Bailey Be., Maria B., Emily S., Bailey Ba., Kore S.
The image above
The line “So you want to live in a tree — right?” (Anywhere in the text)
A malicious lie
“So you want to live in a tree—right? Because that’s where we will end up if you don’t get your act together.”
“Hun, please don’t yell at me. My head hurts.”
“Your head hurts? My head hurts from working all day and coming home to see that my husband has no job and does nothing! Not even picked up the house,” Val yelled, infuriated.
“I’ve been going to the doctor, dear. Its not good news.”
The crease in Val’s forehead softened as she took a seat on the couch next to her husband.
“Whats wrong?” She asked, hoping it wouldn’t be too serious.
“Its terminal, Val. They say I have months…” he trailed off, glancing at her solemn face. Suddenly, she burst into tears, “What? What is it? I can’t lose you…W-we haven’t even started our lives yet! We need to go to the hospital.”
“It’s…er…cancer…in this area.” Carlos said, pointing to his stomach and then dragging his plump finger to his back while Val made a confused face, “And there’s no use going to a hospital. They’ve sent me home so I can live out my months with you.”
“What? I’d rather you get better in the hospital! Don’t you have medicine?” Val leapt up grabbing her purse, “What about chemo-therapy? Isn’t that whats it called? What are we going to do?”
“They gave me my medicine! Now quit fussin’, it’s making my head hurt.”
“I’m sorry this is just so sudden. Have you told your parents? You’ve kept this from me. I-I want to have children someday. What am I going to do?” Val broke into another round of vicious sobs. Carlos grabbed his wife and hugged her, whispering, “I know.”
Val jumped up and straightened herself out, “I’m being so selfish! Imagine what you’re going through. I’ll tell you what, I’ll make your favorite meal. The vegan lasagna with a side of salad and the mashed potatoes you really like. Then, we can straighten this out, together.”
Furiously wiping her tears, Val ran hastily into kitchen. Carlos waited until Val was busying herself in the kitchen and, then, smirked. Rolling over, he grabbed the remote laying on the cheesy coasters Val had bought with pictures of a young girl with bubble-gum on her face. “I waist money?” Carlos thought, “You waist money buying stupid stuff like that.”
She took a bite of her lasagna, her mouth curling in disgust.
“Is there meat in this?” She exclaimed glaring directly across the table at me, spitting her lasagna back on her plate.
“I don’t know. You ordered it.” I said with a sigh. The waiter was glancing back and forth at us as she refilled our waters.
“You disgust me, you know I’m a vegan.” She turned to our waiter. “He’s an imbecile, you’ll have to excuse him. Bring me the vegan lasagna ASAP.”
The waiter nodded her head and hurried away, thankful to get way from the table. I stirred my noodles absentmindedly, not hungry enough to eat. If you couldn’t tell, I hated my wife. And frankly, she hated me too. We were both Catholics and divorce wasn’t exactly an option, so we had been ‘trying to work it out’. Needless to say, it wasn’t going well. I peered into the kitchen to see the waiter talking to the chef, pointing at out table. The chef looked out and made eye contact with me, letting out a mischievous smile. He handed our waiter a plate and sent her on our way to us. As our waiter set the table in front of me she slid me a note. It read, Use it wisely. I looked up, confused, but she was already gone. My wife took a bite of her lasagna and I waited for her to find another reason to complain.
“So…work. How was it?” She asked.
“Oh you know, the usual. Six of my coworkers died.” I said sarcastically.
“Really?!” She exclaimed, leaning forward, enthralled.
“No? I’m obviously joking. You’re crazy.”
“You’re right. I am.” She stated. I looked around hesitantly. I saw a random picture of a girl with a popped gum bubble on her face. I pointed to it on the wall.
“This is me when I was 6.” I said.
“Wow!” She exclaimed, “You were really cute!” What was going on? She’s believing every lie I say. It’s not like they were malicious or anything, but still.
“So you want to live in a tree — right?” I asked, praying she would say yes.
“Of course! I’ve been thinking about moving into that big one in the woods behind our house.”
“And you want to live there forever and never move back into our house — right?”
“Yup that’s right!” She smiled. Now I smiled. Looks like I won’t have to deal with my wife anymore.
Does Your Mind Ever Turn Off?
I looked down at Ben who was lying next to me in the grass with his eyes closed. I was admiring his meditative state, however my thoughts raced. “Twenty-two”, I sighed
He opened one eye and scrunched his face, making sure that I knew that he was irritated that I pulled him out of his trance. “What”?
His response didn’t give me any indication that he cared about what I was going to say, but it didn’t matter because I was going to tell him anyway. “In the past ten minutes that we’ve been lying here, I’ve counted twenty-two people who have been on their phones ignoring this beautiful day”! Ben smiled and sarcastically asked, “Does your brain ever turn off, Livy”?
“Not really”. I answered without hesitation. He closed his eyes and went back into his trance with an ease that I will never be able to understand while my mind wondered with an ease I was more familiar with.
