The girl stood at the fence quietly watching as the bus rolled down the slope and out of sight. She had woken early that morning because she needed to say that final goodbye. Needed to say something, though she still knew not what. The previous night had been the beginning of the end: a festive gathering of friends, though there contained a thread of sadness: it had been the chance to farewell old friends and wish them well in the years to come. For the girl, the young man had prolonged that farewell until the last minute. She’d hoped to spend the morning with him, watching the sunrise over the lake, bringing with it new hopes and new paths into the world. Unfortunately she had watched the sun rise alone, unprotected from the chill that was creeping through her veins.
As the bus rounded the corner and was lost from sight, the tears the girl had fought so hard to hold back had welled up and cascaded down her face. However she remained motionless, unable to halt their course or quench their flow. It was possible that that had been their final meeting. The last time he would stand before her humble and distressed by her silence. The last time she would see him, hear him, laugh with him, tease him, and be comforted by him. The last time she would watch as a smile lit up his eyes and face
Her thoughts moved through the approaching future in which he played no role. Already he was becoming little more than a pleasant memory and the cause of a wonderful week. She knew he’d never fade. The memories they shared were too precious and too important to her: they were all she had to remind her of that idyll. But the last one was most precious: as he stood waiting for the words to come to her, as the bus stood waiting for him.
The sun’s embrace was now warming; it curled around her back and lapped at her stained cheek. But the girl felt nothing. She had already slipped into her memories for that last embrace before he had disappeared into the still morning.