August 14, 1974. Lucy Blue Dress takes one last look back at the campsite she’d stayed her summer after graduating from high school. She’d miss the cool cool stream that flowed and sometimes cascaded by her tent. She’d miss the gatherings at Sugar’s shack with all the weirdos of the woods. She’d miss more organized White Tree Village and dreamy Bluebird who lived there and who she took occasional long walks with. Most of all, there was Titiana and Vanessa, her bestest friends during this period in her life. “Come with me to college!” she begged of them beside their favorite wagon near the shack near the center. “No, we stay here,” said Vanessa, which made Titiana nod. They all called her Tiana, because her full name was just a little too much to pronounce in casual conversation. She didn’t like it but she accepted the shortening; she was growing up and becoming more mature about such things. Both were smart. Both took the SATs and did well enough to go to their pick of at least a public school. But: no. The woods had captivated them beyond escape. The Ourobos that is the stream had worked its magic, beginning matched with end. They would be happy going round in circles the rest of their lives, without a worldly degree, without a decent and rewarding job that resulted in such, without the ability to support a family beyond perhaps a husband or wife — both girls swung either way on that preference. “The woods will take care of us,” they said, and bade her farewell with teary hugs just minutes ago. They offered to follow her to the campsite down the stream and see her off from her woodlands home of 2 months but she said this wasn’t necessary, and there was no reason for them to watch her leave the way they all came: alongside the brick wall that led outta here. This corner is where the woods die for her.
And then there was Zapppa, who was set to leave the forest himself tomorrow. Or the day after tomorrow at the latest, he promised. “Just gotta wrap up something at the cemetery,” he said minutes before she then met with Vanessa and Titiana that one last time.
He was the love of her life. Pretty sure of that, she was. Going to college with her, he was. Studying math: her, psychology. Stats would be their shared passion beyond the bed. They determined there was a 24.687531% chance they would return here after college, using their acquired skills to better the woods and their denizens and citizens. Never happened. The zero and nine would have to be added in to make it work and that, they realized, would defeat the whole purpose. Worldly they remained.
In one reality.
(to be continued)