(This one belongs before the other one,)
The limb of the tree was warm beneath him, too wide and solid to move with his clambering, or with the small wind. It was too solid to move, really, at all. But his shirt lifted as he wormed his way forward. He could feel the scrape of the bark and green lichen on the soft belly of him. His hands were full. He had the things he needed wrapped in his doublet, the old leather one from home, it hardly fit anymore. He steadied his way with his elbows and knees, pushed the doublet bundle carefully ahead. He had left his sadd cloth robe back in his room. An infraction, of course, but next Wednesday was a full week away, and nobody could get up a tree in an ankle length robe. Inside the doublet, sheltered by his hands, were important things. He had a corked inkhorn, a pen and knife, his commonplace book, (not the one he used for school but the real one, that he put his thoughts in) He had two apples, taken from the tree itself. They were small and rather wrinkled but still edible. There was a piece of cheese too, that he had been saving.
Nobody else that he knew seemed to have this need-- he had never seen it in them. Never seen them show any sign of the clawing that overcame him, to be alone, to spill out the words that climbed up the insides of him, that wedged in his throat, that peopled his dreams. Not Latin words, at least not mostly, not school words; question words, names of things, bits of stories that didn't fit together yet, those things went into his book. He put them there so they would leave him alone. And too, he put them there to hone and sharpen them, to return to them, to make them right, to get them cutting sharp. He had to be alone for that.
He had felt the words itching him all week, like a living thing scratching at his insides, as he tried to be good and pay attention, or at least seem to. Every moment was spoken for, meant for something here. He had class, study, prayers, study, class again, time to eat in silence There were only a few moments of humanity as they readied themselves for sleep, a few mumbled words, in Latin now out of habit. So this time was stolen of course-- but he thought he had gotten away unnoticed again. And if not, he would be punished for it, but not until next week, a whole week from today. Worth it.
There were little corners in the world, even here, as there had been at home, where he could fade from sight, where he could see and be less seen, where he could hear and be he nearly unheard. And now here was the the join of the tree , the trunk with the branches, and he could sit, with the doublet to pad his backside. His feet hung down free either side of the limb, and he leaned the little book against the wood and began to write.
He saw it clear as he worked, the towers of Troy, the faces and bodies of Hector and Achilles, the grating voice of old Nestor. He had thought it would be a poem-- and it was, but as he worked he realized it could perhaps be also a play.
He muttered to himself as worked, getting the voices right. He did not know this. For some time the only other sound was the sound of the tree itself. He had forgotten the tree, forgotten the food and his own empty insides.
The other sound came to him slowly, from below. It nagged and at first he ignored it, but it wrapped itself around his thoughts and his words and his pen stopped. He leaned over the side of the tree branch, pushing the leaves aside.
“Who are you?” Kit kept his own voice low, but he was not really worried. One small voice, at the base of tree, snuffling and sobbing was certainly another student. And it was Wednesday, after all.
“Who wants to know?” The voice was young, hoarse from weeping, but belligerent as well. Dark eyes, under a flop of limp dark hair, pale skin, except the nose which was kitten pink at the moment.
“Here, I'll come down.” He could not think why he said that exactly; said it to the rough little voice and the pink abraded nose. And anyway, Kit knew who this was now. This was the broken armed sizer of last winter's ice.
The boy nodded and scrambled back a little to let Kit drop.
“ I am Thomas Nashe, he said. “”Well, Tommy really.”
“Tommy then,” A smile then, swift and purely reflexive, buck teeth white under the floppy mane made Kit think of a pony in need of the farrier.
“You are a sizer-- I mean, I have seen you before.” Kit thought, a moment too late, that this was, perhaps not the best start.
“A sizer aye What of it? My father is a poor curate from a town of fishermen. At least he--”
“Nothing of it--” Kit rode over the words though he kept his own gentle. “My father is a cobbler. He can barely sign his name.” And that was true. It was true though Kit had never said it before to anyone. Father was good with his hands-- good at making the shoes, fixing the shoes, fitting shoes, fitting the shoes. Father was good at convincing the reluctant to buy. But mother was the clever one. Mother and Kit.
“My father is a cobbler--” Kit said again. “My name is Cristofer. At home they call me Kit.”