There was rarely a pattern to my stream of thought. My schedule for the week, assigning a gender to each letter of the alphabet, my mom’s vegan lasagna recipe. However, there was a definite pattern in what thoughts I most often expressed.
“Ben”? I asked. He simply grunted to indicate that he heard me, eyes still closed. “Society.” I stated. His eyes slowly opened and I took that as an invitation to continue. “It changes people”! He then turned his head to look at me and blinked slowly. That meant continue. “Imagine this in your head. A little girl in a cute dress with curly hair, not a care in the world, the picture of innocence. Then she changes”. Ben patted the grass next to him, telling me to lie there, so I did.
I looked straight in his eyes. His face softened and he grabbed my hand. “I remember when I was eleven”, I continued in a quieter tone, “My family and I were driving home from somewhere, I am not exactly sure where. The highway was lined with bill boards that read God is Real! orLargest Toaster in America or So You Want to Live in a Tree, Right?” He Laughed and told me to keep going.
“Well I remember one bill board for a tanning salon that displayed an image of a woman”. I paused and my eyes changed their focus from his eyes to a space behind him. “She was half naked. I thought about my own body and knew I could never look like that. Beautiful. Why do girls have to feel that way”? My eyes met his again and their glow left me satisfied even without a spoken answer to my question. That glow would forever remain unchanged.
My mind wondered again without pattern. What color matches my personality, who was the eighteenth president, twenty- three, twenty four, twenty five. “Livy”? Ben began. “I love you”. I smiled and moved my head over to his shoulder and whispered in his ear. “Twenty- five people now”.
“So you want to live in a tree….Right?” said Jeffery
“yes, I’m a vegan so I like living in nature.” Said Karen
“how does that have to do anything with being a vegan?”
“it just does, leave it alone jeffery”
Right now Karen is coming over to eat dinner at my house tonight. She is this overpowering vegan, so I plan to make her this deluxe vegan lasagna. I met Karen at a vegan convention, it’s weird I know. What’s a vegan convention you ask? It just like your normal comic con but its all vegans sharing homemade recipes and other vegan stuff. I was showing off one of my homemade dinners and we starting talking and the rest was history.
The house was filled with the aroma of the lasagna. I never had an emotions toward anyone, but Karen was different. She made me feel special and loved. I knew I could never be with her because if she knew my secret she would leave me in the dust. I have thought over and over again if tonight is the night I am going to tell her the truth about how I feel and about my secret. Karen got here shortly after dinner was ready.
“Jeff, why do you have a random picture of a little girl on your mantle?”
“It’s one of my victims…. I’m just kidding it’s my sister when she was little.”
We sat down and ate everything.. She fell in love with the lasagna so much she wanted the recipe, but my secret revolved around it. If she knew what was in it, she would die.
“I can’t give you the recipe,” I said.
“Why? Is it like some secret family recipe?”
“No, but you don’t want to know what’s in it…” Jeffery glanced down nervously
“ Just tell me. It can’t be that bad.”
“Okay… you remember that picture of my ‘sister’ on the mantle?”
“It wasn’t her; it was really one of my victims. The ingredient that makes the lasagna so good is a little girl named Becky.”
“Gertrude is happy here!” Amanda yells at her parents. Amanda’s parents released the news today that Gertrude couldn’t stay with them anymore. She runs upstairs and throws herself on Gertrude’s bed while she sheds a few tears.
“So you want to live in a tree — right?” Amanda asks Gertrude.
“That’s what Mommy and Daddy said. They said that three-toed sloths like you belong in trees, not bedrooms,” says Amanda, “Well we’ll just have to build you a homemade tree right here.”
The following day Amanda comes home from after school care, and can’t find Gertrude. She’s not in her bed downstairs or her room. Amanda gets called to dinner before she can finish her search.
“Why aren’t you touching your food, sweetie?” Amanda’s mom ask.
“Gertrude isn’t in her bed in the living room or my room. Did you already get rid of her?! She was my best friend!” Amanda shouts.
“That’s Gertrude you’re eating there. We used her for dinner,” Amanda’s older brother tells her.
“Brett! Why would you say such a thing? Amanda, sweetie, that’s not the truth. This lasagna is vegan. That means there are no animal products,” her mom explains, “Daddy took Gertrude to the vet after work today to get her shots. She’s fine. Promise.”
Amanda sucks up her tears, and as soon as she’s done with dinner she sits in the living room waiting for Daddy and Gertrude to come home. The second they walk in the door Amanda takes Gertrude upstairs to her bed. Amanda then takes the duct tape from Brett’s room, finds green construction paper and scraps of fabric in the basement, and old card board boxes from her mom’s work. With these supplies, scissors, and a little creativity Amanda gets to work.
“Mommy! Daddy! Come see what I did!” Amanda yells to her sleeping parents the following morning. They follow her down the hall to her room to find Gertrude hanging from what looks like a makeshift tree.
