She wrote him a note on a day much like any other day before that. She nervously slipped it in underneath the door of the boy who had lived next door to her for almost all her life. With her trembling hands, she wrote him that she’d grow up soon, and she asked him to wait for her, until she does. She said that she was a little shy, but that she was sure he was the boy she would love for the rest of her life. She told him that she was saving her heart just for him, and she signed the letter with love, from the girl next door.

He smiled when he read her note, and after he read it one more time, he slowly made his way over to the house next door. Her tears rolled callously down her cheeks when he told her that he was leaving their little hometown, and that he just couldn’t wait for her to grow up. He reminded her that she was only sixteen, he twenty-four, and he assured her that she would forget him soon. As he turned to leave, he told her to leave a light on for him, perhaps he would have one more last chance someday. Maybe when she had grown up and perhaps, if his heart brought him home to her.

It was on the day he left that she turned the front porch light on. She wrote him a letter and told him that she was turning the backlight on too, she would hate for him to get lost, if he ever wanted to return to her.

As the years slowly passed by, every light in her house was turned on, one by one. She was afraid that he might get lost while looking for her, and she wrote him to tell him that her backyard was as bright as the crack of dawn, and the front of her house looked as though it had runway lights. She told him that it looked like noon in the dead of night just for him, if ever he decided he was tired of being gone from her. She signed her letters with love, from the girl next door.

As he lay in bed on a cold, winter’s night, he re-read her letters and with a pounding heart, he understood for the first time, how her words and promises were haunting his dreams of her. He wondered if her porch light was still burning as he climbed out of bed and packed his bags to catch the first flight out, and back to the house next door.

But, in the days before he would return, one by one, she began turning the lights off. First, when she met another for their first date, she turned off a bright light she had kept burning, inside of her house. When her new love stayed over for the first time, she turned off another bright light. When she said yes to her new forever, she smiled sadly as she turned off the light in the backyard. When he placed a ring on her finger, she turned off one more light, and when he carried her over the threshold, she finally turned off the last of her burning lights, the light on the porch that would show him his way back to her.

He hurriedly ran all the way to the house next door, and as he stood in front of her house, he was just in time to notice her turning off the last of the lights she had sworn to keep burning for him. He wanted to beg for one more last chance as he frantically knocked on her front door. His tears rolled indignantly from his eyes when he heard that her name was not like it was before. She told him that his one more last chance had ended that very day, and that he had been gone for too long. She just couldn’t wait for him. She told him that he had been gone for ten years, but just as he once swore to her, she promised him that he would forget her soon. She told him that she had pledged herself to another, and that she had turned the lights off, one by one.

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