The Treehouse – Chapter 1

When I didn’t move, Bryan got the message and climbed to his feet, ignoring my outstretched hand.

There was a moment when I considered dragging his ass back into the Angelina River and finishing what he’d started, but something inside told me he needed a friend even worse than me. I returned to the road and soon was walking alongside it as it led us toward my house.

We were about half a mile away from it when Bryan stopped and pointed to the right where an old dilapidated single-wide sat. He pointed, “That’s my granny’s place. Me and my mom live there now.”

I winced. That place was a shithole. I grabbed at Bryan’s arm and pulled him along, “That’s cool. That means we’re neighbors. Come on.”

Pine trees lined the drainage ditch on either side of the road. And when we were a few hundred yards shy of the drive leading to where I lived with my mom, I stopped in the middle of the road. The forlorn expression on the boy’s face made me second guess myself for a moment. Could I trust him?

There were no other kids within a couple of miles and with Cheryl shit-talking me to the other girls, I couldn’t afford to be too picky unless I wanted my summer to suck worse than it already did. I turned on Bryan, and after chewing on my lip, said, “Okay, pretty boy. Here’s the deal. I’m going to show you my treehouse. But if you breathe a word of it to anyone else, I’ll take you back to the river and finish the job. Got it?”

Bryan’s eyes were huge, saucer-round when he nodded, “O-, okay.”

With what I hoped was a new friend, I jumped across the culvert and cut through the tree line. Beyond the road was a big thicket of pine trees. The tree tops mostly kept the sun from hitting the ground, and patches of grass were mixed in with plants and decaying pine needles. I knew this area like the back of my hand and moved confidently through the trees, despite the lack of a trail. The further into the forest we went, the towering pine trees intermixed with stately live oak trees.

The boy stumbled as he followed me, and I found myself smiling. It wasn’t his fault, but he reeked of city living. Despite him slowing us down, it only took a few minutes to reach the treehouse. I stopped and pointed, “There it is.”

Bryan’s eyes peered into branches and leaves of the huge live oak that held my private sanctuary. You really had to search to find the wooden walls, so I took some mercy on him and showed him the ladder built into the trunk of the tree, “Come on, Bryan. Follow me up.”

I scampered up the wooden rungs until I reached the wide ledge that ran around three of the four walls of the treehouse. I was most of the way up when I heard his voice waft, “You’re dripping on me.”

Once I stood on the platform, I waved, “Come on up.”

Bryan stood there for a moment. I worried I might have scared him away. My dad used to tell m my personality can be a touch aggressive. Eventually, the boy followed me up the ladder. After he reached the top, he edged over to the plywood walls, as far away from the ledge as possible.

I tried to put him at ease as I pointed out the sturdy construction, “Me and my dad built this. He was a contractor and built houses for a living.”

Then I pointed toward the road, “Your place is back that way.”

Through the trees, I could barely make out my house, “Over there is my house.”

Opposite the direction we came, there was a gap in the trees and I could see the sunlight reflect off water, “Over there’s the Angelina River. It’s not that far from where you jumped. It flows into Lake Rayburn. We have a canoe. My dad used to take me canoeing.”

I enjoyed the look of wonder on Bryan’s face. “Come on, it’s even better inside.”

Opening the door, I waved him into the treehouse. There were windows on three sides, and enough light poured through the shutters for us to see. The mattress I slept on whenever I spent the night was in the middle of the floor. I kept a couple of sleeping bags rolled up atop the mattress. Against the side with the door, was an old dining table me and my dad found one day while remodeling a home. It had seen better days; its Formica top curled along the corners. There was even an old Vietnam-era steel ammo container on the far wall.

Bryan spun around, “Holy shit, Erin, this is cool. Your dad did an amazing job.”

It shouldn’t have. But the comment pricked my pride, “I helped him and did almost as much would as he did. We finished a bit more than a year ago.”

Barely containing a huff, I pointed to a ladder that led to the roof, “Come on, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

I led Bryan up the ladder and pushed open a trap door. The roof was flat with barely any slope. Once he joined me, I spread my hands wide, taking in the almost perfect view from so high up, “This is my kingdom; where I come to get away.”

Bryan’s eyes were wide as he glanced over the side of the roof, “There aren’t any hand-rails. How do you keep from falling off?”

I smirked as I sat on the warm water-proofed linoleum that covered the heavy two-by-fours and plywood that made up my tree house’s roof. “By not falling off. Don’t be such a pussy, Bryan.”

He blushed. I don’t know if it was for being scared or from my language. But I really didn’t care. I loved the warmth beating down on us. Water still drenched us from our earlier dip in the river and my clothes were uncomfortably soggy. Even though I wanted to be friends with him, I wasn’t sure how he would respond if I stripped off my wet clothes. I wouldn’t have batted an eye if it had been me and Wendy. Of course, Wendy and I had seen each other naked several times, so we were already familiar with each other’s bodies.

