Staring at her wheat-colored hair as the summer sun shone golden atop her head, the beauty of her thick curvaceous form haloed by the falling horizon made me sick. I was falling ill, and this type of disease was incurable. Reaching into every crevice of my body, tearing at my nerve centers, and corrupting my brain functions. Every minute we shared together tightened my chest and made it hard to breathe, and I knew all that was waiting for me was silent and painful death.
“What are you writing in that book of yours Tiff, are you finally going to let me read it?” I said silent dammit. She didn’t hesitate to swing off a tree branch into the ground beside me, shooting up dirt into my face and inside the pages of my diary.
“You can read it when I die.”
“Oh, then pretty soon, I guess. Stress is a major killer you know and you’re just a big bummer.”
“Why’d you invite me over here again if you hate my company so much?”
I looked around at her crowded backyard, as wobbly handmade pots lined the concrete patio. Filled with an assortment of random plants like rosemary and aloe shoved into every corner. Surrounding her patio like the pacific, a large grassy yard with a two distinctly large trees. Covered with swings and hammocks as if they were just streamers for decoration. Everything about it was colorful and excessive, but so was she. I could see the shadows of the branches and leaves stick to our bodies as we sat under her giant mango tree.
“We’ve been friends so long, I guess I got used to it” she said winking at me, the mischief from her voice dripping like honey. My limbs always lock up when she does that, it made me feel like I was mechanical and in dire need of being re-oiled. It reminded me of those old toy trucks we had as children, but that thought filled me with the fear that I was recyclable after tomorrow. After she grew out of me.
“Are you already packed?”
“Not yet. You see my family has a tradition called scrambling at the last second after some nice long needed procrastination.”
“And your definitely not one to break tradition. It’s pretty cool that your family is moving to the same state you’re going to college in.”
“It’s not too late, you can hop in my luggage later and we can sneak you on. I’m going to miss being the first to read your stories.”
“You mean pry them from hands and run like a mad man on steroids.”
“Hey, look at this!” Her eyes popped open wide with sudden recollection, as she grabbed my sweaty left palm and rushed to the back of the one of the mango trees
“Our carvings still here, remember when we were in third grade.” She said tracing her index finger around the jagged heart shaped groove with our initials and pulling back.
“Did you know those carvings can end up killing trees faster? They disrupt the natural flow of water and nutrients.”
“See, what did I say about being a bummer. It’s blooming just fine, look at all those mangos.” she said reaching up on her tip toes to pick a ripe one from the branches “I think we actually helped the tree to grow better.” Then an unexpected quiet fell over us as she looked at the fruit in her hand as if it would disappear from her grip.
“Hey, I have a great idea, since I’m leaving tomorrow, how about we have one last sleepover like old times?”
Closing my notebook and shoving it into my beige tote bag looking down at the carving at the base of the tree.
“That doesn’t sound too bad actually”
Waking up suddenly, i'm wrapped in her old childhood comforter covered in cartoon corgi’s. My body sunken into the mattress, imprinted into the memory foam. I was worried it would be the only thing that would still remember me in a few months. Everything was quiet expect for the random sound of rustling leaves outside the window. Rolling over, I was meet with her back. I could see the slight expanding of her form as she breathed next to me.
“Are you still asleep?”
My question was meet with a nasal snore, loud enough to rock the bed. I reached out my hand and gently placed it on her shoulder.
“I still remember when we first meet in middle school, and how alone felt. My parents were too busy worrying about everything but me and who I thought was my best friend at the time left me behind like I was nothing. But when you came up to me with those sparkling eyes of yours, I felt special…and loved. So, thank you, I guess. Thank you for making the world as beautiful as you.” Even as I whispered them I could hear the words get stuck in my throat, as if speaking to them aloud finally made the feelings real.
Abruptly the sound of her snoring stopped, and my chest began to beat in an all to knowing panic. And before I could jump up in the bed and speak, she said
“Can you promise me one thing before I go?” I instinctually pulled my hand back.
“Promise me you’ll remember me, just like the tree out back. Even if it hurts, even if we stop talking. Promise me for as long as that carving stays on that tree, you’ll still think of me” I could feel the weight in her words as she chocked them out, on the cusp of hiccupping through tears. She rolled over and looked at me in her eyes, red and glossed over.
I put my hand on her face, swiped my thump over her cold damp cheek. As I leaned in to kiss her. I could taste the salt on her lips as she grabbed my thin waist and pulled me into her, she felt like the childhood home I was forced to move out from. Coming up for air, I was grounded back into reality, I could hear her family scrambling in the hallway shouting back and forth like a game of ping pong.
“Madi get up we gotta go now or were gonna be late! God how can it be five already?” She wiped her eyes and kissed me on last time on the lips before scrambling out of bed.
“Wait take this...” I say as I tumble off the bed and hit the ground. Reaching out for my tote bag, taking out my brown leather diary, and removing the lock. “For your trip.”
“I didn’t even have to fight you for it.” she said gripping it tightly in her hand, pressing it to her chest.
“Don’t ruin the moment” I said laughing, the kind of instinctual laugh that escapes when you're delirious in pain.
“I don’t want to say goodbye, so I’ll say see you later instead.” she said grabbing a jacket to toss over her yellow t-shirt and sweatpants and grabbed her suitcase by her bedroom door.
“Come on, I’m sure I can finesse my parents to get you home before I leave.”
Walking out of the front door as the sun began slowly rising over the horizon, even in my sleep deprived state. I knew there could never be a cure to this type of disease, and as much as I would continue to bloom and grow without her. She would always stay carved into my heart. Leaving me able to heal, but never to forget her curvaceous haloed form in the summer sun horizon.