Ronnie loved running, and the forbidden greenhouse was her favorite place to do it. She dodged between trees and glanced back. Jim was following her, and they’d already lost Dr. Eric.
Joy gave her feet wings. She didn’t slow down till she got to her hideout. When Jim finally caught up, he was panting and holding his side.
A wave of guilt washed over her. "Oh, Jim, I’m sorry! I forgot that you’re not used to our air yet."
Jim shook his head. "It’s not the air. I’m not much of a runner."
Ronnie liked how modest he was, and how he tried not to let her feel bad. He was an awesome friend. She couldn’t believe how lucky she was. "Well, don’t worry. I’ll whip you into shape."
"I guess getting me in shape might make up for getting me into trouble," Jim said.
Ronnie blushed. "Dr. Eric really won’t tell on us. We won’t be in trouble, I promise. Anyway, this is what I wanted to show you." She pointed up into the branches. "This is the tallest tree on Mars."
Jim looked up and whistled. The tree trunk was mammoth, and the branches stretched up to the top of the dome.
"They have to trim it, or else it’d keep growing and break the glass. They take most of the limbs to compost, but they left a few." She led him around the huge base of the tree. "This is my hideout." She’d wrestled gnarled limbs as thick as her waist into a rough teepee and covered them with canvas. The base was wide, but they had to duck through the flap. They couldn’t stand inside, but there was room for them both to stretch out on the ground. She’d stashed a canteen, some protein bars, an emergency lamp, and her spare book reader in the middle of the space.
Jim examined the hideout carefully, tracing the grain of the wood and fingering the thick canvas. "It’s brilliant."
Ronnie beamed. "It’s my special place. It can be our special place, now. I come out here when my mom’s driving me crazy."
"It’ll be a good place to avoid my dad when he’s angry, too," Jim said, idly leafing through her book selection. "I have a bunch of books I could load onto this for you. And I have an old game console I could bring out here. And we could get more water, and a camp stove, or something."
Ronnie listened to him planning, and smiled to herself. Her hideout had a different feel to it when she shared it with a friend. She liked it.