The last rays of the summer sunset reflected off the soda ad on the side of the bus as he stepped off, waving to the driver and shouldering his backpack. The driver waved back, and the bus rumbled away, back to the stops it had actually intended to make. Jason turned and watched the old lot for a moment. The rotting log was still there, and the old car had gained a few coats of rust since the last time he's seen it. Insects buzzed around the permanent rain-puddles in the cracked cement. And in the far corner stood the tree, the ever-silent guardian of the broken neighborhood. He almost smiled.
As he walked closer, he could see the carved names in the bark still, though some had almost grown out. The boards nailed to the trunk had almost rotted through, and some of them were missing. He glanced down. The wild grass was growing over them. Not a recent fall.
But from high above, he could hear breathing, heavy like a sob. He looked up at the old treehouse, then sighed, and set down his backpack before he sat down with his back to the tree.
And very slowly, with the air of someone with a very important story to tell, he began to speak.
“Once upon a time, in a kingdom so far away that not even Mr. Woods has been there, there lived a princess. She lived in a beautiful castle, all up in the air, and all around the clouds were her subjects. The skies were hers to command, and if she were ever sad, the clouds were sad, and the world rained all around. But if she were happy, all the skies were happy, and there was blue as far as anyone could see. And sometimes she was happy, and sometimes she was sad, and the world went round beneath her.”
The breathing above him had gone very still.
“Now in one of the kingdoms below, there lived a knight, who wandered from place to place and saved people, for that is what knights do. But while some knights served a king, and others served a prince, this knight served nobody, for as long as he could remember he had been alone.”
A sudden flash of memory hit him, of a broom-headed horse and a pot falling over his eyes, and he paused for a moment before he continued.
“The princess in the sky, sometimes, was lonely, and sometimes came down from her castle, to see what was below. Sometimes she found adventure, and sometimes she didn't, but once, she found the knight, and then for a while, neither was alone. Once, they fought a great dragon, and chased it into it's lair, and killed it, and another time they defeated a wizard who'd turned a village into monsters, thirsty for blood, and they turned all the villagers back. And they had many adventures, the knight and the princess, and the knight vowed to serve the princess so neither would be alone, really alone, for even when they were apart they knew they would be together again sometime.”
A white car splashed by through the remnants of last night's rain, and the clouds that gathered on the horizon spoke of a storm coming fast. He paused a moment to gather his thoughts.
“And every adventure they had, they started at her castle in the sky, and ventured out all across the land, and at the end they came back, but...” He trailed off. “Then it got dark.”
Jason sat for a moment beneath the tree, silent, and watched the last of the sun vanish and clouds cover the moon.
“And they had to go home when it got dark.”
New story! This isn't even the whole scene of this, but I like this bit, and anything else would require explanation. Anyway, Enjoy!