The Tree House

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Young boy's imaginative mom dies. Any critiques welcome! :)

Every night before bed, my mother would tell me a story. They were often stories she made up, stories about pirates, princesses, giants, and magic. There was always an honorable hero who managed to save the day just in time and the horrible villain who was always defeated. Sometimes, there was a sidekick or a damsel in distress.

After school, we would climb into tree house in the backyard and play out her stories. I was always the hero, of course. My mother played the other characters. I outsmarted giants, wrestled with thieves, battled pirates, faced evil sorcerers, climbed mountains, traveled through deserts, and swam the ocean. I saved the world an innumerable amount of times.

My father was more of a realist. My parents balanced each other out well. While my mom's head was in the clouds, my father kept them grounded. We were happy.

But my mother got sick. I didn't understand the gravity of her illness. She grew weaker. We played together less. When she was in the hospital, I would tell her stories. They weren't as good as hers, but she didn't mind. She loved them all the same.

I assumed she would get better. She didn't.


The day after her funeral, I was sitting in the backyard. Now that our relatives had left, the house was despairingly quiet. I heard the back door open and close. I turned around to see that it was my dad. He sat down beside me on the porch.

We were silent for a while. But then my father said, "Ethan, you know I could never replace your mother, but I want you to know that I am going to try to be the best me you could ask for. I'll always be here for you."

"I know, Dad," I replied.

"She'll always be with you, you know, in your memories, in your heart."

"I know."

He sighed and said nothing else. After a while, he got up and said, "I love you, son." Then he went back inside.

I continued staring blankly at the yard. I hadn't been in the tree house since she died. Suddenly, I stood up, walked to the tree, and climbed up. Everything was unchanged. It was like we'd been inside together only yesterday, though it had been weeks.

Here was her half-eaten sandwich on the table. It even had a trace of her lipstick on it. And one of her white socks was on the ground. I remembered she'd thrown it at me while pretending that it was a cannonball.

How could she be dead, gone from the world forever, if so much of her was in this room? If traces of her existence were all around me, how could I accept that I would never see her again?

I angrily reached for the closest object and threw it at the wall. The glass cup I had grabbed shattered gratifyingly.

What was the point of her stupid stories anyway? They weren’t real. Real life didn’t work out like that.

All I ever wanted was to be the honorable hero, the one who was noble and good, who always does what was right. But it didn’t matter. There were no villains to fight against, no damsel who needed saving. There was only life and death and the mother who was cruelly taken from me. There were no happy endings; everyone dies at some point.

I wiped my eyes and made a decision. I climbed down to the ground and went inside, took the matches from the kitchen cabinet, and stuffed them in my pocket. Looking around for my dad, I ran back outside and climbed. Once inside the tree house, I lit some matches and threw them all across the floor.

I climbed back down to the ground and watched my tree house go up into flames. It was time to grow up.

Submitted: October 26, 2014

© Copyright 2020 fishyceleste. All rights reserved.

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