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I’m sitting here on the banks of the river, watching the sun slowly descent. The sky is on fire. I know it sounds totally cliché, but it’s true. Lemon yellow, fluorescent orange, burning scarlet, and royal purple dazzle my eyes. Grabbing the digital camera that I carry around like a baby carries their blanket, I click the butter and view the shot. It’s beautiful, if I do say so myself.
He pops up next to me to see how the picture came out. And I mean literally appears out of nowhere. One second he’s not there, and the next moment he, well, is. It shouldn’t shock me after all this time. For some reason, though, I just can’t get used to it.
“Magnificent,” he breathes, echoing my thoughts.
“Thanks,” I say nonchalantly, but I’m beaming with pride inside. That’s the thing about compliments. No matter how modest and down-to-earth you are, they always feel good.
We both are quiet. He sits down next to me, and we watch the sun set together.
Simultaneously, however, I’m observing him keenly out of the corner of my eye. He’s got his gaze transfixed on the sky, like he’s never seen anything so awe-inspiring before. And maybe he hasn’t. I don’t know, and most likely will never find out.
It’s so weird. I can never sit like this with Anne (she’s be chattering away on her cell), Celia (she wouldn’t stop complaining about how the grass was poking her or something akin to that), or Nancy (she’d be informing me endlessly on facts that I would forget as soon as she moved on to the next one). But with him, it’s different. We can sit for hours on the end without talking. We get each other in that respect.
“So,” he begins, leaning forward, elbows on knees, the spell of the sunset breaking. “I’ve got something to tell you.”
Suddenly, it’s very hard to meet his green-eyed gaze. I fix my eyes on the water, and say in what I hope is a very carefree tone, “Alright. Tell me.”
My peripheral vision is quite good. I can see him wince. Not exactly the best sign, especially sign I’ve been gathering evidence all week that’s been leading up to the conclusion that I absolutely despise.
If anyone is watching me at this instant, they’d be thinking I’m having a conversation with air. Because of course I’m the only one who can see him.
That really is the worst thing about all this. Well, the second worst. I’ve never in my lifetime met anyone with who I’ve had such a deep connection.
What’s the worst thing? Now I’m going to lose him.
“It’s time for me to go,” he murmurs softly, confirming all my dreaded suspicions.
“I kind of figured that out,” I tell him lightly, yet unable to stop the pooling of the tears in my eyes.
He strokes my impossible curly, mud colored locks. “I’m sorry.”
“Yeah. Me, too.” I’m on the verge of abandoning all thoughts of self control and breaking down. I have to keep a firm grip on myself.
His free hand turns my face sideways, so I’m forced to look at him. “Before I go,” he begins in a low voice, “I want you to know that my mission was to help you get adjusted to your new life. I knew how much you hated the move. Anne, Celia, and Nancy? I was supposed to make sure they became your best friends.
“You did a great job. It totally worked,” I compliment, but obviously not concealing my feelings well enough.
“I’m a guardian angel, gal. What did you expect?” he asks.
That hurts. That hurts bad. But honestly. What had I expected?
Definitely not him, that’s for sure. A sweet, smiling little cherub, maybe. But not some guy I wish with all my heart that’s real so he can hold me in his arms, and on the dance floor we would sway.
“I don’t know. I just expected you to stay forever,” I answer truthfully, my voice breaking.
“We don’t stay forever. We only stay until our job is done.”
I bite my lip so hard that blood almost begins to flow. My hands are clenched into fists, my knuckles snow white, I’m trying that hard to stay in control.
“Well, I suppose the both of us got what we least expected. In all my years of being a guardian angel, I never expected to fall in love with my charge.”
Now that undoes me. The tears gush down my face in a torrent.
A wind begins to swirl around us. The end is coming. He doesn’t need to tell me so.
Ever so gently, he lays a kiss on my lips and is almost instantly swept in the gust of wind. “I love you!” he shouts as disappears.
“Me too!” I call back. Does he hear me? Maybe, maybe not. I sure hope that he does.
And then . . . I’m all alone. Just a seventeen-year-old girl sitting on the banks of a river dangling her legs in the water, her camera next to her, watching the sunset.