Seven years ago, Rhea's sycamore was cut down. She never suspected anyone would build there, but, lo and behold. Months after construction stops, the family is finally settled and moved in, and they're just dying to meet their new neighbors. Rhea doesn't want to meet the people who took her safe haven away, but when her parents actually get off work for the occasion, what's a girl to do? After years and years of supressing her emotions, she must face them, but will she have to go it alone?


1. Prologue



I climbed through my window, onto the roof, and stared. That was all there was to do in my town. Sadly, the one thing I loved to gaze at had been chopped down years ago. My great sycamore tree, that I would climb for hours, was now a stump, barely visible on the horizon. It was a pitiful mound of nothing against the vibrant grass.

I was eleven when they took my tree away from me. Seven men with machines that I knew would eventually haul it away, have it crafted into trivial things that mattered to almost no one. Only I knew about the sycamore, only I knew how it felt to be held in the comforting depths of the branches, and only I would still bother to remember it four years later.

I could only dream of how things used to be, up on my roof. Unfortunately that's all there was to do, and no one missed me in the hours that I would spend there. Sometimes it made me sad to remember the tree, to remember what I had lost. Other days I had nothing else to cling to but memories.

One day, however, I found a reason to leave. I found a reason to never gaze at the stump that was my sycamore:

It was in the wee hours of the morning that I discovered why there was taped posts around the perimiter of the stump. Someone had bought the property. As it turns out, that's why the tree was disposed of in the first place. Someone had bought the land and wanted the tree out of the way, so they could build a house.

I assumed they were only getting a late start. If the six years of stump said anything, it was that the tree was simply a nuisance. Not at all that anyone cared enough to build there. News of the new inhabitants of Dorell spread quickly. My sort-of friend, Helena called me. I had to leave my perch, leaving confusion behind.

Helena shed some light.

A man that she knew as 'Carfield' had bought the land seven years ago, finally visited from way down south, and had the tree removed. He was, apparently, a semi-wealthy social worker with four kids; three daughters and a son. According to almost every gossip in town, they were coming because of a family emergency.

I was sure that the rumors would only get worse when they arrived. I thanked Helena for the info and hung up. I made my way silently up to my room, crawled out my window, and swung over the shutters. The gravelly texture of the roof made my knees sting and left the skin pink. I stared with wonder at the scene.

About five-hundred feet was squared off, all with green tape, wrapped around four wooden posts. Why would Carfield be coming now? Seven years later, he finally decided to flee. Honestly, it seemed pointless. Could it really be that important?

I didn't want to rely on gossip. After all, it was almost never a reliable source. Asking my parents almost seemed like a good idea until I realized, upon looking down at the driveway, that both my parents' cars were gone.

And so I went back inside.

I climbed back into my bedroom window and I never looked back once.

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