Five sophomore friends have a secret tree where they all go to hang out. The tree symbolizes their growing friendship, everything they've been through together. That friendship is about to change drastically.
Chapter One: Wyatt Takes a Tumble
“Race ya!” he shouted at me. His red Converse slapped the warm concrete as he sprinted to our group’s hideout.
“No fair!” I called as I raced after him. Despite my complaints though, I caught up to him and passed him in no time. I breathed deeply, tasting pine and sun. I heard him puffing behind me, trying to catch up.
I spun, allowing my loose wavy raven hair to spin with me. I stared at him as he caught up. His messed up brown hair flopped in his tan face. His sparkling hazel eyes rolled as he slowed to a stop. But his cheeks were slightly flushed with embarrassment. So Wyatt.
“So I can’t keep up with Lightning Lynn. It’s not my fault you have wings on your shoes,” he defended.
I just held up my hands in surrender and climbed up to my branch. And yes, it was my branch. We’d all painted a stripe of our favorite color around our favorite branch. Mine was purple. Wyatt’s was vibrant green with a little splatter of hot pink that Bridget had thrown on there as a joke. I smiled.
But Bridget wasn’t here today. Neither were the other three. It was just me and Wyatt now. Butterflies swarmed in my stomach.
To rid myself of the unsuspecting menaces, I flipped backwards over my branch and hung upside down. Little bits of white birch bark came off on my fingers. I brushed them off.
Wyatt copied me, so that we faced each other upside down at an angle. His hair flipped off his face and waved back and forth as he swayed. I was tempted to reach out and touch it, to ruffle it.
But he beat me to it.
He ran a hand through his hair, something I knew he only did when he was nervous. But why was he nervous? “So, how was your first day as a sophomore?” he asked, grinning. I shrugged, though it felt weird upside down.
When I opened my mouth, I suddenly felt all the blood in my head. I sat up and spun so I faced him. “Good,” I answered. “Poor Bridge had an awful day, though. She tripped her History teacher on accident, and so he was terrible to her. He called her a ‘blind idiot’ and ‘bumbling oaf’. Oh, and her Geometry teacher hates her too. I don’t know why, Bridge never talks during math, she’s paying too much attention.”
Wyatt sat up too, his face severely red. “An oaf? Really?” He chuckled. I punched him lightly in the arm. Well, I meant to be light.
But he lost his balance and wobbled, before he fell backwards.
I jumped down, stumbling from the hard landing. I tried to jump over a low branch, but jumped too late. I fell, almost doing a flip from the power I’d put into the leap, and slammed my head against a rock. Oh god, it hurt. But I just ignored the pounding and tingling. I shouted as I reached him, “Oh my god! Are you okay?”
What a stupid question. He’d just fallen ten feet, and hit a couple branches on the way down. He groaned weakly, his eyelids fluttering.
I almost panicked, but I caught myself just in time and sucked in a deep breath. As I let it out, I shoved my arms under his. Then I forced his arms over my shoulders and heaved. Ow. That didn’t feel good. He sat up, now gripping me for support. I kneeled in front of him, examining his face.
He had a long, shallow cut on his forehead, but it was bleeding pretty badly. So were his nose, and a deeper cut on his arm. “Oh,” I breathed.
His hazel eyes focused, and he muttered, “What?”
“C’mon,” I muttered, avoiding looking at his injuries. I wasn’t queasy, but it made me panic seeing Wyatt hurt. “Let’s get you home before you get infected.”
He groaned, but stood with a little help from me. To keep from complaining, or screaming, or whatever, he kept his eyes closed and his mouth squeezed tight.
I held onto him from the less injured side (although it was pretty scraped up, too) and dragged him up Gregory Street, onto Ferocity Lane, where I lived.
Halfway down the street, Wyatt started moaning under his breath. I could tell it was hard to walk, but I just had to get him to my house, and he’d be alright. I encouraged him with quiet words, trying to stay strong.
I constantly had to wipe a ton of blood off my face from a cut somewhere on my head, but that was really the least of my problems.
Finally, there was only one house left before mine. Wyatt’s feet began to drag. His head lolled on my shoulder. His arms flopped as I pulled him up. “C’mon, Wyatt,” I muttered. “Please, Wyatt, for me!”
Slowly, his eyes fluttered open again. He pulled his own weight with my help. We reached my driveway.
Making slow, steady progress, Wyatt and I eventually got to my door. I shuffled around, trying to help support him and reach the spare key above my door at the same time. It took a minute, but eventually, the cool, welcoming breeze of air conditioning reached us.
Now I dragged him, not even bothering to be gentle. Then I threw him unceremoniously onto my dad’s favorite black couch, and hurriedly limped to our First Aid Kit. I mean, it was labeled “First Aid Kit” with a big red plus, but it was really more like a hospital in a box. A giant index of illnesses, symptoms, treatments, cut mending, burns, stings, bites, anything. And then everything except prescription drugs in there to fix it with.
I love my crazily overprotective mom.
I lugged the thing over to where Wyatt lay, looking rather pitiful and helpless.
First, I wiped off his forehead cut with a gentle antiseptic, and then stuck a butterfly band aid thing over it. Next, I looked at his nose. Not much I could do about that but stick a tissue under it and let it bleed for a while. So that was what I did.
Lastly, I gently lifted his arm, the one with the huge gash on it. I was almost sure it would need stitches. But I would clean it as well as I could first, so poor Wyatt wouldn’t get sick because of me.
I was more careful than I really needed to be with it, because I was so worried. Wyatt was just barely conscious. I wondered vaguely if he had a concussion, but shoved the thought away before I made myself pass out.
Deep breath, Lynn. I scribbled a note to my parents, explaining where I’d be if I wasn’t back before they were, grabbed the keys to my car, and hustled back to Wyatt. A lot of blood from my forehead fell onto the paper, but they could still read it. I grabbed a red bandana and gently placed it over my cut so it wouldn’t bleed on everything.
I pulled him out to the car, a white Acura MDX, and laid him carefully down in the backseat. Hastily, I made a weird contraption with the seatbelts so he wouldn’t fall onto the floor.
Then I got in the driver’s side and pulled out. I drove fast, faster than the speed limit, but I didn’t get stopped.