This is a story about a treehouse, about The Treehouse, you could say. You can read the first part by clicking on the block below.
Ralph Gets New Friends
Ralph was awakened by a long creak somewhere below him. The old treehouse where he had been living for the last few weeks often creaked when the wind blew through the branches of the monkeypod tree. But this was the long deliberate creak of something large pressing on the old boards of the treehouse. Ralph was a small bird and did not like to be assertive unless he had to be, so he waited in his small nest of ivy and listened.
Ralph was a cockatiel who had flown out of his owners’ house. He had flown so far in that first thrill of being suddenly in a world without walls that it was impossible to know which direction the house was now. He might have looked harder but this outside world was warm and had plenty of food. He might have tried to go back for his friend Doppleganger, who had lived in his mirror, but now Doppleganger was in the pool of water at the base of the hill, so Ralph was never lonely.
“Cool!” someone said below him. There was more creaking of boards. Ralph hopped to the edge of the treehouse roof and looked down onto the moss-greened balcony. A head of curly brown hair poked out the window just under him. “There’s a balcony out here too!” The head disappeared back into the treehouse.
Ralph went back to his nest of ivy and ate a seed. He wasn’t sure how he felt about these people. It was good to hear people again but he knew that not all people were good. There were some that would poke at you and maybe even try to catch you.
An hour later, he saw two girls walking away from the tree, back down the hill. When they were out of sight, he flew through the open door of the treehouse. They had cleaned the fallen leaves and sticks off the floor, even his little nest in the corner where he went if it was especially windy or rainy.
Ralph spent the next few hours remaking his inside nest, then went to talk over the problem with Doppleganger. Of course, Doppleganger did not have any solutions. He always agreed with whatever Ralph said. Finally, Ralph flew back to the treehouse for the night.
The girls were back the next day and this time they brought cleaning supplies. They worked all day, singing and laughing and calling back and forth to each other. Their names were Zoe and Lily, he learned, and they were clearly best friends. They scrubbed the mold and moss from the walls and left the whole place with a smell that stung Ralph’s nose.
When they left this time, Ralph found that he could not even go into the treehouse anymore. The girls had covered the windows and door with plastic. He flew back up to his nest on the roof a little sadly. It had been such a nice place to live. Maybe it would be better if he just left.
Still, he stayed for the moment. It was his home now and for the next week, the girls did not come back. He found a place on the balcony that was protected from the wind and rain. It was not as good as inside, but it was better than nothing.
A few days later, Ralph woke up with the feeling that something was nearby. He poked his head up and saw one of the girls crouched on the roof. It was Zoe. She was looking at him.
“There’s a bird up here!” she said in a stage whisper.
“What kind?” Lily asked from down below.
“I don’t know but it’s just looking at me.”
There was a scrabbling sound and Lily’s face appeared through the ivy on the edge of the roof.
“It’s a cockatiel!” she said. “I’ve seen them before. But they aren’t wild here. It must have escaped from its owners.”
“It can be our pet, or our mascot,” Zoe said. “That would be so cool.” She moved a bit closer. That was close enough for Ralph. He took off, flying in the opposite direction.
When he came back, the girls had gotten down from the roof. He was not sure what a mascot was, but it seemed to be a good thing. The girls put a bowl of seeds on the balcony next to a bowl of water so black and shiny that when Ralph bent over it to drink, he saw Doppleganger looking up at him.
“Well, hello there, old bird!” Ralph said. “Welcome to the treehouse. It’s nice of you to come up here, so I don’t have to go down to the pool to see you. It’s almost like old times again.” Doppleganger agreed.
Over the next few weeks, the girls did more as well. They made a small door just for him in the wall that led directly into a cage inside the house. He could go there anytime he wanted. There was even a mirror so that Doppleganger was always there to talk to. Ralph was truly happy again. It felt like he was home again.