16-year-old Avery wakes in a dream world to see her best friend, who died months earlier in a fatal car crash.
The first thing Avery saw was the tree. A beautiful cherry blossom tree, thirty feet high, whose long drooping branches held hundreds of pink flowers. Occasionally, one of the flowers would drop to the ground in a long, convoluted path - floating left and right, doing several loop-the-loops, before finally landing on the featureless ground.
That was the first thing that was off. The ground wasn't just tarmac-black, but held no texture whatsoever. It almost appeared as if someone had created an ocean of black oil, but this one stretched all the way into the horizon and up into the sky, making the world completely featureless, save the tree and Avery herself.
"Oh, a dream." She said to no one in particular.
Avery approached the tree and reached out her hand to pet the smooth, white wood. It curved magnificently beneath her fingers to and fro, yet somehow still managed to be flawlessly textured.
"Hey, girl." A deep voice from behind her said.
She spun around quickly to see a familiar figure standing a few feet away from her. He was black, standing a touch over average height and well-built. He wore a blue sweater with tan khakis and some black high tops. On his face sat a knowing, sly smile.
Avery recognized this as her best friend, Jerome. Jerome had been killed in a fatal car crash almost a year ago.
"Hey yourself, dork." She walked up to him and punched him genially in the arm. "You scared the shit out of me!" It wasn't uncommon for Avery to have dreams about Jerome. Back when he was alive, the two had been practically inseparable. They had been best friends since childhood, hanging out at least once a weekend on a constant basis. Building treehouses, singing their favorite songs, and getting into incredible amounts of trouble had been, without a doubt, their fortés.
Jerome chuckled. "Yeah, I can't resist it sometimes, y'know?" His chuckling faded very fast into a smile nobody but Avery could see as what it was. Within his face was a lot of pain, which was not normal for him at all.
Avery furrowed her eyebrows a bit and gently put her arm on his. "What's wrong, Jerome?"
He looked at her arm, then back into her eyes, and sighed. "Avery, we need to talk."
A rosebud fell.