears.
“Or was that Poet-tree to Harvey’s ear!” She said aloud in bed,
She laughed at her own lame joke. No one made Rose laugh so much in one day. Childhood abuse had turned her into a reclusive adolescent with a grudge against men. Rose sat up in bed, again speaking aloud, as she looked to the stars through her window,
“Maybe you sent him to help me appreciate life for what it is; an answer to a prayer my mother and I often shared.”
She held her clasped hands against her heart, smiled, then lay back down on her pillow. “What will the future hold Mollie?” She whispered to a rather worn but cuddly Teddy Bear near her pillow.
The following weeks saw Rose consciously obsessed with trying to understand Harvey’s unique characteristics. All this time, she was unaware that this obsession assisted her to regain some trust in men and readjust back into the school. She felt a slight physical attraction towards Harvey, although unsure if she wanted to become too involved with such a complex boy.
“Perhaps this stuff only happens to others? Harvey would probably say; You don’t find love, love finds you, when you least expect it!”
The next day both were too nervous to look at each other, and unable to concentrate on their class work. Unfortunately, the spiteful Mr Dorian, noticed their non-attentiveness. Deliberately, he asked Rose a basic but relevant maths question.
“Miss Rose in the corner; please answer this simple calculation. . . If you were concentrating, you should know what the total is?”
“Err . . . sorry Mr Dorian, I just don’t know the answer.”
The whole class (except Harvey) laughed. Rose had been set up by the very mean Mr Dorian. Her eyes scanned quickly across the room of cruel laughing heads, relieved to see that Harvey was the only one not laughing at her. Instead, she saw his kind caring and understanding face looking back at her. He gave Rose a friendly wink and a thumb up, indicating to her that all would be ok. Later as they were walking home from school, usually on opposite sides of the road, Rose ran across in front of Harvey and surprised him,
“Hey Harvey, my closest neighbour, I wanted to say thankyou!”
“What for?” replied Harvey?
“For not laughing at me like the rest of the class did.”
“That’s ok, you were set up by a very mean monster. Who should learn that -“Life is too short to make others feel sad, we must open our hearts and encourage the glad.” Harvey made Rose smile and giggle again,
“Harvey, I’m so sorry I scared you yesterday, by the old gum tree.”
“That’s ok, I probably deserved it. I was surprised to hear a girl’s voice, besides it is a male tree!”
“What?” replied Rose as Harvey tried hard to contain himself;
“Usually it has a much deeper bark!” Rose stopped walking and grabbed Harvey’s arm, she was completely dumbfounded.
“I’m only joking,” he said with a snigger.
Together they laughed, until tears of joy ran down Rose’s cheek. Neither had laughed so much, as in the last two days. Rose sat down and gestured to Harvey to sit down next to her on the bench.
“Please tell me about your quest. What do you seek from this world and where do you see your journey taking you in this life?”
Harvey thought for a moment and said
“Ok! I will tell you, pretty Rose that espaliers over my fence.”
“A path once trodden is merely a track and a lonely trek indeed, a path well worn, will transform, from a journey into a desirable need.” . . . Harvey continued,
“Rose, we must find the path of friendship that leads to happiness.”
All friendship leads to happiness
Life is an impulsive, endless journey through time.
Accomplishment is a wonderful feeling, so sublime.
Faith is the vehicle I trust, to protect me on my way.
The Holy Spirit is the spark, igniting my engine bay.
Nature’s path is like a matrix, of never-ending roads.
Our senses or emotions control steering and the loads.
Tension creates the potholes and obstacles in our way.
Anger thrusts my vehicle, onto paths we dare not stray.
Love is a vehicle’s suspension, smoothing the bumpy ride.
Freedom has found my path again, no fear or need to hide.
Joy, is my reflection, I seek within the rear vision mirror,
a greater joy, I long to see, as some share love, then quiver.
Nature and environment have signposts we should not shun,
showing sense and real direction, adding hope for everyone.
My journey is not just about me, nor where I may have been,
a path to a promised land is via faith, hope and wellbeing.
This journey is a quest, to find life’s roadmap of readiness,
a map that simply says, ‘All friendship leads to happiness’.
