“Wait! Please, wait! Don’t go!” Abby called, ducking under another tree branch and hurrying after the boy, who ran on ahead of her. He dodged around a tree, and Abby followed him, breaking suddenly out of the tangled underbrush. An open track lay before her, a single rusted pair of railroad tracks traveling through the center, on into nowhere. The boy glanced back and saw her still following him. He turned back to the railroad tracks and began to walk along them, following them into the mist. Abby ran after him again.
“Wait! Please…Don’t go! I want…to talk…please! Stop…oh stop” Abby slowed to a walk, then halted in despair. The boy did not even slacken his pace. “Please…”Abby whispered, then, “I’m sorry!” she called after his slowly retreating back.
As if he had run into a wall, the boy stopped. He turned slowly to face Abby. “What?” he asked quietly, words thick with emotion. “What did you say? Sorry? Do you even know what you’ve done? Did you ever really care at all? Sorry can’t change anything now.” He turned his back again, but instead of running, he sat down on the railroad tracks a little ways from Abby.
“No…no, you don’t understand…” Abby walked closer and sat down opposite him.
“Oh don’t I? What don’t I understand?” he exploded. “I know how to take a hint. I know what you did, and I know what you are going to do as soon as you go home tonight. It’s over, ok? Just drop it!”
“But you don’t understand! Please…Daniel, I had to! You don’t understand! You don’t know my father! Please, Daniel, please! I’m sorry. I had to. I didn’t have a choice.”
“Choice. Is that all it was? A simple matter of choice? Do you know what this is costing me? Did you even stop to think before you gave those letters to your father? Did they even mean anything to you? You told me they did…have you been lying this whole time? Abby…Abby, why did you do it?” Daniel trailed off, searching Abby’s pained face with his eyes. Then he turned his face away again. “Go home, Abby. It’s over. It’s finished…we’re finished. You aren’t supposed to see me now. Go home. You’re going to get in trouble. Go home. Just…go home.”
A tear trickled slowly down Abby’s face. She bit her lip, and then took a deep breath. “Daniel…I’ll go if you want. But not until I tell you…you still don’t understand. I love you Daniel, and I always have. You are my life, Daniel. You are joy, and hope, and everything good. All those letters you sent me…the ones I gave to my father. You don’t know how much that hurt me. Daniel, I tore my heart with each piece of paper I gave him. Those were your words to me, Daniel. Your words telling me how you loved me, more than sun, moon, and stars. My father read them, he read them all!” Abby’s voice was shaking with suppressed tears, but she took another breath and continued, “And then…He asked me questions. About you, and me, about us. He realized how I love you. He said I wasn’t right for you, I wasn’t right to believe what you say. When my father said I couldn’t see you anymore…my world, everything…just ended. Please, Daniel, don’t you see? I love you so much, I…I don’t know how…before I go…before everything, everything ends…Won’t you…Please…I’m sorry, Daniel. I’m sorry.” Abby turned away from Daniel and reached down, trailing her fingers roughly through the gravel lining the railroad tracks.
Daniel looked at the top of Abby’s bent head, saw her shoulders shake with suppressed sobs, and his face softened slightly. Reaching out a hand, slowly, he touched his fingers to hers and took her hand. She looked up, her gray eyes filled with unshed tears. “Abby…” Daniel began, and sighed. He dropped her hand and sat back, looking at her over the distance between them. “Abby, I…”
“No, it’s ok,” she interrupted him. “Don’t. You were right. I shouldn’t be here. It’s over. I…never thought it would end this way. I’ll miss you Daniel. You were my life, you know that don’t you? Don’t ever forget it. Don’t forget me. Will you remember? For always?” Abby reached out and touched Daniel’s arm, a link over the space between them.
“Yes, Abby. I will. I will remember always,” Daniel moved as if to stand, but did not get up. “Abby, about what I said…I’m sorry too. Your father…the letters…” He sighed.
Abby looked into his face. “But Daniel, I kept one. I kept one letter. The one you wrote me last. I keep it with me, always. I could not bear to give it to my father too. Here.” Abby handed a letter, worn and wrinkled, to Daniel. He opened it slowly, fingers almost shaking.
“To my Precious Abigail…” He looked up, into her eyes.
“Keep it.” She smiled.