The Treehouse

May 19, 2017
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Grey clouds moved across the sky until there was no blue left to be seen. Trees danced slowly in the wind. Alpine, Tennessee was a ghost town, not one of the 2,000 residents were outside. The sound of a screen door slamming echoed through the trees, followed by the pounding of feet down rickety old steps. Another door shut and a middle-aged woman came out. Her brown hair was tied up in a makeshift bun, and her eyes drooped from lack of sleep. “Aimee, honey, you know were all very sad about what happened to your father, but we can’t undo what’s already been done.” A tear rolled down the woman’s face, she quickly wiped it away, holding in the tears for her daughter’s sake.
“Mom, this isn’t about dad! You don’t understand, Noel has been ruining my life ever since she could first crawl, and today, … today she has gone too far. She flushed my note from dad down the toilet! My last memory of him.”
“Yes, well, she’s only nine. You’re 14.”
Aimee turned to look her mother in the face. “Yeah, and now that dad’s gone, no one actually loves me.”
“Aimee, why would you say something like that!” but she was already long gone, out of earshot, into the middle of the woods. Aimee had gone in search of the treehouse that her and her father had built when she was just a girl. Made of thick Cyprus boards that they had picked out at a local hardware store, it was sturdy enough to stand up to the strong Tennessee winds and winter snow. Together, the two had made the treehouse into a cozy getaway from the house, a place where they could watch the world pass by from up above.
As she climbed the ladder up to the top, she stopped and took a deep breath, closing her eyes then looking out around her. Aimee put her hand on the latch and stuck her head inside the retreat. It was just as she had remembered, since her father’s death, she hadn’t visited the treehouse. From the minifridge in the back corner, and the pretty curtains that Aimee had picked out herself to cover the windows, to the girl in the bottom bunk. She turned back around, she had not remembered leaving a girl in the bottom bunk bed, the one her father slept in, not for anyone else.
“Who are you? What on earth are you doing here”, she yelled. “This is private property. Sort of.” She muttered under her breath.
The girl in bed stirred but didn’t wake up. “Excuse me.” Aimee said annoyed, the girl in bed finally responded.
“Hello, do you mind, I’m trying to sleep here?”
“Do you mind, I don’t think this place belongs to you, does it?”
The girl finally turned and looked Aimee in the face, understanding dawned on her. “Oh, I uh, I’m sorry, I guess I’ll just pack my stuff and leave then.”
“Not so fast, why are you here?”
“Um, well, ya know, I just like the woods and I found this place and decided I would camp here for a few nights.”
“Without your parents? They just let you go out into the woods by yourself and go sleep in other people’s tree-houses?”
“Well, it doesn’t seem that you have your parents here either.”
Aimee looked down at her feet, and closed her eyes tightly, holding back the tears. “So, why are you really here, didn’t you think that the person who owns this treehouse may have possibly come back?”
The girl sighed, “Okay, well, the truth is, a few weeks ago my parents came to me and told me they were leaving on a trip for a couple days. They told me I could stay home and watch myself while they were away, but, really, they weren’t coming back. They had called an orphanage to come pick me up, saying that they were unable to care for me. The truth is, they could’ve cared for me, they just didn’t love me. When I found out, I packed up a few things and brought them away with me before some people came to take me to the orphanage. While wondering throughout the woods, I found this place, and so, here we are.”
Aimee gasped, looking horrified. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry that happened! How long have you been living on your own?”
“For about three months, but it beats an orphanage, so I’m fine.”
“No! You can’t just wonder around the woods. Alone, without any food! No way, I can’t allow you to do that to yourself.” She pulled open the door of the mini fridge, all that remained were two empty bottled waters and a half-eaten turkey sandwich. “C’mon, you have nothing left to eat, and it’s almost winter, you have to come home with me, Uh…”
“Yes, Kirsten.” This was the first-time Aimee had caught her name.
“But, what about your parents, what will they say when they see that you’ve brought home a 14-year-old girl with you?”
“I know my dad would be okay with it if he were here.” Aimee responded. What she forgot to tell Kirsten was that her dad wasn’t with her anymore.
“Well, if your parents are fine with it. I guess it would be nice to live in a real house again.”
