Sammy was in a good mood. Even though it was the final day of summer break, she couldn’t help but be happy. It had been a very fulfilling summer, to say the least. She had seen everyone she knew at least once or twice and had many good times with them.

Oddly enough, the person she had spent the most time with was Joshua. She hadn’t even known him a year ago, but over the past twelve months the two had become close friends.

As the sun began to set, Sammy decided to call up Joshua. She only had a few hours of summer left, and she wanted to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of it. She proposed that they go for a walk, and Joshua agreed. Thus, the two of them set out for their last walk of the summer. As they walked, they talked. That’s all they ever did together, really. Sometimes they would walk and talk. Sometimes they would lie down and talk. Sometimes they would play catch and talk. But they were always talking. And that was enough for both of them. They never did anything particularly exciting together – no trips to the cinema, no amusement parks, no intense games of mini putt – and yet they managed to have fun together.

About half an hour into their walk, Sammy steered the conversation turned towards their plans for the future. Joshua usually dismissed any talk about the future as pointless, but Sammy was feeling brave on this particular evening.

"So Josh, what do you want to be when you grow up?"

Joshua stopped dead in his tracks. The response was disheartening, though not entirely unexpected.

"Okay, sorry." said Sammy. "I know you don’t like talking about that stuff. My bad."

But Joshua still didn’t move.

"Josh?" said Sammy. "You okay?"

"That’s not my name," Joshua said quietly.

"What?" said Sammy in surprise. Then she realized that she had never called him Josh before. She wasn’t sure why she had called him by that name now, but clearly it had upset him. But why? Josh wasn’t an offensive name. It was just a short form. And then she came to a second realization.

"Noah?" she asked Joshua.

Joshua nodded.

Of course. Noah was the only one who had ever referred to Joshua as "Josh". And now Sammy had committed the cardinal sin: she had reminded Joshua of Noah. She had inadvertently done this a few times over the course of the summer, and each time the result was the same. Joshua would become unbearably downtrodden for the rest of the walk. He would stare silently into the abyss, barely aware of anything going on around him. On previous occasions Sammy had tried to snap him out of his trance, but in vain. The damage was done. There was no way of getting him back now.

Sammy sighed. "Alright Joshua, let’s go home."

Sammy escorted Joshua back to his house. After bidding Joshua’s mother goodnight, Sammy headed back to her own house crawled into bed.

"Oh well," she thought gloomily. "Lesson learned: Don’t call him Josh."

It was simple enough to remember all of the rules. No discussions about tobogganing or icy hills. No belittling the importance of dreams. And now, no calling him Josh. But Sammy couldn’t help but wonder about Noah. Who was he, and how could he possibly have had such an effect on Joshua? She wanted to know more about him, but there was no way of learning more without asking Joshua directly. It seemed hopeless.

"Who are you, Noah?" she asked the heavens before falling asleep.

Somewhere thousands of miles away, someone heard her.

***************

OH THE SUSPENSE.

This was originally going to be longer, but I started running out of steam at around 2:00 A.M. That’s what happens when I start writing at 1:09. In spite of the fact that I was half asleep, I think I managed to pull a decent final five lines out of nowhere. Then again, maybe I’m going to wake up tomorrow, look at what I’ve done, and curse loudly. I’m already not a huge fan of that last line. It could have been far more epic, but I’m just too mentally drained to think of something better right now. Blah.

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