The two children sat in their little chairs twenty feet off the ground inside the treehouse Jack’s father had built. Torrents of rain beat down on the shingled roof above and the air inside the treehouse was damp from the deluge outside. The two sat quietly, looking out the side window facing Jack’s home. The window had cross-members but no glass allowing the spring breeze to blow in. The small space was filled with the pleasant smell of fresh cut grass, wooden planks and cool crisp rain.
They didn’t need to speak. There was a comfort in the silence surrounding them, it was something Jack enjoyed—a friend who enjoyed solitude as much as he.
Jack looked over at Elaine. Her arms were propped on the sill of the window, her chin resting on top. “Want to play a game?” he asked.
Elaine turned to him and smiled. “Sure. What do you want to play?”
Jack stood up and walked over to the small bookcase next to the wall and pulled out a deck of Fish cards. “Go Fish?”
“Okay,” she said happily.
Jack sat down at the small table as Elaine pulled their little chairs over to the table. He dealt out five cards each and the two sat facing each other, eager to make matches. Elaine asked Jack for a shark. He had none. So, she pulled a card from the pile, then looked over at Jack.
“Jack, why were those boys teasing you on the bus the other day?”
Jack shrugged. “Do you have any starfish?”
“No,” she replied, watching Jack pull a card from the pile. “Why do you let them pick on you? You’re stronger than that.”
He looked at her, her fire-red hair made her blue eyes seem brighter than they might have been had her hair been brown or blond. “Why do you care?”
Elaine shrugged, “Just do. I don’t like bullies. What do you like to do at school?”
“I don’t really like school very much. I usually just play on the playground or read a book. I like to read.”
Elaine’s face lit up. “Me too! What do you like to read?”
Jack looked past Elaine, contemplating his favorite books. “I like Amelia Bedelia—she’s funny. Also the Gruffalo. My daddy does really good voices for the Gruffalo.”
Elaine laughed. “I like her too! Amelia Bedelia is so silly!” Her laugh was so light- hearted it made Jack laugh too. Elaine added, “Did you read the one where she was asked to put out the lights . . . ” She began giggling, “and Amelia took all the light bulbs out and hung them on the clothesline?”
Suddenly, the tiny redhead was laughing so hard she was crying. Her laugh was infectious. Jack, in turn, began laughing along with her.
“Put them on a clothesline!” he repeated, laughing even harder. He began laughing so hard he started to cry and fell out of the hair which only made Elaine and Jack laugh harder. She jumped down on the floor next to him laughing.
The two six-year-olds were now in a complete fit of giggles on the floor inside the tree-house, the Fish cards strewn all around them.
A few minutes later, they sat up, still laughing, wiping tears from their eyes. Jack felt as he had never felt before—carefree and alive—living life as all children should, was something he wasn’t sure he had ever done before. How the friendship of a young girl named Elaine, could touch him so deeply was something he couldn’t quite grasp, but he was happy to have her as a friend.
And so the two sat, playing Go Fish, talking and giggling over other stories they had read.