The Treehouse – Chapter 6

“If you’re going to smoke that shit, get it out of the house, goddammit!”

I clenched my teeth in frustration. Granny’s voice practically rattled the trailer. Mom hadn’t had a shift at the local diner in a couple of days and was bored. And like usual, when his mom got bored, she smoked. And if the sound of his granny’s voice was any indication, Mom was smoking weed.

I closed my Sgt. Rock comic and grabbed a tank top from the floor. I held it to my nose; it passed the smell test, and I pulled it on and closed the door to my cramped bedroom. Granny sat in her old recliner, facing the TV. Bob Barker was on the screen telling some contestant to come on down.

I found Mom sitting on the steps of the trailer. The sweet-spicy odor of weed assaulted my senses when I walked down the cinder-block stairs. Mom’s eyes were glassy when she looked up at me, “Oh, hi, honey. You off to play?”

Her eyes were bloodshot and red-rimmed. She and some guy she had met at one of the local bars had come home last night late. Her room was at one end of the trailer, next to mine. They had been loud, fucking a couple of times before her hook-up had left and I finally fell asleep.

I wanted to yell at her, tell her to go over to that guy’s place if they were going to fuck all night. But I didn’t want to get the shit beat out of me, and thought it best to just answer the question, “Yeah. Gonna go hang out with Eri-, Erik. You working tonight?”

Mom took a hit on the blunt and blew the smoke away from me, “I think so. May see if Jimmy Todd wants to hang out afterward.”

I turned away and took a step toward the road to hide my grimace. I didn’t know if I could take another night of moans and her bed shaking. My mask slipped, “You going over to his place after work?”

A hitch in Mom’s throat told me I had gone too far. Her voice was icy, “No. Why?”

I wanted to kick myself for stirring her anger. I also wanted to unload on her and tell her how her choices were fucking my life up. But I couldn’t. After all, if she hadn’t moved us back to Zavalla, I would never have met Erin. We were fast becoming more than just best friends.

We went into town the day before to trade in some Coke bottles for their deposits, and that had been a couple of days after the rainstorm, which had led to the most amazing night of my life. My feelings for Erin for were complicated. It felt good to have a friend, especially after the rough month since moving to town. But the feelings I had for Erin new to me.
Instead of answering Mom directly, still facing away, I said, “It’s nothing. Do you mind if I spend the night over at Eric’s?”

Some moms would have said, “Let me talk to his mom.” Not my mom. She shrugged, “Suit yourself.”

With that out of the way, I grabbed my bike and headed toward the road. A couple of minutes later, I veered off the road and rode over patches of grass and pine needles toward the tree house. I sighed, wishing I could sort out my emotions, because I wasn’t about to stop hanging out with Erin, no matter my inner confusion.

I jumped off my bike as it rolled to a stop under the treehouse. I laid it against the tree and called, “Erin, you around?”

The surrounding trees absorbed the sound. The only response was a pair of robins chirping happily in a nearby tree. I called the girl’s name a couple of more times before climbing the ladder. There was no way I was going back home. Even so, I didn’t know how Erin would handle me going into the treehouse. So, I did the next best thing and sat on the outer ledge that ran around the outside of the treehouse, dangling my legs over the edge. I was well on my way to overcoming my fear of heights, and now hanging my legs off the ledge only bothered me a little.

I lay my head back, resting it against the treehouse wall. This was the first time I hadn’t found her here when I arrived. I debated with myself whether I should go over to her house and knock. I hadn’t made my mind up when my eyes closed and I drifted off to sleep.

A voice gently massaged my consciousness, “Hey, Bry.”

I heard it a couple of more times. Then Erin’s voice got loud, “Dude, wake up.”

My eyes shot open to a canopy of leaves masking the rising sun. Then Erin’s angular face filled my vision. Her strands of sun-bleached blonde hair were messily parted to her right. When she smiled at me, my heart warmed. I was never happier to see her.

“Oh, hi.”

Erin sat beside me and dangled her legs over the side, “How’s it hanging, Bry?”

I sat up, rubbing the back of my head where it had rested against the treehouse wall, “Okay, I guess.”

She gave me a mischievous grin, “No, dude. You’re supposed to say, ‘Mighty low,’ or something like that.”

This was new to me. “Why?”

She leaned against me, her bare shoulder touching mine. We both wore tank-tops that had better fit us last year. Her voice was low, conspiratorial, and also filled with mirth, “What do you have that hangs down?”

It finally clicked. “My balls?”

Erin rested a hand on my knee, “Ding, ding! Give the man a prize.” Then she repeated her question, “So, Bry, how’s it hanging?”

I couldn’t help giggling. I was glad to have my friend beside me, “Um, really low?”

