“My Boyfriend Lives In The Tree In Front of My House”

Flash fiction by Nancy Stohlman
And sometimes I bring him Cheetos or popsicles or trashy gossip mags and sometimes I crawl up there on the lower branches and we let our legs dangle, have a treebranch cocktail, make fun of the guy walking two Chihuahuas or the Vietnam vet on the corner with his platoon of American flags, and then I go back home, which is just a few steps away. We see each other on Friday evenings and every other Sunday, because life is complicated after all.

It started before he was my boyfriend, when he hid in the tree to “see the look on my face” when I opened the birthday present he’d left on my front porch. It was an admittedly lovely tree, and moving into the tree seemed the next logical step. Some nights he sleeps with me in my bed, and some nights we retire to our own spaces, me to my room and him to his branch, and apart we both masturbate to the thought of how mature we are. We’ve talked about building something more permanent, even a few 2 x 4s for him to properly sit on, but haven’t, yet. On the nights we’re Not Supposed To See Each Other, he’ll sometimes text me anyway and I’ll run out with smuggled tacos from dinner and we’ll meet on the grass and eat by the light of the antique-inspired lampposts that automatically turn on at 6 pm each night.

Most of the time I commend myself on how great we are about everything, taking space, not rushing in too fast—because lord knows we’ve both had our share, and we agree that love should be approached like a cobra. I congratulate us for staying calm and level headed and maintaining all those emotions we don’t how to control. This is better. It’s better like this.

But there is one thing that my boyfriend in a tree doesn’t know. Sometimes when I’m supposed to be in bed, I stand at the darkened front window and watch the tiny light from his keychain moving behind all the foliage, and in those quiet moments I secretly wish that he would just climb down and come inside.

Originally published in Metazen--read original here.

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