TITLE: Building a Tree House (and Other Life Projects)
GENRE: Contemporary Middle Grade Novel
As the screen door fwapped shut behind me, I could still hear Daryl’s words rattling around inside the house. I leapt off the back porch. I ran.
I heard Daryl’s hollerin’. But I didn’t stop. Not when the yard turned to woods. Not when the waffled ground made my ankles turn crooked one way, then the other, in my flip flops. Not when branches and thorns grabbed at my bare legs. And even though the heat and the humidity tried to stop me too, I didn’t. As Daryl always said, I may have been a worthless girl, but at least I could run.
I ran until I couldn’t hear Daryl’s hollerin’. Until I could no longer feel his grip squashing my arm. And until I couldn’t feel the wallop he gave me on the back.
I slowed down deep in the woods, on a path by the creek. I stood among the hickory and oak trees, trying to find my breath, listening for footsteps. Finally I stepped off the path. I leaned against a trunk as thick as a pot-bellied stove. As I tilted my head back to let the air to fall into my lungs, I saw the gnarled arms of the oak stretched out in all directions. And I don’t know how much trees know about escapes and the safety of girls running from their stepfathers. But that tree was reaching out to me. I climbed.