The ride home was anything but quiet. Talk of the tree house filled the car. Sarah was excited. Anne was excited. HE was excited. This was a great family project. With all of them working on it, NOTHING could go wrong.
Robert was fooling himself. Of COURSE things could go wrong. Things that are simple ALWAYs go wrong. Like when you want to change a tire and all of the bolts come loose except one. And you spend the next hour lubing, hammering, and turning it until finally it comes loose and your hand slips and you cut yourself on the wrench! Well... at least he hoped putting the tree house together wouldn't be THAT bad.
The next few weeks proved him right. To start things off on the wrong foot... The delivery truck forgot half his order and he needed to reschedule ANOTHER delivery appointment. He WAS able to calm Sarah down with a SORT-OF promise that the tree house would be up by the end of the month, as long as he got all the right parts.
That was the next thing to go wrong. The lumber yard cut all the lumber too short. He checked his receipt and saw that he had ordered the correct lengths. He had... they messed up. He could work with the shorter boards but that meant a smaller tree house. Sarah was upset at the thought of a smaller tree house but in the end she agreed that it was better than waiting for another order of lumber to be delivered. Robert called the store and made sure he got a refund for the mis-cut lumber. The lady on the other end apologized up and down and assured him that she would take care of the bill.
With the order all delivered, Robert was able to start work on the tree house. He was a week behind and the end of the month was coming up fast. Anne and Sarah helped him as much as they could. He took a few days off work to make sure it got finished on time. The tree house turned out to be bigger than Sarah had imagined once she was inside. "Those paper drawings sure are different than when it's built," she thought as her father laid out the floor. They marked where the door would go and the window too.
"This will do nicely daddy," she nodded to her father as she sat on a tree limb. She contemplated where she would put things as he continued to work. "I need a chair over there... and a table over here would be nice. The window with the curtain will go over there." She memorized where each piece would go and Robert just smiled and kept working. He was careful to make sure each nail went were it was supposed to. There was no more time for errors or setbacks. He wanted the tree house finished.
Anne and Sarah worked on the curtains as Robert added the finishing touches to the tree house. When he was done he told the girls that all the tree house needed were the curtains. Anne was just finishing up ironing the curtains when he came in the room. She handed them to him to hang, and told Sarah that after lunch she could see her new tree house all finished. The little girl ate so fast that Robert was sure she would get a tummy ache.
With lunch all finished Robert took the two girls to see the finished tree house. Sarah was quiet. She was in awe that this beautiful place was all hers. She climbed the ladder as Anne helped her up. Anne gave her husband a smile of approval. This tree WAS just right. It was strong and firm and its branches weren't too tall.
"See Daddy??? I TOLD you this was a great tree. It holds the tree house juuust right." Sarah gave him a little smirk. She liked being grown up and was glad her father trusted her to pick the right tree.
"Yes Sarah... this tree works nicely," Robert agreed.
The rest of the summer Sarah decorated the tree house to her liking. She played in it for hours and even had a few sleep overs in it. Her friends liked the tree house too and Robert and Anne enjoyed a seeing their little girl so happy. They HAD made a trip to the zoo and a trip to the auto museum but a big trip was off for this year. All Sarah wanted to do was play in her tree house so they did end up saving some money, which made up for the over budget tree house.
At the end of summer Robert was watching the news on TV, comfortable in his chair. Anne and Sarah were cooking in the kitchen. Robert sat up. He smelled smoke. What were the girls cooking? He chuckled to himself. It wasn't the first time Anne had burned something. He was about to stand up when Sarah ran into the room screaming at the top of her lungs..."The forest is on fire!"