Sunsets and Cloudy Skies

February 27, 2017
I met a girl back in April, on a day that i decided to skip school. It was a warm morning, and everything just seemed so much brighter, so much more clear, so filled with...wonder. Yea, that's it, wonder. I found a park bench and sat there. For the whole day all i did was watch the sun sink lower, and lower, until it fell behind the trees. As the sky went red from the setting sun, a girl came and sat next to me. She smelt of cocoa, and was beautiful as the sunset sky. We sat there next to each other, not a word spoken between us. But i was comfortable. She made me feel easy, and so i fell asleep. I guess i got a few good hours in because i woke to a starry night sky, and her, leaning on my shoulder, gazing up at the stars. She turned slightly, and let out a soft breathe. Even that had the faint scent of cocoa.

“You fell asleep, so i figured i would keep you safe. one should be left alone, right?” Her voice was so soft and gentle. Like a delicate flower swaying in the spring breeze.

“I guess so.”

She smiled at me, gathered her things, and just like that, she left. That night at home, i dreamt of her smile, and how warm she felt, resting on my arm.

The next day i went to school. The sun was shining brightly, but the magic of yesterday's was no longer with it, and so i had no reason to watch this time. I had trouble focusing, thinking about that strange girl. I could hear the teacher speaking, but it all sounded like nothing to me, drowned out by the thoughts in my mind. Even still, he managed to break through.

“I asked you a question.” He was standing over my desk.

I took my gaze from the window and looked at him. “I’m sorry, what was it again?”

“Yesterday I instructed everyone to write something meaningful as the poets of old might have. It is your turn to present.”

Yesterday...that's right. I wasn't here that day. An unexcused absence, the work can't be made up. I thought of that girl, and spoke what came to mind.

“As fleeting as the setting sun, but yet strangely...just as beautiful. There for me when the sky was red with wonder, and when i woke, still there under the stars. A smell of cocoa, and warm breath, that is what i will remember about you...until we meet again.”

He was impressed, everyone seemed to be. I didn't know what the big deal was, most of the class wrote better poetry than me every assignment. I was just...thinking of you. After that period as i walked down the hall i gazed out the window. Far in the distance you could see the park, and on that bench was a figure. My heart began to beat in a way it never had before. Why did i feel like this? I barely knew her, or who she is, or if that was even her. I left the school and went to the park. I'll be a little late to my next class sure, but i guess i just had to know.

It wasn't her in the bench. A lady instead, with a child. I sat next to her and waited.

“I don't mean to be a nosy adult, and i promise you aren't in trouble but, shouldn't a young man like yourself be in school?”

“Yes. I was...i thought i saw someone here, someone i have to see again.”

“And this is where you saw her last huh?”

I looked at her child, playing in the grass carelessly. The joy she found in such a simple thing. “Yes, right here on this bench actually.”

The lady stood and picked up her kid. “Then i guess this seat better not be taken when she gets here. I hope you see her soon.”

And again just like that, yet another stranger who seemed to find interest in my whims, was gone. I sat on that bench all day, until the sun started to set. The sky began to color itself crimson as the sun again sunk behind the trees.

“I should have known better. I guess that's the end of that then.”

As i was preparing to leave i felt pressure on my back as two hands swung around my chest, pulling me into an embrace. The smell of cocoa flowing through me, giving me life like a breathe of fresh air.

“I'm glad that you came. I wanted to sit with you again, stranger from yesterday. The boy with the sad eyes.”

“I didn't think that you would come. I waited here...for hours. I thought that maybe it was just a one time happening.”

She slid her hand over top mine. “So long as there is a sun to set...i will be here to set with it. Until the night takes hold the sky, and the stars bring forth the light, i will sit here with you, until my last breath.”

Sitting next to me, she leaned over, lying against my body. There was a flute in her hand, and she began to play. It was beautiful. The toon dancing on the rays of sunlight that gently fell from heaven. Everything seemed to move with her playing. The swaying of the trees, the blowing of the wind, even the flapping of a bird’s wings, all of it in perfect symphony with the harmony that she created. Once again i fell a slumber, but this time, to the most perfect sound.