Rose wiped the tears of joy from her eyes, hugged Harvey with all her might and said,
“Harvey, Your friendship fills me with happiness. I would really like to be your best friend; if that’s ok with you?” Harvey nodded,
“And I your friend too, if that’s ok?” He leant over and kissed her on the nose. This was the start of a curious relationship, based on Rose’s inquisitive quest to comprehend the complex mind of her new friend. Curiously, she wanted to find out more about his quirky nature and hidden talents. The next weekend when they met again by the old gum tree, Rose asked Harvey a personal question.
“Harvey; when you speak in poetic rhyme and philosophise about nature; is it from personal experience or is it from what you have read?” Harvey smiled,
“Often it’s another voice in my head that directs my thoughts and phrases; rarely do I know why I say what I say. Some people interpret a deeper meaning, especially if it touches their hearts. Other times, I am at one with nature, and only I can make sense of the composition. When I read literature on philosophy, my conscious reads the sentences, but my sub conscious mind analyses, criticises and interprets quite differently. My work demands thought and questioning to find the hidden meaning and preferably a cryptic and much deeper understanding.”
“Well that’s why I never know what you are thinking, Harvey Stewart! . . But I don’t mind, as your words brighten up my life.”
“My pleasure, Miss Rose from next door, just the thought of your name lights up my senses and inspires me to think of incredibly exciting new stories to tell.”
Rose became increasingly excited about his improvised poetry and philosophies on nature. Her interest in Harvey was not so much a physical attraction but more so an absolute inquisitiveness. Something about Harvey seemed to touch her soul. He helped her to forget incidents from an unkind past. Rose tried to understand his quirks, unique thoughts and philosophy. All this time and unknowingly, she was unaware that Harvey was helping her to trust men and readjust back into society. There was no obvious physical attraction between the pair, nor did they mean to become attracted to each other in such a complex way, it just happened.
Rose had suspected, and recognised that Harvey had an unusual gift. She began to realise he had an incredibly analytical and idealistic thought process. Some locals would disagree and argue that Harvey was a daydreaming scallywag and chronic time waster.
There were two teachers who cared enough to spend time with him and who could see his creative potential; however many of the shallow intolerant teachers had seen Harvey as a non-attentive daydreamer. Increasingly, Rose wanted to spend more of her time with Harvey, although she knew if her parents caught her spending time with him, she would be confined to her room. At fifteen, Rose was a delightfully pretty but rapidly developing adolescent, with big ideas and more independence than her mother could deal with. Her troubled past, especially with her stepfather, had repelled her from boys and men of all ages. Consequently, she often got into trouble with alcohol abuse, anxieties, mixed with anti-depressants; until she met Harvey. Whenever she thought of her new friend, a sense of calm gently rippled deep into her heart. When she spoke to him a tingling sensation passed through her body. Rose could not explain this feeling but she felt a need to spend more time with Harvey, away from her home and away from school. She could sense that Harvey understood her, as no other person ever had. Never before as a teenager, had Rose trusted any male in her life. Her father had left her mother for a younger woman when Rose was only twelve years old. The heartache and pain it caused her mother became a painfully etched memory in her mind. Her mother remarried a thug who did not care for Rose. Instead, he continuously tormented her. Trusting a male therefore, any male, was challenging. What attracted her to Harvey, she could not comprehend? He was an average looking boy with reflective hazel eyes, but there was something non-physical, something in his gentle nature, that reignited her trust. It drew her in towards him, like a powerful magnetic fascination. Rose was still hesitant to be seen talking to Harvey at school, so she did her best to avoid him. Although she kept her distance, they still became best of friends and neighbours. Every weekend they would secretly meet in the bushes next to the old gum tree. Rose would ask Harvey quirky questions on life and nature, and Harvey would happily answer; sometimes in a poem and sometimes in a ridiculous riddle of philosophy. Her attitude toward him softened, unsure if she was in love with the boy next door? One Saturday after she had a fight with her Stepfather, she retreated to Harvey’s back yard, and the old gum tree. She Cryed quietly to herself, when suddenly a rope ladder appeared out of nowhere, dropping in her lap. She shrieked, looked up and to her surprise saw a set of shiny white teeth smiling at her like a Cheshire Cat.
“Harvey Stewart, now that’s one mouth I am very glad to see.”