“You said Gertrude wanted to live in a tree, so I built her one right here in my room,” Amanda explains. Her parents just stand there wide-eyed for a minute while she stands there smacking her gum. She blows a bubble with her gum, but then it pops on her face. Amanda begins to giggle and can’t stop.
“Lord help us. She’s only eight,” Amanda’s dad says.
So I Didn’t Kill Her?
“She won’t talk” I hear them say out in the hall. “It’s no use, I think we need to send her to another care facility.” I hear them say again. I lay on my side on the hard hospital bed. The tears run down to my lips. It was a typical Thursday night at my brothers house, he fed me vegan lasagna, my favorite. He ranted about his life, and I starred at my sister Maura’s picture that he keeps on the table. She looked so cute in her school clothes, always chewing gum and acting silly. That’s when I got in the “trance” the doctor said. I started yelling “I killed her” nonstop, running around, sobbing. Then I stopped responding and I guess I blacked out because I don’t remember the rest. So now i’m in another hospital, that probably won’t help me.
I hear a knock at the door and it pushes open. “It’s me, Dr. Persons.” She says as she brings in her portable chair with all her documents. “Evie, I’m not so thrilled to see you back here.” She pauses and sits down. “But, we will get you the help you need, if that means more therapy, medication, or long term care..etc. But, in order to help you, we need you to corporate with us.” She says. I wipe my face and sit up, wrapping all the blankets around me. “What triggered you last night? We sit there in silence for a few minutes, starring at each other. She shuffles through my file, points at something and squints at me. “You want to live in a tree..right?” She says.
My stomach tightens at those words. “You know that’s the last words I said to her!” I snap. “If you want me to get better you can’t keep reminding me of that!” I yell.
“So that’s a trigger” she scribbles something down. “We need to figure out why that upsets you so much and why you keep coming back here.” She clears her throat. “Your brother told me that you were screaming that you killed her?”
“Yeah” I say.
“How?” She asks.
“I just remember driving fast and running off the road. I was distracted, I had a lot on my mind and I didn’t even check to see if she had her seat belt on..” I say crying.
“Evie, i’m not talking about the accident you were in.” She says.
“What?” I say sounding very confused.
“Maura had cancer sweetie.” She says softly. I look at her with a confused look. “You were with her when she died, but you didn’t kill her.”
“Why do I keep thinking I did? Because I don’t remember her having cancer.” I reply.
“You were in the car accident, you had some brain trauma and memory loss. It is normal for your brain to block out certain memories. Your memory was playing a malicious lie on you Evie. But it is very important that you know that Maura died of cancer 2 years ago.” she explains.
“So do you want to live in a tree – right?” Joseph asked. “Maybe one day, if I ever make it to the jungle in Hawaii.” Sarah replied as she was walking into the woods with him. They walked for a while. A shadow fell over them, they looked after they realized that the warm sun was no longer on our backs. “What is- oh, it’s a treehouse.” Sarah pointed out once they found a rope ladder leading up to a hole in the floorboards. They climbed up and did not see anything so they decided that they would eat their lunch that they had packed originally for their picnic. They pulled out a vegan lasagna that Sarah’s grandmother had made. As soon as they took a bite, they spit it out, gagging. “That is not vegan. That lasagna has cat meat in it.” Sarah spluttered out. Joseph responded “Sarah, that’s the third time this month that your grandmother has done this. She is a malicious liar, we need to stop taking food from her.” Joseph picked up the container and threw it out the window. There was something that floated around on the floor when Joseph got up and it caught Sarah’s eye. She scooted over to where it was and looked at it. It was a picture of a girl against a corner wall with her hands up in the air midway, with bubblegum stuff all over her mouth, cheeks and nose due to the bubblegum popping. Joseph was still spitting out the food when he turned to see Sarah looking intently at the photograph. He went behind her and rested his chin on her shoulder, looking at the photo. “Want to hear a fun fact?” Sarah asked. Joseph nodded into her shoulder. “This used to be my treehouse and this photo is a picture of my mother.” Sarah spoke quietly. He hugged her, and they got their stuff together. They climbed down the rope ladder and hoisted their backpacks up onto their back, they began to walk towards civilization. Sarah paused for a moment, looked back at the path they had just come off of, she had a small smile on her face. She turned away for the last time and caught up with her fiancee.
The Curse of the Baby Girl
A man, named David, and his wife, named Barb, were expecting a baby. David and Barb prayed every day that God would bless them with a baby boy.
“All I want in life is a baby boy. We’ve been dreaming of all the things a baby would entail. I can’t wait to teach him how to play sports and buy him tuxedos and shower him with love.” Barb unintentionally said out loud as she daydreamed. There were signs too, that strengthened the couple’s belief that they were pregnant with a boy.
David explained, “The way she is carrying the child along with other signs, makes me very hopeful the gender of our first child will be male.”
Finally Barb went into labor. To their surprise, it was a girl. They were both devastated. Barb and David needed to figure out how to punish the girl. They did not want a girl and did not know how to parent one. The next day Barb began telling her husband of a plan she had cultivated to get revenge on their daughter, Tammy.
“Okay, so I was thinking..” she began.
