Elli scowled at the screen. When the CompuTeach powered on, it was supposed to make the sound. The happy sound; the fanfare that heralded the few delightful hours of her day where she could ask ... [+]
My new neighbor, Oliver, has an amazing treehouse built just for him. He's so lucky.
What I have is a stack of unread library books and a LOUD family!
My mom whistles while she drives.
My dad sings in the shower.
My brother plays the drums in our room and floor hockey everywhere else.
And my little sister squeals when she's happy and shrieks when she's not.
What's a kid got to do to get some peace and quiet?
Every once in a while I catch a break. I get a single moment of calm. It never lasts.
"Zeke and Zach and Zelda! DIN-NER!"
I pleaded at the dinner table.
"Please, please, please can I have a treehouse?"
Dad smiled. "Need to get away from us?"
Zeke put me in a headlock. "Why would you want that?"
"Maybe Oliver will invite you over to his treehouse," Mom said.
Not likely. Oliver kept to himself at school.
"That treehouse is wasted on Oliver. He's an only child. He doesn't need it."
"I don't know," said Dad. "I see him out there a lot."
After dinner I went to my room to read my pirate book. But just as Captain Longbeard was walking the plank, Zeke came in for drum practice.
Time to abandon ship.
I tried the living room, but Mom and Zelda were having a dance party at full volume.
"Zach, come boogie with us!" Mom shouted over the music.
I gave Zelda a spin and then danced out the back door.
Quiet at last. But I wasn't alone. I was being watched.
I looked up and saw Oliver's face in the treehouse window. Lucky.
"Want to come up?" he called softly. "You can bring your book."
Oliver's treehouse was even better than I had imagined. It had working lights, a pair of chairs, a rug, and best of all, a bookshelf full of books. Sooo lucky!
"This is awesome!"
"Thanks," Oliver said. "I like to read out here."
We spent the next hour reading in peace. Then:
"Za-ach! Time to come in!" Dad called.
I stood up. Oliver did, too.
"Back to the noise," I said. "I bet your family's quiet, right?"
Oliver looked out the treehouse window. From there we could see into his family's kitchen.
I couldn't hear Oliver's parents. I couldn't hear anything. The lights were off. No one was home.
Oliver sighed and sat back down. "I'm going to stay a little longer," he said.
I nodded and started down. Then I stopped. "Want to come over?"
At my house my family was playing the loudest game of checkers you ever heard.
"Queen me!" squealed Zelda and everyone laughed.
"Oh, come ON!" Zeke roared.
That's when they saw Oliver. Mom jumped up and gave him a big hug. Dad thumped him on the back.
I gave Oliver an embarrassed smile. "Sorry about the racket. We can go up to my room if you want."
Oliver shook his head. "I like a little noise," he said shyly.
Then Zelda howled: "He double-jumped meeee!"
"And for quiet," Oliver said, "we have the treehouse."
"Thanks," I said, covering my ears. "I'd like that."