I awoke to a night sky over flowing with wonder, and her head, resting gently in my lap. “It seems as though all the stars in heaven have come to sit with us tonight. They must have heard you play.”

“Or maybe they hope you will tell them why you are so lonely.”

“I am lonely, but not when i’m with you. Me, you, the sunset, and the night sky. That's all the company that i will ever need.”

“You'll have to learn not to feel alone, whether i'm here or not dummy.”

“And why is that?” I laughed at her comment.

“Because...i won't always be here...with you.” I looked into her eyes. They were sad. A tear fell from one of them, rolling gently down her cheek, dripping softly off of her chin, and into my hand. She rose, grabbed her bag, and left.

Suddenly the stars just seemed like stars, and the sky was nothing more than a sky. With her leaving, so left the magic that occupied the space between us. Without her the world was just...normal. I could only help but wonder...what had she meant by that?

The next day was the last day of school before spring break. People tried to talk to me, friends and teammates, all of them wanting to know what i would be doing for the next two weeks. Honestly all i wanted to do was see her again. Every sunset of everyday, i just wanted to be with that girl.

At the end of the day i was stopped by a friend of mine. Other than me he was the most popular guy here, but unlike me he enjoyed it...whereas i, i was still stuck in my own world of sorrow.

“I heard you didn't have much going for you this break. I got a ticket for one more on the plane. We’ll be at the beach the whole time.”

“Thanks for the offer, but i'm fine. I think i’ll stay home this time around.”

“Listen man, your parents wouldn't want you to stay home by yourself. Now that your brothers out you need people. How bout after school we stop by the graves, then get you packed up. We can even bring back seashells and sit them on their stones. Sound good?” The mention of my family cast a shadow over my heart, reminding me of the pain. He put his hand on my shoulder. “Don't think too hard on it. We’ll leave tomorrow. You change your mind, we’ll be at the airport around midnight.”

He walked away as the bell rung. The piercing sound that signaled freedom for everyone but me. I could never be free...not from this solitude. By the time i got to the park the sun was just beginning to set. There was a note on the bench. I had the strangest feeling that it was for me, so I opened it.

To the boy with the sad eyes. I know that you probably came today...and if i didn't leave you a note i know that you would stay and wait for me. I want you to go to the beach. I’ll be here, waiting for you when you return, so that we might watch the sunset again. As you soar across the sky, closer to the sunset than i will ever be, think of me, and paint me a picture ok.
PS: I want a seashell. That’s right, i'm not letting you off that easy. Have a nice trip.

I folded the note and placed it in my pocket. After which i called my friend and let him know that i would be going to the beach. I wondered if everything would still be the same. They were my friends still, sure, but i haven't really talked to any of them since the deaths. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow. I stayed at the park until the sun finished setting, but instead of waiting for the coming night, i went home.

That next day we left sometime around noon. We got an earlier flight once word got out that i was going. Guess they didn't want to give me time to back out. I sat between a girl i once used to spend all of my time with some years back, and my best friend, the one that invited me.

“I’m glad you decided to come,” she ruffled my hair. “You’ll like it out here. We've gone every spring and summer break since freshman year. The surf is good, and the weather is nice. Do you think you still remember how to surf?”

“Most likely not. I'd probably wipe out before i hit white water. I’m not even sure if i know how to swim anymore.”

“Ah you’ll be fine man, like riding a bike.”

When we got to the beach everyone immediately hit the surf. I fell a few times but eventually got the hang of it. For days on end all we did was ride waves and campfire. Everything was like it used to be. I thought of the girl while i was there. With each sunset i drank a cup of cocoa, and thought of you.

We came back early, five days left in spring break to spare. I went down to the park bench, and there she was, just as i remembered her. Her bag leaning against the bench legs, a light smile on her face, closed eyes, and a head tilted towards the sky. A butterfly flittered about her as she hummed a tune to a lullaby unfamiliar to me. I sat on the bench, and waited. When she finished her song her eyes opened.

