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A Flower for My Love

"We have plenty of time," April said, dragging me up the hill.
We were in our blue and grey school uniforms and I had thought we were on our way to school when she had insisted on this detour.
"April, today is the testing," I said, "We can't afford to miss it."
Our alien masters, the Oinzu, had set up an annual exam of 15-year-olds, some said to test our intelligence and some speculated that they tested our character. But what was certain was that it would qualify a student for the Oinzu Novitiate, a training course that lasted for 3 years. I had been feeling sick the whole week just thinking about it. What if they chose me, or April?
April laughed, and practically bounded up the hill. I wanted to resist, but the sight of her had always had me spun around, since the very first day I met her five years before. She finally stopped at a large boulder near the hill's peak. She swept her fiery red hair back with one hand then looked at me.
"Is this why you brought me up here? To look at a boulder," I asked, raising an eyebrow.
April laughed.
"No, silly. I wanted you to see what's growing beside it."
I peeked to the side of the boulder and saw a pink flowering plant with a long neck and large leaves.
"What is that?" I asked.
"It's a karoo lily. I planted it recently," she said, turning and taking my hands. "To celebrate us."
I looked to the plant and then at her and without a word placed my hand at the back of her head and pulled her close for a kiss. Her lips opened against mine and she gripped me tight. We stayed like that for a while, until I felt moisture on my cheeks. Drawing back I saw that April was crying.
"What's wrong?" I said.
April laughed, until she hiccuped, which made her laugh even harder. She wiped the tears from her cheeks.
"Nothing I just love you T," she said.
"All right."
"We should go," she said, moving as if to descend the hill.
I tugged on her arm.
"What's your rush?" I said.
April smiled, approaching me and leaning in as we kissed again. We descended the hill minutes later at a run. Our school was down the street from our houses, and when we had left home, we had been left with forty minutes until the bell. It rang when we were at least ten meters away. Its sound was loud enough to be heard by the whole neighborhood. I remember April turning to me as we ran, tears flying from her eyes, but smiling. The test isn't something I remember, the Oinzu having erased the details from my mind, so I can't say whether it tested my character or anything else, but it doesn't matter. April was chosen for the Oinzu Novitiate that day. 3 long years, and maybe she would return, but most graduates ended up being sent to the Oinzu home world as ambassadors.
I returned to our hill often after she left to tend the lily, and to think of her. I realized she had known what was going to happen. There had been rumors that the testing was a farce. That the Oinzu knew who they wanted, and told them before the day. I also knew she couldn't have said no. The Oinzu were never ones to ask.
I still remember her stopping at the school gates, and hugging me in front of the scandalized teacher waiting to receive students. She had whispered into my ear.
"We were never going to make it."
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, June 15th, 2022
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