It had been a long, hot summer day and with the local pool being closed, the only escape from the scorching sun was the treehouse. In the afternoon, a light breeze blew through the hole in the wall Dan always called a window. It was made last fall on the worst day of his life. Today, though, was a good one. Dan and Ella were sitting on the warm oak flooring of their secret place, away from parents, teachers, doctors, and any problems the two had. They were reading, Dan a comic book and Ella a magazine about animals. Dan liked the animal magazine better than the comic book, but didn’t want to admit it. His older brother said comic books made him look cool, so he just went with it

"What do you want to do?" Dan asked Ella as he put the book down.

"I don't care. Whatever you want to do is fine by me,” she responded as she flipped through the pages looking for the picture of the baby tiger. Tigers were Dan’s favorite animal and she wanted to show him one in exchange for him reading the comic book she knew he didn’t like. Dan could normally read for hours, so his five minute span with the comic book exposed his hatred towards it. 

Dan was frustrated to hear her typical answer to everything repeated for the thousandth time, but his older brother tells him to get used to it because “women never know what they want.” Dan listened to a lot of the things his older brother told him. Even though Chris was just four years older, apparently middle school teaches you a lot about life. His Mom always tells him to ignore Chris’s comments, but Dan thinks he’s really smart. 

“Chris was telling me about how he holds hands with his girlfriend,” Dan said quietly, not sure if he even wanted Ella to hear him.

“His girlfriend or girl that’s a friend?” Ella askes with an interested but skeptical expression. She was always curious when Dan brought up his older brother’s relationship, even though she didn’t understand half of what Dan told her.

“Girlfriend I think,” Dan responds, not too sure what the difference was. He would ask Chris later.

“Oh. Good for him,” she says, apparently uninterested again.

“Do you want to maybe try it out? You know just to see what it’s like?” Dan asks with a dash of hope in his voice although he’s not too sure why. He just hoped Ella wouldn’t catch on to his strange optimism. 

“Sure I guess,” she responds trying to sound nonchalant. She had always been good at hiding her feelings, but Dan rarely picked up on her tone anyway. One time, he had told her that women are too emotional and laughed when they realized Dan cried more than Ella. 

Dan reaches out towards Ella and she grabs his wrist and squeezes.

“Ow! I don’t think that’s how you’re supposed to do it,” Dan exclaims as he shakes her off.

“Sorry. That’s how I hold my daddy’s hand when I’m not feeling good. I can try again,” she responds as her face turns bright red. Dan gives her an odd look; shouldn’t his face be red since the squeeze hurt him?

Ella picked Dan’s hand up and lined their fingers up. His hand was a little bigger than hers and they laughed when he wrapped the tops of his fingers over hers. She moved her hand over a little bit and rested her fingers on the canyons between his. Dan did the same. The two look at their hands interlocked with each other and smile softly so the other one doesn’t see. After what feels like a million years, Dan releases her hand. The two sit in silence as awkward as the thought of girlfriend versus girl that’s a friend. 

“Well I better get home for dinner,” Ella finally says to break the silence.

“I should get going too,” Dan responds bleakly.

As they’re getting up, Ella stumbles backwards and grabs Dan’s wrist. She squeezes  tighter than before but this time, he doesn’t let her go.

“Ella are you okay?” he yells in fear.

She didn't respond and panic started to set in. 

“Ella! Answer me!” he yelled louder this time as he held her hand tightly.

No response. The tears began to gather in the corners of his eye. He heard his brother telling him “boys don’t cry in front of girls they want to impress” but he couldn’t help it. Dan sat down on the cold floor, still holding her hand, and waited for Ella to come back to him. 

Hours later, Dan opened his eyes to a hand shaking his shoulder.

“What are you doing up here Dan? We told you it’s too dangerous,” a voice said. Dan couldn’t make the voice out in the pitch black.


“Yes honey. Now let’s get down from here. We’ve been worried about you.”

Dan sat up and looked down at his still clenched fist. He sighed heavily and whipped the now dried tears from his face. He could still feel her hand, see her face, hear her voice. It seemed no matter what he did, Ella was always on his mind. 

“I miss her Mom,” he said quietly.

“I know you do honey. What happened was terrible, but you have to stop thinking about it.”

Everyone always told him he had to “move on”, “forget about what happened”, “remember it wasn’t his fault”, and “play with the other kids,” but Dan couldn’t seem to shake her from his mind. There is just so much he wanted to talk to her about, show her, and do with her. Now all he can do is pretend. 

“I never think about her when my eyes are open, but whenever I fall asleep, she’s the only thing I dream about,” he responds shakily.

“I know it’s hard Dan, but you will make other friends.”

“ Maybe. I’ll never let her go. I’ll always be holding her hand.”

July 12, 2020 19:30

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Nancy Drayce
10:17 Jul 19, 2020

Wow... this story is beautiful! I loved it! I was so surprised at the end, I haven't expected it at all! Nice job, just keep writing! 🧡


Madelyn Sanchez
18:05 Jul 19, 2020

thank you so much


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Serine Achache
18:38 Jul 18, 2020

It's really beautiful! Well done and keep writing!


Madelyn Sanchez
18:44 Jul 18, 2020

thank you! that means a lot!


Serine Achache
19:01 Jul 18, 2020



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