Samuel looked at the letters carved into the tree, ‘SW loves OP.’ He could still remember when he and Olive had done it. He had bought the pen knife in Turner’s along with a fishing rod when he was twelve. The rod didn’t get much use but he still had the pen knife somewhere at home. Olive was eleven and they had both promised each other that when they got older they would marry. The carving in the tree was a statement of their love for each other, a beginning.
He edged his fingers around the carving, feeling the curve of each letter. It was still remarkably fresh for something that was twenty years old. Apart from the letter ‘O’ looking more like a ‘C’, it pretty much looked the same as it did when the two of them had taken turns to carve each other’s initials into the tree. They had chosen the tree because it was so tall. Olive had told Samuel that it reminded her of the pine trees she had seen when she visited Yellowstone.
They used to go walking together in the woods on their way home from school. Olive would tell Samuel about her plans for the future, all of which included him by her side. She wanted to be a doctor but also wanted to have three children. She didn’t mind what sex they were as long as they were healthy and had the same blue eyes as Samuel. As for him, he wanted to be an architect. He wanted to design buildings. He planned on going to college and building a house for the two of them to live in. His father had some land on the edge of town and he was going to build the house there.
As he thought about it some more, Samuel could feel himself smiling, the innocence of the two of them planning a future together. Things didn’t turn out as they had planned. Olive had moved out of State with her family when she was fourteen. Her father had landed a job with a big company in Michigan. Despite writing letters to each other for over a year they eventually lost contact with one another.
Walking away from the tree Samuel wondered did Olive ever realize her dreams of becoming a doctor. He had never made it to college, never became the architect he wanted to be. Instead he took a job in his father’s store straight after high school and was still selling carpets. He wondered if she had married, did she have the three children that she wanted and was she still in love with blue eyes.
He knew that he would never know and in some ways that was better for Samuel. It meant his memories and the letters in the tree still held some kind of meaning. They still represented possibilities. Maybe someday Olive would return to Wyoming and who knows maybe one day he would build the house he had always wanted to build, the land was still there.