Secret Spaces, Far from Strife

Finding refuge from the outside world, and from parents, in a tree, under the earth, in a tomb.

  1. I was 9, my brother, Jeb, was 8, and maybe if we’d been born in a city we would not have started building treehouses and forts, igloos and tepees, even digging a hole in the ground that we covered with thick branches of pine, oak and maple. Or maybe if our mother and father did not fight most every night, their yelling rising up the stairwell like some poisonous vapor to us and our two sisters, Jeb and I would not have gone looking for the scrap lumber we found under the closed summer camps near our rented house in southern New Hampshire—two-by-fours and two-by-sixes, warped plywood and long planks of rough spruce.

    Our first effort was deep in the pines. In our landlord’s garage we found a hammer, a rusty handsaw and a can of nails. It was late fall, so there was no one to watch us yank wood from the shadowed cobwebs under the floor joists of those camps. No one to watch us carry this lumber over our shoulders, the handsaw gripped in my brother’s fingers, the claw of the long hammer h...

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