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The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes

Tree Hut
Chris Castle
After her sister died, Annie walked round the empty house for a good long while. After her aunt and uncle left to arrange the funeral, she stayed for a night, two, trying to eat up every scent, absorb the dust into her skin.


At night she lay awake, waiting for her last dreams to materials, float over head and when she woke she used her last, unwashed coffee cup, drank from every angle to offer her one last goodbye.

Afterward she packed a rucksack, the one they used for weekend road-trips and drove to a nearby by forest. She wore the rucksack, climbed the gate and walked deeper into the woods. Amongst the trees she walked until at last she found the tree-house.

The brothers Mulligan had built the house and lost it to them in a game of strip poker. Over and over they returned, thinking it was all a joke, a mistake, that the girls stayed in the tree-house; they thought they would grow bored and return to flat land and dolls. But they stayed and stayed and at last it was the boys who moved on.

She climbed the tree, the branches thicker and more secure now and climbed inside the hut. With the tree torch she mapped out the hut floor, laid a bedspread for sleeping by along the floor. And she lay there and waited for the morning, leaving everything that one night, untouched.

The next morning, she cleared the floor, opened the widows, put down her books, the food. She walked over and looked at the forest, crouching to see it from the same level as years before. She smiled briefly at the view, then felt the draught, the space on her shoulder where her sister should have been. And the smile faded. She returned to the centre of the room, drew out pencils, her sketch book. Then she pulled the small stereo from her bag. She emptied out the old tapes, the ones they used to make from the radio charts on Sunday evening, giggling when they missed pause and the DJ squeeked on for a second. She played them one by one, the music they listened to and began to draw.
She sketched in pencil first, then charcoal, added colours. She drew until her fingers seized, her nails bled. When these things happened she made herself stop, forced herself to eat. All her sisters favourite foods; enjoying the cakes, the turkey sandwiches, wincing and gagging on the lettuce and the liquorice. At night she’d draw until she slipped away, waking early with pages as much  as sheets wrapped up to her chin.

Sometimes she rose and walked around the hut, finding what had gone before. She found carvings on the beams, J.S 4 I M 4eva! Then another, with new initials. Stains on the wood from where they’d drank, stub marks from where they’d tried to smoke. She made her way to the bookshelf, and pulled out each one. Some pages were blurred over, others ripped. Some had been marked with her sisters handwriting in the margins;- ‘ah…sweet!’, ‘ace!’, ‘huh?’. She ran her  fingers over  writing, imagined she felt the indent of her sisters fingertip as she did. She found two books, each dedicating one to the other. She tore both pages out and set them by the sketch book and began to draw. She drew on until her fingers went to sleep and she shook the blood back into them. She wrapped herself in her blanket and sat by the window, the light strong and the skies clearing. She looked at her sister as a baby, as a kid. She looked and remembered. She read her letters, replayed her last message on her phone.  She closed her eyes and saw her pass her driving test, her house, her marriage. How beautiful she became as she grew older, her eyes emboldened by time, her smile her own. She opened her eyes and saw the sketch book full and finished. She laid it down outside it was dark and stars were everywhere in the clear sky, her sisters favourite night scene.

She moved over to the middle of the hut. She stayed wrapped in the blanket now, lay down on the floor. She reached into the back and pulled at the candle, the matches. She lit it, placed it by her side. She set the book close by, so the wax spilled down and pooled, lazily sealing the cover of her sister’s life. And then she lay still, looking at the stars gathering and closed her eyes. And she imagined she slept, slept and finally dreamt with her sister, their hands outstretched and close by. And she reached for her then, and found her, her fingertips out and toppling the candle which fell onto the floor, the books. And she smiled, the two of them returned and safe in their home on this perfect night.
© Chris Castle July 2010
Chris Castle

He looked down at her in the bed. He woke her, dressed her and together they ate breakfast. After a while he stole a car from the street and drove it back to the house.

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