“Hey you. Back so soon?”

“Yea, trip got cut short. Guess they didn't budget quite the way they thought they did.”

“Well did you have fun at least?”

“Yes actually. I'm glad you made me go...i needed that.”

“Like i said, it’s not good for anyone to be alone.” She leaned into me, her head resting on my chest. “You smell like cocoa.”

I laughed at her comment. “I should be telling you that.”

She held out her hand, reaching towards the sky. “Tell me...what’s wrong with my hand?”

“I don't know. Nothing, i guess.”

“There isn't a sea shell in it.” That's right, the sea shell, i forgot all about that. She only asked one thing of me, and even that, i failed to deliver on. “Don't worry too much about it. I guess that means that one day, you will have to take me yourself, so i can be sure that you don't forget next time.”

“If you went with me, then why not just bring it back on your own,” i chuckled.

“Because i want you to give it to me dummy. It’s more special that way.”

I didn't respond to her, i didn't know what to say. I didn't know what she found so special about me. This strange girl, just here one day, and together with me here for days after that. After a while i fell asleep. Dreaming, dreaming of her, of telling my family about this wonderful person. Dreaming of their smiles and laughs, dreaming of hers. Sadly though, even in a dream i knew that she would never get to see them. The living never get to meet the dead. I woke to a gentle shaking.

“Hey, i have to go. See you tomorrow?”

I nodded. She got her bag and left. She leaves at the same time every night i see her here, heading off in the same direction, towards the city hospital. I didn't know there was any housing over there.

The next few days i saw her just as the sun began to set, and watched her leave later in the night. She likes sweets, has never been to the beach, and she doesn't watch too much tv. She uses cocoa lotion, and drinks a hot cup of cocoa every morning. She goes to school not too far from the park and watches the sunset because it reminds her that nothing is here forever. That all things, even the most beautiful of them, soon fade into the night.

On the last day of spring break i made my way to the park a little earlier than usual. But she was already there. She's been beating me here since the beginning. I wonder how long she sits there, just waiting for the sun to set. I tossed the bag i had in her lap, and sat next to her.

“I brought chocolates, the white kind, your favorite right?”

Her eyes lit up as she opened the bag. Taking a piece out, she took a bite. She placed the bag of chocolates inside of the bag she always has with her. “I brought you something to.” She went in her bag and pulled out a picture. It was of her.

“Why would i need this? I see you everyday.”

She brushed a lock of hair behind her ear and looked at me. A face with red cheeks and sad eyes. “I...I wanted you to remember i am now.”

“Why would i forget?”

A raven flew overhead, cawing as it went off into the distance. A feather from one of its wings falling in between the two of us. Looking in the direction of the bird, i saw heavy clouds far off in the horizon. She picked up the black feather and placed it in her hair. “The caw of a raven flying by, warning us of future peril. The subtle rumble of thunder, and rain clouds in the distance. Even should the sunset not be seen by a cloudy sky, will you be here with me?”

I looked at her, but she wouldn't meet my gaze. After moments more of silence i succumbed to the gentle breeze, and the song of birds, and fell a slumber. But this time i woke to a starry sky...just a starry sky.

The next day after school i went to the park, hoping to ask her what she meant, but she wasn't there. I waited for the sunset, sure that she would come by then, but she never did. For three days i had not seen her, and again, i began to grow lonely. Soon the weekend rolled by, and not a trace of her was to be found, not even a note. Then one day, there she was, just sitting on the bench as if nothing ever happened, like nothing ever changed. Her bag was still leaning against the bench, and she was still smiling. A deer lay at her feet, sharing the sunset with her. As i approached, it rose startled, but did not run.

“It’s ok little deer. You can trust this one. He’s the boy i was telling you about.”

I sat on the bench as the deer lied down once more. It was as if it understood what she was saying, as if it really trusted her. “Where have you been all this time? I started to worry about you.”

“A patient at the hospital was due for a procedure. I had to be there the whole time. Sorry to make you worry, that wasn't fair of me. I didn't have time to send a note...are you angry?”