“Climb up here my climbing Rose and soon you will smile too.” Rose did just that, Harvey took her hand and helped her with the last few steps into his retreat. Harvey had just finished refurbishing his tree house; Rose stood up and looked around in amazement; it was like nothing she had seen before. She was speechless, as she walked around, noticing colourful pieces of artwork, hand carved furniture, sculptures, wrought iron steelwork and trinkets. The whole room was like a Genie’s bedroom, magical and thought provoking.
“Its amazing Harvey, on the outside, it looks like a child’s cubby house but on the inside you have the most incredible furnishings that I could ever imagine.” Two unusual chairs caught her eye.
“Wow! Did you carve this from tree stumps?” A staring Rose asked.
“Yep! Sure did,” he replied very proudly.
The head and backrest upholstery displayed the most gorgeous Foxtail furs. The armrests were tree roots, custom carved, to fit an arm comfortably, with well-positioned grooves for each finger. Rose temporarily forgot her troubles of a few moments ago. She desired to sit in one.
“Do you mind if I sit in one?” she asked politely.
“Of course . . . I mean, no! Not at all; be my guest.” replied Harvey. Rose rubbed her cheek against the fur and let out a very relaxed sigh. She affectionately looked towards Harvey and said
“Wow, Wow, Wow! Did you make all of this furniture yourself?”
“Yes, and the floor rugs and curtains are all made from animal furs that have come to grief on the highway or caught in barbed wire fences. Hamish even enjoyed the meat! So nothing was hunted, destroyed or wasted in furnishing my tree house.”
An impressed Rose and Harvey chatted for over an hour. Then suddenly Rose realised that she was much happier here in a tree house with her new friend than she would ever be at home. She placed her head in her hands and sat quietly for nearly a minute.
“Are you ok Rose, can I help you?”
“You already have Harvey, you truly have! My sadness is born of conflict within my home and that makes me so sad. I wish I could be as happy as you are up here in this tree house.”
He reached out and rubbed the back of her hand, in a show of sympathy.
“Rose, we are all different and we all see things very differently.”
“Some people look at trees and complain about leaves that fell yesterday; while others admire the beauty and are thankful for the shade. Very few neither realise their importance nor stop to give it a simple hug of appreciation.”
He took her hand and looked deep into her eyes,
“It is time to forget the nightmares of yesterday,
in order to live the dreams of tomorrow.”
Then Harvey pointed to a plaque near his tree house window,
Dream to live
Do not dwell on the sad yesterday,
create lovely dreams for a better tomorrow.
Live out your dreams of a peaceful future,
then your new life, will extinguish all sorrow.
Rose got up out of the stump chair and hugged Harvey with all her might,
“Don’t stop Harvey, please tell me what makes your tree house such a happy home, and why my home with all its bricks and mortar is such a prison?”
“Rose, we must make our home where our heart is. This home is my heart. A happy life and a homely home is a contented heart; spending life with the ones you love is only just a start . . . It is built on characteristics that make us who we are.”
Rose reached out clutching Harvey’s hands in hers.
“Imagine if you built a real home, what would these characteristics be that you speak of?”
My home is my heart
My soul is like the earth where I choose to build my home.
Character is the deep foundation on which my house stands.
Passion will bring the plans and goals together as one.
Credibility is the reason for choosing the best builder.
Integrity is using the safest and best materials available.
Reliability is the bonded strength of the brick’s mortar.
Ambition is a second storey, where I can view the world.
Vision is the clarity and view through every window I see.
Love is the reason why this house will become a home.
Opportunity will be the many doors that await my opening.
Optimism is leaving the land clear for extensions.
Security is God watching over my family when I am away.
Courage is required to fight or keep the wolves at bay.
Happiness places a handle on the door to welcome our friends.
“These characteristics are needed for a happy heart and home life.”
“Harvey Stewart!” Rose whispered quietly, “You are a curious young man, I don’t necessarily understand your thinking yet, but it matters not, as it touches my heart when I hear your words of wisdom. May I please visit you here again in your palace of pleasant dreams?” Embarrassed, Harvey smiled and nodded.
“It would be a pleasure for you to be my guest. A palace it could not be, if not for the presence of a beautiful princess like you.”
They hugged and then Rose prepared for her decent down the rope ladder.
“Wait” said Harvey, with a watchful stare out the window.
