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Winter Friend
by Mirasaui

Summary: The best friendships are the ones that last forever.
Story Notes: An original short story written for friends in December 2004. Rated: G.
All mistakes are my own.

My friend has a smile that stretches from ear to ear and a bright beckoning twinkle in his eye. He stretches his arms out to me in welcome and I cannot help but feel my heart move.

I am old by his reckoning, although my years are still young in regards to my race.

But I do not think on that long. For like the sun, which rises so gloriously in the morn then wields its way across the sky to sink in rosy retire, in the blink of my eye, he will be gone.

We play, gathering the powdery wetness in our hands until we cannot feel our fingers anymore, patting and pounding it into missiles that we throw at each other with laughter. As far as the eye can see, the snow covers the land, a winter white that glistens and hides all things, as it hides that which I know will come.

His clothes are warm, but shabby, not that he cares. For the cold does not affect him like it does me, nor is he vain about his looks as some others that I know. In his innocence, he trusts me explicitly, and I try to honour that trust. He is my friend, after all.

At midday, I open my pack and pull from within my meagre lunch. I offer to share, but he smiles and shakes his head. He is not hungry. So I eat while he looks on, feeling somewhat guilty.

Afterward, we resume our play, and in the excitement and the fun, do not notice the shadows lengthening. All too soon, I must go, for sky is darkening. Tears fill my eyes as I know what tomorrow will bring. But my friend only smiles. I love him so.

That night, my sleep is restless, for in my dream we are together. And I, child of the sun and warmth, have no fear of winter's frost. Hand in hand we walk, talking, reliving the day, enjoying each others company.

Morning dawns, bright and sunny, and I can hear the drip of melting snow. I cannot wait to see my friend, and I rush outside to greet him. He smiles at me, a lopsided grin, and I smile back in return.

I show him my secret places and my treasures, the tree I planted when I was small, my shiny rock, and the good luck charm I wear around my neck. I even let him wear it for a while, hoping it might enable him to stay - wishful thinking on my part.

We walk by the pond that yesterday was frozen, but today is not. It makes me sad. I look at my friend with longing, but his eyes still twinkle and his countenance stays merry. "I will miss you," I say, but he does not answer. I knew that he would not. Still...

It has come, that time I so dreaded. He is gone. I stand at the window as the tears fall. "I miss you," I say, "I miss you."

A hand touches my shoulder and I look up. My mother touches my cheek. "Perhaps, he will return next year," she says, "his kind are not meant to stay in this world long."

I nod, sadly. "I know, but he was my friend. I loved him."

She smiled. "He will always be your friend. And he has left you a great gift, memories that you can look back upon with fondness."

I smile. "You are right." I say good-by one last time, and go on with my life.

The End

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