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In which Myrine goes to the trees in a valiant attempt to save Matt from mortal peril.


As Myrine manoeuvered her little blue Japanese pick-up along the narrow, unpaved logging roads, she contemplated Matt's surprising sticking quality. He might be the epitome of the softie, a truly mellow Oregonian (even though he came from California--but then, they all did, either that or Chicago or New York), but he'd been up in that damn tree for almost two weeks. The first guy who'd tried it had sat it out one day before the loggers had gotten his tree when he came down for a minute to stretch his legs, and the next was arrested in his tree by deputies who came by crane, special delivery. With Matt, though, the authorities were holding back, and the loggers were getting aggressive.

Myrine never would have thought Matt would hold out so long. Luckily, October had been fairly dry so far, but it was still no time of year for sitting up in trees. The nights had been cool enough already. Matt's mystic ability to endure the cold probably had something to do with his generally spacy distraction; his absorption with ideals made practical, daily concerns superfluous. He sat in trees, marched the streets, planned the details of some future utopia and mooched off his friends. He did charity work and he was a charity case himself. Myrine couldn't remember the last time he'd actually paid rent rather than living with a friend or housesitting for someone on vacation. Sometimes she almost suspected him of taking to the trees because SOFT provided board for the duration of the action--and room he didn't need. Being a full-time idealist, Matt simply had no time to make money. But with his head in the clouds, he didn't seem to be as susceptible to mundane physical discomforts such as cold nights. He also had an excellent sleeping bag.

Myrine couldn't help admiring him for his unrelenting idealism. She didn't think much of astrology, but Matt was an Aquarius if there ever was one, the living personification of the New Age.

Her mission was secret. If the SOFT members knew she was going to try to get Matt out of his tree, they never would have given her supplies and instructions on how to get there. But the thought of angry lumberjacks and increasingly cold, wet nights had driven her to her desperate deed. Matt might be a fuzzbrain, but she liked him--as long as he didn't live too near. Otherwise he would be bumming off her full time to support his idealistic lifestyle--and bumming her out as well.

Hopefully no straggling logger would come along on off hours and disturb her mission; Matt would never come down if that happened. It would be too humiliating. As it was, she didn't know how she could present the situation to make it seem heroic and idealistic enough for him to give up. Matt might be a softy, but he still suffered from a bad case of male ego.

It was a bit of a hike from the logging road to Matt's tree, but it wasn't hard to find with the large platform sticking out forty feet up. The search was made easier by the fact that few surrounding trees were left. Bright sawdust covered the floor of what had once been forest, filling the air with its scent.

Myrine cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled, "Matt!"

A head poked out over the edge of the platform high above her. "Myrine!" Matt called out, pleased surprise discernable in his voice even at that distance. "What are you doing here? If you only knew what a day I've had!"

"Why don't you come down for a minute and tell me?"

"No loggers in sight?"

"No loggers in sight."

When Matt got down to the ground he tried to take Myrine in his arms, but she held him at arm's length. "Hey, you stink!"

"I haven't seen you for so long," he pleaded. Matt's head might be in the clouds, but the rest of his anatomy from the neck down was very attached to more earthy concerns.

"Oh, alright." Although Myrine was tall, he enclosed her in his light, slight body, his hands everywhere. She disentangled herself with difficulty. "So what happened?" she asked.

"I've missed you so much, Myrine," Matt said, ignoring her question and drawing her close again.

Myrine was well aware of the way he'd missed her. "You horny brat," she humorously, pushing him off after another kiss. "This is not the time or the place."

"Too bad."

"So tell me what happened finally."

"A chain saw broke on one of the spikes we put in the trees, and I found myself surrounded by a mob of angry axmen shouting indecent insults."

Myrine shook her head. "Don't you think it's about time you came out of your tree for good? It's starting to get dangerous and it's starting to get cold."

"I couldn't do that, Myrine. This is a religious commitment."

"Oh brother. And the Lord God and Jesus Christ are keeping you company, I bet."

"The tree is keeping me company. I'm communing with a living thing which has been growing for 200 years. 200 years, just think! The consciousness that develops in 200 years must be one of patience and wisdom. I would like to connect with that wisdom."

"Matt Mollitt, sometimes I don't believe you're real."

Matt pulled her close again, a glow in his light blue eyes. "Ah, but you feel all too real, Myrine. Don't you want to climb up with me for a bit?"

"Nothing doing until you stay down."

"But I'm already up," Matt said, nuzzling her ear.

"I can tell."

"So you won't give in?"

"I won't go up."

"That's almost reason enough to stay down. But I can't betray my tree. It would be like betraying life itself."

"Sure. And what about your life?"

"Myrine, I decided to do this because I saw it as a way of affirming the value of all living things," Matt explained, running a hand through his light, fly-away hair, already thinning. "And I'm not really in any danger, you know," he added. "The loggers wouldn't dare do anything, even if they did get mad."

"But how long do you expect to stay up there, Matt?"

"I at least want to break the record."

"I thought you already had it."

Matt shook his head.

"So what good is it going to do you, huh?"

"Who knows? Maybe the publicity will get me into Congress."

"Looking for fame? That doesn't seem to be very consistent with your role as unselfish idealist."

"Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," Matt recited, "and it's also boring. I've never claimed to be unselfish, anyway."

"So you're determined to stay up in that tree?"

"Only a couple more days, Myrine. Then I'll have the record broken."

"Okay good, you inconsistent, crazy airhead. Then I guess I'll have to hike back to the car and get the supplies I brought along with me. I was hoping I wouldn't need them."

Matt ran his tongue along her pronounced collarbone. "Won't you come up when you get back?"

Myrine looked at the clamp and slide rig Matt used to get up and down the tree. "You've got to be kidding. I don't even know how to use one of those things."

Matt grinned. "Too bad."



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