I drove my pale blue Nissan Micra there and Mum gave directions. I came to a stop just outside their house, which looked more like a white fairytale cottage, and of course, due to Amanda’s injuries it was a bungalow. It had a gravel path, leading from the gat to the house, with a grass garden on one side, and rows of brightly coloured flowers in repeating patterns on the other. Of course, in-keeping with the fairytale theme, it also had a white picket fence running around the whole thing.
Zachary came to the door, and said that Amanda was just getting dressed upstairs.
“Run along and play, now children, I have work to do.” My Mum said, and danced up the stairs like a ballerina.
“Erm… Hi.” Zachary said.
“Hi…” I replied, and it was a little awkward. He was the first of the two of us to pluck up enough courage to start the conversation.
“I’m Zachary, but you can call me Zack if you want.” He said.
“Cool; I’m Beth.” I said.
“Is that your nickname?” He guessed.
“Yeah; full name’s Bethany, but everybody calls me Beth, apart from my Mum, that is.” I said looking at my feet.
“What kind of music do you like?” He asked.
“Rock, heavy metal; the usual.” I replied, shrugging.
“Green Day, Nickelback, Paramore, Kaiser Chiefs, Stiff Little Fingers…” I replied.
“Mine too! Though I’ve never heard of Stiff Little Fingers.” He said.
“My Dad loves them. I kind of got used to it, and got to like it after a bit.” I shrugged, again, and he nodded, thinking that it made sense.
“What’s the matter with you? You’re like a grumpy teenager.” He said, and from that, I knew that I wasn’t fooling anybody.
“If you haven’t noticed, I am a teenager.” I said.
“I’ll find out what’s wrong sooner or later.” He said.
“Probably.” I agreed, and he smiled at me.
He took my hand and led me outside and round the back of his house to where a huge tree was, and with me it was probably a disaster waiting to happen.
“Any good at climbing?” He asked, looking at me and then at the tall oak.
“The best.” I lied, winking, though he didn’t seem to notice my lie.
We both made it up the tree and sat on one of the highest branches without so much as a scrape.
“You can see for miles from up here.” He said.
“Cool. We should build a tree house.” I said.
“Yeah, but how old are you?” He asked.
“Nearly seventeen. And you?” I asked.
“Just gone sixteen.” He said, seeming proud of it.
“You look a lot older than… well, me! Besides, it doesn’t matter how old you are to build a tree house; you’re just supposed to be better at it when you’re older!” I said, prodding his ribs, and I smile, playing around my lips.
He prodded me back, but me being a typical klutz, nearly fell out of the tree. He laughed and pulled me close into his side. Too close in fact, and it was bordering awkwardness.
“I think we’d better get down and see if you’ve got any wood, nails and tools for building this tree house I said.
“Good idea; I have a tool shed around the back of the house, where my Dad sends me stuff every year. I have enough wood to build a whole house!” He exclaimed, then pulled me round the back of the house, and fell over a tree stump on the way.
“Oh no, now my bad luck is rubbing off on you!” I said, groaning.
He shrugged, and got back up, then went around to a huge shed, on some rough terrain around the back of the house that was separately fenced off.
“Enough wood there, do you think?” He asked laughing as I stood there gawping at piled shelf after piled shelf of wood, and it was the good quality stuff too!
I nodded, and he gathered a huge pile of wood, and I brought nails, hammer and saw.
We got to work straight away; I had the job of cutting down a few branches to make room for the house, and it was about eight feet by eight feet. Before it was time for dinner, we managed to get the floor done, and after dinner, we were going to get the walls done, and make a little door, and a ladder. From when I went to guides, I knew how to make a rope ladder, with little bits of wood for the places where you put your feet, so that was my job for after dinner.
We had bacon and chicken mayonnaise sandwiches for dinner, and I have to say, Zach isn’t a bad chef at all!
After dinner, we got straight to work on the tree house, and kept going until dark. Hopefully, it won’t rain overnight, as we didn’t have time to put a roof on it, or a second storey, as we’d planned to do.
We got flat panels on the sides, and floor, and the rope ladder, and a door. I hammered in some bits of wood part way up the tree, as steps so that we could work on it from a bit of height.
I had tied a piece of rope around my middle, and to a large branch above me, that would act as a harness, in case I fell, with my lack of luck, but luckily, I didn’t fall.
I drove Mum home, and she bombarded me with a load of questions, and it was like we were playing 20-questions like you do at sleepovers.
“How old is he?” She asked.
“Just gone sixteen.” I said.
“Do you fancy him?” Mum asked, eagerly.
“No I do not.” I replied, sternly, looking straight ahead.
“Sorry. Don’t bite my head off. What did you get up to today?” She asked.
“Started building a tree house.” I said.
“Isn’t that for kids?” Mum asked.
“You can build a tree house at whatever age you are.” I pointed out.
“Is it really ‘cool’?” She asked, making her fingers into apostrophes.
“Will be, when it’s finished.” I said.
“Are you going back tomorrow?” She asked.
“Yeah, we want to get it finished before the rain comes.” I replied.
“Do you want some help?” She asked.
“I thought you said it was for kids, and anyway, there’s no room up there; there’s hardly enough for two teenagers. There’ll be more room when it’s finished, because we’re putting two storeys in.” I replied.
I hadn’t noticed that my speedometer was pointing at eighty mph until Mum said ‘holy cow, slow down, you’ll have the coppers on our backs!’ I slowed the car down to the legal limit.
“Who on earth taught you to drive like that?” She asked, chuckling at how fast I was driving without doing it intentionally.
She knew exactly who, by my silence.
“Don’t you like the legal limit?” She teased, trying to get me to smile.
“No. It feels good to have the cops round the house every two minutes.” I replied, with heavy sarcasm in my voice.