I flicked her long hair from over her face. “I’ll let you off with a warning. Besides, you missed a knockout sunset a few days ago. Really that’s punishment enough. And i'm not one to add insult to injury.”

“I hate that i missed it.” She stared into the horizon, lost in the clouds far off in the distance.

“I don't know how you could have. There are plenty of windows in the hospital.”

“Guess i couldn't see much past the rain clouds.” She reached in the bag to pick up her flute, but when she grabbed it, the strangest thing happened. As she brought it to her lips, it fell out of her hand in the most unusual way. It looked as if she dropped it on purpose, but the expression on her face said otherwise. She seemed frustrated, and upset. She stood from the bench and took a step toward the flute, but collapsed to the ground. Heavy of breathe, with hands gripping the dirt, she began to cry. I knelt down beside her and tried to help her up, but she gently pushed me away. The sleeping deer rose from the ground and retrieved her flute, dropping it in her lap, then skipped away. She rested her hand on my shoulder. “Help me up...i'm ready now.” She placed her flute gently in the bag, and closed it. “The caw of a raven flying by, warning us of future peril. The boy with the sad eyes, the sunset, and a starry night sky, is all that i ever needed, to keep hope. And so for you three i will fight, so that i may watch the sunset with you...once again.”

She rose from the bench shakily, and slowly she went off towards her home, the one near the hospital. Was she ok? Why did she seem so weak, so distant? All of these questions and more plagued my mind as i slept that night, dreaming of a sunset...that you weren't apart of.

The next day i saw her as usual, just as the sun began to splash the sky with crimson. She was fine, and just as light hearted as usual. So ok that i didn't ask her about yesterday, but even still, it continued to haunt me. The fear in her eyes when she dropped her flute, the pained expression in her face when she fell to her knees, i was scared for her. As night fell upon us the light banter that occupied the space between us was replaced with silence. And soon, it was time for her to leave again. As she rose to go home i grabbed her wrist.

“Are you going to be ok? I need you to tell me that you will be ok.”

She turned on her heels with a big smile on her face. “Of course I'll be fine dummy. You and me...we have many more sunsets to watch.”

She left, skipping down the grassy park, off towards the distance. But i couldn't help feel like she rehearsed that line. Like she spent her life, making herself believe that.

I saw her every time after that night, not missing one day. There when the sun began to set, and gone later in the night. Every now and then that same old raven would fly by, cawing overhead, circling above us for a moment, and then flying off into the horizon. That same horizon that held rain clouds in the distance. Clouds that never seemed to come closer, but forever present with the threat of rain, and a sunset sky hidden behind an overcast. As time went by i began to return to what i used to be. I let go of my loneliness, and pain, even started visiting the graves again. I hadn't seen them in so long i almost forgot their names. Can you believe that? I talked to my friends more, and began to smile more. I was coming back from the darkness, treading gently through the light, adjusting still to just how bright it was.

It was the last week of school, before summer break. I sat at the bench and waited, but she never came. The sun fell behind the trees and the sky was conquered by the night, and still she had not come. I yawned, leaving the park around the same time she usually would, going off in the direction she normally does, walking towards the hospital. All of the stores were closed, and the streetlights were dim. I walked all the way to the hospital, but never once saw any housing. Just the large building looming overhead, and the smell of coming rain.

The next day at school i watched the park from any window that overlooked it, wondering where she went. Where does she go when she disappears like that?

“Did you hear? That fourth year girl that used to go here finally went into surgery yesterday.”

“Yea i heard. Everyone stopped by and left her gifts, but they said she was already under when they got there. Its so sad, and i thought she was getting better. I was hoping that she’d be back by now.”

“I’m gonna stop by at the end of the week. Room 205 isn't it?”

“Yea. Give me a call before you head out. I want to go with you.”

After school i headed down to the hospital. I remember that girl telling me once that she was gone so long because there was a procedure that she had to be there for. She must have meant the girl that everyone was talking about. Maybe that's why she goes to the hospital every night, to see her before she goes home.

