Was it a matter of trust? Something lost between the cracks. Like grains of sand, sifting through my fingers. Bit by bit, fading 'way. Was the promise fulfilled?
Yeah, I think it was. No… I know it was. He's not here anymore, but we didn't break our promise. We're still under the same sky. Maybe some day in the distant future, he and I, we'll meet again. It's just that I might not realize he is him and I am me. Yeah, maybe…
It was midday, and the sun was shining in full force, without a single cloud to stop its rays. A one-story, white painted suburban home was sitting in its neighborhood like any other home. In front of this house was an apple tree, and under this tree, two people sat.
I'll get to the people in a moment.
So this apple tree, it was reasonably tall. About seven meters tall, I think. It was the end of summer, so it was still swelteringly hot, but the apples were big, red, and shiny. Kids from all around the neighborhood would come to eat these apples. The lady who owned this tree and the house it was sitting in front of was very kind-hearted. She never turned down a sweaty child in search of a refreshment. I remember I used to come here when I was younger, and she'd make the sweetest apple juice anyone could ever taste.
So anyway, the two people under the tree. One guy and one girl. Well, alright. One guy and me. We were resting under the shade of this leafy green apple tree filled with beautiful round red apples. We were doing some activity or another… Oh yeah, biking. We were biking. Our bikes were lying in a patch of grass nearby, his shiny and mine rusted. We got tired under the relentless sun and came here for some shade.
I looked over at Daniel. He was lying down on the grass, under the shade, in front of the house, with his eyes closed. Average height, average brown hair, average hazel eyes, average build, but a heart bigger than Goliath. He was possibly the kindest soul ever to set foot on this planet. Well, alright, I exaggerate, but who doesn't engage in hyperbole every once in a while?
He opened his eyes and fixed them on something above him. A moment or two passed in comfortable silence, and then he suddenly leapt up and snatched a falling apple that was two milliseconds from smashing itself over my head. I screamed in surprise.
"Daniel! What the hell was that for?" I hadn't realized that he just saved me from the kamikaze apple.
He grinned and handed me the apple, "Sorry. You almost became the next Newton."
I realized what had happened and grinned, abashed. "Thanks."
He just smiled and lay back down, watching the apple tree. I sank my teeth into an apple. Sweet as usual. I handed him the apple, a chunk missing. He smiled and took it, taking his own bite. I brushed a lock of hair out of my face.
"You know, most people would imagine we're a couple," he said nonchalantly.
I yawned. "Maybe. I wonder why people have never heard of opposite sex best friends."
He saw my yawn and yawned himself. "Who knows?"
He paused. "Remember our promise? From that day."
"Yeah. To never forget each other, always stay in contact, always be friends," I listed them out casually. Our conversation was the epitome of relaxed speech.
"Yeah…" He paused again. "I'm leaving soon."
I turned my head to him, "What do you mean?"
"Moving. Won't be going to the local college with you. I'm moving to Texas soon."
"Oh, really?" I paused, digesting this information.
A moment passed. Then two. My shirt got wet. Damn rain.
"Don't cry, Michelle. We'll meet again. It's a promise."
I just nodded, getting my shirt even wetter. There was a storm now.
"Don't cry. I'll see you again, someday. Let's cherish the lazy summer days we have left, right?"
I couldn't muster my vocal cords. I just nodded again. It was now Noah's bloody flood.
After that day, we went on like nothing happened. We never spoke of it again, and we went on as what we always were, best friends. Days melted into weeks, and pretty soon it was time for him to leave. I went with him to the airport, and we bought some chocolate balls with various fruit fillings from a Duty Free shop. We sat in the terminal, eating the chocolates, waiting for his flight to board.
"Remember when you accidentally dropped some sodium into water during Chemistry class? Wasn't that a sight." It wasn't a question. He popped a chocolate puff into his mouth.
"Yeah, and there was the time you tripped face first into a mud puddle during the rain," I said, chuckling. I chewed on a chocolate ball. Peach filling. I could hear the sounds of some child behind me playing his Game Boy Advance.
