”I’m old enough for a den of my own if I want one, and this is the den that I want.”
The ‘den’ was little more than a cradle-shaped indentation in the large and tangled exposed roots shared by the Child and Mother Trees. It was located such that Whistle had shade regardless of the daystar’s position in the sky. She had boundless walls and a ceiling as high as the open sky.
Her belongings hadn’t even been brought over yet, but the first time since those awful nights spent trapped in a rotten tree, Whistle felt truly at home.
“So when you want to bring a male home for a little fun, you’re going to leave your rump bouncing in the moonlight for all to see?” Sparkle’s good-natured ribbing came from several paces below Whistle, at the foot of a stairway shaped into the roots. Sparkle had a few years on Whistle, but not many, and they were close enough friends that Sparkle felt perfectly fine with being annoying.
Whistle grinned. “Mother shaped some hooks into the sides for leathers. See?” Her grin became a wicked one as she closed a drape right across Sparkle’s face.
It didn’t take long for the curly-haired tinkerer to appear on the branches above, which had been arranged to hold similar drapes to keep Whistle from being pelted with rain and leaves.
“This won’t work in the white-cold, you know.”
”I’ll worry about white-cold when it’s white-cold . Now are you going to keep picking at burrs or help me move my things?”
“You could always share my den,” Sparkle persisted, her feet swinging. "If you're that eager to get out from under your parents."
“Do you really believe Mother would have shaped this for me if she thought for one moment I was just trying to get away from her? Or Father? It’s not about getting away from them its… it’s just that…” Once again, words failed her.
Whistle had tried to explain how close spaces made her feel; the memories they dredged up, the tension in her chest as her pulse and breath quickened at the fear of being trapped and not being able to get out. Sometimes during the day she’d wake up in a cold sweat and need to go outside.
She could feel it happening at that moment. Her heart was pounding. A dense knot was working itself into her stomach. Her throat was tightening. Sometimes just thinking about it could bring on an attack of nerves and worries. She couldn’t control when it happened. She didn’t know how to keep it from happening.
And yet her cheerfully obtuse friend still did not understand. Nor would she. Because Whistle had promised herself she would never really share it. ‘No sends, not ever.’ Nobody should have to experience such unease with a basic part of everyday life; ‘Elves live in dens’. Not even Whistle herself.
Whistle shook her head to clear it. She opened her eyes and took in a long view of her wall-less domicile. “Help me or don’t,” She stated plainly once she could. “Either way, I have work to do.”