Thanks for reading and reviewing everyone!
Woo, I finally updated. Hopefully the next one won't take so long :')
For All We Know
Rosemary was searching for the ocean. It was near; she could smell the salt in the air and hear the sound of the waves crashing rhythmically against the shoreline, like it was calling out for her, urging her to move quicker.
She reached the end of the path which overlooked the beach. There were familiar faces everywhere, her aunts and uncles – but not really; only Uncle Kevin was Mama's real brother – who were in the middle of setting up for the Summer Festival.
Every year, Rosemary and her family went to the festival. There was no better way to spend a summer day, eating homemade ice cream on the beach and swimming in the sea, before night-time came and fireworks lit up the sky. At this rate, though, they were in danger of missing out on all the fun.
Rosemary spun around on heel and called out, "C'mon Mama, hurry!"
Her words had no effect on her mother's pace. She came slowly plodding down the street, with a large picnic basket hanging on the crook of her elbow and five-year-old Oliver clinging to her other hand.
"What's the rush?" Mama asked when she'd caught up.
"All the good places will be taken if we don't hurry," Rosemary replied matter-of-factly, doing an impatient dance on the spot.
Mama just laughed, "There's plenty of beach for everyone, Rosie."
"But Heath's waiting for us!"
Rosemary wasted no more time, taking off across the beach. It was a little difficult to run; her feet sunk into the sand with every step, leaving a trail of deep footprints behind her. Familiar voices called out greetings but nothing would slow Rosemary down. Not until she found her best friend.
Halfway to the shore, she paused and took a moment to scan the beach. A flash of green hair – there he was, sitting beneath an umbrella on the sand, with Uncle Calvin keeping watch nearby.
Rosemary took a deep breath and cupped her hands around her mouth, "Heeeeath…!"
Heath's head shot up at the sound of his name. Their gazes locked. He jumped to his feet and threw both his arms in the air, waving vigorously.
The next moment, Rosemary had tackled her best friend to the ground in a hug, which quickly turned into a wrestling/tickling match that lasted until they both collapsed in a giggling heap in the sand.
"Where do they get so much energy?" Mama sighed, with a shake of her head. Uncle Calvin just laughed, moving forward to help her with the heavy picnic basket. The adults started setting up another blanket and umbrella, but they were taking far too long for the kids, who were quickly becoming fidgety and impatient.
"Mamaaa, when can we go swimming?" Rosemary whined.
"After we eat lunch," Her mother said patiently.
"When will that beeee?"
"Can we go play until then?" Oliver asked.
Rosemary and Heath were on their feet before another word could leave Mama's mouth and already started making their way further down the shore when she finished her sentence – "But stay where I can see you! And don't go near the water!"
Well, there was no fun in that.
Restricted to such a small patch of shore, Rosemary gazed wistfully at the ocean. It was so close, yet so far away! Maybe she could try dipping her toes into the water… Mama wouldn't get too mad about that, would she?
"What do you guys wanna do?" Heath asked.
"There's nothing to do," Rosemary huffed.
Oliver thought for a minute, "Let's make a sandcastle!"
"That sounds like fun," Heath agreed, "Let's make the biggest sandcastle on the island!"
"No, let's make a sandcastle bigger than the whole island!"
Heath and Oliver looked at Rosemary, waiting for her to jump in. She could only roll her eyes – boys were so easily amused sometimes.
"Don't you want to help, Rosie?" Oliver asked his sister.
"Sandcastles are for babies."
Oliver frowned, "No it's not!"
"It is so, you baby."
His lip trembled, "I-I'm not a baby!"
"Hey, we need some seashells to decorate our castle, don't we Ollie?" Heath quickly cut in. He gave his best friend an imploring look, "Maybe Rosemary will find some for us? Please?"
Rosemary pouted. Whose side was he on anyway?
Then again, she could never say no when he looked at her like that.
"…Fine," She surrendered.
The boys dropped to their knees and started digging a hole, while Rosemary wandered off along the shore again.
Finding seashells turned out to be more difficult than she thought; she walked all the way to the other side of the beach and halfway back again, but saw nothing but rocks scattered across the sand. From this spot she had a view of where her family had settled down for the day: Heath and Oliver were still at work building their sandcastle and the adults were talking. Their conversation drifted over on the wind.
"So where's Chase?" Uncle Calvin asked.
Mama was setting out their lunch – Daddy had made everything before he left for work this morning, since he wouldn't be joining them until later tonight. She replied without looking up, "Working. A shift at the inn before the festival starts."
"He always seems to be working, doesn't he?" Calvin noted. He paused for a second, and then added, "Sorry, I didn't mean it like that."
"No… it's true. He loves his job."
There was silence for a little while, before Mama spoke up again.
