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Life As A Treehouse

Life As A Treehouse




Oliver Bennett isn't an average teenager. He refuses to use a cell phone and talks with his friends via a walkie-talkie. After his father's accidental death, Oliver needs to relearn how to connect with his family, friends, and his past. His only source of strength is the treehouse in his backyard - his only connection to his father. Will Ollie allow his father's death to consume him or will he be able to let go of his inner demons?,

Hello, world. I'm Oliver Bennett. The world calls my generation entitled snowflakes. This applies to my peers, but it doesn't apply to me. I'm not your typical high school student, glued to their phone like a screen-faced zombie.

I hate phones so much that I ran my dad's phone over with my skateboard in the tenth grade. As a result, I was grounded until prom. Am I still grounded? Well, yes, but my conscience is clear.

Instead of having a phone to take awful selfies with, I use a walkie-talkie. I was born in the wrong era, and everyone loves to remind me of this.

My friends get angry that I don't use Snap Chat - whatever that is. So to piss them off, I snap my fingers in their faces while we are chatting.

I will never understand social media. I don't even have a computer. I handwrite all my papers for school. Hell, even a typewriter would be an improvement.

I wish we could go back to a simpler time when people enjoyed their moments when amateur phone junkies didn't photograph weddings. And where every smile a baby did was admired and not documented.

I use a walkie-talkie to chat with my three best friends. My best friend, Maximus Wellington, is still pissed when I make him use code names on the walkie-talkie. He hates the walkie-talkie - and yet here we are, still friends using code names. My code name is T-Rex, and he is Bowser. We never stopped loving dinosaurs and dragons.

"Ollie, wake up." I hear my mother calling my nickname.

"I am up, mom, " I yell.

Today is the first day of my senior year, and I could care less. I enjoyed my summer yard work, lawn mowing, and dog walking so much, and now I must return to be a student.

"T-Rex, are you there?" I hear Tori's voice in the walkie-talkie.

"This is T-Rex! Need a ride, Tinkerbell?" We should stop with these code names.

"Sure, can Ronnie ride with us?" Tori asks.

Just what I need, my sister using her hawk eyes to stare into my morning. My sister and I are close, but she becomes this territorial bloodhound when it comes to her friends. It irritates me.

"Do we have to?" I ask.

"Are you and Ronnie fighting again?" She asks.

"No, it's my first day of senior year, and I don't want to get a lecture from my sister, " I say.

I don't need Ronnie in my ears, telling me what I need to be doing in life. Veronica hates her name, so we call her Ronnie.

"Please, Ollie," Tori begs.

Unfortunately, Tori knows if she uses my nickname over the walkie-talkie, I will give in.

"Fine, Vicky," I reply.

"See you in fifteen minutes. And Ollie, never call me Vicky ever again." Well, at least that got her attention.

My car is a legend on my street. It's nicknamed the Cave Troll. According to myth, my car was the very Jeep used to help the cops catch a serial killer. Do I believe it? Not by a long shot. I bought it from a dealer, who was happy to get rid of it. If it were an actual legend, he would have put it in a museum or kept it.

I put my soccer uniform on; I may as well wear it now since I have practice and dog walking after school. My jersey is purple with yellow lettering. My number is 12. These colors do not look good on a guy. Our mascot is the Warriors. All the Game of Thrones nerds dig and praise our mascot like he's a god. I comb my hair and get my tennis shoes on.

"Ronnie, where are my car keys?" I ask as though she stole them.

"They are right here on the hook, Oliver," Ronnie says.

She tosses them at me. We hop into the Cave Troll, and Tori meets us outside. Of course, she wears a dress on the first day of school. A pink sundress with high heels. Typical Tori, dressing to impress Dale.

"Hello Tori, how are you?" I ask. Something is different about her this morning. She is beaming, glowing, and flirty.

"Ronnie, it finally happened, " she squeaks, ignoring my question completely.

"What, Tori?" Ronnie asks all ears.

"Dale...he asked me out last night. And I said yes, of course. He and I saw each other when I was coming back from the beach party. He stopped in his tracks and asked me out on the spot. I think I'm blushing or dreaming or both," Tori sighs.

My hands clench the steering wheel. What the hell is wrong with me? I should be happy for her, right? So what is this deep feeling of anger and confusion? My heart is quicksand. I feel sick all over as if my body has escaped from itself. Ronnie looks at me and reads me like a book.

"Isn't that awesome, Ollie?" Ronnie says, prompting me back into the conversation in which I want to escape.

"Yes, that's amazing. Dale is a lucky guy," I lie through my teeth. Too lucky if anyone wants to know, which they don't.

"Is this dress too formal for school, Ollie?" Tori asks.

Why the hell is she asking me? I know nothing about girl fashion. So how am I supposed to look at her when I feel like spiders are crawling all over me?

"What's wrong, Ollie?" Tori asks.

"I asked you how you are, and you ignored me," I bark and roll my eyes.

"Sorry, Oliver, I didn't mean to. I'm so happy about Dale and me. Why can't you be happy for me?" She asks. I need to calm down, so I don't ruin our first day of school.

"I am happy for you. I don't like being brushed aside for Ronnie all the time. We were friends first, remember?" I say. Ronnie rolls her eyes; she knows I'm placing the blame on her.

"Just get in the car. We don't want to be late," I say.

I focus on driving and ignore Tori's tall tale of how Dale asked her out. We get to school, and I realize how hideous it is. It looks like a run-down factory from the 1940s. Perhaps airplanes were manufactured within these stingy walls.

"What's your first class?" Tori asks me.

I hand her my schedule, so I don't have to look at her or talk as we get out of the car.

