The forest she walked through was glazed in molten sunlight. It dripped through the trees and collected in puddles amongst the leaves and twigs. It filtered through the small creeks and rivers that webbed between the trunks and flowed over smooth pebbles. It made the leaves shine like emeralds and her dark mahogany hair glitter. Yes, she loved the sun.

But the best time to observe the great star was when it was sinking below the horizon. The sunset could make even the most polluted city look like it contained the towering spires of Cibola.

Rhyn was very familiar with the beautiful surroundings. The path she trekked was one she'd walked many times. No one else had ever discovered her destination-at least, no one she'd known of. The narrow path that had worn through the dense grass was from her feet alone. Her moss-colored eyes traced over her previous footprints as she walked.

The trail was slightly elevated, for the place toward which she was headed was at the top of one of the many forest-covered hills in the area. Sure, there were nature reserves and parks to hike in, but what was the fun in walking on a paved, man-made path?

The atmosphere brightened as she neared the upcoming break in the massive trees. She squinted, a small smile curving her lips as she approached the familiar place. Her footfalls quickened and all her problems fled to the back of her mind. A pale hand reached back to adjust the strap of her guitar case, which rested on her shoulder.

A breathtaking sight lay before her. The hill capped off at a flat precipice. Two large boulders rested in a small grassy area, about a ten feet radius, as if guarding the land. The western side of the great hill was dotted with a few trees, but was otherwise barren, save for grass and brush. It dipped into a valley before rising to another great crest off toward the right. The site provided an amazing view of her sun.

Rhyn couldn't contain her smile as she sat down on one of the boulders. The other lay empty next to her, but soon served as a rest for her guitar case. She took out the old Taylor, handling it gingerly. She settled the body on her right thigh and gripped the neck firmly with her left hand. The pads of her fingers pressed down on the strings as she warmed up with a few simple chords.

The flaring sun was a hair's breadth away from meeting the horizon. The surrounding sky was a marigold that blended to apricot. A dark navy pursued the colors, currently resting behind her.

Her eyes grazed the land before her as she began to play.

"Of all the things I still remember

Summer's never looked the same

Years go by and time just seems to fly

But the memories remain

In the middle of September

We still play out in the rain

Nothin' to lose but everything to gain

Lookin' back on how it could've been

It was worth it in the end"

No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't keep the moisture from clouding her vision. But her fingers continued to strum as memories played in her head.

"Now we knew we had to leave this town

But we never knew when and we never knew how

We would end up here the way we are

Yeah, we knew we had to leave this town

But we never knew when and we never knew how

Never knew how

Of all the things I still remember

Summer's never looked the same

Years go by and time just seems to fly

But the memories remain

In the middle of September

We still play out in the rain

Nothin' to lose but everything to gain

Lookin' back on how it could've been

It was worth it in the end" (September by Daughtry)

The last chord rang out, traveling over the surface of the earth, as if it could reach the sun. The star was already a quarter below the skyline. Its light shone through the lone tear that slid down Rhyn's cheek. She felt it, registered it, but let it drop off of her jaw and land on the smooth wood of her guitar. Her right hand dangled limply in front of the strings as her eyes moved to the great rock beside her.

There, carved into the stone's surface, was a symbol. A square and three pairs of parallel lines, one pair bordering each side. She traced the carving with steady hand, an unusual wave of melancholy washing over her. The slideshow of memories continued, like a movie from the 20's.

"Come on, we're almost there!"

" much farther?"

"Rhyn, stop being such a baby. Look! We're here!"

"Wow...this place is amazing..."

"I knew you'd like it! Check this out. One rock for you, and one for me!"

"Look at the sun! It looks so cool from up here!"

"How did I know you'd say that?"

"How'd you find this?"

"I was just exploring one day. Oh, hand me that small, to the left...yeah! That one."

"...what're you doing?"

"Hold on...There. It's my parkour symbol!"

"Awesome! Lemme see that rock...alright...almost...done."

"...what is it?"

"What? You should know this! It's a treble clef and a bass clef mixed together!"

"Ohhhhh...I see it!"

"Look! The sun is setting."

Rhyn looked down to her immediate left, catching the dim outline of her carving in the rock. Her hand rested on the last reminder of her childhood friend.

"Hey Rhyn?"

"Yeah, Shae?"

"When we're older, and I become a parkour legend and you become a rock star, we have to promise to stay best friends."

"Of course! But Shae, we're only thirteen. That's a long ways away."

"My dad says that it's gonna fly by. But we can't forget each other, right?"

"That's never gonna happen."



Her once-steady hand began to tremble slightly. It wasn't the first time that had happened, and she thought herself naïve and stupid for the grief she still felt. After all, she was seventeen. Shae had disappeared two years ago. She was at a loss as to why she still cried about him.

He was unlike anyone else. Quiet and reserved around most, but vibrant and lively around her. They were yin and yang, the Dynamic Duo, conjoined at the hip. Everyone knew that where one was, the other wasn't far behind. He was the axis her world spun on. And when he disappeared, everything just seemed to stop. The world lost a little bit of color, cold seemed colder, and a happy mood was immensely harder to obtain. Her usually-sunny disposition had given way to serious and calculating, rarely finding humor in anything. No, her charismatic ways had left with Shae.

She still didn't know what had happened to him. He and his parents had just disappeared.

She could still picture his crooked smile. His windswept midnight hair. The small scar right above his eyebrow from a schoolyard fight. His favorite leather bracelet, which she'd gotten him for his twelfth birthday. The startling cerulean of his eyes.

They were as clear to her as the valley she now gazed upon. But she knew and feared that time would start to wear on those memories soon.

Her shaking hands picked up another song, but her voice wouldn't work. She simply strummed, filling the valley with a melancholy loneliness that was almost tangible. Tear flowed freely down her face.

She couldn't help but wonder what would have awaited them in the future if he'd stayed. Would they still be inseparable? Would they have had a falling-out? Would they be…dating?

If there was one thing she could imagine, it would be falling in love with him. If she hadn't already.

Remembering Shae's laughing face and silently dedicating the song to him, she choked out the last words.

"And as the night falls in around me

And I don't think I'll make it through

I'll use your light to guide the way

'Cause all I think about is you." (Landing in London—3 Doors Down)

The sun vanished below the horizon, leaving the moon to smile down on her as the final tear fell.

No more, she promised herself, as she always did when she came to the hill, I can't keep doing this. It's time to move on.

It's the promise she'd made to herself for the last two years, but she'd always end up back on the hill. Sometimes, it would only happen once a month. Sometimes, once a week. Sometimes, twice a day. But she'd always break that halfhearted vow.

She glanced up at the darkening sky, seeing that a few stars had winked into existence.

As her tears dried, a raven-haired boy, no more than seventeen years of age, sat down on the boulder next to her. A small leather cord wound around his left wrist and a small scar was barely visible above his eyebrow. His lips twitched up in a small smile.

Rhyn turned, sensing another presence, and gasped as her eyes met that shocking cerulean.