But Bryan? I didn’t know the boy or how he would respond. Before, when my dad was still alive, I hadn’t had to worry about that. He didn’t care if I ran around in my panties or even naked. I was his little tomboy and clothing was optional when I hung out with him. There was only one way to find out how Bryan would react.

I unbuttoned the top button of my shirt, “What time you gotta be home?”

Bryan tore his eyes away from my hands as I unbuttoned the second button and looked at his watch, “Shit. Stupid watch. Um, I dunno. Mom doesn’t much care. As long as I’m home by dark, my granny won’t care either.”

I nodded as I undid the third button, “I’m soaked, man. I’m going to lay my clothes out to dry. You should too.”

I felt the boy’s eyes on me as finished unbuttoning my shirt. Before things went to shit, Mom would have killed me if she knew I was taking my shirt off in front of a boy. Would probably drag my ass to the store and buy me some undershirts, maybe even a training bra. But my tits were tiny, scarcely bigger than a boy’s. And my shirt was made of a thick cotton weave, making an undershirt unnecessary. I pushed the shirt off my shoulders and spread it over the linoleum to dry.

I didn’t like it when Aaron asked me if I was a pussy. Sure, he was older and taller than me. Until then, he was the only kid who hadn’t teased me or treated me like an outcast. Also, I liked how brash and outgoing he was. After everything I’d endured at the hands of the other sixth-grade boys, I was gun-shy and timid; he was everything I wasn’t.

Except soaked. We were both dripping wet from him saving my ass. Still, when he started to strip on the roof of the tree house, I thought he was brave and cool. After all the torment I’d endured at the hands of my class-mates, I don’t think I could have just taken my shirt off first in front of someone else. He made it seem easy.

Once he laid his wet shirt on the linoleum, Aaron turned to me. He had a farmer’s tan; his arms below where his shirt sleeves ended were golden. His torso was rail-thin. His shoulders were slightly narrower than his hips. His chest was more developed than mine, with puffy nipples like I’d seen on one or two of the older boys.

He dipped his head toward his shirt, “Come on, you’re soaked. They’ll dry quicker if you take them off.”

I grabbed the hem of my T-shirt and tossed it down beside his blue and white checkered shirt before tackling the zipper of my pants. While I sat down to pull my pants down, Aaron unfastened his jeans and jumped up and down on one foot and then the other as he tugged the wet pants legs off.

When he finished, he spread both our jeans out to dry in the sun. When he turned back to face me, my curiosity about the older boy got the better of me. My eyes went to his underwear. He was wearing a pair of white cotton panties. Something else was missing too.

Stunned, I stammered, “Aaron, you’re a girl?!”

Heat radiated from her face as she stared down at me. “Yeah. You didn’t know? Erin’s a girl’s name, you know.”

My hands drifted to my crotch. My underwear was wet and the outline of my penis might have been visible. “It’s not Aaron? A-a-r-o-n?”

She giggled as she sat down across from me, “No, silly. Erin. E-R-I-N. Jesus Christ, this is awkward. I’m sorry, dude. I thought you could tell.”

Seeing her laughing at the misunderstanding, it was easy to find the humor in our predicament. Her chest wasn’t puffy like a teenage boy’s. But like a girl with the first hint of budding breasts. “Oh, shit, Erin. I’m sorry. I, um, screwed that up.”

She leaned back, as though she didn’t have a care in the world, letting the sun dry her skin, “It’s fine, Bryan. Maybe I should have told you when I dragged your ass from the water, that a girl had saved you.”

My ears turned red as I flushed. Jumping off that bridge had been spectacularly stupid. But at least there had been one good thing about it. “Maybe. I’m just glad you were there. I was being stupid.”

She bobbed her head, “Yeah. Don’t fucking do something like that ever again, dude. Or at least wait until summer is over. Otherwise, it’s going to get really boring around here.”
I was sitting on the roof of a tree house, in my underwear next to a girl a year or two older than me, also in just her underwear. The butterflies in my stomach churned. This wasn’t anything like being with Davy, no matter what I had earlier thought. The way she sat, I could see her panties. Just like my underwear, hers were damp and I could see the outline of her puffy slit. No, nothing like being with Davy.

Erin caught my eye and smiled, “You’re checking me out, Bryan. I thought you said you were gay.”

I don’t think I ever stopped blushing, but I sure felt the heat in my face, “N-, no. I said I didn’t know.”

Laughing, she reached over and patted my arm, “I’m just fucking with you, dude. Some of the girls in the eighth grade think I’m a dyke.”

I thought a dike was a dam used to hold back water. “A dam?”

