In Central Park stands the oldest tree in the world, but you wouldn’t know just by looking at it. There is nothing remarkable about it. In fact, aside from the set of carven initials on the side, it would look exactly like the others. That, and the stupid tree refuses to die.
Rachel had tried nearly everything. Fire, termites, disease, and every brand of axe she could get her hands on since the late 1800s. There was no killing it. She had resigned herself to the fact years ago. The dead witch’s magic held true through the centuries. So now here she stood, 146 years later, looking at the elm that ruined her existence.
Existence, because ‘life’ sounded too human. She was timeless, immortal. Nothing had changed about her since the fated night she agreed to carve her initials into a cursed tree. The worst part of the curse wasn’t the endless drifting through time like you think it would, instead it turned out to be the person the second pair initials belonged to. The bane of her existence.
“Thinking of your next plan?” The Bane asked in his deep voice, though he preferred to go by Will.
They both wore jeans, dark blue coats, and long grey scarfs. Matching outfits weren’t coincidence, they were fated, and fate hated them. From afar they looked like a couple out for a last-minute walk in the park. It always happened like that. Some uncontrollable need would bring them together once a year to stand beneath the tree. It made hating each other from afar impossible.
She snorted. “If you keep talking, I’m willing to bet it would kill itself all on its own.” She pulled her coat tighter around her. The air was cold and in a few hours the ground would be covered by the first blizzard of the season. The storm was a ticking time bomb, one she didn’t want to be caught in. Tradition brought her here, the anniversary made her stay until he showed up.
“After all these years, you’re still as obnoxious as the day I met you.”
“Only then you found it endearing.” She loved reminding him of their past because he hated it. She didn’t care. The past happened, she’s not going to stand there and pretend it didn’t.
Pretend like they were always timeless.
Pretend like they always hated each other.
Will looked up to the sky and sighed. The horizon darkened with every minute. The cold and snow wouldn’t kill them because nothing seemed to, but hypothermia did suck.
He pulled out two matching flasks and handed one to Rachel. Their last night as human started this way. Bad alcohol, bad company, and a tree that wouldn’t die. All that was missing was a burning passion for the other. Burning hate would have to suffice.
He lifted his flask. “To forever.”
“To forever,” she matched the gesture, “may your drinks always be the wrong
“And may all your socks be damp.” They struck their containers together and took a long drink. Their exchange didn’t create actual curses, they were more like old insults traded between old enemies.
They couldn’t be killed, and the other had often tried. One decade Rachel had pushed Will off a bridge. It had taken his body a week to pull itself back together so he could break himself out of the morgue. He had gotten her back of course, a few years later she went bungy jumping and the rope miraculously broke. It had taken her a bit longer than a week to become whole again. They hadn’t pulled any deadly pranks recently, the game had lost its glamor a few years ago.
A strong gust of wind lifted Rachel’s hair from her shoulders. She handed the flask back to Will. “See you next year.” She turned the opposite direction of him and started walking.
“That’s all you’ve got to say?” Will caught up with her.
“Is there something else?” She raised her eyebrow. “It’s not like I enjoy our little talks and it’s going to snow soon.”
They continued to walk in silence as the sounds of traffic grew louder. She stopped on the edge of the curb. Cars and buses zoomed by with no care to the world next to them. She expected Will to pop up beside her, instead she sensed him stop directly behind her.
Turning on her heel, she found that he was standing close enough for her to feel his breath on her face. He lifted his hands to her hips and leaned down. Her mind froze and refused to let her move away.
When he spoke his lips brush against hers. “Farewell, I hope someone misses you,” his grip on her tightened, “because it won’t be me.”
She didn’t scream as he pushed her. As she fell off the curb a large yellow vehicle came into her peripheral vision her only thought was: I’m going to make him regret this.