Lucas yawned as he trudged down the stairs, no longer wearing his itchy work uniform. He’d just returned home from a long shift at the restaurant to find that both of his parents had gone to bed early.
That’ll give me a couple of hours with Ev, at least. He’d thought. This had been a busy week for Lucas, and he hadn’t been seeing Evelyn nearly as much as he wanted to.
He took a brief detour on his way outside (stopping in the kitchen for a quick snack) when he felt a vibration in his pocket. The shock almost made him jump. It was nearly 11:30 – Who would be calling him at this hour? Lucas glanced down at the phone in his hand and saw Noah’s name on the caller ID.
The boy shook his head in amusement as he lifted the phone to his ear. “What the hell, dude?” Lucas asked, not bothering with a proper greeting.
“Well hello to you too.” Noah responded sarcastically, laughing. “I knew you’d still be up.”
“Yeah, no thanks to you.” Lucas’ sarcasm matched his friend’s. Of course, he neglected to mention that he would have been awake no matter what. “What’s up?”
“You doing anything this weekend?”
“Uh… no.” Lucas replied lamely.
“Wrong. You’re going camping. We’ll pick you up tomorrow.”
“Wait, wait… Camping? And who’s ‘we’?” Lucas shook his head. Typical Noah…
“You, me, Sam, Camryn, Laura…” Noah rattled off the names quickly. “I guess you can bring your imaginary friend along too, if you want.” He teased.
Lucas rolled his eyes, annoyed. It had been over a year since he’d even bothered trying to mention Evelyn to his friends, but they still liked to give him hell for it.
“We’re heading up to Granite Falls. Sam’s parents rented out a campsite. You ever been?” His friend continued.
“Not since I was a kid.” Lucas’ mouth stretched into a smile. He’d always wanted to go back.
“Sweet. Better get packing, man.” Noah replied cheerfully. “Oh, and my parents are gone this weekend, so I’ll be providing the, uh, refreshments.” He added. “See you tomorrow.”
Lucas returned the phone to his pocket, a mixture of excitement and nervousness welling up inside him. Excitement because this would be his first weekend away with his friends ever. Nervousness because he knew exactly what “refreshments” Noah was talking about. They’d snuck a couple of beers before when Noah’s parents weren’t home, but this would be different. Somehow, the more Lucas thought about it, the more his nervousness was replaced by excitement and anticipation.
I can’t wait to tell Evelyn about this…
As expected, he found her floating silently beside her grave.
“Hey, stranger.” She said playfully, greeting him with a flirtatious smile.
Lucas felt weak in the knees when he looked at her, as always. “Hey.” He replied, composing himself and remembering what he needed to tell her. He had been so excited to share the good news with her, but Lucas found himself hesitating. It felt like he’d been neglecting her a lot lately – how would she feel if he spent the entire weekend without her?
“Look,” Lucas began seriously. “Don’t be mad, okay?”
“Oh no, what did you do this time?” Evelyn teased.
“Hey, I’m serious… I, uh… I think I’m going away this weekend… So you won’t be seeing me for a couple days.”
Evelyn hesitated for the briefest moment, but showed no hint of dismay. “Oh, that’s all? Jeez, don’t scare me like that!”
“So you don’t mind? I mean, we’ve barely seen each other since last weekend…”
“I’m pretty sure I can handle it.” The ghost laughed softly. “I can’t even remember the last time you had big plans like this… Where are you going?”
“Granite Falls.” Lucas replied excitedly. “I haven’t been there since I was little!”
Evelyn’s face fell slightly. “Camping? You’re so lucky. I’ve always wanted to go…”
“It’s amazing.” Lucas gushed, remembering the time his parents had taken him when he was barely 10 years old. “There are trees taller than my house! And everything’s so pretty — the water in the river is crystal clear, and if you think the stars are beautiful here, just imagine what they’re like out there…” He stopped himself abruptly as he saw the look on Evelyn’s face. “Sorry.” Lucas muttered sadly.
It was times like these when things were the most difficult. When he wished things could be normal between them. He wished she could meet his friends. He wished he could take her with him.
It’s not fair… He thought. But, alas, as Evelyn so often liked to remind him, nothing in life ever was.
He sighed softly. “I wish you could come…”
“Me too.” Evelyn agreed. She reached out gently for Lucas’ hands, taking great care as she held them in hers. “I’ll miss you.” The girl said, serious. “But I’ll be fine. Go have fun with your friends. Just promise to tell me all about it when you get back, okay?”
“Of course.” Lucas smiled, then wrapped his arms around her as gently as he could, pulling Evelyn close. “You’re the best. Thanks for understanding…” He whispered. “I love you.”
Lucas could almost feel the cool breath of her reply tickling his ear. “Of course… I love you, too.”