Erin burst out laughing, “You’re so much fun, Bry. How long have you been waiting?”

The sun was blocked, but it was warmer than it had been when I arrived, “Dunno. A while, I guess. Where were you?”

“I had to take the kids for a swim and take a shower.”

Listening to Erin was an education unto itself. “Kids? For a swim?”

She leaned against me, laughing until she squeaked out, “Oh, jeez, you’re too much, man. Taking the kids for a swim means I was taking a shit.”

If it had been anyone other than Erin, I would have been angry. But not with her. “Oh. I hadn’t heard that before. So, what do you want to do today?”

“There’s a cool place up-river from here. You wanna see it?” Erin said as she climbed to her feet.

She could have told me we were going to go hunting slugs or looking for toxic sewage and I would have been game. So long as we could hang out together. “Sure.”

On the way back to her house, she said, “We need to pack a lunch, grab the sunscreen. We’ll be gone most of the day.”

My shoulders were chilled as she made baloney sandwiches. His mom really kept the A/C low. As if thinking of her would make her appear, Erin’s mom shuffled into the kitchen. Her eyes were red and bloodshot, “Good morning, pumpkin. Who’s your little friend?”

I felt a moment of déjà vu. It had only been a couple of days since I met Erin’s mom. My friend’s eyes narrowed and her nose flared. “This is Bryan. He’s a friend from school.”

Over the past week, spending so much time with her, I was learning to tell when the girl was upset. The flare of her nostrils was one of her tells. And her nostrils were flaring. Instead of responding, she opened the fridge and handed her mom a bottle of bear. Her mom popped the top and took a drink. Her eyes lost focus for a moment as she took another swig. Then she looked over at me, “Good morning, pumpkin. Who’s your little friend?”

Erin sent a warning look at me and shook her head, “This is Bryan, Mom. Why don’t you go watch TV?”

Once we had the Igloo cooler packed with sandwiches and drinks, we were out the back door, heading to the river. Erin cast one glance behind her, “When she drinks, she forgets things. And she’s almost always drinking. The booze really fucks with her memory.”

I dodged an ant pile, “Does she work?”

Erin shook her head, “Before Dad got sick, she did. But since then, she gets money from the government for me and a check from Dad’s insurance policy for herself.

We hadn’t moved the canoe since the storm. The river was back at its regular level, so we had to push it about twenty feet back into the water. Once she set the Igloo in the canoe, Erin retrieved the Coppertone bottle, “Before long, we’ll be tanned enough that we won’t get burned. But until then, we best put this stuff on.”

She pulled her tank-top off and squirted the goop onto her chest and rubbed it in. “There’s not usually anyone fishing up river. And if they are, they’ll probably think I’m a boy.”

I certainly wasn’t going to let Erin be the only shirtless person in the canoe. I tossed my shirt into the boat and took a dollop from the bottle and rubbed it across my chest. When I finished, she turned her back to me, “Get me good back there, Bry. Then I’ll get you.”

I loved the feel of her silky skin under my lotion-covered fingers. Touching her like that made me hard. But I was wearing my favorite cut-offs, so there was little risk of being seen. Once I finished smearing her back with the stuff, she returned the favor. When done, she pointed toward my seat, “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

The river flowed languidly along with barely a current. Working our way against it wasn’t very hard; Erin was a strong paddler. After an hour of paddling, Erin scanned the side of the river as though looking for something. She used her paddle to point to a tree covered peninsula that curved out from the west bank. It was shaped like a fishing hook, creating a natural J. She steered us into the inlet created by the peninsula.

Grassy spots were interspersed among the trees on the peninsula. Erin pointed at one spot, “That’s where we’ll eat lunch. Dad and I used to come here and have picnics.”

She steered us toward the spot. Once the bow touched the shore, I jumped out and tied the canoe to one of the trees. Once I secured the boat, I studied the cove formed by the curving peninsula. Cut off from the rest of the river, there was no visible current. Also, without the current carrying silt, the water was clearer. I could see the bottom out to a depth of several feet, something that wasn’t possible in the rest of the river.

By the time I finished taking in the tranquil surroundings, Erin had spread a blanket over the grass and set the Igloo next to it. “Whatcha think of this?”

She was right. Unless you knew about this place, you’d never know it by cruising up and down the river. “I think it’s pretty tight.”

Erin grinned as she shimmied out of her shorts. She wore a pair of white panties. When she saw the stunned expression on my face, she quipped, “It’s more comfortable this way. Nobody’s going to come into this inlet, Bry. The times my dad brought me here, we never saw a soul.”

