From those early spring days through the coolest of autumn evenings, he brought Carly back again and again. The boy’s name was William. When I first heard her speak his name, I felt such pride at finally knowing it. He told her everyone else called him Bill but he loved the way she said his real name.
William had an excellent laugh, hearty and sincere, and Carly made him laugh a lot in those months. They brought picnics of roast beef sandwiches or bread and cheese. They flew a red kite a few times. They kissed. Light, brush on the lips kisses; warm, drawn out kisses; open mouth, in the middle of a laugh kisses; and deep, long, breathless kisses that ended with their arms wrapped around each other like one might float away if they both did not hold on tightly enough.
Winter came, as it always does. The winds turned icy and the ground grew hard. William and Carly stopped wandering my way. I did not see them until the following spring, a year since their first visit. They arrived on a sunny afternoon, when the field was dotted with purple lupines and the breeze was gentle once again. William wore a crisp, navy blue uniform. Until he was very near, he looked very much a grown man. Up close though, he was still a boy. Carly wore a simple, white dress that skimmed the grass under her feet. Her dark hair was set in thick ringlets. A silky white shawl covered her shoulders and she kept her arm tucked in the crook of William’s elbow as they walked toward me.
My boughs were bending with the breeze, their buds beginning to open toward the sun. It is what I consider to be my prettiest state. As they came under my height, Carly ran her hand over a cluster of my lowest hanging branches. I could feel her fingers course over the bumps of my new leaves. The couple had eyes only for each other though – eyes intermittently wet with tears. They spoke in whispers and promises and caresses.
Eventually they were silent. Carly had her cheek against his chest. His arms held her around the waist and they swayed in a soothing rhythm all their own. Finally Carly spoke up again.
“We must get to the party. They will all be wondering why we haven’t arrived.”
“Let them wait.” William answered firmly.
She lifted a hand to his cheek. “No, William. They all need to say goodbye, too. They all need to see us happy before they let you go.”
He moved Carly’s palm to his lips, planting a kiss there. “I love you.”
“I love you.”