Tree house

Dad built the tree-house in the old fig tree when I was ten. Perched in the convergence of three snaking trunks it had a rope ladder to a little deck like a miniature house in the sky.

Monica lived next door. She loved to come up there in summer. We’d spend hours playing cards, drinking cordial, wrestling and laughing.

She brought the pieces of her father’s old fishing rod with her one afternoon. ‘What are those for?’ I asked.

She put them together. ‘Perfect. I’ll show you.’ She went out onto the deck and reached with the rod toward my bedroom window. Tap, tap-tap. Tap, tap-tap. ‘That’ll be my signal. I’ll meet you here tonight.’

That summer we snuck out after dark whenever we could, with midnight snacks and torches. Sometimes she’d bring a radio and we’d dance or sing along to pop-songs.

I was twelve. The following winter her family moved away. In her absence I began to think differently about her. I missed her in an unexpected way. Each summer that passed I wished we’d had more summers together.

I’m eighteen now—home from college. Up in my old room I’m woken from half-sleep. Tap, tap-tap. Tap, tap-tap. She’s there like a vision—tomboy skinniness all curves now but hair still Mia Farrow short.

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