I took the elevator to the second floor and went to room 205. When i opened the door i saw a girl in there. She was seizing. Her body moving in rapid convulsions as white foam spilled from her mouth. Her eyes were bloodshot and distant, staring coldly in my direction, looking right through me. Her skin was pale white as the snow, and she had heavy bags under her eyes. She was the girl from the park, the same girl that i had spent so many sunsets with, in front of me here, dying...just as my family had. I was pulled out of the room as the doctors rushed in and closed the door. I was told to leave the area, and assured that she would be fine. But i knew better, i'd been here before. My mother, my sister, my brother, all taken by the same illness. My father left, and my brother moved away. She was all i had...and now...darkness.

The next morning i skipped school and went straight to the hospital. I stood frozen in front of her room, gripped by the fear of not knowing if she would be in there, or if she was even still alive. I opened the door, and walked in. She was sitting up against the bed rest, staring outside of the window. The morning light shining gently into the room, caressing her skin. She turned towards me with a smile, and a tilt of her head. She was weak, and missing a few pounds. Gauze was wrapped around her forehead and her skin was pale. She was dying, there was no avoiding that.

“I wish you hadn't come here. You were never supposed to see that you know. I was hoping that you would never find out about me.” She brushed a lock of hair behind her ear, making her face more visible. She had been crying. Her eyes were still pink, and the dry streaks of tears lay visible on her cheek in the morning light. “I was hoping you would only ever see me...alive.”

I walked over and sat in the chair beside her bed. “But you are alive. You are still alive. You will stay alive. You promised me. You promised me that you wouldn't leave. You told me that as long as there was a sun to set you would be there...with me. So you have to get have to.” I began to cry and didn't even know it. My head burrowed in her sheets, overwhelmed by the thought of losing her. Memories of last night only making things worse.

I felt her hand rest itself on my head. “The caw of a raven flying by, warning us of future peril. Perhaps we should have silly kids. Cloudy skies, and the chance of rain. Everything that is needed to hide a sunset. You only come to the park on sunsets, so if there isn't one, i will be there...without you.”

I lifted my head looking deep into her eyes. The smell of cocoa becoming one with the surge of emotions within me. A thought that manifested into words. “Cloudy skies that bring forth a rainstorm. For even if the sun doesn't set, i will be there, together with you. Until the night brings the light, and the stars disappear with the coming day. I will never leave your side. Will you stay by mine?”

She began to cry, holding on to me for dear life. Sobbing into my chest. I held onto her, not letting go. I let death claim everything that was important to me once before, but i would save her. I wouldn't let that raven come near her again. She was staying that strange girl...she was staying with me.

She fell asleep in my arms, and woke to me, watching the stars on this gentle night. “I’m sorry about this. I know i'm bringing back memories better left forgotten. I bet you wish you hadn't met me. I i could save you from this pain.”

“Never say anything like that. I’m glad i skipped school that day and met you on the park bench. I'm thankful for every day i spent with you after that. For every time you leaned on me, for every moment of every second i was with you under that night sky. I wouldn't trade any of it, not for the world, not even for my family back.” She was silent for some time, her head rising and falling with every breathe i took. Picking at the sheets of the bed, pulling out the loose ends. “It’s about that time yea? You would normally be leaving by now. Why didn't you tell me that you were here?”

“I didn't want you to worry about me. Ever since my condition got worse, it’s all anyone has done. But when i was with you, i was able to forget. I was able to forget about everything. With you i felt invincible. I wasn't scared or worried anymore. Even when something would happen and they had to keep me here, all i thought about was getting better, so i could go back out, and see you again. I should have told you, but i didn't want anything to change.” She laughed. “I guess sooner or later...all secrets must come to light.”

“You said that you went to school near the park.”

“Yup, just so happened to be your school to.”

“You told me that you couldn't come because someone was having a procedure, and you had to be there.”

“I'm surprised you didn't figure it out then, but i was talking about me.”

