Sunday Storytelling is where I post a piece of fiction each Sunday. It might be a complete short story, a snippet of a work in progress, a character sketch, a response to one of the thousands of creative writing prompts I’ve collected through the years. Most of them won’t be polished or “final,” so feedback and criticism is welcome, but please be constructive in your comments. Read other Sunday Storytelling pieces here.
When we moved into the house on Brick Lane, the treehouse was already there. It was great cause I’d been asking Dad to build me one for ages and ages and he always said he would when he wasn’t so busy. Now he wouldn’t have to wait until he wasn’t busy. When we got there with the moving truck, I ran around back and climbed up the ladder and sat there all afternoon, watching the moving guys bring box after box after box into our new house until it got dark and Mom came out to yell for me to come inside. We got pizza that night and ate it on the floor watching Aladdin on the old TV in the living room. I was six.
The next day, I went up there again. This time, instead of watching the house, I looked out the other way, into the yard of the house behind ours. They had a pool and a picnic table and a trampoline, but no tree house. There was only one tree in the whole yard. Both our yards were really big, but besides the treehouse in ours, there were — I counted — five other big trees and that was it. Our grass wasn’t nice and perfect and totally green. It grew in little patches here and there, mostly around the trees, but it was yellow and you could still see a lot of the dirt. Dad kept saying he’d go out there and fix it up when he had time, but he never did and finally, the summer I turned ten, some guys came over every day for a week and put in nice, soft, green grass and a picnic table that was a lot nicer than the neighbors and lawn chairs and a hammock and flowers. When they were done, Dad and Mom walked outside and Dad said “Now I have a place to relax.” But I never saw him use the hammock, not ever.
As I watched the yard behind ours that second day, two girls came outside and jumped in the pool. A minute later, a man and another older girl came out and went to a big box near the pool. They pulled out all sorts of toys like water guns, pool noodles, and beach balls. They threw them all in the pool and the girls laughed and started playing a game where one would get out, run all the way to the fence, then run back to the pool and jump in while other one threw a beach ball so the one who jumped could try to catch it. The man sat down on one of the pool chairs and started blowing up a big raft. He blew and blew and blew and it seemed like the raft wasn’t getting any bigger for a long time, but then all of a sudden it did. He tossed that in the pool and one of the girls scrambled over to it and climbed on top. The older girl sat on the edge of the pool with her feet in the water and smiled at the man.
A week later, our stuff still wasn’t all the way unpacked, but enough of it was that I could get a box that was empty and go through my room for supplies for my treehouse. I put a sweatshirt, my flashlight, the bird binoculars my uncle had given me, a coloring book and crayons, a Peter Pan hat, an old t-shirt that had a hole in it, some shoelaces, three matchbox cars, XXXXXX. Dad saw me and said “Where are you going with that, buddy? We already moved. You don’t have to repack.” He chuckled and shook his head and ruffled my hair. “I’m taking this to my tree house,” I said. “Wanna come see it with me?” On the second day, when she came out to get me for dinner, Mom had climbed up to see my tree house and told me it was perfect for me. Dad hadn’t come up to see it yet. He smiled but it was like he was sad and shook his head. “Not now, maybe later. This weekend. We’ll go out and fix it up if I have time.” I nodded and didn’t tell him it didn’t really need any fixing up. It was already just the way it should be.
Dad was a manager for a big department store at the mall. We moved because he got a promotion and started to manage three different stores at different malls. He had to be closer to the other two stores now, but he still had to go to his store a lot too, which was an hour and a half away — three episodes of Looney Tunes, Mom told me. Most times when he went there he had to leave before I woke up in the morning, so he’d come in quietly and give me a kiss on the forehead and tell me to be good for Mom. Then he wouldn’t come back until the next day, or sometimes even two days after.
One month after we moved, school started. Mom took me there a week early to meet my new teacher and see my classroom and show me around. Then we went to one of Dad’s new department stores to buy me school clothes. Everyone was really nice to us and helped us a lot. A lady who was as old as my grandmother found slacks like the Dockers that Dad wore for me and brown shoes like Dad wore and green, yellow, and white polo shirts for me and helped me try the shoes on to make sure they fit and didn’t pinch my toes. She seemed nice, so when mom was talking to someone else, I told her I didn’t want to go to school.
She laughed and shook her head and told me I’d have fun and make new friends and not to worry. I frowned and looked down at the brown shoes I was trying. “Do those fit, hon?” she asked and I said no, even though they felt fine.
When mom and I got home, she gave me the bags of school clothes and shoes and I threw them all on my bed and ran out to the treehouse. The girls behind us were out in the pool again. They were in the pool almost every day, so I watched them almost every day. The girl with brown hair wore the same bathing suit over and over. It was purple and had a unicorn on it. But the girl with red hair wore different bathing suits. One was green with white polka dots, one was blue and red with little stars, one was pink, one was black with gold stripes. Sometimes she wore a two piece, a tie-dye one. I decided if I was going to marry someone it would be her.
Comments, feedback, and constructive criticism welcome…