"What about Phoebe?"
"Oh, she's helping out with the fireworks display…" Uncle Calvin replied, "Hopefully nothing will blow up tonight."
Mama muffled a giggle with her palm. Rosemary felt herself frown. Lunch would never be ready at this rate; they'd be stuck building sandcastles for the rest of the day!
Rosemary kicked at a stone in frustration, the force of it sending a sand cloud up into the air. Something else was caught in the crossfire; a white object that caught her eye as it went skipping into the sea. Finally a seashell! Forgetting about Mama's rule, she chased after the shell and managed to rescue before it met a watery demise.
With the low tide lapping at her toes, she wiped away the stray wet sand granules. When it was clean, Rosemary held it up to the sun, admiring the way the light bounced off its surface.
A heart-shaped seashell that was almost the size of her palm – it was so unusual, she'd never seen anything like it before. Feeling like an explorer who had just unearthed a long-lost artefact, she clutched the heart shaped shell tightly in her hand and rushed back to Heath and her brother.
The boys hadn't made a lot of progress on their sandcastle; it was still only a small mound of sand, but now there was a shallow moat around the perimeter.
Heath looked up just in time to see Rosemary running towards them. "Rosie, you're back already–?"
"Check this out!" Rosemary exclaimed before he could say another word. The shell was all but shoved into Heath's face.
His blue eyes lit up and the sandcastle was forgotten – even Oliver stopped digging to glance over. "Wow, this is cool!" Handling it with care, Heath examined the seashell from all angles, "I wonder what kind of animal it came from? And why is it shaped like a heart? Did you know it's not really the ocean you hear when you hold a seashell to your ear? The noises around you bounce off the inside of the shell and sound louder!"
Rosemary could only smile at her best friend's excitement. Some of the other meaner kids in their class – like Roy – made fun of Heath for being a nerd, and maybe he was, but it's not like there was anything bad with that.
"You can have it," She said.
"Really?" Heath frowned a little, "But you found it. It's your treasure."
Rosemary shrugged, "But you're my best friend."
For the rest of the day, they worked at building the biggest sandcastle on the island, had lunch and then went swimming. Heath had a smile on his face the whole time. And when Heath smiled, it made her heart explode with joy, like fireworks lighting up the dark night sky.
When Heath didn't show up for school one day, Rosemary told herself it was nothing to worry about. Then, another day went by, and then another and there was still no sign of him. Maybe he was sick; maybe he had more important things to do – as the end of the month grew nearer, she knew he and his family would become busier and busier as they prepared for their move to another country – or maybe it was her fault. Rosemary even went to the extent of banishing Oliver to another table, hoping that the empty seat next to her would somehow bring her best friend back to school.
If he would come back at all.
What if he had already left the island, without saying goodbye? Her heart ached at the thought of never speaking to her best friend again.
But this was what she wanted, wasn't it?
Yet another school day had come to an end and Rosemary found herself alone. Oliver had left with Lucy and her dad since he was staying over at her house tonight. Even having their room all to herself for the night wasn't enough to lift her spirits. With her head hung low, Rosemary slowly followed the familiar path through the Maple Lake District.
"Hey, Romy! Wait up!"
Rosemary spun around. She was surprised to see Roy, of all people, running towards her with his arm outstretched in a wave. What did he want?
Once, Roy wasn't so bad. Aunt Kathy and Mama were good friends, and when they were younger, they had play dates at each other's houses every week. That all changed when they turned ten and Roy turned into a jerk. Now he teased and taunted Heath for no reason and never acknowledged Rosemary's existence at school. (One time, Roy even tripped Oliver in the playground; Rosemary kicked him where it hurt and Uncle Gill gave her a detention for it.)
Pretending she didn't hear, Rosemary continued on her way. But Roy was persistent. He started jogging after her, until he eventually caught up to her.
"Hey Romy," Roy said with a toothy grin. There were girls in their class who would've swooned at the sight (like Vivian, but she'd never admit it). Rosemary thought his two big front teeth made him look a bit like a rabbit.
Again, she ignored him, staring straight ahead.
"How come you're walking home by yourself?" Roy asked.
"Lucy said Oliver was staying over at her house."
He wasn't going to stop talking.
"Where's Heath? I haven't seen him around lately."
"…I dunno," Rosemary finally muttered.
Roy's smile widened, satisfied that he'd managed to get a response. Would it be unfair to kick him again?
"But you guys are always together," He prodded, "Did you have a fight?"
She almost did kick him that time. "It's none of your business," She said through gritted teeth.
At least, Roy attempted to look guilty, "Sorry…"
There was silence after that, for so long that it became okay for Roy to be walking beside her. Soon enough, they would be heading off into different directions and everything would return to normal.
"So is it true you two are going out?"
