Ethan and Poppi set out to build the best tree house the world had ever seen. They got the best teak and sandalwood beams shipped in from Thailand to build the walls. They got bolts that had been machined out of a single crystal of pure titanium. They got the finish to put on the wood by distilling down the finish from old musical instruments that had been damaged beyond repair. And they got the glass from the windows of old ships that had sank in the great lakes a hundred years ago.
The treehouse had seven floors, three slides, two ziplines, and was capped with an astronomy dome with a huge brass telescope. There were hammocks to sleep in, and a brass pole to slide down, and a solar-powered freezer that was filled with chocolate ice cream. They had a radio that was tuned so they could talk directly with the pentagon, and a red telephone that went to the President’s desk, and an enormous two-story saltwater fish tank filled with jellyfish and clownfish. It had a self destruct button, every seat could eject, and on the second floor there was a bright red fire axe behind a glass pane that said “In case of emergency break glass.” At the base of the treehouse were five huge Saturn V rocket engines.
When Ethan and Poppi at last finished their enormous treehouse, they sat down and listened to music and felt proud of everything they’d done. But then they got up, positioned themselves on opposite ends of the central control console, used their special key to unlock the bright orange button, and then Ethan pressed the orange button.
The rocket engines lit. The treehouse lurched upwards. The whole structure was going to space.
Once they were in orbit, the red telephone rang.
“Congratulations, Ethan and Poppi,” said the President, “Best of luck on your trip to mars.”
Written 3/25/16 at the Strong Museum of Play for a boy and his father.