The tree house glimmered from the reflection of the lake, which was still, except for the occasional ripple caused by the frogs that swam up to land for the night’s cool air. She lay on the dry grass, crossed her arms behind her and silently stared at the stars above, yearning for her wishes to be heard. He lay down beside her and watched the stars too, both of them in a hushed reverie.
He couldn’t remember how long they lay like that, quietly watching the night sky, listening to the cricket’s symphony. It wasn’t until she slid closer towards him and laid her head on his chest that he knew it was real. He ran his fingers through her hair, which slipped through like vapour.
“I love you,”
The words ran out of his mouth like wild animals, beautifully natural, the way it was meant to be. He waited for her body to stiffen with shock, but it didn’t. Her breathing did not quicken, did not stop. He was not sure if she even heard, but then she slowly lifted herself onto her elbows, faced him, and her own words slipped gracefully out
“I love you, too.”
He leaned up to get a better look at her, the angelic, beautiful face, the cascading hair, the eyes that made him want to cry; he edged forward and met his lips with hers, a soft pledge of the love he was so sure of, innocence and purity blended into perfection. It swept across his heart with a cold breeze, sending shivers down his spine. He wished he could stay like that forever, just the two of them, the stars and summer’s glory.
Returning to the same place he had not visited for years, he could see her in everything. The now broken tree house and the old tire swing. The ghost of his young love lingered beneath the cool, blue water, and was singing with the long grass, shaking in the wind. He remembered exactly which tree they had carved with their hearts, and it saddened him. What had once felt so real, so sure, had disappeared with the breath of summer, leaving only the haunting memory of what had been.