Two years had passed since Adam's death. Pilar was right. We went to school, got jobs at local stores and businesses, and were living our lives. We were still the best of friends, but, as we had graduated from Western Redwood Academy a few months ago, we were going off to college soon. I was going to a university upstate and Pilar to a community college. In an attempt to pull herself out of her grief, she had pledged herself to the game, and it paid off in a basketball scholarship. Though we would still talk over the phone and meet up when I came back to Redwood to visit, it would be the first time we were ever going to be separated for such a long period of time.
I was currently driving the cemetery. As I was to leave for college in a few days, and Pilar would be starting classes at the local community college soon, she decided that we should meet to change the flowers on Adam's grave. They hadn't been changed since we had put a pretty bouquet of sunflowers—our class flower—on his grave in honor of graduation. In the passenger seat, a small cardboard box rattled as I drove on the bumpy, twisty road. In it were the contents of Adam's locker. After we came back to school from Christmas break the year he died, the school had a locker-clean-out day, and it was mandatory that I retrieve his stuff or it would be chunked. I turned in his textbooks to the office—careful to remove the cloth book covers he had doodled on—and put everything else in a box. The box had since lived in my closet. I had debated on when I should give it to Pilar, putting it off and off. A couple times I had gone through the box, looking at Adam's drawings. Many of them were doodles, but some of them beautiful sketches. I even found a few of Pilar that he must have drawn while they were in class together, because she was always looking away from him at her desk or out a window. But they were beautiful, and I felt Pilar deserved to have them.
When I reached the cemetery, I got out of my car with the box and walked to Adam's grave. Pilar was already there, holding the new bouquet of flowers in her hand. They were more Japanese Magnolias, his favorites I remembered. She waved at me as I approached and proceeded to change out the flowers. His grave looked uniformly like the other nearby graves by now; the dirt covered by grass and the huge mound of flowers long gone. Pilar stood up and admired the flowers then looked over at me.
"What's that?" she asked, pointing at the box in my hands. I motioned for her to sit down on the grass, like we sometimes did when we were here. She complied and I pushed the box towards her.
"This was the stuff in Adam's locker." I said. "I kept it so they wouldn't throw it away. I thought that since this might be last time for a while that we could visit him together, it would be right to bring it today. They're yours anyway. He would have wanted you to have them."
Pilar was too busy looking eagerly through the box to reply. She quickly glanced at some old notes before moving onto his sketch books. She smiled at the little doodles of plants or people, laughed at a few of some select annoying people being hit by a bus or pushed off a cliff, and finally came to one of the pictures of herself. She looked at it for a long time, mesmerized by all the little curves and pencil smudges. She sighed and looked up at me.
"Thank you, Darlene," she said then brightened. "I have something for you too."
She pulled from her pocket a necklace. It was a simple beaded chain with a dog tag on it. It read:
"I had two others made." She said, showing me hers that was already around her neck and a third necklace. "One for each of us. This way, we can always have a piece of each other."
She draped the third necklace around the bouquet of Magnolias. I put on my necklace as we got up and Pilar gathered up the drawings.
"I'm definitely going to have to go through these better when I get home." She said as she went to her truck. "After supper, though. My mom invited all our family over for some big end-of-summer barbecue. You're welcome to come, if you want."
"Thanks," I said. "But my mom had the same idea. We're going to my grandmother's house."
"The one that cooked that awesome catfish that time I went with you to her house?" Pilar asked and I nodded. "Oh, you're gonna eat well then. Have fun!"
"You too," I said and turned back to look at Adam's grave one final time. The necklace glinted in the sunlight like a final salute from Adam.
"Bye, Adam," I said as I usually did when we left.
Pilar heard me and stopped. She turned back and looked too, a smile on her face as she softly seconded my parting words. "Yeah, goodbye, Adam. Goodbye."
Author's Note: And...the end. Please PLEASE tell me what you thought. This was the first novel-sized story I ever wrote, and I wanna know if it's any good! I love you all...thanks for sticking through it with me. :)
Also, if you wanna read any more of my work, I have other stories up too that I'd love your feedback on, Crawling Through the Fire especially.