He checked the screen of his multi-mirrored prism box. A strange contraption, he designed to capture the reflected views from down below; each angle around the perimeter of the tree house, returned to one multi image mirrored box that sat on his new coffee table.
“Its ok Princess Rose, the coast is clear; you can retreat home safely.” “Thank you; your very Highness.” said Rose with a playful smile, “You have really helped to make me feel better about my life to come.”
Harvey reached up to his narrow windowsill and took down a tiny box, wrapped in brown paper, tied with yellow ribbon and displaying a perfect bow. Harvey placed it carefully inside her handbag, as Rose held her grip on the rope ladder.
“It’s Christmas next week Rose. Please place this on the window sill just above your Christmas tree, and please don’t open it until you receive a card from me on Christmas day.” Rose smiled curiously,
“Well ok then and thankyou Mr romantic Stewart! I think!” Rose shook her head, amused and quietly giggling to herself, as she slowly descended the rope ladder.
As soon as she reached the ground, she lifted her head back up towards the tree house, in time to see Harvey blowing her a gentle kiss. Rose returned the gesture, waved, and walked off, forgetting her pain from earlier that day.
During the night, she lay on her bed next to the tiny brown gift box. Rose tried to guess what was inside the box. Could it be a friendship ring, or a weird lucky rabbit’s foot? Nothing would surprise her coming from Harvey. Rose fell asleep for the first time in years with a contented sigh and a beaming smile.
Christmas day could not come quickly enough for Rose, several other presents from her family were on display under the tree, but there was only one gift she could not wait to open; it was that tiny brown box on the window sill. Rose opened all her other presents first and like most years, she received clothes and nice shoes; and like most years, the wrapping paper and rubbish was left lying on the ground near the Christmas tree for her Mother to clean up. Patiently Rose waited for the promised Christmas card from Harvey. “Perhaps Harvey had forgotten Christmas Day,” Rose thought to herself as she stared up at the gift on the window’s sill. Just then, a light thud and a rattle startled Rose from behind that very windowpane. On closer investigation, Rose noticed a red clothes peg clamping onto an envelope with her name on it. Delivery of Harvey’s card was via the old cable and peg method; Rose followed the direction of the cable into the distance, and not surprisingly, saw that it started in Harvey’s tree house.
“That would be right! He couldn’t just post me a letter or hand it to me; he had to deliver the letter in a most unusual way!”
“Who had to?” asked her puzzled Mother.
“It’s just a Christmas card from the boy next door, nothing to worry about.”
Her mother looked at Rose with an apprehensive frown, her head shaking sideways and her hands on her hips. Rose’s mother walked over to her as she collected the envelope from the open window.
“I’m not sure about that Harvey chap Rose, he’s a bit weird; you never know what he is thinking!”
Rose just smiled and opened the window a little further; a gentle breeze drifted through the opening, making the yellow bow on top of her gift quiver in the cool breeze. Rose unpegged the letter, took a deep relieved breath and sat down. Finally, she could open the present and read the card that Harvey had promised.
Christmas message in a box
A present on your windowsill,
that nearly everyone forgot;
no elaborate coloured paper,
just a bow with a simple knot.
It overlooks the Christmas carnage,
with gifts all strewn across the floor,
wrapping tinsel, all but torn to shreds,
the festive adornments are no more.
This simple tiny cubic present,
casts long shadows down on the floor;
surrounded by the brightest sunlight,
it’s the Christmas Spirit, I am sure!
This box appears to grow in stature,
still closed, but waiting for this day,
when the entire commercial glitter,
has all been packed and put away.
It reminds me of the reason,
why we celebrate this gift,
The story of our Father’s son,
It is surely not a myth.
Inside is just a simple message!
Certainly, this will always be true!
You are now awoken by the Spirit;
It reads- YES, JESUS DOES LOVE YOU!
As soon as Rose opened her present and read the card, she hugged the note and the box firmly against her chest. She looked through the window, towards Harvey’s tree house, and smiled; he had touched her heart with his simple message. Her family were not Christians; however, something very powerful overwhelmed her thoughts, after reading Harvey’s Christmas note. Try as she may, she could not explain how those few words; ‘YES, JESUS DOES LOVE YOU!’ affected her that day; however, Rose felt it was a very special moment in her life.
Continued: Find chapter 9