Erin leaned all the way back on the linoleum and laughed. Not a girly laugh, but a belly laugh, “Oh, shit. That’s funny. No. A dyke is a girl who likes other girls. You know, like a fag is for a boy.”

All the pieces fell into place. Erin’s boyish clothing, her short haircut, even the way she talked. It all made perfect sense. Before I could screw up the courage to ask her about it, my expression gave me away. She shook her head, “I don’t know if I am. I enjoy camping, hiking, canoeing. I don’t think those things make me a dike; all I know is I’m a tomboy.”

There it was again. When she spoke, I felt drawn to her. Like some boys, Erin could dominate a conversation if she wanted, just by the strength of her personality. Still, her answer confused me, “Do you like boys?”

She grimaced, “Most of them are stupid.”

The vehemence against my sex stunned me, “B-, but I’m a boy.”

She glowered back, “Yeah. And you tried to kill yourself. That was pretty dumb.”

I lapsed into silence. Erin was right, as much as it galled m to admit it. After a long period of silence, I asked, “Then why’d you show me this place, if I’m dumb.”

Erin shrugged, “This is my first summer without my dad. If you haven’t picked up on it, I don’t exactly have a lot of friends. The girls in my glass think I want to be a boy or am a lezbo, and the boys are dumb. I thought maybe we could be friends, God knows, you could use one.”

The last sentence stung. Probably because there was a ton of truth in it. I wanted a friend more than anything else. Erin was willing and the fact that her treehouse was in easy walking distance from Granny’s trailer and I didn’t have any other prospects, made it an easy decision, “Yeah, I guess that’d be cool, Erin. So, what happened to your dad? Your mom divorce him?”

I figured that was just about the most common reason to not have a dad anymore. I was the poster child for that problem. Erin dropped her eyes; Oh shit. I said something wrong. Before I could figure out how to unsay it, she found her voice, “No. He died of cancer a few months ago.”

I winced. I really stepped in it that time. “Shit. I’m sorry. I just assumed.”

She actually rubbed her eyes. I felt bad as she tried to control her emotions, “It’s no big deal. I’m handling it. Your parents get divorced?”

I nodded. Even though Bill wasn’t my real dad, he was the only father I’d ever known. Still, compared to Erin’s loss, mine seemed insignificant in comparison.

We fell quiet, lying on our backs under the late afternoon Texas sun. It didn’t take too long to feel my skin grow hot. My skin was still pale and I would burn if I stayed out much longer. I sat up and felt my clothes. They were still damp.

Erin eyed me, “We better get back inside before you burn to a crisp.”

As I followed my new friend down the ladder, my eyes were drawn to her back. Erin had a light even tan across of her back. I was pretty sure she only wore a shirt when she had no choice. Compared to her, I was a pasty ghost. Once inside the treehouse, she felt her panties before sitting down on the mattress.

Before I could sit beside her, she held up a hand, “Only if your underwear is dry.”

I couldn’t help but smile at the look on Bryan’s face. The way his long auburn locks framed his face and the way his cute lips formed an O confirmed my earlier assessment. He was a beautiful boy. He patted his underwear and then grabbed a chair from next to the old table and pulled it to the bed, “This okay?”

I felt heat spreading from my cheeks as I nodded. I loved hanging out with Wendy Kennedy. Over the spring, she had really helped get me through a rough patch after my dad died. But her family was moving out of Zavalla now that school was out. She was the kind of friend I could say or do anything with and she would be right there with me. Seeing Bryan lowering himself into the chair, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe we could find something similar between us. What would I have said to Wendy in this situation?

The thought hit me right away. I grinned up at Bryan, “I guess. I was going to say you could sit on the mattress if you took your wet underwear off.”

Bryan’s cheeks turned scarlet, “W-, what? But I’d be naked!”

I could almost imagine bantering with Wendy as I retorted, “So? If you’re a fag, why would that matter?”

When I saw a look of confusion pass over Bryan’s features, I wondered if I pushed things too far. He shook his head, “I don’t know, Erin. How do I know if I am?”

He stunned me with an unexpected admission. I thought for sure he would huff up and deny it. I wanted to reach over to him and hug him and tell him I would still be his friend. But I was enjoying my banter. I leaned forward and put a hand on his knee, “One way to tell what you like is when your dick gets hard. If it gets hard around boys, maybe you’re gay. Around girls and maybe you’re not.”

Warning bells were going off inside my head; I should have stopped there. Instead, I squeezed his knee, “Is your dick hard now?”

Bryan closed his legs and crossed his arms over his crotch as his face remained redder than roses.

I pulled my hand away and sat back on the mattress. “That’s a shame. I’ve never seen a boy naked. Just girls.”

