We Leave Them There
by "The Enduring Man-Child"
All standard disclaimers apply.
Kim and Ron had heard of this place but had never been here. It was only peripherally a part of their world, anyway—it was only in the Milne original and never in the Disney films. They had never thought of coming here before. They weren't sure why they were here now. They knew only that it was a place of Sadness and Farewells, and they felt drawn to it. No, they were not compelled to come. They decided that for themselves.
"I don't see what's so 'enchanted' about this place," Ron said, Rufus agreeing with him with a nod of the head and an "Uh-hmm! Uh-hmm!"
"The book says that it's a magical place," Kim reminded him. "It's because you can never count the trees for some strange reason. You always get mixed up and have to start over before you're done."
"That's not magic," Ron told her.
"What is it?" Kim asked.
"I don't know! But it's not magic!" he insisted. "Maybe that's because he's just a kid. Maybe he can't count past a certain number. I'll bet we can count the trees here!"
Kim looked at him a little sadly. "Why would you ever want to do that, Ron?"
"Well, to show there's nothing 'enchanted' about this place!" he snapped, quite out of character. "Look, I'll show you!" And he began counting: "One, two, three, four..."
Kim wasn't even listening at this point. A cool wind blew up suddenly—a wind more suitable for autumn than for late spring—and she hunched her shoulders as a tear slid down her cheek.
Ron had stopped counting now. He hadn't finished, but he couldn't for the life of him decide if he had counted all the trees or if he had mistakenly counted some of them twice, not knowing where to stop. Where did one stop counting these trees? After a while they all seemed to blur together and look alike. Did he begin with this one? No, he hadn't counted this one before. Or had he?
"KP?" he asked her, concern in his voice.
"I'm sad, Ron," she explained to him without his even asking. "Don't you feel it too?
"I don't know; I really haven't thought about it," he said, scratching his head. Come to think of it, I do feel...how do I describe it? Sort of 'pinched' on the inside. I feel old...very, very old. And now the trees look old, and they're not quite as green as they were a moment ago, and...yes, Kim. I feel it now. The sadness."
They stood for a short time without words, looking at the ground as another sudden wind blew a dead leaf past their feet. Where had that come from? Was it not the very pinnacle of spring?
At last Kim broke the silence.
"Ron, I hate to sound like a frightened little girl...but would you hug me please?"
"Sure. Sure, KP. You know I will." And he prepared to hug her when she enveloped him, put her head to his shoulder, and sobbed as if her heart had been broken. This was a most unusual experience for Ron. It made him feel most uncomfortable and he didn't know what to do. So for a while he just stood there—being there for her, letting her cry until her sobs, though still coming, were dry. At last they subsided.
"Kim? Are...are you all right? I knew it was a mistake coming here. This isn't in our world at all. We...we could be in danger or something."
"No Ron, we're not in any danger," Kim said at last. "And we needed to come here. We had to come here. Both of us."
"Hey!" Rufus stuck his head out of Ron's cargo pocket.
"The three of us," she corrected.
Suddenly the sky, which had been bright and sunny, became less so as a cloud passed over and another wind come up, blowing even more dead leaves. Where were they coming from? Was it fall all of a sudden?
"Now I'm scared, KP," Ron said.
"What if we can't get back? What if we can't leave here? What if we're trapped here in this sad place? What if we're stuck here...forever?"
Kim blew her nose on a tissue she pulled out of a pocket.
"No, Ron. We're not stuck here. But I think," she added, deep in thought, "that we won't get home right away. It will take a while. But that's all right. We don't have to go home right away. I don't think it would be good for us. Let's stay here for awhile. When...when we feel better we'll go home."
"Whatever you say, KP," Ron said. He trusted her implicitly and always let her call the shots. And especially in this unfamiliar place that seemed like a good idea.
"Let's sit down," Kim suggested.
The two of them walked to one of the trees and sat down on the ground, their backs against the trunk.
"Kim? What I said before...about feeling so old. I don't think that feeling will ever go away. It might get better, but I'm afraid it'll always be there...that I'll never be the same as I was before."
"We probably won't be," she told him. "But..."
"I know," he finished for her. "I understand. Or at least I think I do."
They sat in silence.
Up to this point all my Kim Possible fics have been beta'd by cpneb. This one was not, nor shall any other ever be again, because on the tenth day of last month (5/10/2010) cpneb, the friend I never met, left this world. He left behind a loving family, aching hearts in the Kimmunity, and, as always for a user, a "ghost in the machine."
This story, poor as it is, is written in dedication to him. Its setting is the "enchanted place" in the Hundred Aker Wood in the final chapter of A.A. Milne's The House at Pooh Corner—the place Christopher Robin, now growing up and leaving behind his stuffed animal friends, goes to say good-bye to them. Although there is nothing explicit in the story about the situation that inspired it, it is intended, however poorly, to convoke a downbeat, dreamlike atmosphere and the unreality of bereavement.
Time will pass. I will feel better. But I will never feel the same.