Oh my, from out the wild mind.

by tobias crabtree

Ruby’s 7. She’s been my friend for the same number of years as she’s been alive. It’s cool, i’ve been friends with her Ma and Dad since they first got together, so I get included in stuff. I love it. Little Rube’s been playing the piano for a little while now and she’s been singing for as long as I can remember. We’ve been thinking of putting a band together, we don’t have a name for it yet, but what we do know is that she’ll be playing the piano and singing and I’ll be backup singer and dancer. So far it’s just the two of us, which is cool by me.

She told me that the notes to a piano sit in the strings on the inside. She said they sit there and wait to be chosen so they can make their sound. I pictured that in my mind; the notes perched like pretty little birds on the wires and waiting to be flushed out by the felt and wood hammers. all flying around the room and into peoples’ ears, causing a stir, making eyes to sparkle and dreams to flow. She was very interested in thinking on the inner workings of the piano. She pointed out that it’s not electric, that the sounds were not made by something else except those little wires where the notes wait and wait and hope for a chance to play.

I don’t think I’ve ever loved the piano as much as when Ruby talks about it. It is so pretty to picture it the way she describes it. if i could choose any place to visit, Ruby’s mind would be at the top of the list. I’ll bet it’s an amazingly wild patch of wilderness!

I hadn’t seen Ruby in almost a year until yesterday. We caught up while she bounced from the bed onto a mattress on the floor and then up again onto the other bed. She might have bounced down and up and back over 200 times, i don’t know, but she only stopped when I got up and walked out for a drink. She is a real live Sprite from out of the old fairy tales. Hundreds of freckles, long, wild, ruby colored hair, and enough energy to start up the sun, should it ever go out.

Later in the day, I had a chance to ask her the “Would you rather” routine that I like to do. Grown-ups don’t like to play it that much, well, some do I guess, like Foster and Johnny Thomson, but for the most part, only kids play. It went like this:

Would you rather be:

the sky or the ocean?   answer: the sky.

the wind or a cloud?   answer: a cloud, because the clouds can go get a sip of the ocean and also rain or lightning.

a cloud or a bird?   answer: bird, that’s an easy one.

a bird or a unicorn?   answer: a unicorn.

a unicorn or pegasus?  answer: i’d rather be an anicorn which is a unicorn with wings.

me: oh, really? so that’s what that’s called?

ruby: yes, and they’re beautiful and white or black.

me: did you know that there’s a whale that has a horn like a unicorn? it’s called a narwhal.

ruby: yes, but it doesn’t really come out of their head, it’s more like a tooth.

me: oh.

a turtle or frog?   answer: turtle.

ruby: please don’t tell me you’re gonna ask a horse or a cheetah.

a wolf or a bear?    answer: wolf.

a wolf or a horse?    answer: horse.

a horse or a cheetah?    answer: ohhh, man, that’s a really tough one. ummm. oh, i can’t even choose!

me: ok, here’s the deal. i’ll let you be one of them on the weekend, so for two days you can be one. The rest of the 5 days you get to be the other. Which one do you wanna be on the weekend?

ruby: ummm, the horse.

me: so you’ll be the cheetah when you go to school?

ruby:  cheetahs don’t need to go to school.

me: oh. you’re right.

the sun or the moon?   answer: the sun.

the darkness or light?   answer: the light.

sand or mud?   answer:  oh, if i choose sand do i have to be the deep down sand or can i be sand on the top?

me: whatever you want, little rube.

ruby:  ok then, sand on the top.

me:  why?

ruby: because it’s warm and nice to feel and it’s not cold and dark.

me:  you like the light don’t you?

ruby:  uh huh. i like being warm.

a flower or a tree?   answer: uh, do you think we should walk down and see what the ocean is doing?

me: sure, do you need a sweater?

ruby: naw, it’ll be quick if we just hurry.

me:  ok. should we bring a snack?

ruby:  naw.

me:   ok.

postscript: i’m increasingly aware of the distance between my beating heart and the grave, it seems a bit of a catch 22. i love to run and make this ol’ heart clunk, while all the while it is clipping toward it’s end. at times, it’s heavy for me to think like this, other times, no. when i sit my heart next to a life that is so brilliant, like Ruby’s, i am lifted, caught up in the vapor trail of her rocket engines ripping through the blue. oh, life will pass, sure enough, but not without me filling up with the little birds that are flushed from the wires by felt covered hammers. c’mon Ruby girl, let’s us have a dance!