Bryan’s eyes left me. He scanned the treehouse for a moment before saying in a voice that warbled, “What’s there to do around here in the summer?”

Poor beautiful Bryan. He was uncomfortable. I couldn’t let go of how he might could fill the hole in my life created by Wendy’s absence, but I needed to leave that alone for now. I said, “There’s lots to do around here. We can play fort in the treehouse. Pretend there are Indians in the woods. That’d be fun. Right?”

A smile pulled at Bryan’s lips, “Yeah. That’d be fun.”

I waved toward one of the closed windows, “There’s also the river. It’s only a couple of hundred yards over yonder. We can go swimming there, also canoeing. You ever been canoeing?”

The boy shook his head, “No. You’d teach me?”

Wendy hadn’t liked doing a lot of the tomboy stuff I enjoyed. My heart began beating faster at the thought of all the things I used to do with my dad. If Bryan liked to do them too…
I gushed, “Yeah. I love canoeing. Me and my dad went canoeing lots back before he got sick. We can canoe down to Lake Rayburn, have a picnic. It’d be loads of fun. What about a bike? You got one?”

His lips tugged down. He sighed, “Yeah. But it’s a real beater.”

My heart sped up, “No worries. As long as you’ve got two wheels, we can ride around. I know most of the roads between here and Zavalla.”

I was talking too fast and hoped Bryan didn’t notice. I added, “Now that summer’s here, I’m going to sleep out here as often as possible.”

Bryan stared at me, eyes shifting from my face to my chest, down to my panties and back to my face again. But he didn’t relax his arms; they remained folded over his crotch. But his face held a hint of awe, “Your mom will let you?”

The boy was so protective of his crotch; I wondered if he was hard. Wendy was gone, so it wouldn’t be cheating on her if I saw him down there. I pushed the thought aside and replied, “Hell yeah. I turned thirteen last month. But even if I wasn’t, Mom wouldn’t give a damn. She’s in her own world. Sometimes, if I didn’t fix my own food, I think I’d starve. What about you?”
Bryan’s face softened, “I wonder if our moms are, like sisters. My mom doesn’t give a damn about me either. She divorced my stepdad and moved back to this shithole of a town. And we’re living with my granny. It sucks. At least you can escape to your treehouse.”

I didn’t feel lucky. But I felt a real kinship with Bryan at that moment. We were more alike than I would have guessed when I hauled him from the river. Maybe we would become even better friends than Wendy and I had been. “Yeah. I can. And it beats watching Mom drink herself to sleep every night.”

He shook his head, “Fuck. Our moms must be sisters. When my mom comes home from working her shift at the diner, she’ll drink booze and smoke pot until she passes out.”
Yep. Kindred spirits. My chuckle was dry as I climbed off the mattress and went over to the ammo crate. I rooted around, shifting board games like Candy Land out of the way. Pushed my paperback copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory aside until I found a deck of playing cards. “See, I knew there was a reason I rescued your skinny ass.”

I grabbed the other chair and sat at the old dining table and shuffled the cards, “Come on, let’s play some Go Fish.”

We sat there for more than an hour in nothing more than our underwear and built our collection of cards and talked. By the time we finished playing a couple of games, my throat was hoarse, but I felt more alive than I had since my dad died. I wish I had met Bryan when he first enrolled our school back in April; maybe I could have helped him to avoid getting picked on and called names. But one thing was for sure. I wanted to hang out with him as much as possible over the summer. Maybe I was a lesbian, maybe he was gay. Or maybe our first experiences wouldn’t define us. Maybe nothing would happen between us. But whatever may come, I wanted to share it with this long-haired boy who was a year and a half younger than me.

After the game, I fetched our clothes from the roof. They were warm but dry. When Bryan slid his pants up, covering his underwear, I could have sworn I saw a bulge. When I put my shirt on, my cheeks grew warm as I felt his eyes on me. Maybe he was just as curious about me as I was about him. Only time would tell.

Back on the ground, the sun was sliding down the western sky. Brain said, “Thanks for everything, Erin. I’m really glad we met. You’re the coolest person I’ve met since moving to Zavalla.”

The look he gave me melted my heart. God, he was such a beautiful boy. I flushed, “Ah, yeah. Well, I couldn’t let the one boy who might not be silly and stupid do himself in.”

The words felt absurd and not as sincere as I felt. I didn’t’ know what to say and I couldn’t take back the silly words. I stepped forward and put my arms around his shoulders and hugged him. I let go almost immediately, uncertain if I had done the right thing. Bryan’s arms came up and wrapped around my back and he returned the hug. It was over in an instant. I still didn’t know what to say, so I turned and started back toward the house I shared with my mom. A few moments later, heard a tuneless whistle and turned and saw Bryan walk back toward the road.

Copyright 2021 – Caliboy1991
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