One day, the Van Pelt family moved out of the neighborhood, to a neighborhood far away, on the other side of town.

"We're leaving for real this time," Lucy had said sadly to Schroeder, leaning against the piano while Schroeder played a Beethoven sonata.

Schroeder had looked up and raised his eyebrows. Lucy, Linus, and their parents had moved away once before. Schroeder had never forgotten his feelings of guilt at not even having said goodbye. Sure, Lucy was vain, crabby, and bossy, but she did have her good qualities. She was smart, pretty, and relentlessly devoted to him. It flattered him a little to be the object of affection, even though he was too proud to admit it.

"She's moving! She's gone!" Charlie Brown had said to him after she had departed.

"I never even said goodbye," Schroeder had said miserably.

Then, several weeks later, the Van Pelt family had returned. They had decided not to move after all. Standing before Schroeder's piano, Lucy had announced loudly, knocking him off his seat, "Your sweetie is back!!!"

Schroeder contemplated these distant memories as he stood with Charlie Brown and Snoopy and watched Linus, Rerun, and Lucy get into the family van.

"Goodbye," Lucy waved, smiling.

"Bye, Lucy," Schroeder and Charlie Brown said in unison, waving back. Snoopy waved at Lucy too and blew her kisses.

Tell me you're not leaving, Lucy, Schroeder thought to himself.

Please tell me it's not true. I want to hear you tell me that nothing will ever change, that we'll always be children without a care in the world. I'll look up from my piano keys and see you gazing at me, entranced. You'll never fail to be there, my most faithful audience. You'll always be out there in center field, letting routine fly balls drop on your head. I'll be able to stroll down the street on a hot summer Sunday and see you lazing behind your "Psychiatric Help" booth, your feet on the desk, your hands clasped behind your head, your face an expression of worldly wisdom as you dispense crappy advice to Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown will always try to kick the football, and you'll always be there to thwart him.

I need to know, Lucy. I need to know that there are still some things in this world that we can count on. things that make sense. I need to know that we'll never have to worry about stuff like growing old, watching our parents die. seeing the world change around us. I don't want to live in a world where friends separate and slowly drift apart, torn from each other by misunderstandings and hurt feelings or the sheer physical distance, until the day comes when we don't know each other and don't care anymore. Friends are forever, right? Isn't that the way it always should be? Please, Lucy, tell me we live in a world where people remain faithful in spite of all discouragement. Tell me we live in a world in which you will always love me.

Schroeder, in an acute panic, began running after the departing van.

"Lucy!" he cried, waving his arms frantically.

Seconds later, the van came to a halt.

"Lucy," Schroeder repeated as Lucy hopped out and ran toward him. They met each other about twenty yards behind the van, which idled on the road.

"You have something you want to tell me?" Lucy said with a smile.

"I. I." Schroeder fumbled with the words. He could not articulate what he was feeling at that moment.

We are like family. I don't want it to end.

"I'll miss you," he said softly.

"You really mean it, Schroeder? You ran after me to tell me that? You're so sweet."

Lucy hugged Schroeder, and Schroeder put his arms around her.

"It's meant to be," Lucy whispered to him dreamily. "Remember what I've told you. We're going to be married one day, I just know it. And I'm always right!"

They separated, and Lucy turned her head sideways and leaned toward Schroeder.

"Won't you kiss me goodbye?"

Schroeder hesitated. As usual, Lucy was babbling about the two of them falling in love and getting married. It was so annoying. They were only kids.

But she was moving far away. He might not see her again for a long time. Nothing would ever be the same without her. Schroeder imagined playing endless hours at his piano and looking up, expecting to see Lucy gazing at him in admiration, and instead seeing no one. It made him feel emptiness in his soul. This was just a goodbye kiss. No harm in that, right?

Blushing, Schroeder closed his eyes, leaned in, and kissed her on the cheek. In that gentle kiss, Schroeder quietly told her that they were friends, and that in growing up and playing together, they shared a bond that nothing on earth could destroy.

Moments later, Lucy turned and walked back to the van. She got in and they drove away into the sunset, as Schroeder watched silently.

"We'll meet again," he heard her voice speaking from within him as sounds of the van's engines faded into the twilight. "I promise."