We both dance side by side in the treehouse. The colour of the ripe April sun washes over us, brushing our ankles in hot ecstasy. Our movements are aligned as our feet tap and slide against the faded wood floor, rectangles of orange light showering over us.
He is the first to speak as we twirl side by side, "If you are to say - marry someone. What would they be like?"
My muscles tense and the world suddenly becomes blurry. The trees are all I can focus on - thin and lean with pinstripe suits of stripe bark. Confident and proud of collars crease tightly. As the rolls of sweat slither down my arms like writhing snakes, I try to absorb confidence from the lean figures of brown and green, but I can’t. So I try to muster all the sound I can.
"W-well, umm - maybe?" I look nervously down at my bare feet.
"Like me?" He grins, his white teeth sparkling in the sunlight. He tucks his hands into his black denim pockets and bounces slightly on his toes.
"Yeah-no. I mean yes. Of course." My words waver doubtfully.
His smile is a cascade of feelings. His cheeks crease and his eyes begin to well anxiously, but when I smile reassuringly, his expression lightens and his blue eyes begin to glow.
I think of my husband sitting at home, playing with his fingers and staring at the crackling flames. His face inpatient and wavering, beginning to redden with anger. He is probably staring at the thin gold clock, watching the stick-shaped hands rotate, wondering why I am not home and what he'd like for dinner.
I focus back on Julius's empathetic face. A slit of diamond shines in his pocket. The knot in my stomach grows tighter and tighter and the strangling feeling pulsating through me grows stronger and harsher with every painful breath.
The compliments recite through my head. Memories whirl around like smoke. This is wrong. Is it right? The icy stars above his nose shine with glee.
"You are my best friend. And with you, I will share my joys and my pains. And together, we will build a fort of memories and love. My love is a castle - each brick welded with admiration and warmth. I love you."
He slowly begins to crouch down onto his knees and cups his sweaty palms around his thigh. I gasp, my breath, slowly escaping from me like a blackbird from its barred jail.
My heartbeat quickens and anger crackles in my chest. I'm angry at myself for being a monster.
His words are full and my heart is full for him. But my expression is empty - eyes cold and desperate, mind broken, and heart weeping.
Marry. I think of myself walking down to him in a big white gown. Tight at the waist and puffed down to the toes. And I would waltz up to him. Joy jumping around my face.
He opens up a small velvet box, revealing a beautiful golden ring. Embedded with small pearls with one clear diamond laughing in the center. The thought immediately strikes me. He is poor. It must’ve taken him months to save up for this.
I groan and tears fall down my face; so quick and fast that there is nothing that can stop them.
“It’ll be you and me.” He grips onto my hand and pulls me up.
“No-” I squeak helplessly, “No.”
He stares at me, his ocean eyes full of emotion, droplets gathering up at his tawny lashes. My fragile body sags to the ground.
“But-why?” The words are broken and scratchy.
I do not respond.
The cabin is empty for a while the thick rain splatters on the black wood roof. I turn my head and watch as he opens the creaky door. He is probably climbing down the long tree and running away through the wet mulch; his face wet with tears and rain. My head peeks through the window - thinking about all the possible things I could have said. I could've begged for his forgiveness - on my knees. I could have explained it to him. But instead, I glared and crossed my arms against my chest.
I watch as his black denim fades into the deep pine forest. The sun sheds a single orange-ray through the grey clouds. I pick up my leather satchel and crawl quickly down the tree; gripping onto each bony branch with great difficulty. Bruising my elbows, scratching my palms, and cutting my wrists.
The road is thin and pink like a long decrepit worm. The rain is light now; papery drops splatter upon my head, and roll down onto my damp brow. The clouds are yelling at me, they are grey and heavy but lightening by the second. The sun sheds another ray onto me, drying my foot.
Each step is a pain. I’m walking away from the treehouse; a place where I was forever happy and abundant with joy. One. Two Three. Four. Five. And now the treehouse is blurry and out of sight, I am a cloud away from its rain. Because I thrive on the treehouse but now it is gone.
The wooden lavender house swims into view. The dusty windows are in need of washing and the shrivelled brown tendrils are desperate for fresh water. The after-rain mists swarms around the triangular roof, sliced by a colourful rainbow. Which I do not find joy from. I see my husband from the glass panes; a sneer is drawn on his round face and his yellow eyes are bulging with anger. His sleek black hair is combed back, making his forehead look bigger.
His yells are all I can hear when I twist the red copper doorknob. And for a brief second, I imagine walking hand in hand with Julius down this road; opening the door together. But the thought dissipates like a burning house in flames.
“Claudia! Where were you?” My husband growls.
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Well told story , I like that you kept the readers attention and only revealed the reason for Claudia saying no at the end nicely done .
Like others have said your descriptions were amazing in this piece. Look forward to reading more from you Z.H. It's funny my initials are also the same.
I did not expect the ending at all, I loved it! Very surprising and interesting I would love to know more.
The story keeps me hooked from the start with the vivid descriptions. Well done! Would you mind checking my recent story out, "Orange-Coloured Sky"? Thank you!
Just wanted to say, the semicolon isn't needed in the ending paragraph, a normal comma would do just fine! :) The story kept me hooked from the start, loved seeing it unfold.
You edited the whole story, didn't you? It's much more descriptive now, I love it!
I'm glad you think so!