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// Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spider Branches

     At first my little brother and I liked the idea of having "spider branches" outside our bedroom windows.

     "Just pretend the spider branches are part of a magic forest and both of you are the brave knights that protect all that live in the magic forest," said Mom. Dad nodded in agreement.

     Mom and Dad sold us on this idea the day we moved into our new house: a 20th century plantation-style abode, conveniently located in the middle of scenic nowhere.

     Now to two boys both under the age of ten (I was nine, my brother six), who just so happened to play Knights of the Magic Forest each and every day, Mom's idea wasn't just appealing—it was golden. We both cheered, "Hooray for the spider branches!"

     Things were OK that first summer in the new (old) house; or as OK as they could be for two rambunctious boys with active imaginations, and nothing but free time on their hands from sunup to sundown.

     Eventually summer ended, school started, and our spider branches kept being the magic forest outside our bedroom windows.

     Life was moving along normally and without fanfare – until Halloween night.

     My brother and I aren't certain what really happened that night, or why, but we'll never forget it.

     It had been raining all morning and all afternoon, and then right after dinner Trick-or-Treating was officially cancelled thanks to a severe thunderstorm warning bleep-bleep-bleeping its way out of the t.v.

     Sure, weather like this is perfect for grownups in B-grade horror movies, but it's lousy when you're a kid on Halloween night.

     So there we were, in bed at 9 PM on the most kid-cool holiday of the year, without a candy rush and no tales to recount of who actually scared who the most that night. At least Mom and Dad let us wear our costumes to beds (without the masks, of course).

     The rain was pelting our bedroom windows and the wind wasn't just whistling, it was yelling.

     There were thunderclaps so loud and so deep that we actually felt our beds rumble and shake on the floor. One thunderclap was so explosive that we nearly popped out of our beds.

     That's when it happened.

     The spider branches broke through our bedroom windows, grabbed us by our heads, yanked us out into the wet howling night, and tossed us about like a game of human hot potato.

     We screamed.

     They hissed.

     We kicked.

     They clawed.

     We cried.

     They laughed.

     We reached for each other.

     They pulled us apart.

     I thought we were goners…

     That's when Dad showed up with his giant chainsaw.

     I don't know how he knew we were in danger, or how he scaled the trees in the pouring rain with a giant revving many-toothed machine in one hand, but he did.

     And he sliced and cut those spider branches faster than the streaks of lightning that threw intermittent light on the grand battle that was raging. (How he managed not to halve either of us is a miracle.)

     Moments after his arrival we found ourselves on the ground, tears in our eyes, our costumes ripped to shreds, with cuts and scrapes all over our trembling bodies. But nothing loomed above us. We were safe.

     And there was our Dad, standing ten feet tall, idling chainsaw in his hands, giving us a reassuring everything's-alright-now smile. Strewn about him, in every direction, were bits and pieces of the spider branches. It looked like someone dumped a million toothpicks on our yard.

     The next morning Mom and Dad cleaned up the mess and that night we had a backyard bonfire. We made-up funny stories and toasted marshmallows. They were the greatest marshmallows my brother and I ever had.

     To this day I still don't know what really happened that horrible Halloween night, but I'll never forget the pain of the spider branches or the appearance of my Dad, the hero with a chainsaw.

     The End

© Copyright 2009 Christopher V. DeRobertis. All rights reserved.

This text composition is a work of fiction. Names, places, institutions, events, incidents, characters, persons, locations, and/or organizations either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Full Creative Writing Disclaimer.