Mark spent the rest of the school year hanging out with Zoe. He went over her house for her birthday, went to her piano recitals, and saw every new movie they liked that came out. And the weekends came and went without Mark working with Celeste. She kept trying to remind him of the work they had to do by telling him face to face, then leaving notes in his pockets, and even went back to waking him up in the middle of the night. But nothing could take his attention off of Zoe. And when the summer came, Mark and Zoe became inseparable. They spent every day together from morning till evening playing tag on playgrounds, hiking through trails, swimming at water parks, and having picnics under the stars. And with each passing week, Celeste spent less and less time trying to get Mark’s attention, until she finally stopped speaking to him altogether. And Mark went on spending the rest of the summer with Zoe and never noticed that he had completely forgotten about Celeste.
It wasn’t until the fall of the following school year, when Mark and Zoe were both in sixth grade, that Mark finally remembered the idea he’d forgotten. And immediately, he rushed into the guest room, desperate to apologize and promise to never let this happen again. But when he opened the door, there was no one there. Celeste was gone. But not only was she gone, but so were all the other ideas, all the objects, animals, and plants they had brought from the idea world. And when he rummaged through the desk, he realized that all of the notebooks—every single last one of them—were also gone. Celeste had left. And she’d left without a trace.
So he hopped on his bicycle and searched the town for her. But no matter where he looked, there was no sign of her. For weeks, he spent his afternoons looking, hoping to see her and apologize. But he never saw her. But then, one rainy night, he finally found her floating through a cemetery.
“Celeste!” he shouted, riding over to her. “I’m so sorry! I forgot about you! But I’m here now! I’m so sorry!”
Celeste looked down at him then turned her back on him.
“I’m sorry!” he shouted as he ran around to face her.
“You promised!” she shouted. “You said you would never leave me!
Celeste just looked at him and Mark couldn’t tell if the water on her face was tears or rain.
“I waited for you,” she said. “I called you. I trusted you. And you abandoned me.”
“I’m sorry,” Mark apologized. “Please come back. I promise to take care of you. It’ll be me and you again. Just like old times.” He reached up to do their secret handshake, but Celeste pulled her hand away. Mark didn’t understand at the time how sensitive ideas could be. He didn’t know that the worst thing you can do to an idea is not reject it. The worst thing you can do to an idea is abandon it.
“No,” Celeste said. “I thought you were the one, but you’re not. Go back to your girlfriend. She’s the one you wanna be with anyway.”
“It’s not like that!” Mark shouted.
“Yes it is!” Celeste shouted over the rain. Her voice was shaking now. “I hope you keep your promises to her.”
Mark got on his knees and put his hands together to beg her. “Just give me another chance.”
But Celeste just looked down at him and shook her head. “You had your chance.” She looked away for a second then looked back down at him. “I’m hurt, not angry. But this is good-bye.”
Mark felt his heart shatter when she said that and a tear welled up in his eye. “Where will you go?”
“To find someone else who will take care of me.”
“Will I ever see you again?”
Celeste looked at him and frowned. “Maybe. But if you do, I’ll be with someone else. And you can never take me back.” Then she turned and flew away without looking back.
Mark spent the rest of the week crying over losing Celeste and wishing with everything in him that she’d come back. But she never did. Eventually, he let go of that hope and went back to his life. Other ideas came to him over the years and he created incredible stories with them. He kept dating Zoe through high school and college and eventually they got married. And one day, almost a decade later, Mark and Zoe were walking through a city and Mark saw Celeste with a young woman. They both looked at him, nodded politely, then went on their way.
And that is how I met the idea that changed the world.