Fidget Cubes, a prince, and a treehouse

Submitted for Contest #50 in response to: Write a story about a summer afternoon spent in a treehouse.... view prompt

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Jul 13, 2020

General

Isaac could proudly say that he was not like other girls. For one thing, he was a boy. For another, he was sixteen and still played in a treehouse. You couldn't quite call it playing, seeing as he spent most of his time there staring at one of the walls and thinking. He liked thinking. He liked it so much that he would evade the palace guards so that he could do it in peace.

He had also built and furnished the treehouse out of pocket, despite being a prince.

The common folk were always happy to make him work for money. He loved that they treated him like an ordinary person instead of a prince. The royal advisors and the rest of his family thought that it was their sworn duty to boss him around. The common folk weren't like that. It was refreshing.

His treehouse's wallpaper was pretty much just receipts taped to the wall. There were glowing vigils written on the back of them, and people thought that this was strange. This was because the well had given him a gift of communication. This skill came in handy with both demons and Voyagers. To be honest, there wasn't much of a difference between the two.

Isaac paused, his thoughts resting on the last Holiday. His sister had gotten hurt. His sister. The princess and firstborn. The future monarch. A knock at the bottom of the tree shook him out of his wonderings. He looked down the tree at the person at the bottom. It was Jay.

Thank goodness.

"Permission to come aboard, captain?" She was out of uniform which meant that they were free to make as many jokes as they wanted to.

"Aye, soldier." Isaac didn't know pirate terminology and he wasn't going to start using the right words now. He tossed the rope ladder down, and Jay scaled it with ease. She hovered in the doorway as he scooched back to make room for her. It wasn't a very big treehouse. She hoisted herself in and sat down on one of his beanbags. It was strange to see her out of uniform, like seeing a teacher out of school.

"What's up?" Isaac asked, plopping down onto the other beanbag. Jay had dark circles under her eyes and she looked like a plant with a crutch put under it to grow right.

"Do I need an excuse to hang out with my best friend?" She asked, shooting a playful glance at Isaac. He felt his eyebrows ascend like an angel to heaven.

"Yes. Also, since when was I your best friend? It's been ages since we last hang out." Isaac grabbed a fidget cube off his coffee table and started pressing buttons. He and Jay had been collecting them since they were little. Jay mimicked him, grabbing a red one. They sat in silence for a minute, Isaac giving Jay a minute to sort out her thoughts.

"Well, I wanted to make sure that you were okay after y'know... The Holiday. I mean, it didn't seem like you got hurt, but I feel like I kinda ignored you in the moment. So here I am." Jay scowled into her lap at her own mention of the Holiday and looked up at him after a second.

Isaac could almost feel little butterflies of happiness stampeding around inside of him. No one had come to see how he was after the Holiday. To be fair, he wasn't the one who got stabbed, but still. It hurt. It was like everyone decided that he didn't matter as much as Christina.

"Thanks, Jay. I mean it. I felt kind of bad after the event because I didn't get to talk to Christina afterward. Which means that I feel like a terrible brother now. And then, no one was talking to me except, uh, my employers. So I've been keeping busy." Isaac looked down at his fidget cube as he spoke. Neither of them loved making eye contact for extended periods of time.

"I get it. I mean, even I ignored you, and I'm supposed to be your good friend. So, I'm sorry." Jay looked up and made eye contact. She had the strangest eyes. Isaac nodded, not knowing what else to say. So he decided to tease.

"I always thought that you were better friends with Christina, I mean, you guard her all the time. She talks about you a lot, too." He gave her a small smirk and an eyebrow raise.

As planned, Jay turned bright red and glared at him, a return smile on her lips. "I don't know why I'm friends with you. You're so mean to me. For the record, I protect Christina because it's my job, and sworn duty. So....."

Isaac liked to think that he was pretty good at telling when people were lying. He usually wasn't.

"FaLsEhoOd!"

Jay snapped her fingers twice next to her ear. "I stand corrected."

Isaac snickered, and Jay let out her own chuckle. "So, anyway..."

They both looked for a new topic while playing with fidget toys. No one found anything, so they sat in silence for the better part of twenty minutes. Jay checked her watch.

"I better go, my post is gonna start soon." Isaac let out a noncommittal noise and looked up.

"But you got here like, ten minutes ago. Can't you stay?" He asked. Jay rolled her eyes at him and put the fidget toy on the coffee table,

and throwing the rope ladder down.

"No, I came to you on my break instead of taking some alone time, so you're welcome for that. Also, I'll be back later. Bye." She started down the ladder but poked her head in again to say bye.

"Bye." She left, and he returned to his thoughts. Isaac thought back to when he was just a fisherman's son. Life had been a lot simpler back then. If he wanted to hang out with a friend, they would come over, and the two of them would spend the day playing in the ocean. It filled him with a sense of nostalgia, but he knew that he couldn't turn back time to when life was easy. The well wouldn't allow that.

He shot up out of his beanbag. What if it had? What if someone had wished to time travel, and hadn't signed up their skill on the Register? Isaac felt a devious smile come over his face, and he crept out of the treehouse.

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