(This is one of 10 preview chapters for Boys & Girls: Part I. You can see the rest of the chapters on the official page)
August 1st, 2010
Kinsky, California, USA
A young black-haired boy ran up a forested hill, surveying the land before him. With his eyes peering the horizon, he suddenly stopped and pointed westward.
“Over yonder, ye scallywags! Our glory comes ever closer!”
Two other children followed him from behind: a boy and a girl, both blond. Both dragged large red wagons filled with supplies behind him. The boy brought his wagon to the top of the hill, then sat down panting.
“Why… do you not have to carry these things?”
The surveyor turned around, putting his hands on his hips. “Because, as leader, I take on the very important role of keeping the operation together, and bringing us to our ultimate objective.”
The girl came not far behind, grunting as she pulled her wagon through the rocks. “I don’t… remember… any of us making you leader.”
“Come on, I can see it from here. Just a little ways left to go!” Before the two wagon-holders could respond, the self-proclaimed leader was already running down the other side of the hill. They both looked at each other, clearly unamused, then followed.
The tree was a lot larger than any of the ones they had seen before that day. Its trunk was old but solid, and its branches were few. Cole climbed up the tree to its largest branch. After shaking it vigorously, it scarcely moved.
“Guys, I think this one works!” He said as he jumped down. “Lukas, go tell your dad!”
As Lukas ran off, the girl sat down in front of the wagon, mostly relieved she didn’t have to pull it anymore. Cole walked around the tree, examining its foundations.
“Doesn’t that branch look a little uneven?” The girl commented, pointing up to the part of the tree Cole had dropped down from.
“Don’t be a doubter, Kat! If this ain’t it, we aren’t gonna find one today.”
Kat sighed, and grabbed a bag of Fritos from her wagon. She ate a couple, then looked up to Cole. “Want some?”
Cole reached over and took some right out of the bag, taking it into his mouth and chomping down. The two sat together eating, when Lukas finally came back with an adult man.
“So?” Lukas pointed up to the tree for assessment. The older man, who had the same blonde hair and blue eyes as Lukas, wore a nice yellow dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He leaned against a nearby tree on the periphery, and thought to himself for a moment, looking at the tree in all its form.
“You know… I think I could do something with this one.” The man finally responded.
“Really?” Cole proclaimed ecstatically.
“Yeah, I think so. You’ll just have to give me some time to build it.”
Lukas looked up at him, eyes bright. “Thanks, dad!”
“Thanks, Mr. Schrodden!” The two kids behind him similarly cheered out, in unison. Mr. Schrodden smiled at the kids, taking his weight off the tree.
“No problem, guys. Just head back and eat lunch with Mrs. Schrodden for now, and I’ll tell you when I’m finished.”
The kids ran off, and Mr. Schrodden got to work.
A few hours later, and there was something new. The treehouse was relatively small — perhaps testament to the lack of knowledge transfer between Mr. Schrodden’s background in electrical engineering versus making a treehouse — but it was a treehouse by all definitions. The kids came to the tree with Mrs. Schrodden in tow. They all looked up, in awe at the structure.
Mr. Schrodden, crossing his arms and leaning against a nearby tree with sweat on his brow, looked at Mrs. Schrodden and smiled. “Well?”
Mrs. Schrodden let out a little giggle. “Impressive work, Christopher.”
The three kids ran up the imprinted ladder, very impatient with wanting to get inside and see. Mr. Schrodden tried to ease them up to be careful, but quickly realized it was fruitless and just let them all huddle in.
The treehouse was plain, with wood planks and a small plastic window. But the kids were inspired, seeing in their mind’s eye what could be, enthralled by the possibilities of a little space all to themselves.
“Kids, come out for a sec!” Mrs. Schrodden called out. “I want to take a photo to remember the moment!”
While the kids would rather stay, they decided to head back down to fulfill this onerequest. The mother took out her camera, pointing it some distance away to catch both the house and the children. Mr. Schrodden looked on from his vantage point, impressed by his own handiwork.
“Alright, get together!” The mother kneeled down, closing one eye to focus on the camera lens. The kids put their arms around each other, and gave their biggest smiles. Mrs. Schrodden hit the button, and the light flashed.