"And there was that time we ran as long as we could around the track. In the rain." He paused. "I still don't believe you outlasted me." He nibbled on another sweet.
"Hah, what can I say? I'm just too good," I grinned. Cherry filling.
"I always knew you were a tomgi- mmph" He wasn't able to finish his sentence on account of the fact I had (rather forcefully) shoved a chocolate ball into his mouth.
"Don't you dare finish that sentence," I grinned. Pineapple. The boy behind me squealed in delight. Sounded like Pokemon. I didn't look behind me to check. I had seen and heard enough of the game from my little brother to last me three lifetimes.
He smiled, "Apple filling. Yum, yum."
I smiled and chewed on another. Grape.
"And there was that time you blew a battery up," he mused thoughtfully, a finger mockingly put on the side of his cheek.
"Hey, that wasn't my fault. It was hot and humid, and how was I supposed to know that acids don't mix with batteries?" I laughed.
"Silly Michelle," he smirked.
"I thought I told you to never call me that!" I cried in mock outrage.
"Hey, it's not like-"
"Flight 4056. To Austin, Texas. Will passengers please begin boarding. Flight 4056. To Austin, Texas." There was a nice, long, lengthy pause.
Like in those sappy chick flicks, we stood up together, as if on some cue. We looked at each other for one, two, three seconds. And without words, we hugged each other. No words said, no tears shed. We understood each other perfectly at that moment; there was no need for anything else. We broke apart, and he, with his eyes closed, turned on his heel and walked into the gateway. I stood for a few more moments, watching his receding back. The boy behind me was waddling forward, his Game Boy clutched in his hand protectively. And finally, after a few more moments, I also turned and walked away. Halfway out the airport, I realized I had left the box of chocolates in the airport, two small spheres of coffee-brown goodness still sitting inside of it.
"My last memento. Probably gone by now," I thought sadly to myself.
Once in the parking lot, I reached inside my pocket for my car keys. I felt something unfamiliar in my pocket and pulled it out. It was a small golden amulet with a single rosy-red, apple-shaped gem strung along the gold chain. Taken by shock, I leaned against the door of my car, a fresh wave of tears breaking free.
"You idiot," I cursed under my breath.
"I'll see you again," I said to him. And in my mind's eye, I could see him nodding in that Daniel-esque way I had seen countless times.
"I'll see you again. Definitely."
It had been three years since then. I had gone to college, made new friends, forged new bonds, and everything else like that. And here I am, walking along the street. I pause in front of an outdoor café. The smell of various brands of coffee wafts over seductively. I pause because something had caught my eye. I take a more careful look and my mouth goes dry.
I stride over to the café in long steps. I stop behind the object of my attention. It turns around. I look into the eyes of Daniel. We say nothing to each other. The person sitting with him in the café looks at us curiously. My hand shifts over the shopping bag hanging from Daniel's seat. Some old man begins singing Nothing at All in a raspy creaky voice. The listening experience isn't far from having a rusting cheese grater run across my eardrums. Many people give him odd looks.
"Who's this?" Daniel's companion asks, a slight hint of annoyance tingeing her voice. Whether it's because of the old man or my presence, I can't tell. Given the pained grimace and narrowed eyes, it's probably both.
Daniel shakes off the surprise that has taken him. "This is Michelle, an old friend. Michelle, this is Amanda, my girlfriend."
I nod without saying anything, a slight smile tugging at the corner of my mouth. Two moments pass. "Good to see you, stranger."
"Good to see you too." He smiles.
I reach down and pull his hand out, and with my right hand, I withdraw something from my pocket. I deposit into his hand the small golden amulet he gave me three years ago. I smile and turn to leave. He stands up and grabs me by the wrist.
I turn and smile, "Yeah?"
"Where can I find you?" He would realize later I had subtly dropped my address book into his shopping bag a few heartbeats ago. Amanda scowls. I mentally smirk. Daniel would have some pacifying to do.
"Wherever the winds carry you." I walk away, pulling an apple from the bag at my side. I bite into it. Sweet as usual.
Author's Notes: No, they aren't romantically attached to each other. No, I'm not female. Suggestions welcomed.