I plopped down on my bed, depressed. I wouldn’t ever see this roof again. I looked out the window at the oak tree’s shimmering golden leaves and drank in the beautiful view. I wouldn’t ever see my yard again, nor any of my friends. I wouldn’t be able to play in the giant oak tree in our backyard with Sue and Fiona, and I’d never be able to take Mr. Bones for walks in our neighborhood again. (Mr. Bones is our dog.) I had taken a break in the process of packing and was absentmindedly picking up my walkie-talkie. I looked down at my hand.
I’d better give this to Sue and Fiona. I won’t be able to use it anymore, I thought, my eyes filling with tears. They were so upset when I told them I was moving away, and where would I ever find friends like them again? I swallowed down my tears and put the walkie-talkie on the windowsill, where I wouldn’t lose it. Then I continued with my packing. I was taking bag after bag downstairs, feeling more and more discouraged with every step I took. When I was packing my books into a bag, I heard a voice calling to me from outside the window.
“Hey Beth? I know you’re up there, aren’t you going to talk to your best friends before you leave?” I smiled despite myself. Sue was one of the only people that could lift my spirits in a time like this. The only other person was…
“C’mon down, Beth! We have something for you!” Fiona called. Her soft voice sounded rather excited.
I was really happy as I stuck my head outside the window and called out, “I’ll be right down!” I fairly flew down the stairs and yelled to my mom as I went down, “I’m taking a break!”
“Be back by…” she started, but I was already gone.
I ran outside and hugged each of them. They seemed really excited about something. “ What’re you so excited about,” I teased them, “waiting for me to be gone so you can have the tree house to yourselves?”
Fiona’s face looked much more downcast. “You know we’re probably not going to be able to use the tree house, since only adults are moving into your house.”
“Besides, it would be pointless without you,” Sue chattered away, “and we’ve got something for you to remember us by.” She opened her backpack, which was lying on the ground behind her. “We each got a copy of it, but we wanted you to have the original.” I saw her pull out a big book with a purple cover. It looked like a picture book, but when I looked at it more closely, I saw it was a scrapbook, filled with pictures of me and Sue and Fiona. I was so lost in memories when I looked through it that I forgot they were standing there watching me.
“Do you like it?” Fiona asked, pulling me back to reality.
“It’s the best present I’ve ever gotten in my life,” I said honestly, and they both beamed.
“And another thing,” I said rather sadly. “I’d better give you back my walkie-talkie, in case you want to give it to somebody else…” I trailed off as I saw them staring at me.
“Gee, maybe it’s a good thing you’re moving, I wouldn’t want all that thick-headedness to rub off on me,” Sue said in the most sarcastic tone possible. “Honestly, Beth, you don’t think we’d take back your walkie-talkie, do you? We couldn’t replace you in a million years, and you should know that by now.”
“But it won’t work so far away—stop it, what’re you smiling about?” I laughed at the dopey faces they were giving me.
“Of course they won’t work so far away, but what if you move back? What if you’re passing by our town and want to surprise us? What if you want something besides the scrapbook to remember us by? What if… well, you get the point.” Fiona looked at me seriously. “We’ll always keep in touch, remember, all for one and one for all.”
I smiled even wider as Fiona recited our motto. “All right, I get it.”
“Beth, you have to finish packing! We’re leaving tomorrow!” My mother’s voice drifted out the window and the grin slipped off my face.
“Well, I’d better go.”
I turned to go inside and Sue called after me, “We’ll meet you tomorrow at six in the tree house!”
I waved at her to show I heard and trudged up to my room to finish packing.
* * *
The next morning, I woke up to the sound of my alarm buzzing. I glanced at it. It was five-thirty. I got up and got dressed as silently as possible, and then I snuck out the window to where the oak tree’s branches swayed in the wind. I clambered down the branches and swung into the tree house. A few minutes later I heard footsteps and whispering below me. “Horseshoes!” I let down the rope ladder and Sue and Fiona climbed up.
“I would have come up before,” Sue said with a frown, “but right outside your house I forgot the password, and I decided to wait for Fiona to get it, since I saw her walking up the sidewalk anyway.”
I was too sad to be in the mood for laughing. I tried and it came out like a half-hearted snort. They looked at me rather oddly but seemed to understand.
“OK, so we called this emergency meeting because we need to say goodbye, and we have a special way of doing it.” Fiona immediately cut to the chase.
“Don’t be vague, Fiona, tell us what’s on your mind.” Sue rolled her eyes and I smiled faintly, rather curious.
“We want to show you something,” said Sue. “We don’t have much time, and so you’d better hurry.” We all climbed down as fast as we could, and I was burning with curiosity.
“It’s down in the old forest.” We ran down the block and onto the path on the side of the road that very few people knew was there. “We’re almost there,” Sue murmured. Suddenly we were there. I stopped in my tracks and just stared, amazed.
“Wh- when did you find this?” I stammered. There, in front of me, was a beautiful field of pinkish-white flowers, and in it were hundreds and hundreds of baby-blue butterflies fluttering lazily from flower to flower.
“A few weeks ago, when you told us you were leaving,” Fiona said. “I was so upset I ran into the forest to be alone, and I stumbled across this. I showed it to Sue, and we agreed this would be a wonderful going-away present.”
She was right. No one had ever had a better going-away present than I did that day. We sat there for about half an hour, mesmerized by the beauty of it all, before Sue suggested that we go back before our parents started to worry. So we left, and said a tearful goodbye, and within an hour, I was on a plane going to Michigan. A few hours after that, I saw for the first time the house I was going to live in. It was a big, two-story house with lots of windows and three huge pine trees in the backyard. I looked sadly at the house, and then I saw the most extraordinary thing. A small, baby-blue butterfly fluttered past me and I watched it disappear into the trees in the distance. I stared at the spot it had disappeared for a moment, then, clutching a purple-bound book, I went inside my new house with a new sense of happiness.