"I have Government first period too. And so does Dale. This will be so amazing. We can all sit together," Tori says.

"That sounds amazing. See you in class," I say to Tori as she heads off into the building.

"Ollie, we need to talk right now," Ronnie demands.

Ronnie is tapping her foot, which is her way of saying, come here now.

"What, Ronnie? I need to settle into my new locker," I say anything to get out of talking to Ronnie.

"Stay away from my friends. I'm impressed you were able to hold yourself together," Ronnie declares with sarcasm.

"Ronnie, it's fine. I'm not out to date your friends. Good grief," I say, defending myself.

"Well, what the hell was that?" Ronnie asks.

"I don't like Tori ignoring me and telling you her news," I say.

"Are you sure you aren't pissed about her news?" Ronnie says, searching into my eyes.

"Ronnie, stop digging and go to class," I say.

God, she is so annoying. So, what if Tori and her news threw me off. Worse things have happened. I head to my locker and gather my thoughts. My notebooks and pens fall everywhere.

"I'm watching you, Bennett." It's Jake Brady, the school ass hat.

"What do you want?" I ask.

"Give me a notebook; I didn't have time to go shopping for supplies," Jake smirks. I'm not being pushed around by this hooligan.

"Not interested," I say, passing him.

I hear a loud fist hit a locker. What is this moron's problem?

"What's wrong with you, Brady?" I look at his angry face; someone hurt him, I bet.

"I don't like you, Ollie. Plain and simple," he snarls.

"Get your own school supplies. I'm going to class." I turn my back on him.

"Before you go to class, I want you to know I'm going to get together with your little friend, Tori. That dress she is wearing today screams, easy. Am I right? I bet she and Dale will rub their relationship in your face. And she won't want to be your friend anymore. She's found your replacement, Ollie. And when Dale breaks her heart, well, bedding her will be so easy for a guy like me," he laughs. He doesn't know the mood I'm in right now.

"SHUT UP, JAKE BRADY. Shut Up!" My inner anger starts to emerge.

"She will end up hating you, Ollie..." He keeps going on and on about all the shit he will do to Tori, and it becomes white noise.

For the first time, I am the one to start a fight. I push Brady to the ground. My animal instincts kick in. His body is beneath me. I begin punching all the years of bullshit onto him. He has pushed me over the edge. I hit him five times and bruise his eye.

"Ollie, get off him!" Lucas and Maximus pull me off, Jake.

A circle of peers has gathered around me, like one of those freak shows. I hear whispering followed by boos and wows.

"Oliver Bennett, come with me," Principal Jenson calls to me.

Just what I need on the first day. I promised myself no bullshit today, a nice easy day. So far, it has been bad news and threats.

I head into his office and sit on his infamous expulsion throne.

"What's wrong, Oliver?" Principal Jenson asks.

"Well, Brady was harassing me, and it got the better of me," I reply.

He is taking notes and pulls out a file of all my wrongdoings. I'm not a bad student. Well, before my dad died, I was an excellent student. So I end fights until today when I started one.

"I think you should go home, Ollie. Just for today. I will have your sister get your homework for you. I will get you excused from your classes. As for Brady, he has every right to press charges against you. But given his track record, maybe it can slide. Since your dad passed, you have been aggressive. The school board and I agreed, it would be best if you meet with the school counselor to see how you are doing. We will need your mother's signature to approve these counseling sessions," Principal Jenson finishes.

I look down; this is the worst start to a school year that I have ever had. I miss my dad and wish he were here. I take the forms for my mom to sign. How embarrassing. I hear the bell signaling that class has ended. I head to my locker to gather my stuff.

"Hey, Ollie," I look up and see Dale. What the hell?

"I heard what you said to Brady. He deserved a punch in the face. And thanks for defending Tori. That was cool. Where are you headed?" He asks.

"Home. They think I'm too dangerous to be here today. Can you take Tori and Ronnie home for me?" I can't believe I am asking Dale, Tori's new boyfriend, for help.

"Sure thing," Dale replies.

If he was standing there watching me defend her, why wasn't he helping me? Forget it. Whatever.

I take my keys and head to the Cave Troll. Man, my car is so green. The caught serial killer must haunt it because his asshole ways are rubbing off on me. My mom is going to be disappointed in me. I can't even get through the first day of my senior year.

I don't go home; instead, I hike to my favorite spot in the woods. I walk for hours, listening to the wind, the birds, and hear the symphony of nature. No cell phones to call me, no humans to bother me. I belong out here, away from everyone.

I get home at 1 pm, and mom yells at me.

"Where the hell were you? The school called me four hours ago and told me you started a fight? You can't be fighting, Oliver. No college will want an aggressive student on their campus, " she barks.

"Gee, thanks, mom. Brady was being an ass hat and told me all the things he would do to my friends. So I punched him, and he fucking deserved it. He's deserved it for a long time. Someone had to set the record straight. And then I went hiking and enjoyed the sounds of no one," I say, handing her the forms stating I need a school shrink.

"A counselor? Are they serious? Well, if it keeps you out of trouble and in school. Sure, I will sign it. But, if this happens again, Ollie, you won't be living here anymore, do you hear me? I can't have you hurting people and bringing that bad reputation home," she comments.

"Are you going to kick me out now? Who's the parent who has been a zombie since dad died? Who worked their ass off to keep food on your table this summer?" I yell. She tries to strike up a fight, but I leave.

This woman isn't my mom. My mom died when my dad did. I miss my family and the life we had a year ago. It's funny how cruel time is and how it won't let you return to the places and people you love. So I take my stuff and head into the treehouse. I will stay here for a few days and disappear, disappear into the remaining aroma of my father.