Summer. It had been a season of lazy summer afternoons, the sun shining brightly above them, casting its warm glow on everything below. The life it breathed into the surrounding meadows seemed to cause the exotic, numerous colours of the tall grasses and flowers to rupture into blossoming bursts of colour. The breeze was cold and clean, the gentle rustling sound as everything seemed to swell and sway in this world was comforting. The sweet daydreams and endless dancing of two 14 year old children; a tall, green-eyed boy coupled with a blond, fair-skinned girl, their arms encircled about each other’s waists. Nothing could shatter the realm of these two remarkable friends. Amidst the soft hues of that important summer, they laughed, dreamed and promised each other that despite whatever respective futures were awaiting them, they would always be together; joined at the hip ready to brace anything that would threaten the other.
“Our parents are lifelong friends, and I know they will be until the end. Don’t you see, Evie? We could be the same. I won’t leave you.” His voice was gentle, musical in a way.
“Agreed. You truly belong wherever I lead you, Jace, and I belong to you. We will follow each other anywhere, I promise.”
Their pledge to each other had never once felt hollow or false. It meant they could never escape the sight of each other or the meadows they grew to love. Yet despite their best efforts to prevent themselves ever growing apart from one other…they did. The passage of time can only ever be cruel, they learned. As the glow began to fade; the colours began to dissipate and each were pulled in opposite directions. Evie moved to the city, a densely packed jungle of steel-grey buildings where few people were kind. She did this at the insistence of her mother, who simply wished to provide opportunities to her daughter; little did she know that she only stifled her. Jace remained, a sad figure walking the same paths cut into the fields they had once shared…only this time he could not dance. At night he would bury his face in his hands, feeling the sting of tears burning paths down his cheeks.
You promised Evie. There was only silence on the other end of his thoughts.
Winter. It brought with it the painfully slow breakdown of both Evie and Jace. Memories of their once colourful worlds became only a murky sea of grey. Both recognised shadows crawling around the edges of their new lives, leaping towards them as quickly as they retreated. They were constant.
I know what I promised. I’m sorry Jace.
Evie sat alone in her bland, stark white bedroom, off to a corner of the apartment. The chilled atmosphere only helped to solidify the ice crusting over her heart. Everything felt so remote. She turned to face the wooden picture frame slightly askew on her bedside table. It was the closest remnant she had of the old, real Jace. She pressed her fingers to the cool glass, and the frame fell backward; Jace disappeared. She could only wonder what he was doing now, what he was thinking. They had not seen or spoken to each other for 14 years, the same amount of time they had known each other for that summer, had been cut out of both their lives. Time had only carved a place for emptiness beside her. Guilt slowly crept into her mind.
You promised him and you betrayed him. How can you belong to each other now if you simply abandoned him? You are a liar and a monster.
Evie felt the shadows elongate around the dark room. The voice in her head grew louder. You started all this misery. Why don’t you try and fix it? Or are you too afraid of what harsh words he might spit back at you? You have been in love with your best friend for the same amount of time that he has been escaping you, trying to erase you from his memory…why don’t you be useful and FIX IT!
Evie left her apartment the same night. She flew down the flights of stairs, hailed a taxi and left; bed sheets still rumpled and cold air still slicing through the open window.
A knock came at the door of the cottage. Jace knew it was late but moved to answer it. As the door swung inward, he felt his entire body go numb to be replaced with sharp spikes; as if he could feel electricity run through taut wires in his veins. He recognised the woman before him; she had the same crystal blue eyes of…Evie. She spoke quickly.
“It’s me, Jace. I’m afraid I have caused too much pain for you to forgive me. I never came through with my promise to you. But I’m back now. I know this is strange but I never told you why I made that promise.”
Her voice was slowing down, sad and pleading. She continued:
“ I…I-I love you. I did when I said those words, and still do. That’s it.”
There was only silence between them, like the years were chasing up to them.
“I love you too. I apologise myself for making you wait those years to hear me say the words I know you have wanted…since summer.”
And with that, they encircled each other again, on the doorstep, a whole new future rising up to meet them. And they would be prepared this time.