While Erin sat down in just her panties and rooted through the cooler for our sandwiches, I followed her lead and came out of my shorts. Except for the fly at the front, my briefs and her panties looked almost the same.

After devouring a sandwich, Erin leaned back, “I haven’t come here since my dad died. But coming up here, I feel closer to him than anywhere else. We’d go swimming here when we had our picnics.”

At the word swimming, I realized we didn’t bring any swimsuits, “You plan on swimming?”

She dipped her head, “Sure. Why not? This is perfect swimming weather.”

“But we didn’t bring swimsuits.”

“So? We’ll go skinny dipping.”

I plopped the last of my sandwich in my mouth at that. I had nothing clever to say. Plus, I should have known. Erin told me before, she enjoyed skinning dipping in the river. She probably thought I was on board with it, too. The truth was, I was. Well, the part about being naked together. The swimming part would take some getting used to.

“Um, okay.”

My hesitancy came through. She leaned over and even though we were alone, she whispered, “It’ll be fun. We can see each other naked.”

She punctuated her words with a quick kiss and then grabbed her panties and tugged them off. My breath was caught in my throat at the sight of those pale lips between her legs. Before I knew it, she gripped the elastic band on my underwear, “Please, Bry. It’ll be fun.”

Was she asking me please about going skinning dipping or because she was poised to pull my underwear off? Throughout most of lunch, my penis had given me a break. But as I felt her fingers against my hips, the blood flowed back in, turning it stiff. “O-, okay.”

She tugged at my underwear, sliding the front part down. She pulled the elastic away from my skin far enough for my stiffy to pop free. When I lifted my butt, the back side of my underwear slid down and she made quick work, tossing them aside.

I caught my hands as they wanted to cover myself, and just rested them on my hips. I may not be sure about getting in the water naked, but the way it felt to have Erin staring at me felt incredible, and I was happy to just lay there and be stared at.

After a couple of minutes, Erin took my hand and pulled, “Okay, we can fool around later, I want to go swimming now.”

I was still processing her words that we would fool around later, as she dragged me to my feet and into the water. Summers in East Texas could be brutally hot and humid. And the water felt amazing. Once I was in past my waist, Erin let go and swam into the inlet’s deeper water.

It took a few minutes for me to stop worrying about whether there were snakes in the water or a snapping turtle swimming around that ate penises. Erin’s energy was contagious. We were soon splashing water at each other. That led to wrestling in water up to our chests. She was bigger, stronger, but I still dunked her almost as often as she did me.

By the time we finally dragged ourselves out of the water, the skin on our fingers was wrinkled and I collapsed with a tired sigh on the blanket. Erin went down on all fours before turning on her side and laying against me, “How was that, Bry?”

I couldn’t believe I had ever been scared of skinny dipping. I would happily strip off my clothes and follow Erin into any pool of water she chose. “You were right. It was fun.”

She kissed my cheek, “Turn on your side, Bry. Let’s kiss some more.”

When I rolled onto my side, our faces were even with each other. I could feel Erin’s buds against my chest. My stiffy lay flat, smashed between Erin’s lower abs and my pubic bone. She murmured, “Yeah, you feel good, Bry.”

“Y-, you too.”

Her lips pushed against mine. Every time we kissed, I tried to figure out what Erin did and then copy it. I had stopped puckering like a fish several kisses before. Now, my lips formed the same O as Erin’s. Then she did something I didn’t expect. Her tongue pushed through my kiss, straight into my mouth. Right away, I realized this was something more. I had watched enough TV and movies and knew what a French kiss was. There was something more sexual about a French kiss than just a regular, and my lips opened wider to give Erin easier access to my mouth.

My mouth tingled as her tongue explored my every inch. It was as if bright lights were exploding inside my mind, sending jolts of pleasure running down my spine into my stiffy. When she pulled her tongue back, my instinct kicked in. My tongue wasn’t as sure as Erin’s had been. But I pushed it through her lips, running it along her teeth. Beyond her teeth, I felt another jolt of pleasure when I found her tongue lying in wait. As I pushed my tongue into her mouth, her tongue slid along mine, turning my mind foggy.

My brain was mush when I pulled my tongue from Erin’s mouth. She had wrapped her arms around my neck and when the kiss ended, our faces stayed close together. Her tongue darted out and licked the tip of my nose, “And that’s how the French kiss.”

My pulse raced. My heart thundered in my chest. The emotions I felt for her, I didn’t know how to put them into words. What I knew was I wanted to be next to her every moment of the day. And that reminded me, “I asked my mom, and I can spend the night if that okay.”

Erin’s grin got even wider at that. “Awesome. You saw Mom already. She’s probably going to be too shit-faced by the time we get back to help with dinner.”

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