The remark brought her to a sudden halt.
"W-Where did you hear that?" Rosemary demanded.
Roy blinked innocently. "Vivian," He said.
Of course, she would be dumb enough to think that.
Her cheeks felt hot. "Well, it's not true," She mumbled.
"Really?" Roy didn't sound too convinced, but luckily he didn't press it any further. "Still, it's gotta suck that your best friend is moving away."
Rosemary lowered her head. She didn't want to talk about it anymore, not with Mama or Daddy, and especially not with dumb Roy. Her annoyance returned and she brushed past him, breaking into a brisk walk.
Roy just sped up. He cut her off, moving backwards as he tried to meet her eyes straight on. "I can be your new best friend, if you want," He said, "Y'know, after Heath leaves–"
Anger surging, Rosemary struck out. She shoved him away and Roy tripped over his heels, landing on his backside with a dull thud.
"What makes you think I'd want that?" She shouted, "You haven't spoken to me in like two years! Why are you suddenly being so nice to me?"
Roy groaned as he pushed himself back on his feet. Rosemary forced herself to take some steady breaths. Tears were beginning to sting at the back of her eyelids and she tried focusing on their surroundings, hoping the other boy wouldn't notice her upset. Which wasn't a great idea; they had stopped right in front of Heath's house.
Roy was smart enough to keep quiet for a while. When he did speak again, he was suddenly more subdued, more serious, "I just thought you needed some cheering up. You look so sad all of the time… like now, you look like you're about to cry!"
She rubbed at her eyes, "S-Shut up."
"I've always thought you were cool, Romy," Roy told her earnestly, "And you're pretty cute too."
The blush returned to her face.
"W-What does that have to do with anything?" Rosemary squeaked.
Roy shrugged, "I'm just saying. You and Heath have been best friends for like, ever, and he seriously never tried to kiss you or anything?"
Rosemary mouthed indignantly until she found her voice, "T-That's so gross! I could never like Heath like that–"
"Um, Romy…" Roy was pointing to something behind her.
In that moment, time slowed to a trickle. She didn't have to look; she knew exactly who had overheard her hurtful words. If she kept her eyes forward, if she didn't glance over her shoulder, she would never have to see how deep those words wounded him. But she did.
Rosemary turned around, gazing across the front garden where she had spent so many of days playing, imagining, exploring with her best friend.
And Heath stared back at her, his blue eyes heavy with sadness.
Her lips parted, but she found no words on them.
Heath gave her a weak smile, before he retreated towards his house. She watched him reach the door and disappear inside.
There were still no words.
It took fifteen boxes to pack away Heath's room. How many boxes, he wondered, would it take to pack away the whole universe?
Dad said he couldn't take everything with him when they moved – old toys and clothes were to be thrown away or stored at his grandparent's house, and he had to pick only his most favourite adventure books to bring along. At first, it was too difficult to separate the important from the unimportant, so Dad helped him sort through each item, one by one.
"What kind of stuff do you cherish, Dad?" Heath had asked him one evening.
Dad had paused and tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Hmm… well, there's my hat, and my guitar, and my memories…" He picked up the box he was packing away and carried it over to where the others were piled up on the other side of the room. "But you know what I cherish most?"
Heath tilted his head, "No… what?"
"You and your mother, of course!" Dad ruffled Heath's hair, "No matter where I go, I'll always have you guys with me, here." He placed a hand on the left side of his chest; his heart.
Nothing in Heath's room was more important than Rosemary. She was older than him by six months, like a sister but better. She was a few inches taller and always seemed to be one step ahead of him. Heath had to try extra hard to keep up with her, but he never really could. Now their paths were diverging, and their promise to stay together had been shattered forever.
One day, while digging around under his bed for the last scraps that needed to be packed away, he found a long lost treasure amongst the dusty toys and clothes.
A heart-shaped seashell. He remembered when Rosemary found this, a few years ago at the Summer Festival. The memory simultaneously brought a smile to his face and heaviness to his heart. This year there would be no day at the beach, no swimming in the sea, no fireworks at night. But it was things like these, important mementos, which would never let him forget.
It was the most perfect idea.
With Mum's help, Heath separated the shell into two perfectly equal parts, drilled a small hole into the top of each piece and threaded a line of string through it. A necklace made from a portion of his heart.
As soon as the necklace was completed, Heath wanted to run over to Rosemary's house and give it to her, but the timing wouldn't be right. They hadn't spoken in so long, and it hurt him more than anything to see his best friend so angry and upset. But like Dad told him, Rosemary just needed to be alone for a little longer.
Heath would wait for her and for the moment he could give her the necklace. She would know then, how he felt.
No matter where he lived, no matter how far apart they may be, Rosemary would forever be in his heart.