David had zoned in and out during this conversation and eventually interrupted her saying, “so you want to live in a tree, right?”
“Well, yeah. I guess that is what I’m saying. Especially if it’ll prevent Tammy from seeing all the good Earth has to offer.” Barb responded, ready as ever for revenge. Shortly after both agreeing living in the tree community would be the best form of punishment and suffering for Tammy, the family moved into their first treehouse, in Shaded Oaks neighborhood.
David laid down the rules, “Tammy, you can not leave the tree and go onto the earth because you will get hurt by what is down there. It is a dangerous world down there and nothing but negative, harsh reality will come from being on the ground. You can go visit other families living in the trees around us but only by using the connecting tree branches.”
Once again Barb reiterated, “Do not touch foot on the ground. The Earth brings you nothing but pain.”
They ate well for the most part. Tammy’s favorite dish was vegan lasagna which was no more than tree leaves, roots, and nuts put out in the sun to bake.
Throughout her life she noticed her parents treated her differently than all the other parents. They did not seem to share the same love toward her as the other parents shared for their children.
One day Tammy was climbing across a branch to get to another tree and fell down to the Earth. She saw people a few yards away, and filled with fear and curiosity she walked toward them. There were kids her age down there. They were very welcoming. The other children gave her bubblegum to chew, and lots of other yummy scrumptious foods. They showed her all the wonderful things that they had in their lives.
Then it hit her. It was all \cf1 a malicious lie. Everything her parents told her, all the so called danger and evilness found down below was a lie.
“Honey, come look at these pictures. Do you remember this day? Your family was taking your Christmas photo and you popped a bubble on your face” He said while handing me a picture of me when I was very young.
“I do remember that. The gum wouldn’t come off so I wasn’t in the Christmas card that year.” I pick up a stack a photos from the box and flip through them. I find some from when we were in our twenties at a party.
“Look Benny, this was that party we want to where everyone was a vegetarian but us.”
“That was the worst two hours of my life. Vegan lasagna, who thinks that’s a good idea? Then they made us do some meditating crap.”
“Well it would’ve been longer but you had to say, So you want to live in a tree – right? They kicked us out because you were making fun of them!”
“They deserved it they were insane” he replied while laughing.
I flipped through the stack when I stop on one from Benny’s trip to the naval academy with his dad. He loved the army and would’ve done anything to go, but I stopped him from his only dream in life.
Putting the picture down I look up at Benny and say, “There’s something I need to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“I have been holding this in for over forty years and I think it’s time you know. When you were about to leave for the Naval Academy and I got sick I was faking it. I didn’t want you leave me. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I had let you go and you died. I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life without you there. I acted really sick all those months because I knew you would stay with me if you thought there was something wrong with me, and I was right. I am so ashamed of myself and I’m so deeply sorry for keeping you from living out your dream.” I finish my apology and look up to see him wide eyed and shocked. I knew he wouldn’t take this well, but I needed to tell him.
“I don’t know what to say. Why haven’t you told me this earlier?” He asked looking at me with hurt in his eyes.
“I have wanted to tell you all this time, but I didn’t want you to hate me and leave me. It wasn’t a malicious lie I just didn’t want you to get hurt.” He stares at me for a few minutes processing all that I have revealed to him.
“I guess I can’t really be that upset with you. After Ronny died his wife never was the same and I’d hate to think you would go through the same thing she did if I didn’t back from war. You mean the world to me and it wasn’t right what you did, but I am glad that I was able to spend my entire life with you then behind a gun in a foreign country.”
“Max!” Macy screamed.
“Look at what you did! Oh my gosh its in my hair!”
I had gum all over me. It was on my cloths and all over my face.
Macy’s mom came running in the room.
“What? What happened!”she asked frantically.
“I was about to blow the biggest bubble ever and Max popped it in my face! Look he got it in my hair and its all over my uniform.”
Ugh! My brother is always in the way. The other day he got into my room and took all of my animals and threw them all over my room. Mom tries to tell me the same thing she does every time he does something like this.
“ He is still little and doesn’t know any better. Come on dinner is ready. We will get you cleaned up after dinner.”
When I walk into the kitchen I see the dish that even our dog won’t eat. Vegan lasagna. Its gross. Usually I don’t eat it. I just pretend to so that I don’t get in trouble. Max hasn’t learned that trick yet so he starts to whine and complain.
“No I don’t like it!” he whines.
“Max, please eat your dinner. Your mom worked hard to make it for you,” dad says.
This doesn’t work so Mom tries to change the subject before things get ugly. She asks how our day was at school and before I can even start to talk Max starts babbling on. Its not fair! He always gets to talk first.
He starts going on and on about about some animal that lives in a tree and how he wanted to be just like that animal and climb through the trees all day and then it hit me! What if I could convince him to live outside in a tree like this animal! Then I wouldn’t have to worry about him messing up my stuff or getting into to my room.
After dinner while Max was playing I went over to talk to him.
“Hey Max. So you want to live in a tree…right?”
