"It's beautiful, isn't it?" I could hear her murmur, as we nestled into each other. The sunset, reflecting on the water, blazing down on us with motherly warmth. I loved the sunset. It was beautiful and entrancing, but I knew I wouldn't be able to be here with her again. Soon, I would have to leave. We would all have to leave, to never see each other again. I hated the thought of being away from her, but I hated the thought of dying at the hands of the Green Plague even more. I caressed her hair, wrapping my arms around her as if I would never let go, but I would have to.
___________ 13 Months Later________________________
"Mom, have you seen my phone?" My voice was so soft I didn't recognize it myself. I'd been quarantining for thirteen months, and it had taken a significant toll on my heart. I was not only tired and fatigued but also longing and lonely. My Jeanette would never get to see my face again, and I had lost her forever. Still, it was better than dying, right?
"No, honey, but you might've left it in the dining room last night." Mom replied, her tone sympathetic and kind. I knew that she was taking pity on me, and sometimes I enjoyed it, but I would have to grow up sometime.
I grabbed my phone off of the kitchen table, running out to the backyard. My Mom always said that I had to get fresh air every morning, but I couldn't help but think. Think about her. Was Jeanette breathing the same air somewhere across the world? Or had she died? Was she lost not just to me, but to everyone? I couldn't face those possibilities. I couldn't.
As I hiked up the Moor, eager to find some breakfast, I stopped and looked around. It was the first time that I had taken a breath, breathed in all the nature around me. I hoped it wouldn't be my last.
The waterfall ahead was breathtaking, like a powerful stream of dreams. I always thought that my dreams might be in the water, forging ahead into reality. Alas, it was not to be. If my dreams did become reality, Jeanette would be by my side. The Plague would be gone, and we could be together again. One can only dream of such things, only hope.
The Mallowfruit tree was in full bloom, nourished by the powerful waterfall, the soil rich and fertile. I grabbed a couple of fruits and mercilessly bit into them. At that time of the morning, I had the hunger of a crazed cheetah that hadn't hunted in months. I sat by the waterfall, listening to the churning depths, feeling the steam on my face. Jeanette would've loved this place.
I pushed those thoughts out of my mind and forged on, eager to find an animal, an insect, anyone to keep me company. After all, in times of pain, what better way is there? I could talk to my family, but I only ever spoke to my Mom, and even then only in one-sentence chunks. I couldn't speak my mind anymore, couldn't speak unless in questions. Even though the real questions I felt like asking were ones that no one had answers to.
"Caw! Caw!" a parrot called overhead. I rushed to greet it, cawing for a friend. None of the other birds had wanted to be my friend, but the parrot might've. The parrot might've wanted to. Couldn't he? He'd have no reason not to...
My favorite friends were ants. There were so many of them, so many that comforted me. They gave me pinches of love, which in return gave me bumps to remember them by. I would never have better friends than them.
The parrot flew away, rejecting me with its wide wings. I wasn't surprised, the birds were always mean. Flying away from me, leaving me lonely, those were just what birds did. Who was I to judge? Who was I at all?
I heard my mom all the time, telling her friends about me. She kept on saying, "He's not okay. He isn't!" I knew that meant I was not okay, but great. Her friends always took it the wrong way, though, comforting her about her great son. She needed no comfort. That was what my Dad was for.
My Dad was awesome. I talked to him all the time, and my mom even pretended sometimes that she couldn't see him. It was so funny, and she started fake-crying when I talked to him at the table. She was super hilarious, in case you didn't know.
My Dad and I went on tons of trips together. Around the mountain and back, the birds and everyone else ignoring him. I wondered how lonely it must feel for everyone to ignore him for no reason. Jeanette was never like that. She was always the center of attention, being happy and joyous, never down about anything. Even when we went away from each other, she had been confident that we'd see each other again. I knew we wouldn't.
As I got to the lake, I saw some of my friends, the ants. They were so loving that they were everywhere I went. I let them crawl up my arm, give me their signature loving pinches. I loved rubbing over those little bumps. My Mom keeps telling me that I should let Jeanette go, that it's making me crazy, but I know that's not right. Otherwise, I wouldn't be thinking about her all the time.
The symptoms of the Green Plague, the doctors said, were hallucinations, fatigue, skin rashes, and insanity. My Mom, Dad, and I had been watching for symptoms for years, but thank goodness nothing ever came up. They said that if you show any of those symptoms, you might have a seizure and die. But that wasn't going to happen to me.
As the moon came out, I realized how long I'd been out. It was almost night. I might've never seen the moon again, if I caught the Plague. That'd be horrible. At least it was a lovely sight for now. As invisible hands seized me, though, I knew my Jeanette was somewhere out there, grasping for me, remembering me. I sank to the ground, grateful that I still had her, and then drifted away.