Aimee and Kirsten climbed down the ladder of the treehouse and made their way through the woods. Thick branches made way to the many rows of houses and streets. “My name’s Aimee by the way. This is my street; my house is that one over there.” She pointed to a small two-story house with light blue paneling and a brown front door.
The two walked up the front steps and before allowing Kirsten inside Aimee yelled, “Hello, is anyone home?” The house was silent, Aimee allowed Kirsten in, she cautiously looked around making sure no little sisters were hiding in the shadows. “So, you can sit here while I make us some grilled cheese sandwiches.”
“Nice place”, Kirsten responded, “mind if I turn on the TV?”
“Nope, the remote’s over there.” The two girls sat down at the dinner table, Aimee watched as Kirsten devoured a steaming grilled cheese sandwich. After, Aimee led the way up to her room. Kirsten tossed around a few little trinkets, suddenly Aimee heard the front door unlock.
“Umm, wait here, I’ll just go, break the news to my mom.” Aimee walked down the stairs, her heart beating, she knew her mom would be angry. “Hey Mom.”
“Hey honey, are you cooled down now?”
“Yes, mom.” Aimee rolled her eyes. “So, uh, I’ll see you later.” Aimee walked back to her room to find Noel sitting on the floor talking to Kirsten. “What are you doing in here! Noel, you know I told you to never come in here!” Noel just barely slid past her sisters flailing hands, and skittered into her room down the hall. “Sorry, that’s my little sister, she is such a pest.”
“No worries, she seemed really excited about the fact that I’m going to be living with you guys now.”
“You told her! Oh No! Okay, um, well, I didn’t tell my mom that you’re staying here, she’s probably not Ok with it, but, I couldn’t let you stay there, and just wander around the woods without any food!”
“I thought you said your dad would be fine with it.”
“Yeah…my dad got into a car accident a few months ago, he, passed away. Don’t worry, just stay here, I’ll tell her in the morning.” As dinner time came, Aimee left Kirsten and made her way down the stairs promising to bring back some food for her.
“Aimee, where’s your friend Kirsten?” Noel asked.
Aimee glared her sister, signaling her to stop talking.
“What is this I hear about a girl named Kirsten?” Her mom asked raising her eyebrows at Aimee.
Aimee knew she had to come clean at some point. “Mom, when I went to my treehouse today, there was a girl named Kirsten there and she told me about how her parents had abandoned her. They told her they were going on a trip but they never returned back from her, so, I kinda told her she could stay here with us.”
“That’s awful! But I’m sorry honey, she just can’t stay here with us. It’s already hard enough to take care of the two of you, but don’t worry I’ll call an orphanage and they can find her a home.”
“Mom, that’s the thing, Kirsten ran away from her home because she didn’t want to be brought to an orphanage. I like her, Noel likes her, we won’t cause any trouble with each other. Can she please stay?”
“How about I meet this girl first, and we’ll talk later.” Her mother frowned at her, then looked down at her toes as she contemplated what to do.
“Mom, this is Kirsten Williams.” Aimee looked up hopefully at her mom.
“Nice to meet you, I’m Mrs. Frederickson. Don’t worry honey, we’ll figure this out.” That night, after Aimee’s mom had made about a dozen phone calls, she called the two girls into the living room. “Okay, I think I’ve figured something out. If we take Kirsten to the orphanage, we can adopt her there. Aimee,” her mom locked her eyes on her, “if you can share your room with Kirsten, I’ll be willing to make this commitment.”
“Of course!” Aimee yelled.
“But, promise me that you will quit fighting so much with Noel.”
“Don’t worry, Mom. Thank you so much for working this out!”
At that moment, Noel rushed in squealing, “I’m gonna have another sister, I’m gonna have another sister!” Everyone laughed, then they quickly hurried downtown to the orphanage.
3 Months Later.
Aimee and Kirsten had redecorated their room to their liking, with a bunkbed, just like the one in the treehouse where the two had met. Although no one could change the fact that her father had passed away, she finally had another friend. One who enjoyed all of the same activities she used to do with her dad, such as fishing, hiking, and sleeping out in the treehouse, where they could watch the world pass by from up above.

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