The Treehouse

By Madeline Crowley

1330 Elm street was just your average street. It was a nice place to live. Located in the suburbs, it stretched long and was lined with the average two story homes. Each had a big green grassy yard with a simple driveway and wrap around porch for evening relaxation. There were no fences between any of them, as if the whole street was just one big property. Back then, before she grew old, Penny’s neighborhood was happy. Kids would run around playing for hours, giggling, without a care in the world. Their parents trusted them as long as they made it home in time for dinner. It was the kind of neighborhood that had weekly summer barbeques and everyone knew everyone.

Penny’s home, located in the very center of Elm street, had the biggest yard of all. The grass stretched almost two extra house lengths on each side, yet the house was smaller than most on Elm street. On the right side of her house stood a huge Elm tree. The kind that’s branches grew so long and heavy, not an ounce of sunlight shone through. When she was 6 years old, Penny’s daddy built her a treehouse. Since Penny’s mother died during childbirth, her father worked extra hard to save up for her. The two of them worked long and hard hours on it every summer day and when they finally finished it, they carved their names above the door. It read Penny and Matt with a faint heart outlining the two names, a sign of their love for one another. The treehouse was Penny’s prized possession and she spent nearly every hour of the day playing up in the branches. After school and on the weekends, all the neighborhood children would come and play. One day they all decided to carve their names into the sleek wooden floor. It was from then on, every child that ever came into the neighborhood met Penny and carved in their name. As the years passed, Penny’s neighborhood continued to be a haven of warmth and camaraderie. The treehouse, perched high among the sturdy branches of the old elm tree, became a sacred place for Penny and her friends. It was where they shared secrets, laughed until their sides hurt, and dreamed about their futures. By the time she was sixteen, Penny had a collection of over two hundred names, each one withholding special memories of her childhood.

Penny grew, and the summer before she was to leave for college, her dad was diagnosed with a rare lung cancer. The doctors predicted he had no more than three months of life left. Penny would go to sit in her treehouse every night and cry because she never wanted her father to see how scared she was. Although Penny was never raised to practice a religion or have any sort of faith, she would whisper silent prayers, not knowing who exactly she was speaking to. It wasn’t until one sad night, that there was a slow deep voice that responded back. At first it startled her but then she noticed it was coming from the tree. A little peephole on the back wall of the treehouse, resting directly against the bark, was emitting a soft calming voice. Penny laid her head against the treehouse that she loved with all her heart and listened to the voice telling her everything was alright. She wasn’t sure whether she was imagining it all or if it was real, but the comfort of the tree put her to sleep high up in the branches that night. At dawn, she awoke in a blanket of leaves that covered her through the night Penny got up, in awe of what was happening to her, yet for some reason she wasn’t concerned in the least. As she wandered back into the house she knew exactly what had happened and burst into tears. Her father laid motionless upon the kitchen floor; dead. Penny had nobody left, she was on her own now. 

Several weeks later, Penny had planned to leave for college, but since her fathers death, she decided to stay home. She spent most of her days up in the tree talking through the little peephole. Eventually, they became best friends. Penny would sit up in the treehouse, hours and hours a day as her family house slowly rotted to the ground. All the memories of her father, melting away, she fostered a deeper connection with the great elm tree. The two grew old together until the wrinkles on Penny’s face matched the bark on the tree. Then one day, on a cold, november morning, the leaves of the elm tree grew up over Penny and whispered in her ear lulling her into a long permanent sleep.