“Well I guess. Sure. Then I could jump and climb all day!”
“Your right! And you could have like your own little house. You could take your own food out there and eat whatever you want! No more vegan lasagna!”
“That sounds amazing!”
“I know! Come on, I’ll help you move!”
“Good morning daddy.” I said every Sunday morning, interrupting his snores. He’d typically respond with a groan and a smile. Oblivious to the fact that he was out until 4 am the night before, I’d make him a pot of straight, black coffee. As a young child I never payed attention to where he’d disappear to on Saturday nights, leaving us behind with our mother to eat disgusting vegan lasagna instead of pizza. Although I longed for him to come home, I knew I could always count on the following Sunday morning.
Just before I’d close my eyes at night, he’d always make his way up to my room. I admired his enthusiasm while telling me Curious George stories. After rambling on how I’d love to live wild and free in the jungle like George, he’d often ask me, “So you want to live in a tree–right?” This question excited me and sparked my imagination, causing me to jump up and down on the bed. I’d do this until I was finally forced under the covers and to sleep. I credited him for my imagination and naïve outlook on life.
Watching him pack his bags and leave was when I realized where he was all those Saturday nights. I sat on the steps, watching him pass me by, my eyes begging for an explanation. His eyes never met mine, because I knew that he could not give me one. Shockingly enough, this was the first Saturday night I’d seen him; and it was around 4 am. I always knew things would come to an end between them, but I liked to ignore that it was true. The malicious lies he told my mother finally resurfaced and this man I constantly put on a pedestal, was taken down. Although it felt as if I lost him forever, I knew hadn’t. I retreated to my parents room and attempted to comfort my mother. I slept on his side of the bed that night, where the sheets smelt like him and black coffee. Beside his bed sat the picture of me on my first day of kindergarten, with the bubble gum popping on my face. It was his favorite photo of me yet, he left it behind. Oh, how oblivious I was. Oblivious to the fact that there was a world to this man that I didn’t even know existed.
“Oh come on Cam! Who doesn’t love free money? Especially if we can do whatever we want!” Cindy exclaimed to her good friend as they walked home. Cindy had found a scholarship and the requirements were simple that the both of them could do the scholarship and have a chance to win.
“Cam, what are you going to make your product commercial about?” she asked, wanting to know what crazy idea he had. Cindy admired Cam for his outstanding abilities to think larger than life.
“I’m not sure if I am going to do it Cindy. But if I do decide to do it, I think it would be about a house.” He said, leaving Cindy bewildered on how a house was going to help him win.
“I don’t get it.” “Let me finish then, C. The house it’s going to be a hallowed out tree and it’s going to be fully alive just like all the others. The only difference is that this tree is one someone can live in!” Cam’s hands were flinging around making motions of how the new innovated tree house would look.
Cam’s idea made Cindy feel as if hers wasn’t good enough. He had created a new way to live, a new way to have a tree house. Zoning out of the conversation Cindy thought of a way she could win the scholarship and still use Cam.
“What’s your idea, C?” Cindy looked at him, not wanting to tell him she didn’t have an idea and that she was just going to us his.
“I don’t know, maybe vegan lasagna bubblegum?” She answered him with a question.
“Vegan lasagna and bubblegum?” He grimaced at the thought of chewing gum that tasted like vegan lasagna. They both looked at each other and laughed at the ridiculous idea.
Later that day, the both of them started on Cam’s idea. Together they created a replica of the new tree house. They would do a voice over so they could talk about the product.
“C, you do the voice over you are a more confident speaker.” Cam told her. Nodding she took the script from the table and waited until he told her when to start. He nodded his head, letting her know to start.
“So you wanna live in a tree – right? But you cannot, until now! Instead of living in a house live in a hallowed out tree like the one shown.”
They bothed looked at each other with smiles of accomplishment. Watching the video one last time, they save it, and decide to go get some food.
“How do you wanna start your commercial?” Cam asked, shoving some fries into his mouth.
“I’m not sure but I know I want a picture of a little girl with gum all over her face. I think they’d be cute, you know?”
Cam nodded in agreement. They continued to eat in silence. Cindy kept thinking about the scholarship and how a simple lie was turing into a malicious lie.
“Cam, I was going to still your project to win.”
“Why?” “I wanted to win… I’m sorry.”
Cam got up and left.
I sat on the curb during recess watching my classmates play. I popped my bubblegum and kept to myself. I looked toward the school parking lot and saw a large man walking toward me. He didn’t have the visitor badge on, but he didn’t look like a stranger. He came closer to the point where he was sitting right next to me. “Hi, Cindy. Alone again today?”
“Like always” I said with a smile on my face. How did he know my name? Maybe he’s heard the teachers talking about me. He seemed friendly, he had a nice smile and a full beard. I decided I liked him.
“Do you know who I am?” I shook my head. “Didn’t think so. Do you ever remember your mom talking about a Johnny Able? A guy she grew up with down the street?”
“Oh yeah! They were best friends!”
