"Then let's stay here until midnight."
I opened my mouth to protest, but Ren placed a finger on my lips.
"I don't want to worry your parents. You can visit me for the rest of the week, right? We still have time."
I frowned, but nodded to show that I understood. It really hurt to admit it, but Ren was right. If I worried my parents, then having the police on my trail was the minimum of what would happen.
"Good girl." Ren kissed my cheek and pulled me down to sit on the grass. Ren had me sit in between his outstretched legs. I leaned back against his chest and inhaled his familar scent. Like always, he smelled like spring, fresh and clean.
We laced our fingers together and talked about the past year to make up for lost time. We were so engrossed in our conversation that midnight came before we knew it. Ren tenderly fingered my hair ornament before we separated.
"You wore it." He smirked.
I pouted. "Of course I did. I promised to wear it every year."
"Wear it again next year." Ren leaned towards me and kissed the ornament. I chuckled.
"I will even if you never told me to."
We embraced, said our goodbyes, and separated for the night.
The week went by just as quickly. I gave Ren a tour of the city, pointing out places that had changed in the past year. We laughed as we rode on roller coasters in the local amusement park, ate icecream sundaes in a cafe, killed time by trying on clothes in the mall, and spent evenings resting in front of the cherry tree.
On the last day, we decided to stay in the clearing. Ren held me close to him as we relaxed on the grass.
"It's time for me to go soon," he muttered.
My voice hitched. I could feel a heavy lump in my throat.
"I know," I whispered. After a moment of silence, Ren let go of me and stood up. He walked slowly towards the edge of the clearing and looked out silently at the horizon. Then he turned towards me with a sad smile on his face.
"My time's up."
I shook my head vigorously. I didn't want to accept it. No, I wasn't going to accept it. I jumped up, ran towards him, and embraced him from behind.
"Don't go." I felt premature tears threatening to roll down my cheeks.
"You know I always hate to leave you," Ren whispered.
"Just don't go!" I cried. "Don't leave me behind! Just....don't...go..." I lost control of myself. My body shook as I sobbed.
"I have to. Any longer and I'll be in trouble." Ren gently pulled away from me and walked closer to the edge of the clearing, which dropped into a steep cliff. I reached out to stop him, but before my fingers could grip his arm, Ren jumped.
"Ren!" I couldn't believe what had happened. My knees gave out, and I slid down to the grass. This happened every year, but each one always felt like the first.
I looked up. Ren was floating in front of me like a ghost, or a spirit. There was a pained expression on his face that I knew all too well. His body lit up with a white aura.
"I forgot to give you something. Here." He reached for my hand and placed a cherry blossom pendant on it. "Wear this next year," he added. I smiled through my tears.
"I love you, Kaya." Ren leaned down and gently placed his lips over mine. I closed me eyes and responded. It was a simple kiss, but it was all the world to me. After a while, I opened my eyes. Ren was no longer there. Instead, cherry blossom petals danced before me in the evening wind. I turned around and looked at the cherry tree, now bare. Its season had come and gone, and with it, fleeting life.
"Until next time," a faint voice whispered. I closed my eyes and hugged the pendant to my chest.
"Until next time...I love you."