“Quite the tricky one aren't you,” i chuckled. “The kids at school said something about you finally having your surgery. Will it make you better?”

“It might. If this works i will be allowed to leave the hospital for good. I can come back to school, play the flute and any other instrument i want. I can run again, and play in the grass. I can eat as much chocolate as i want and i can...i can live again.”

“And if it doesn't work?”

“If it doesn't work, if something...if anything goes would mean…” She didn't finish her sentence. I could see it in her face, the thought of it terrified her. I could feel her body shaking, and her skin getting colder. “It’s why i haven't done it yet. I just wasn't ready to take the chance. I decided to do it yesterday, but i had that seizure, so they postponed. I want to take that as a sign, but i don't know. I’m getting worse, and if the operation gives me even the slightest chance of living...if it means i get even one more sunset with you, then i’ll take it. I will hold on to that one fragile chance.”

“When did they reschedule for?”

“The end of the week, on the last day of school before summer break.”

“Will they let you leave the hospital before then?”

“Probably not...they wouldn't want to take any chances.”

I rose from her bed and grabbed my things. “Then i will come here, everyday until your surgery, and afterwards i will take you down to the beach. Then you can take as many seashells as your hands can carry. And we can watch millions of sunsets. It’ll be me, you, a crimson sky, and a starry night, forever. I promise.”

She rested her hand on top of mine. “Come here...i want to tell you something.” I leaned in close, slowly inching towards her. She leaned in and gently her lips pressed against mine. The smell of cocoa flowing through me, the soft taste of chocolate still on her lips. “It’s a promise.” Her gentle breath flowing over my skin as she whispered those last words to me. I left that night, a soft rain falling from the sky as i made my way home.

The next day i went to see her she seemed better. It gave me more hope that she would get through this. Her skin once again had color, and she seemed rested. I brought her a few old poems that she likes to read. Along with some passages written by shakespeare. We talked through the day, laughing and joking about nothing at all really. Being with her...was everything.

On the day before the last day of school i went to see her, but she wasn't in her hospital room. I ran down to the nearest nurse, fear gripping my heart, worry strewn over my face. “The girl in room 205, where is she?” My breath was heavy, my hand gripping the nurse’s arm tightly.

“Don't worry, she told us that you would be around soon,” she smiled at me. “She is in physical therapy, getting her strength up before the big day tomorrow. She’s normally been doing it in the morning while you were at school, but she overslept. I can take you to her if you want.”

“Yes please.”

A few floors up, there was a room full of gym equipment of all kinds. In the middle of the room was a long walking bar. She had both hands wrapped tightly around each side, carefully moving forward. There was a doctor beside her, rooting her on. Whitecoat, clipboard, and clean shaven. “That's great. Just like that. One foot in front of the other.”

She was nearing the end when she took a step forward, and collapsed to the ground. Her legs suddenly buckling under her own weight. She tried to stand back up, but it was useless. Everything beneath her waist didn't seem to respond to the commands she gave them. The doctor tried to help her up, but she pushed him away. She began to cry, screaming at her legs, banging on them, trying to force them into working. “Move you stupid legs. Get up already. You're supposed to be doing what i say. What is wrong with you?” She pounded on them even harder, her voice growing quieter as she began to lose hope. “Please...please just, just move. I need you to move.” When nothing happened she gave up, lying on the floor. Her shoulders rising and falling as she cried in her arms. The doctor picked her up and carried her away, leaving the room.

The nurse rested her hand on my shoulder. “Why don't you go home today. We’ll take good care of her, i promise. Come back tomorrow after school. The surgery will have been over by then.”

My head hung low, my eyes stinging with the threat of coming tears. The lines in the hospital floor becoming hazy as i struggled with the torrent of emotions swelling within me. “Will she make it?”

“She's a strong girl. And because of you i believe she is stronger than ever before. We will save her, now go get some sleep, ok.”

