“Well, I don’t like it.” Nick announced.
“Neither do I.” Tommy echoed.
“But what can we do?” Andy asked. “It’s still gonna happen.”
The three nine year olds sat inside the treehouse in Andy’s backyard, sulking over the news Nick had just brought them. After living his entire life with them, he was told by his family that they’d be moving away. Unless they found a way to have Nick stay, he’d be leaving soon.
“Well, I can run away,” Nick offered. Suddenly, his idea began to take flight. “Yeah! I can come to the treehouse and hide for a few days, and when they leave, I’ll just come out and say they forgot me!”
“They’d call the cops and the whole neighborhood would be looking for you,” Tommy stated. “That won’t work.”
“I know!” Andy exclaimed. “Suzie’s leaving for college, you can have her old room!”
“I can, huh?” Nick realized. “Yeah, I’m sure mom will let me stay with you!”
“And my mom and dad will be okay with it, too,” Andy continued. “We’ll be like brother and sister.”
“And that way we won’t ever have to leave each other!” Tommy joined in. “That’s a good idea!”
“But not good enough,” Nick said softly. “I don’t wanna leave, you guys.”
“We don’t want you to leave, either,” Andy sniffled, scooting over to Nick’s side. “We’d miss you too much.”
“And our hearts would hurt,” Tommy added, swinging his arm around Nick.
“I can’t race anymore,” Tommy called out. “My arm hurts!”
Nick jogged over to his friend’s side and inspected the wound on his elbow.
“It’s just bleeding a little bit,” Nick noted. “But you can be referee if you want!”
“OK!” Tommy agreed, taking his position in the middle of the street. “You ready? On your marks, get set, GO!”
Four houses down, Andy and Nick took off, racing toward Tommy. Andy had picked up a slight lead, not looking back once at Nick. Yet, when she least expected it, Nick was at her side, determined to win the race. Nearing the final stretch, they both decided to give it their all and win, at all costs. Andy leapt in the air, diving for the makeshift finish line Tommy had drawn with chalk on the street. Nick, a similar idea in mind, gave his all in the final push to get to the finish line, but as he saw Andy fly from beside him, he lunged out as well, causing the both of them to land in a bloody, scraped up heap just inches from their goal.
“Andy?” Nick called, eyes closed. “You OK?”
“Uh huh,” came the reply. “I just busted my knee, and my elbow. Are you OK?”
“My knee hurts,” Nick declared. “And my elbows are both bleeding.”
“And you’re dirty,” Andy noted.
“You guys fell funny,” Tommy stated, offering his friends a grin. “I wish I had my dad’s camera to tape you guys falling.”
Nick sat and stared at his friends’ injured bodies for an instant, and an idea slowly flooded into his mind.
“This is one of our last races,” he said finally.
The three stood up in their tight circle and remained silent, until Tommy finally spoke.
“We’ll be friends forever, right?” he asked.
“Sure we will,” Nick nodded.
“Then let’s prove it.”
Tommy lifted his arm, exposing his bruised elbow. Wiping up the blood that had trickled down with his index finger, he then held it up for his friends to see.
Following his lead, both Andy and Nick did the same, until their three fingers were suspended in the air.
“We have to promise now,” Tommy said. “That we’ll always be friends.”
“And we’ll always love each other,” Andy continued.
“And we’ll always write each other letters,” Nick added.
“And we’ll never forget each other,” Tommy said.
“And no matter where we go after today, we will always, always know where the others are at.”
That being said, three index fingers were united, three different blood types making one. To make their vows complete, the kids stuck their fingers in their mouths, their way of coming together once and for all.
“Eww,” Andy giggled. “Salty.”
“I never ate blood before,” Nick confided. “That was cool!”
“Kinda gross,” Tommy added. “But now we’re friends forever.”
“Forever and ever!” Andy exclaimed happily as the sun set on that warm September afternoon.
[chapter list | chapter three]