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Chapter 8

Chapter 8

A Chapter by Louis McKraker

As we had planned the day before, David woke up with a cold. Grandma, not having kids his age for a long time, found that she did not have children’s formula anything.

David came to my bedside and shook me awake soon after grandma’s van disappeared behind the Cypress trees. “She’s gone,” he said, as my eyes came open slowly. The crisp morning sunlight spilling in through the windows stung my eyes for a brief moment.

“Get up,” he repeated. “Gramma’s gone to the store in town. Get up, Lori!

“I’m up,” I responded in a groggy voice�"my morning voice.

“What time is it?” I asked David.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “It’s early, though. Maybe eight or nine… Gramma thought I had a pretty nasty cold when she left; so she won‘t be gone any longer than she has to be.”

Suddenly, I wasn’t bothered that I had been woken anymore. I smiled at David in the morning sunlight, which was now pleasantly warm. He had done it--the little devil. He had come through for me, even as I slept away the morning. I was proud of him.

“Good job, dweeb,” I said, running my hands through his dark hair.

I jumped out of bed and into my sneakers and jacket. I zipped up tightly, told David to stay inside and listen for the sound of Grandma’s van, and then I ran outside to the old Magnolia tree.

While standing at the broad base of the tree, I was suddenly reminded that it had now been several years since I last climbed this old beast. And the tree had grown even bigger since then�"or so it seemed. It went onward and upward, several feet higher than the roof of the house.

“I have a bad feeling about this, Lori,” David said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because, you could get hurt,” he answered. I had the feeling his concern was not really for me. “Or Gramma could see you. She might get mad if she finds us snooping.”

I told ya. David is just that type�"more concerned about his own punishment than mine.

“I’ll be fine,” I assured him. “But maybe you should stand more toward the corner of the house. Close to the veranda, so you can see her if she comes outside. You can just whistle, or something.”

David walked glumly to the corner of the house, as I had instructed, and he waited there, shivering in his blue coat. He waited on Grandma to come out. Waited for me to fall out of this ancient tree and break something major�"something tells me he would love that. Waited for both of us to get caught, and have Grandma come down on us for snooping.

I drew my arms around the broad trunk of the Magnolia, and then threw up one of my sneakers. Then the other. I began to climb the tree in a fashion that our father calls monkey-polling, until I reached the first branch, and then I pulled myself up to where I could be seated in the crotch of the limb.

I could hear David snickering over at the corner of the house. I can only imagine how laughable it looked to see a girl my age monkey-polling a massive Magnolia such as this; but there was no time for me to think about what it looked like to any observer. That’s what David is here for. He can laugh at things when I cannot.

“Hurry up, Lori,” David called up to me.

He was growing impatient, but I only needed to go up two or three more limbs, before I would be able to gaze into Grandpa’s writing office.

I shushed him with one finger over my mouth.

“I’m going as fast as I can,” I responded. “I haven’t done this in a long time.”

I stood up on my current limb as elegant as a gymnast. I took a deep breath, and jumped for the next limb, and began pulling myself up. Somewhere far below me, I heard the sound of David’s teeth chattering. Not just from the cold, though. I’m sure he thought for a second that I was going to miss the limb I jumped for.

I nailed it, though.

Worry not, little brother, I thought. It’s all coming back to me.

Like riding a bike.

Also, there were more good-sized limbs farther up. I guessed I was now higher up then Grandma’s pole saw would reach. The bark turned into a different texture farther up. Where the trunk of the tree was rougher, the bark farther up was smoother, and more slick beneath my sneakers.

As I stood to my feet, the bottom him of my jacket caught on one of the off-shooting limbs, and it snatched me back. I heard the sound of David gasping again, far below me, as the tread of my sneaker slid, and I almost went to the ground.

And what a long way down that would be now.

When my jacket caught and snatched me, there was a rush of blood to my head. The blood burned in my veins for a moment, and I had to stand with my back against the trunk of the tree, catching my breath.

“Lori, you’re insane for this,” David called up to me, trying to shout quietly.

I could tell by his voice he was truly startled. I was truly startled myself, but somehow, I think my slip now frightened him more than it did me. I was only two good limbs away from being able to peer into the window to grandpa’s writing office. I refused to give up now. Giving up so high above the ground always spells doom.

After I calmed down, shook off the terror that comes with almost falling to your death�"or simply thinking you are about to fall to your death�"found my footing, and pulled myself up two more limbs.

Now I had eyes on the prize, as they say. I could see into Grandpa’s writing office with little effort at all. Some part of me was determined to get to the bottom of this. Some part of me wanted to climb this tree to prove Grandma was telling the truth, as well as prove that she was batty.

But I couldn’t yet prove either.

I had hoped I would climb this tree, and see Grandpa sitting there at his desk, pounding away at his typewriter. I would get his attention. He would see me in the tree. He would wave back to me, and then come to open the window. He would recognize me instantly, no matter how much I had grown in the past three years.

Grandpa’s writing office was empty, though. Completely empty. Empty of all life, that is. He wasn’t sitting at his desk. His old typewriter sat cold and motionless on his desk top. A hardbound book he had been reading lay open in front of his typewriter.

I looked around the room as much as I could. It’s not a very big room, really; but when you have several smaller Magnolia limbs obstructing the view, you have to crane as much as possible.

The daybed along the south wall of his office, which was there for nights when he was too tired to head downstairs to bed, was also empty. The man was nowhere to be found; unless he was hiding under his desk or in the closet. And something told me he wasn’t hiding at all.

No, he wasn’t hiding anywhere.

He simply wasn’t there.

© 2019 Louis McKraker

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Added on November 10, 2019
Last Updated on December 6, 2019


Louis McKraker
Louis McKraker


My name is Louis McKraker. I was born in Central Alabama and began writing at age nine. I don't have much to say about myself, except I'm a Piscean. I prefer poetry over prose. I love storytelling... more..

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A Chapter by Louis McKraker

Chapter 1 Chapter 1

A Chapter by Louis McKraker