When you're older. He had said. When you're older. The words echoed in her mind, the rhythm almost a taunt.
Well she was certainly older now. She was the same age as him, at least in the technical terms of it. She was seventeen, just like him. They could be seventeen together forever. Forever…
Winnie dipped her hand in and out of the water. How could she know though? She didn't have any proof he would come back. She had been ten. Ten year olds imagine a lot of things. Jesse could have been her imagination; she had been quite lonely as a child, an only child whose parents overprotected her. Jesse might not even be real. The spring could just be a plain old stream in a wood.
That didn't seem right though, even as a ten year old she hadn't been a vivid imaginer. She hadn't been like the children in books who were lonely and imagined themselves a friend. Why would she have imagined Jesse?
She could still remember seeing him sitting there by the spring his toes busy with a twig while he stared up at the shimmering canopy, something that vivid couldn't be fake could it?
Winnie was almost tempted to drink the water just to see if it would keep her alive and seventeen forever, but if he never came back what would she do? Seventeen forever. Alone forever. That could hardly be called a life. And if the stream did nothing she would only be disappointed and Jesse would be ruined forever. He really would become someone she had imagined.
Jesse would understand if she didn't drink wouldn't he? She had only been ten. How could he possibly know he wanted her forever if she had been ten?
Jesse would understand. Wouldn't he?
Winnie bit her lip. Which should she choose? Which decision made sense; which decision wasn't created of fantasies and dreams? Well that was obvious. But what if he came? What if he came and she hadn't waited? He would go on and remember her. Remember her forever. Forever. Forever or never…Which was better to be remembered for forever or to put aside a silly dream of a boy that probably wasn't real and move on?
Maybe she should just drink from the stream, then if it worked it worked and if it didn't…she would know that the Tucks never had been real and never would be.
Still considering the possibilities Winnie stood and headed for home, but almost unconsciously she began to hum a tune with no words. A tune she had first learned when she was ten.