The last day of school was nothing but a blur. I couldn't tell you anything that happened, or what was said to me. Who said goodbye or what anyone’s summer plans were. I spent the entire day with my head down, thinking of you. That strange girl that came into my life, and like a miracle, just like that i was alive again. You cast out the loneliness in my heart, and filled the space with a scent of cocoa, and wonder. You have to live...because without you, the world around me just isn't the same.

After the school bell sounded i rushed to the hospital. Even though it was officially summer, heavy storm clouds lay in the sky, and thunder rumbled loudly at the crack of lightning. The blast was deafening. A flock of frightened ravens flew into the sky, circling high above the hospital, cawing, screaming. “Clouded skies, and the coming rain. The caw of a raven flying by, warning us of future peril. Perhaps we should have silly kids.”

Her words rang clear through my mind as i frantically blew through the hospital doors. The elevator took too long to open, so i ran for the stairs. “I wanted you to remember i was.” I fell going up the stairs, my legs growing weaker by the second, my body feeling heavier than ever before. “I will be here...together with you.” Everything she ever said, all rushing back to me. I flew into room 205. The bed was made, and covered in roses. Bears and other cards sat neatly at the edge of her bed. A raven sat still outside of the window, boring it’s cold black eyes deep into my soul. I ran to the rehab center of the hospital, hoping, believing. No one was there. The panic in my heart grew intensely as i made my way for the first floor. Breathing heavily, i leaned over the desk, staring frantically into the eyes of the woman behind the table.

“The girl in room 205. Where is she?” The woman looked away from me, a pained expression on her face. “Tell me where she is...tell me now.” I was screaming at her, tears beginning to fall one by one as the flood of emotions within me spilled over. “Where is she?” I fell to my knees. “”

I felt a warm pair of hands on my shoulder, and the smell of cocoa. I rose off the hospital floor, turning only to see the nurse...but not the girl. Her eyes were red and tired. She reached in her pocket and pulled out a note, and a piece of white chocolate.

“She told me to give this to you.”

I took the paper and chocolate, stuffed them in my pocket, and ran away. A clap of lightning striking close by as i got outside, an overwhelming boom of thunder, and deafened ears. A sudden onslaught of harsh rain, and a dark grey sky. Everything that is needed, to hide a sunset.

I stopped running when i reached the park bench, soaked and tired. I sat down and opened the letter, careful not to rip the damp paper.

“To the strange boy with the sad eyes. I know that you probably came today...and if i didn't leave you a note, i know that you would stay and wait for me. It’s a sweet gesture, but this time, i won't be coming back. I told the nurse to give this to you if i passed, which means If you're reading this...then i'm gone. Guess I wasn't strong enough to hold on. I want you to know that every moment i ever spent with you was a moment that i wouldn't trade either. Even if it meant living, i'd die before forgetting even a second of our time together. Everything about you, your smile, your laugh, your warmth, everything, it was what kept me alive for so long. Before you sat next to me that day on the park bench i was ready to give up, but you brought me back. For a while i thought that maybe i had a chance at living...but even that was only for a beautiful moment. I couldn't escape what was happening to me, no matter how fast i ran, it was always there...waiting. But you made me forget about that. It was kind of crazy how you never recognized me from school though, but i figured it was better that way. I'm sorry i made such a connection with you, it was selfish of me. After everything you went through with your family, just for it to turn out that i was only passing’s something i won't be able to forgive myself for. I didn't want to hurt you, but i couldn't bring myself to stop seeing you. You made me want to live. Hey, remember that time the sunset red and the sky looked like fire. It was the most beautiful one i'd ever seen, and i'm glad i got to share it with you. In that moment your eyes sparkled like never before. With you there, everything was just that much more magical. I know i'm all over the place with this note, but i don't know how long i’ll be able to hold my pen. So i'm kind of just writing what comes to mind. Oh yea, before i forget, i'm sorry that i promised you that we would be together. I said it in hopes that i would make it, but i guess hope just wasn't enough this time around. Like the rain clouds in constant watch over this hospital, so had death kept the same vigil over me. Us silly kids, we should have listened to that crazy old raven. I tried to tell you a few times, about my health. But every time i got ready to do it, i looked into those same sad eyes, and just couldn't. I still have those chocolates you bought me. I wasn't allowed to eat them, but i look at them everyday, and think of you. I have one more assignment for you, and you have to do it since you didn't bring me my shell. I want you to move on, and forget about me. I know that you're probably crying, and that's ok, i'm crying to, my tears even now tapping against this sheet of paper. But when you're done, i want you to let go, and move forward in life. Find a nice girl and have beautiful babies, maybe even get a dog. I want you to be happy. So you have to promise me right now...that you will be happy, for my sake. I’ll be watching you from heaven now, and if you aren't happy i’ll be all mopey up here. So for me, keep a smile, and continue to find the wonder in the world. We will always have the sunset, and the night sky, and we will always have each other. But now it’s time for you to find something else, something real. I can hear it outside of my window now as i feel my hand weakening. The caw of a raven flying by, warning me that my times up. As you left my side that night, that raven came back for me, and so...on the back of that raven did I fly away, far from you. Now, as i soar closer to the sunset than ever before, i want to tell you this. I love you...boy with the sad eyes...I love you.

