I sit on that tree trunk,waiting. Around me the winds blow and the animals of the forest call to each other, gradually realising that I am no threat. The sky begins to darken, from blue, to red, to dark blue, to black. The stars appear. I stare at the stars until, suddenly, the sky begins to lighten. Is it morning? Already? Have I sat here all night? I realise I must have, and also that I still have a long wait before I can see Raphael again. I let out a small huff of the oxygen I don't even need, and tilt my head back, watching the clouds as they drift by, trying to find shapes in them.
"Ember?" I snap out of the daydream I was in. I could have sworn I just heard Raphael's voice.. Then I spot him a few metres away, walking through the trees.
"Raphael!" I call. I jump and in the corner of my eye, see what I have done to the tree trunk. I laugh. Raphael walks over and I point, still laughing. I am so happy to see him that my happiness just needed a tiny push to burst out of my mouth in exuberant laughter.
"Raphael!" Comes Ember's cry. I run towards it, slowing to a nonchalant walk as I enter the clearing. Ember is splitting her sides with laughter. Seeing me, she points to the the fallen tree trunk. I see that there is the perfect imprint of her backside chiselled into the dead wood, worn smooth.
"How long did you sit there?" I ask, trying not to let my worry show in my voice.
"The whole night. And day." She says when she stops laughing.
"Weren't you so bored?" I say, refusing to meet her eyes, in case she sees the guilt in them. I should have done something.. What I should have done I don't quite know, but I know I shouldn't have done nothing...
"Nope. Time seems to pass a whole lot faster when I'm on my own.. I just looked at the stars all night, and the clouds all day! It was fun!"
"You looked at the clouds.. for the whole day?" I say, disbelieving.
"Uhhh-huh." She answers, scuffing her feet. "So. How was school?"
"Boring." I say, glad for the subject change.
"Really? I always thought human school sounded so interesting! Learning all about ellymants, and maythes!"
"Elements. Maths." I correct with a grin. "You wouldn't like it. Trust me."
"Yes I would." She says indignantly.
"No, you really wouldn't," I reply, smiling.
"Yes, I WOULD!" She says, getting more and more indignant.
"Ok, ok, you would." I say, laughing.
"Yay!" she smiles, and suddenly, I want to put my arms around her. I don't know why, but I do. Then she does it for me, flinging her arms about my neck and jumping up, her legs curling about my waist.
"Hey! Wh-what are you doing?" I cry, doing my best taken-aback voice.
"Oh.. um, I'll get down.." She says slowly.
"No." I say, without thinking.
"What?" She says, tilting her head.
"N-nothing. Um, I'm mean, you.. you don't have to, um.. y'know get down." I say awkwardly. She slides down anyway, and goes to sit on the tree trunk. I realise I have ruined the moment, and sigh, going to sit on the other end of the tree trunk. Every few moments I glance at her from the corner of my eye. Then I decide. I get up. "You ok?"
"Yeah.. I.. Don't worry about it." She smiles, but I can see the fakeness in it.
"Well, erm, I have to go now.. Bye.." I walk away. As I am passing the tree branch where her red cloak is still hung, she calls:
"Bye, Raphael. See you tomorrow?" She says it expectantly. My heart soars. She still wants to see me. I breathe a sigh of relief.
"Yeah. Normal time!" I call back, and walk away grinning ear to ear. I have told my mum I will be at band practice, or art club, every day after school, so there is no more worry, I can spend the hours after school with Ember. And she still wants me to. I laugh, and several people shoot me odd looks. I decide I don't care, and whistle the rest of my way home.