“That’s me! I’ve been working at the school and noticed you. The teacher said you’re Olive Johnson’s daughter. You look just like her.”
“Well it’s so nice to meet you sir! Momma’s awful pretty. I’m glad I look like her.”
“You’re a very pretty girl. What do ya say I take you home to your momma today? I’ll save her the trip.”
“That sounds real nice, but I’m not supposed to go with anyone unless they know our family’s password. Do you know ours? It’s my momma’s favorite food.”
“Oh, that’s easy. She’s vegan. She loves that vegan lasagna, doesn’t she?”
“Yeah she does! I guess you can take me home!” They must be close….he even knows her favorite food after all these years! But wait….mom said she decided to be a vegan in college….I went back into school as recess ended. The final bell rang and I walked out to see Johnny leaning up against his car. I got in, and we drove towards home.
“Mr. Johnny, I don’t think you’re going the right way to my house….”
“I was going to make a stop by my house first. Is that okay?”
“I guess so. I don’t want my mom to worry. Could I call her?”
“No, honey. I already took care of that.”
We continued to drive for awhile and turned on a gravel road.
“You live here?”
“Yes. I like to be alone. Just like you. But now that you’re with me, we both won’t have to be alone anymore.”
“I can’t live here! I have to go home to my mom.”
“You’re not going anywhere.”
I felt a little scared, even though Johnny had been nice to me. “So, you want to live in a tree – right?” Johnny asked. I only told that to my journal at school and no one else. I did not know how Johnny knew that. I looked at him with fear and his smile suddenly looked creepy. I replied with, “Yes.” There was an ax on his front porch. I saw it and hit him with it. It was then I realized Johnny was not who he claimed to be. As he struggled on the ground, I ran home to my mother and never looked back.
I Hate Skating
For some people, ice skating is fun. They can move around on the ice, and the ones that take lessons can spin and what not. However, I do not like ice skating. I absolutely hate it. So why am I currently holding on to the wall at the ice rink? All because my cousin convinced me to come. She said that it would be fun to try ice skating again. Even though I was undoubtedly terrible at it. And not to mention terrified as well.
This all started a few days ago when my cousin kept begging me to go to the ice rink with her. When I told her I would not ever go onto the ice again, she kept asking me the following: So you want to live in a tree, right?. And that didn’t make any sense because not wanting to ice skate had nothing to do with living in a tree. Even though I kinda want to.
My stomach starts to make growling noises. I really wish that I was home right now. My mom made her super delicious vegan lasagna for dinner tonight. Too bad I won’t be there. I pull out my phone to check the time. On my lock screen is a picture of me when I was little with popped bubble gum all over my face. My favorite picture of myself of all time. Why I can’t I be that little girl right now so I don’t have to be here.
There was a time when I wasn’t afraid of ice skating. But that all changed when my cousin, the one I’m here with at the ice rink, told me a malicious lie. She told me that if I just let go of the wall she could teach me how to skate. So I trusted her. Let’s just say that I ended up on the cold ice with a cut in my leg. I should never have let my cousin into trying to get me to do a spin. Because I ended up with several stitches in my leg and uncomfortable crutches for weeks.
I watch my cousin skate around the ice rink really fast. Maybe if I try to sneak off of the ice when she’s not watching I could go and sit inside? No, that won’t work. My cousin is not stupid, and that’s exactly what she wants for me to try and do. And if I do go back inside, she will just drag me back onto this stupid ice. So I guess I’ll have to keep on holding on to this really cold wall. Man, I wish I had brought gloves.
Bailey Be., Maria B., Emily S., Bailey Ba., Kore S.
The image above
The line “So you want to live in a tree — right?” (Anywhere in the text)
A malicious lie
My New Friend
The recess bell rang, and I took out the piece of bubble gum that mama let me buy at the candy store that week.
“Nice hand-me-downs again Sally!” I heard one of my classmates say as they ran past, “You’ve worn that same skirt all week.”
“My mom says she bets your mom doesn’t even wash your clothes. That’s why you always smell so bad,” another girl joined in.
I hated recess. I always played by myself, or the other kids would chase me around the playground to make fun of me. Today was different. Today, I met a new friend.
“Hi Mr. Squirrel,” I said to the fluffy little guy that was sitting on the tree branch where I was swinging, “Nice day huh?” The squirrel didn’t run away from me like the other kids.
“Today’s a big day at my house, Mr. Squirrel. It’s Friday! On Fridays, my mama makes a big meal for dinner. Tonight, we’ll be eating lasagna! Isn’t lasagna just one of your favorites?” I exclaimed, popping my bubble gum.
I looked over and saw the fear in my new friend’s eyes.
“Oh no, Mr. Squirrel! My family’s all vegans. We’re having meatless, vegan lasagna!” I said quickly. He seemed relieved by the statement. Thank goodness! I thought I had scared away my animal friend by talking about eating meat, but he trusted me. That was a fib though… My family isn’t vegan. They love meat when they can have it. Meat was always just a little too expensive so we never got to eat it, but a small fib wasn’t going to hurt anyone.
