“Now, no peaking.” I giggled and closed the sliver of space between my fingers so I could no longer see. My eyes were open but all I could see was darkness, there was no difference between my eyes closed and open. I didn’t like the dark. It may sound a little childish but I didn’t like being in a situation where I couldn’t see the dangers that may or may not be lurking. A little ironic, isn’t it? Considering the only real danger in my life; I couldn’t see, although we all knew it was there. “Okay, okay,” I said defensively. Asher had brought me here often. It was a grass covered hill, over looking a beautiful view of valleys, meadows and a stream not too far in the distance. At the top of the grass covered hill we’d claimed almost everyday in the afternoon, stood a lonesome tree with bright green leaves that matched the grass. We were only about ten minutes away from home. Asher liked to come here because it was so quiet and settle. Almost no one came here, which was a little sad considering it was such a breath taking landscape, but relieving at the same time that it made such a perfect place for us to get away from reality for a few hours. “Can I please open my eyes now?” I begged with anticipation. “No, not yet,” Asher called, his voice farther away than before. “Where are you?” I yelled back a little concerned. “I’m here,” his voice still distant. “You’re not leaving me as part of some sick joke are you?” I didn’t get a response, which worried me a little more. “Asher?” “I’m right here, Eve.” I gasped and jumped a little. He was right beside me. “I’m opening my eyes now,” I warned. “Fine, if you insist.” It took my eyes about three seconds to adjust to the bright sunlight before I could see again. Then I noticed what he’d done. Build around the tree, from the trunk to the beginning of the branches was a tree fort. It wasn’t exactly a tree house, just a fort. Around the branches of the tree, a single floor had been built, kind of like a balcony. There was a stair case leading up and at the back, a slide to go down. It was perfect. “Did you do all this yourself?” I asked in awe. “Yes, too me a week, but I think it was worth it.” “I’d have to agree. And all this week I’d thought you just didn’t want to spend time with me.” He wrapped his arms around my waist from behind and pulled me close. “Who me?” he asked, kissing me on the back of my head, “never.” I smiled; he always said cute little things like that. “I added the slide at the back. Figured the trip up the stairs would already be overtiring and I couldn’t build an elevator-well not a stable one anyways.” “It’s perfect,” I smiled. He carried me up the stairs with his arms under my legs and back. We sat at the edge of the balcony with our legs swinging below. Asher had built a railing and I rested my arms across it. We sat there, arms and legs touching and stared out to the view. We hadn’t had a moment like this in a long time. The past month alone had been one of my bad ones. It was the end of July, and we only had half a summer left. About three hours later the sun began to set and the air became chilly. I was shivering quickly and wrapped myself in Asher’s arms. “I want to do one last thing before we go home. And you better not hit me for being so cliché,” he joked. “No promises,” I smirked at him, crossing my arms. He chuckled. “I want to carve our initials in the tree and the date and then I want to add onto it with a new date every time we come up here,” he said it unsure, like he was sure I thought it was a dumb idea. But given the circumstance, I didn’t think it was a dumb idea. I thought it might give him some more hope. Like the treatments he always wanted me to try, the tree might give him the same hope; that every time we add a date, it’s another day we spent together and that there will be a next time to add another carving into that tree. Instead of saying anything, I picked traced a heart in the rigid, center of the tree with my finger. “Right here: in the heart of the tree.” He smiled and pulled out the small pocket knife he kept in his front pocket and began to carve ‘E.M. + A.T’ in a heart with the date ‘July 28th 2013’ carved below it. “Now it’s official,” he said with the biggest smile plastered on his face. “What is?” I asked. “That this is our place.” He held me close and kissed me forcefully before we descended down the slide together and walked home.
That was the first memory that came to mind when I found Asher sitting alone in our tree. It was late, too late for him to be out here. It was dark and cold and I could only see his face from the light of the candle he’d brought with him. I can imagine it was cold too. Even with a sweater, he clung to himself for warmth and shivered, just like I would do sometimes even in the middle of a hot summer day. I didn’t feel cold anymore, I didn’t feel anything anymore. I wasn’t alive anymore.
I climbed the stairs easily, I didn’t lose my energy anymore, I was always full of it. I sat down beside the small looking boy. Asher had always had a bigger build, he wasn’t necessarily tall though. But looking at him now, he looked like a small little, lost boy; the most venerable and weak looking I had ever seen him. “Ash,” I said softly. I didn’t expect him to hear me but there was a pinch of hope inside me that he would. “Ash, I know you can’t hear or see or feel me but I want to tell you I’m sorry. I’m so sorry for leaving you like this; alone.”
It had been the third night in a row he’d come here since I’d died. He would come in the early morning, skip school and wouldn’t leave until late in the night. I would follow him and after he’d lit the candle he brought every night, I would that I was sorry. I wanted him to do something better than his life than this. I wanted him to go to school everyday and talk to his friends and learn something knew but there was nothing I could do.
Asher lived with his dad. His mom passed away when he was just a baby, he didn’t know her very well but that didn’t mean he didn’t care about her. He visits her grave often and talks to her and now thanks to me, he’ll have another to visit. Asher doesn’t have a strong relationship with his dad. Don’t get me wrong, they love each other but they give each other more than enough space, which is why Asher is able to be here everyday and not at school without being hounded for it at home.
I tried to hold his hand but just held the railing where his hand was instead. I couldn’t feel him and he couldn’t feel me. I could hear him and see him but that’s all. I had tried waving objects and items in his face before to try and tell him that I’m here but he couldn’t see that either. I was invisible in every way but his memory.
I was just getting comfortable next to him when he stood up. I sighed as he walked over to the heart of the tree where our names were carven. Below the initial read: all the hundreds of dates that we’d spend together here. He took out his pocket knife from his front pocket and carved at the bottom, ‘June 5th 2014’, then marked a third ‘x’ beside my initials. I traced my fingers over our initials softly, the wood still rough to the touch. Then Asher blew out the candle, pulled out his flashlight and left our place.