I was wearier than I'd ever been in my life. But warmth was finally seeping into me and I waited, time at a standstill. Memories came flooding back in a sweet tide and I savored them, watching as they played out in front me. I could have lain there forever, but there was more calling to me and I followed.
The woods sang and echoed with laughter; there was a whoop, and I knew it was my best friend Beth, lithe body flying through the snow on his Flexible Flyer sled. Smelling the pungent mix of pine sap and wood smoke, I crunched my way through the sugar drifts toward the light in the distance. A cardinal called purdy purdy purdy in the twilight.
I left the forest, and there it stood; my house. My commonplace, pedantic, cookie-cutter little house. I grew up there, I clutched my doll and cried there, I read about the mysteries of life and witnessed quite a few there. Grandpa was on the porch, idly leaning on the bannister and smoking his pipe, but before I could shout a greeting a 100 pound ball of fur hurtled out of nowhere.
“Bandit!” was all I got out before he knocked me to the ground and we rolled in a delicious cloud of steaming dog breath, fur and snow. I was sobbing now, unashamedly, as another little piece of my heart fell into place. It had been so long, and I had missed him so much, and yet the full scale of it only made itself known when he was back in my arms. He licked me energetically and raced around like a puppy, all the while licking me and barking joyfully in a paroxysm of doggy madness. I was laughing now, awash in delight, and I didn't think that I could ever be happier, until I saw another figure coming toward me.
My homecoming was complete. He folded me in his arms, and I breathed him in, reveling in the scent as though I had lain next to him every night of my life. Sighing, I relaxed and laid my head on his shoulder. Happy, relieved, content. Safe.
“I searched for you, everywhere, for so long.”
He held me tighter, rubbing his cheek against mine. “I know. But what is meant to be will always come to pass, if not in one lifetime than in another.”
The last of the pain fled my heart forever.
I am whispering this in your ear, Mum, I am showing it to you in your dreams, so you will know that I am OK and that my long journey is over. There is no other place I'd rather be. You will miss me, I know, but home and all that it contains awaits you too.
Do not grieve because I left life too soon. In the end, it is just another beginning.
Word Count: 482