“Say you’re a squirrel! So you want to live in a tree huh? We have a wonderful tree in my backyard that I swing from all the time! Just like I am now. Would you want to come home with me and live in my tree? We can hangout all the time!” I asked. He seemed to nod his little head.
The bell rang, signaling that it was time to go back to school. I scooped him up into my backpack where he stayed for the rest of the school day until I could bring my new friend home to the big tree. I was so excited!
Unfortunately, Mr. Squirrel never made it to his new home… When I got home from school, my mom went straight into my backpack to check my folder. When she saw that I had brought home a new friend, she was very excited. Mama wasn’t excited because I had brought home a friend though. She was very excited because my mama isn’t a vegan.
Mama cooked up Mr. Squirrel right into that non-vegan lasagna for dinner that night. I was so upset that I had lost my new friend, but it was all my own fault. I told Mr. Squirrel that he would be safe coming home with me. I didn’t think a little fib would hurt anyone. Now I know that a tiny fib can be a malicious lie in disguise.
The Better Times
I remember how I always loved being outside particularly when my father was there with me. We had so many memories of all the fun times we spent in the backyard of our little home. When I turned eight, he built me a treehouse to surprise me for my birthday. My mother thought we were crazy when we got our next great idea.
“So you want to live in a tree – right?” She asked us this with a look on her face that suggested that we weren’t right in the head, but we didn’t care. That was back when things were easier, before the accident.
My whole family gathered in the small hospital room preparing for the news the doctors are about to give us. It is likely that he will never fully recover from the car accident. I always thought we’d have more time together and even if he did wake up, he might not be the same as he was before. The doctors leave us in our thoughts.
As we bring out the old pictures to remember the better times, my mother hands me a picture of myself from when I was little. Mom never let me have bubble gum because I always got it stuck in my hair, but he snuck me a piece every now and then. This time we were having a contest to see who could blow the biggest bubble. He snapped this picture after it popped all over my face. This is one of my favorite memories I had with my dad. We use to laugh about this all the time. It is a memory I will treasure forever.
As thoughts keep swirling around in my head, I wander my way through the hospital to the cafeteria. They are serving vegan lasagna, but it’s not like I can eat anyway with so much weighing on my mind. After a while of sitting in silence I give up the idea and walk back to my father’s room. I didn’t know that when I came back he wouldn’t be there. I glance over at my crying mother as I start to cry and wonder what we did to deserve such pain.
I woke up in hysterics in the treehouse my father had built me. He was lying there beside me, out like a rock. He must have heard me crying because he sat up, still groggy from sleep, and embraced me in a hug. Everything fell back into place as I realized it was just my brain dreaming up another malicious lie.
I Hate To Burst Your Bubble
I stormed out of the grocery store.
“So you wanna live in a tree, right?” I said in a high voice.
“Vegan lasagna is perfectly healthy!” I mocked again.
“Hey,” someone interrupted me. I stopped the high pitched mocking and looked around.
“Hey,” she said again. I looked downward slightly to see a young girl chewing bubble gum. “What’s good, my man?”
“Excuse me?” I asked. She laughed in a shrill, childish way. It was the most annoying thing I had ever heard.
“I said what’s good!” She blew a bubble as big as her face. When it popped it covered the bottom half of her face. She laughed again.
“Go home, kid,” I said, rolling my eyes. I wanted to move on with my life after this terrible day.
“Hey, I’ve got something for, ya” she inched towards me.
“What?” I started backing up.
“Look, I’ve got it at a good price and everything.”
“Little girl, whatever you’ve got, I want nothing to do with!” I was about to bolt.
“Shhh, just look man!” She reached in her pocket and pulled out a pack of bubble gum.
“Oh my god! I thought-!”
She laughed really high.
“What, are you mad?” She taunted.
“At least it wasn’t a lie, like the one you told,” She said.
“I’ve never told a lie in my life,” my voice cracked as I spoke. She laughed.
“That’s a lie right there,” she giggled. I went in to grab her but suddenly she was gone. She had disappeared in my hands.
“Goddamn vegan lasagna! All this god awful vegan food is making me insane!” I yelled. Just then Maria walked out of the grocery.
“Come on, lets go!” Maria yelled at me. “The sooner you take me home, the sooner you can leave to go find that animal eater.”
“Maria,” I said softly.
“What,” she growled.
“Maria, I made Amy up. I’m not actually leaving you for some girl I met at the eco retreat,” I said softly.
“What the hell!” She screeched. “You told me you found another girl, in the middle of the grocery store, made me cry and scream and embarrass myself, then you stormed out, just because you lied! What is wrong with you! I don’t know if I want to be in a relationship with you if you’re going to lie to me just for fun!”
“No, I lied to you because I was upset about all the vegan dieting! I was trying to make you feel the pain I do right now. It’s driving me insane! I just saw a girl over there and tried to attack her!” I exclaimed.
“You’re sick,” Maria said as if she would vomit. “Give me the keys.”
I handed her the car keys.
