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“A Summer in the Trees” is a story that highlights the lives of Parker and Maggie, two anthropomorphic characters who spend a summer living together. The story is told through the eyes of Parker, who, oddly enough, is Maggie’s aunt and best friend.

Chapter One

            It was summertime. My sister, Alaska, could be heard snoring loudly from beneath her tightly knitted blanket. She really had no need for such a warm blanket since it was quite hot outside, and I tried to tell her this, but she refused to listen. I guess being underneath a blanket makes her feel safer. To be honest, I could use that feeling right about now. I haven’t felt very safe since my mother left to explore. In fact, I haven’t felt much of anything.

“Make her shut up. Please,” Maggie said into the dark.

            We lay together in bed. Maggie’s den was plain, but cozy nonetheless. It held great memories of times without worry and without pressure. Part of the den was sectioned off so that my brother, Chase, could have a more secluded area to sleep in. I was somewhat jealous of him then, since he probably didn’t hear Alaska’s snoring through the wall that separated us. Then again, maybe he did. I don’t know. The “wall” was portable. Every morning, Chase and Alaska would hide it away so that the den had enough room for us all. I liked when they did that. I don’t know why. I guess it was just amusing to watch them struggle at folding it. Maybe I should have helped them.

Maggie’s den was my home for the summer. Technically it was Alaska’s den, since she is Maggie’s mom, and Maggie is my niece. It feels so weird to call her that. We are close to the same age.

“Make her stop snoring. Try talking to her; I don’t know. Please."
Maggie was begging me.
“I’ll try.”

            Maggie went to the same school as me, although we lived in different places. Over the years, we had grown relatively close and formed a pretty nice friendship. She’s one of my best friends. I think. Maybe. Is it bad that I’m unsure? Anyway, she lived on the other side of town in front of this really cool resort. I had always been envious of her den and the view that she often took for granted. The trees outside were towering and gorgeous. Maggie always complains that they drop too many leaves, since she is in charge of raking them off the driveway during autumn. But let me tell you, if those were my trees, I would never mind raking their leaves off of my driveway. There I was, though, looking through the window at those trees and knowing they would be mine for the summer. It was all because my dad, who is Maggie’s grandfather, had to work.

It’s very strange to know that your own dad is someone else’s grandfather, especially when that someone is close to your age.

            Maggie whistled for my attention. I must have been spacing out. Or maybe the whistle was intended to stop Alaska’s snoring, because it did. I wonder if Chase heard that whistle from behind his fake wall. He probably did. I don’t know.

“It worked!” she whispered as loudly as one can without waking up a sleeping relative.
“Do you think she’ll snore again?”
“Not sure. Maybe.”

            The room was boiling hot. Well, to me at least. I stuck one of my paws out of the bottom of our sheet and dark green blanket. I tried not to bother Maggie.

“Is it warm in here or-”
“It’s just you,” Maggie said, answering my question before I had finished asking it.
I could tell she was lying. She had to have been hot. The two of us were sharing a bed, after all.
“Well I’m hot,” I stated quietly.

Maggie sat up straight in bed, as if she had suddenly thought of an ingenious idea. Maggie’s ideas usually ended badly, so I was more nervous than I was hopeful.

“Then go outside. Come outside with me, Parker.”
I should probably mention that my name is Parker.
“What time is it?” I asked.
“Well, Parker, it’s time to go outside,” Maggie said pragmatically. “Come on!”

She was already putting on her slippers. I didn’t want to argue. I jumped out from underneath our blanket and ran past the TV and into the kitchen. Maggie followed my footsteps closely and was in the kitchen seconds later. We both stood still for what seemed like ages. Then, she nodded at me approvingly and dashed off. I ran after her. I ran until I was flying. The front door swung madly as we landed on the wet grass in front of the den. Maggie said something about how she felt as light as air. It didn’t make any sense to me at the time. I understand it now.

            I could feel the warm air of a perfect summer night. I loved that. Maggie’s eyes were bright and awake. Her skin was almost glowing from the hazy light of the streetlamps. It was a magical thing to witness.

“Look! Look at me,” Maggie shouted through a huge grin. She spun around wildly. Her hair was messy and her nightgown was caught up in the breeze. She looked genuinely happy. I loved that.
“Look at me! Over here,” I said. I spun around the same way she had. I threw my head back, wishing I would forever be stuck in that moment. That’s when I saw the sky for the first time that night. The stars were polka dots on a black canvas. The silver moon blurred more and more as I spun, and I liked it that way. The moon retold memories from years ago, like when Maggie and I painted sunsets and pinned them on trees to dry, or when we found a badger in the front yard and tried to catch it. That same moon saw all of that. I wondered what else it had seen.

            We both twirled around in chorus but soon collapsed together on the grass. Maggie laughed. I laughed harder. I think I laughed for a little too long, because when I didn’t stop, Maggie punched my arm and told me to be quiet. That, of course, only made me laugh more.

I looked at the tall redwood trees surrounding us. Man, I loved those trees. I really did. I felt a sharp tug on my arm, but before I could react, I was being dragged down the hill. Maggie was rolling down and pulled me with her. We eventually landed and caught our breath. I started tugging at pieces of grass absentmindedly. I wondered if Alaska knew her dad would be having another daughter twenty-three years after she was born. That daughter, obviously, was me. I wondered if Alaska knew it would be with a different wife. That wife, obviously, was my mother. I wish I knew these things.

“Tomorrow we’ll go to our hotel. There’s gonna be a lot of people there, though, okay? Drew can pick us up if he sees us.”
“Who’s Drew?” I asked.
“Drew drives the van, Parker. He’s the van driver, remember? The van driver. I told you this.”
“Oh.” That was all I could bring myself to say.

I wanted to stay outside longer. I saw some small illuminations nearby, which my imagination assumed were fallen stars. But they really weren’t. They were fireflies. I sort of wished they were fallen stars. Right then, my mother was probably waking up for a day full of exploring and adventuring. I wish she could have seen the moon at the same time I did. I missed my mom so much, but I found comfort in knowing that what she does is important. She was searching for Phantom bases to protect us. I loved her for doing that. I wondered if she was thinking of me and Alaska and Chase. This may sound selfish, but I hoped I would be the first thing on her mind when she woke up. Maybe thinking of her children could motivate her to continue searching. I just didn’t want her to forget about us.

to be continued