Excerpt from MULBERRY PARK, April 2008
Analisa Dawson stood in the center of Mulberry Park and stared
at the biggest tree in the whole world, with branches that reached
all the way to Heaven.
She fingered the gnarly trunk, then looked way up to the top,
where the dancing leaves poked through the cotton clouds and waved
to the sun and beyond.
It was perfect. If she put her letter high enough in the
branches, God could reach it. But there was one little problem. She
was going to need some help.
She glanced across the lawn where Mrs. Richards was sitting on
a green park bench under the shade of another tree--one a whole
lot smaller. The nanny’s
eyes were closed, her head was drooped, and her hands rested in
Sometimes, when Mrs. Richards brought Analisa to the park and she didn’t
have another lady to visit with, she dozed off while Analisa played, which
is what she was doing now. But even if Analisa wanted to wake her up--and
she didn’t--poor Mrs. Richards couldn’t walk very good because
she had arthritis in her knees. So no way could she climb up a tree,
especially that one, which meant Analisa would have to find someone else to
As she searched the park, she spotted the man who always sat at the same
picnic table by the winding walkway that led to the restrooms. Today
he was wearing a yellow baseball cap and a green shirt with brown suspenders,
and as usual, he was playing a game all by himself.
Mrs. Richards called it chest. It didn’t seem like
a fun game, though, because the man hardly ever smiled.
He did smile and say hello once, but when she started toward him, Mrs. Richards
pulled her aside and said, “Analisa, we don’t talk to strangers.”
So she wouldn’t ask him for help.
Trevor was here again today, sitting by the monkey bars and digging a hole
in the sand. He didn’t usually talk to her. At first Analisa
thought that was because she was a girl, but then she realized he didn’t
play with boys very often, either.
Mrs. Rodriguez would help, if she was here. But she only brought her
children to the park in the afternoons or on Sunday mornings, after they went
to Mass, which was the same as church but with a lot more candles.
Analisa missed going to church, like she used to when she lived in Rio del
Oro with her mother and father. At least people talked about God there
and could answer her questions.
It was different in California. So
far, she hadn’t been able to find
anyone who knew anything about Heaven. So she’d written a letter
to God, which was why she had to find someone to put it in the tree