“Find your own way home,” she said coldly.
I watched her walk to the car and get in. As she was pulling out of the parking lot I noticed something in the car. The little girl from earlier! I thought. She was laughing hysterically. Then she stopped and blew a bubble. It popped against her face and she died laughing again.
I walked into the soup kitchen I volunteer at on Friday afternoons. Ive been volunteering here for about two years now, so most of the time I know everybody that comes through. But today I saw a new face. The face of an older woman, looking as if in her 60’s or 70’s. Her face lit up with joy as she came through the line and saw what we had as our entrée, vegan lasagna. I usually make small talk with the people that come through, and I decided to do the same with her.
“Hello!” She yelled throughout the kitchen.
“Hi there!” I said.
“I don’t think I’ve met you before, I’m Barbara.”
“Well, it’s nice to meet you.” I nodded.
“You too…” She said. “Hey, do you mind having lunch with me?” She asked.
I looked at the coordinator of the soup kitchen. He gave me a nod which meant I had permission.
“Sure!” I said, unsure of myself.
We sat down at one of the tables and she began speaking to me about her life. I didn’t even have to ask questions, she told me everything.
I was in a daze as she continued rambling off details about her life, and then I heard, “And then my mom said, “So you want to live in a tree, right? And I said, “If it keeps us out of one of those camps…””
“Wait, what do you mean?” I asked.
She continued to tell me how she grew up in Germany during the halocaust (even though she was too young to be living during that time) and she even showed me a picture of her with a bubble popped on her face, where she said took place the year before World War II happened. Then she began to tell me that the people working at the soup kitchen were out to get her, and me as well. She said they were spies who knew she escaped from Germany during the war and were out to get her, and anyone she talked to.
“Alright…” I said. “I think it’s time I get back to serving. I’ll talk to you next time, ok?” I said, knowing I was lying.
“Ok, sweetie. Don’t forget what I told you. They’re everywhere.” She said.
I didn’t know who “they” were, but I figured it was the other soup kitchen workers. I walked back over to the coordinator of the soup kitchen when he whispered to me, “Don’t worry, she’s been in here many times before. But she usually comes on Tuesdays. She has dimensia.” He said. I nodded. Not knowing at the time that what he was saying was a malicious lie.
“So all those things she was telling me about, probably weren’t true, right?”
“Yep. Those are all of the things that live in her imagination.”
I started to feel bad for the woman when I saw something odd. When she left the building, one of the workers followed her out. I didn’t think anything of it until I saw her body was found on the news a week later. Her story wasn’t a story, after all.
A First Date Gone Wrong
The doorbell rang and I impatiently answered it, hoping that this girl would be the one. I met this girl on a dating site and, today, I was meeting her for the first time for dinner at my house.
“Hi, John. It’s so nice to finally meet you!” She wasted no time, stepping inside and hugging me tightly.
“Uh, hi.” I said awkwardly. Her forwardness took me by surprise. Admittedly, she did seem a bit strange, judging from her profile.
I invited her into the kitchen where I had prepared lasagna and salad. My budget was pretty tight, so I offered to make dinner rather than go out. She sat down, and I observed her for a moment. She had bright red hair and her eyes were dark brown. She wore rings on every one of her fingers. I had always been taught to not judge a book by it’s cover, so I didn’t mind.
“This looks amazing! It’s all vegan, right?”
“Yeah, it is.” I had no idea she was vegan. None of the food was vegan. I didn’t mean to lie, but I panicked and I can’t tell her the truth now. It’s not like it was a malicious lie. I didn’t even know vegan lasagna existed.
As I served the salad, she pulled something out of her purse. I thought she was reaching for a black and white photo of a little girl I saw peeking out of the bag, but instead, she pulled out something black and round. It began to move.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“This is my pet rat, Samson. He goes everywhere I go. So, you want to live in a treehouse —right? Like when we get married.”
“Wh-What?” She brought a rat to our first date and she’s talking about marriage. This could not be happening.
“Well, on my profile I said I wanted to live in a treehouse when I’m married, so I figured you did, too. Anyway, that could be a long time away.”
“Yeah, and this is only our first dat-” I sneezed. “I’m allergic to rats.”
“Sounds like a personal problem to me!” She laughed. “Ew, this lasagna sucks. What kind of funky tofu did you put in this?”
My mouth fell open. I was appalled at her rude behavior. I was starting to not regret lying to her about the lasagna.
“Anyway, let me tell you some things about myself. I’m 23, so about 161 in dog years. I feel a connection with alpacas, so I’m pretty sure in my past life I was an alpaca. I think gravity is a myth…Oh, and I believe manatees are angels in disguise.” She said this all in one breath. This date was getting weirder and weirder.
“Okay… Uh, I’m 24. I love watching football-“
“Football? I think I’ve heard enough. You seem like a great guy, but this just isn’t going to work out. It’s not me, it’s you.” She started walking to the door.
What just happened? I thought to myself.
As she was leaving, I yelled, “By the way, the lasagna wasn’t vegan!”