And he was so embarrassed, his cheeks turned completely red. I went to bed that night thinking of the kiss that might have been. I mean,it was clear he had feelings for me, but he was just too shy to show them. My mother said boys were like that. - So I decided to help him out. - Bryce? You're here. I would give him plenty of opportunity to get over his shyness. By the sixth grade, I'd learned to control myself. Then Sherry Stalls entered the picture.
gossipy,backstabbing flirt. All hair and no substance. And there she was... ...holding hands with Bryce. My Bryce. The one who was walking around with my first kiss. My solution was to ignore her. I knew a boy of Bryce's caliber... ...would eventually see through a shallow conniver like Sherry Stalls. It took all of a week. They broke up at recess. She didn't take it well. Now that Bryce was out of Sherry's evil clutches,he started being nicer to me. - Hi,Juli. - Hi,Bryce. He was so shy and so cute... ...and his hair, it smelled like watermelon. I couldn't get enough of it. I spent the whole year secretly sniffing watermelon... ...and wondering if I was ever going to get my kiss. Seventh grade brought changes,all right. But the biggest one didn't happen at school. It happened at home. My grandfather came to live with us. Mom said he stared like that because he missed Grandma.
That was not something Grandpa would ever talk about with me. As a matter of fact,he never talked about much of anything with me. That is,until Juli appeared in the local newspaper. - Oh,Bryce. May I speak with you? - What? Have a seat,son. Tell me about your friend Juli Baker. Juli. She's not exactly my friend. Oh. Why's that? Why do you wanna know? Now,Juli Baker did not wind up in The Mayfield Times... ...for being an eighth-grade Einstein. No,she got front-page coverage because she refused to climb out of a sycamore tree. Juli Baker and that stupid sycamore tree. She always thought it was God's gift to our little corner of the universe. Hey,Bryce. Wanna come climb the tree with me and my brothers? No,thanks. Bryce. Come up here. It's fun. I can't. My dad needs me to help him fix... ...a thing. That's all I needed. Climb up a tree with Juli Baker. I'd be dragged right back into the second grade. Bryce and Juli sitting in a tree. Why don't you just make me eat lima beans for the rest of my life. It's three blocks away. Two blocks. One block away. - Like that's valuable information. - I hate it when she does that. I like to think there's at least a chance the bus won't show. I think the tree looks particularly beautiful in this light. Don't you? If by \agree. You're just visually challenged. I feel sorry for you.
\challenged\\challenged\This from the girl who lived in a house that was the joke of the neighborhood? They had bushes growing over windows and weeds all over the place. It bugged my dad bigtime. Oh,there he is. The bricklayer who thinks he's a painter. That truck's not ugly enough in real life? He's gotta make a painting of it? No,he does landscapes. Sells them at the county fair. People say they're beautiful. Landscapes? Let me tell you something. The world would have more beauty in it... ...if he'd do a little landscaping on that piece of crap he calls a yard. I feel bad for his wife. She married a dreamer. Because of that,one of the two of them will always be unhappy. Yeah,fine. But why do we have to be unhappy? As annoying as the yard was to my dad... ...it was nothing compared to how annoying Juli Baker was in that tree. Three blocks away. Every morning we had to listen to the sound... ...of her blow-by-blow traffic report. Two blocks. There you go. Why do they call it The Three Stooges? - I mean,there's five of them. - What? Well,yeah,there's Moe,Larry,Curly, Shemp and Curly Joe. - Yeah,but they only have three at a time. - Yeah. You know,I hate Curly Joe. I mean,he shouldn't even be a Stooge. Listen,girl, I'm this close to calling the police. You are trespassing and obstructing progress on a contracted job. - What's going on? -
Either you come down... ...or we're gonna cut you down. - You guys,come up here with me. They won't cut it down if we're all up here. - Bus,bus,bus. - Juli was frantic. They wanted to cut down her tree. I couldn't understand why that mutant tangle of gnarly branches... ...meant so much to her. - Bryce,please. - I felt bad for her. - Leave her. But I wasn't about to cut school over it. Come on,bro. Why isn't she your friend,Bryce? You'd have to know Juli. Well,I'd like to. Why? That girl has an iron backbone. Why don't you invite her over sometime? An iron backbone? She's just stubborn... ...and she's pushy beyond belief. Is that so? And she's been stalking me since the second grade. Well,a girl like that doesn't live next door to everyone. Lucky them. Read this. Without prejudice. Like I needed to know anything more about Juli Baker. Juli wasn't at the bus stop the next morning. Or the morning after that. She was at school, but you'd never know it. - Little Joe? He's got so much makeup on... - He doesn't age. I told myself I should be glad about it. I mean,isn't that what I'd always wanted? But still,I felt bad for her. I was gonna tell her I was sorry, but then I thought,hey,no... ...that's the last thing I needed: Juli Baker thinking I missed her. I see why you like to come out here. Would you mind explaining it to your mother? I loved to watch my father paint. Or really,I loved to
hear him talk while he painted. I learned a lot about my dad that way. He told me all sorts of things... ...like how he got his first job delivering hay and how he'd wished he'd finished college. Then one day he surprised me. What's going on with you and,uh,Bryce Loski? What do you mean? Nothing. Oh,okay. My mistake. Why would you even think that? No reason. Just that you... ...talk about him all the time. I do? Mm-hm. I don't know. I guess it's something about his eyes. Or maybe his smile. But what about him? - What? - You have to look at the whole landscape. What does that mean? A painting is more than the sum of its parts. A cow by itself is just a cow. A meadow by itself is just grass, flowers. And the sun peeking through the trees is just a beam of light. But you put them all together... ...and it can be magic. I didn't really understand what he was saying until one afternoon... ...when I was up in the sycamore tree. I was rescuing a kite. It was a long way up, higher than I'd ever been. And the higher I got, the more amazed I was by the view. I began to notice how wonderful the breeze smelled. Like sunshine and wild grass. I couldn't stop breathing it in... ...filling my lungs with the sweetest smell I'd ever known. Hey,you found my kite. Bryce,you should come up here. It's so beautiful. I can't. I sprained my,um... I have a rash. From that moment on, that