PS: I still want my sea shell.”

I folded the paper gently, and placed it in my pocket. “Here with me one moment, beautiful like the setting sun. And just like it, gone as soon as you came...leaving behind nothing but darkness.”

I sat there on that bench, soaked by the pouring rain, heartbroken, and sad. But strangely, a smile on my face. I could still feel her next to me, head resting gently on my chest, and the smell of cocoa. The bench creaked as another sat down beside me. The rain no longer tapping harshly against my skin, but rolling off the umbrella set above us. It was the woman from that second day, the one with the child.

“Here we are again.” I was silent. “Did you ever find that girl? Did you see her again?”


“And where is she now.”

I gripped the bench tightly as the wound, all to fresh, began tear even further. “She passed today...and so now, i won't be able to see her again.” My stomach was tight with anxiety, and my eyes overflowed with tears. Trying to hold them back was useless, and soon enough, i just fell apart. Crying into the arms of this stranger. “She was all i had and now she's gone. Who am i supposed to watch the sunset with? Who else do i buy chocolate for? I loved her, she was everything to me...and now...”

She rested a gentle hand on my shoulder. “I lost someone today to.” I sat up, staring into that strange woman’s eyes, realizing only now that she looked familiar to me. “Sometime earlier in the day i got a call from the hospital. They told me that my daughter didn't survive her operation. And now, her sister will grow up alone, and i have lost a large part of my world. But even still i will continue to live. I will live for her, and for the others around me that need me to stay strong. My beautiful daughter, taken gently towards the sunset that she loved so much. And now i'm here, next to the boy with the sad eyes that she told me so vividly about. The dummy she had fallen in love with. Know this, though she may be gone, her heart rests here with you. So long as there is a sun to set, whether clear to see or hidden behind cloudy skies, she will always be here with you, setting with it.”

She kissed my forehead and left me. I had so many questions, but couldn't bring myself to speak a single word. That's why she seemed so familiar to me, she was her mother. But more than that, she was right. I couldn't slip back into sorrow and bury myself in loneliness. Her dying wish was for me to live, to move on, and so i will. On the bench where that woman sat was a photo. It was of her daughter and I. Her head resting gently on my chest, me asleep, and her staring at the sky, eyes full of wonder. A butterfly on her shoulder, and a sleeping deer at our feet. I held it close to my heart. “I will never forget.”

The rain stopped, and the clouds let up. The rays of the sun shining down gently from heaven, warming my cold, wet body. A rainbow in the sky and the song of birds. There i sat until the sun finally began to set, falling slowly behind the trees. I thought of what she said to me some time ago. The only words to me with meaning now. A lie that i heard back in the spring of April. “So long as there is a sun to set...i will be here to set with it. Until the night takes hold the sky, and the stars bring forth the light, i will sit here with you, until my last breath.” The most beautiful lie i’ve ever been told, are the last words i think of, in the loneliest sunset that i have ever lived.

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