The dusk was starting to settle outside and a gentle breeze bringing hints of autumn rustled the leaves of the old oak tree. The Tree-House creaked gently, its old floorboards peeling, with crayon and marker stains on the walls and floor. You are sitting on the floor with your knees to your chest.

Outside, the gentle lull of crickets are starting to pick up but are interrupted by the thud of boxes your parents bickering. You sigh and bury your head in your knees. You wished they wouldn’t be so loud. 

You look up at your beat up backpack and the pins jabbed hastily into the denim. All these pins were either from family, or were from pop-up art stalls, or were gifts from your artistic friends. They were all unique and each had a story to them. Like the Harry Potter pin, that was a gift from your cousin. And the beautiful enamel pin was from one of your friends. The embroidery on your backpack was done by your grand-mama, who with her arthritic fingers could still sew and embroider with great precision.

You trace the flower and leaf pattern on the edges of your backpack and play with the loose threads, which over time, were starting to undo themselves. You could go on for ages about the pins and the embroidery, but you don’t have that time, outside everyone was preparing to leave.

Getting to your feet, you look around the interior of the Tree-House. The Tree-House seemed to have been crying as the walls now sag with grief and the breeze passing through the leaves sounds like soft sobbing. You trace the chipped brown walls with your fingers and smile sadly at the little drawings and doodles gracing the walls, floor and ceiling. 

Papa was the only person who could reach the ceiling and drew plants and smiley faces with the blue chalk. Mama was short, so the walls were best suited for her. She loved writing and so random phrases were scattered over the walls in weird font, sometimes cursive, sometimes script, sometimes both. You chuckle as the phrases “I love you” and “I’m tired” popped up the most.

Your sister, Lu would draw little hearts on the floor with the yellow markers and would usually eat in the Tree-House, so there were ketchup stains on the floors and other indistinguishable food stains on the walls. And your youngest sister, Vy; well, she drew whatever she wanted. She would smear paint and crayon marks everywhere and wrote her name all over the walls. She loved sleeping up in the Tree-House, with the gentle breeze and the birds chirping and the warm sun.

She had forgotten her pink pillow in a corner, so you pick it up and hug it close to you. It smells like fresh laundry detergent. You plan to give it to her once you leave The Tree-House.

A wave of melancholy hits you. You are not surprised. Leaving home is challenging. Leaving your loved ones is painful. Memories flood back slowly. Good ones and the not-so good ones.

The fight with your best friend in middle school when you came home with tears in your eyes and the fresh feeling of betrayal resting in your chest. You did not know how horrible people could be. It was painful, but then Mama and Papa and Vy and Lu came up and brought blankets and just talked.

They cheered you up and told you it was all part of growing up, all part of the growing pains. The not- so good memories were unpleasant and resurfaced feelings of anger, but the good memories left a bitter-sweet note in your mouth. 

A smile makes its way to your lips as you reminisce your 10th birthday, with grandma and your older cousins and your new baby cousin. The cake was vanilla with jam in the center and cream-cheese frosting. The kids would run up and down, in and out of The Tree-House and skew confetti and balloons everywhere.

Mama and Papa forgot the pinata, but that was okay, you never liked pinatas anyway. After you cut the cake, everyone danced and then settled down to talk about the old-times. Mama would crack a bad joke and everyone would go silent before laughing at her. Papa would tease her about it and then they would kiss and all the kids would squirm.

Before you recognized it, you had started laughing. The Tree-House had been a part of every single one of your memories, both the good and bad. You pat her walls and pick up your backpack, and Vy’s pillow and get ready to leave. Climbing down from the ladder nailed to the tree’s bark, you inhale a gust of late summer air.

It’s almost dark out and the skies are a dark bluish purple. The lights from the Papa's Jeep can be seen from where you stand in the backyard. You look back up at The Tree-House. There are fairy lights strung in the leaves which casts a homely golden hue on the exterior of The Tree-House.

Leaving this place that you called your home, no, that you called your sanctuary would be painful. College would be new and exciting, you say to yourself, trying to console your troubled mind. Walking towards the moving van, you hear laughter and recognize the voices of your neighbours and your family.

You walk towards them and as they notice you, they all don sad smiles. You embrace your neighbours one by one, each of them muttering gentle words of encouragement in your ear. You know that you will miss them greatly, but as you look towards your family, you know that everything will work itself out.

One must leave their comfort zone to truly bloom. You will be okay. Picking up your backpack you follow your parents to their Jeep, you look back one final time; at your house, your cherished memories and your neighbours. You look to your backyard and the great boughs of oak tree can be seen from the front lawn. The fairy-lights of The Tree-House twinkle in the darkness. Good-bye Tree-House. 

July 31, 2020 17:56

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Gopika Ashokan
08:06 Aug 08, 2020

Really loved the story! You did a great job in bringing out the contrast between places which are close to our heart and places which are out of our comfort zone and are marked by a feeling of uncertainty, with the help of the Tree House – a symbol of memories and a feeling of home.


A.d Bunni
21:33 Aug 09, 2020

Thank you so much for reading and leaving such a nice comment! I highly appreciate it :) Yes, the Tree House symbolizes both uncertainty but the prospect of a new and exciting future!


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