I squint my eyes as I walk through the door because the light is still bright. I blink a few times before I can clearly see my surrondings.
I'm in the middle of the woods by the swimming hole by my grandma's farm. I look around and it's a perfectly warm day outside. The sun is shining through the trees and I hear the gurgling creek and the waterfall dropping gallons of water into the swimming hole.
I smile at the sight. I guess this was the last time I had uninterrupted, uncomplicated fun with Mia and Wyatt. I look around and I don't see them. My smile falls and I feel an anxiety. I don't want to be here by myself. This isn't much of a happy place if they aren't here with me.
I'm deflated when I sit down on a rock with my feet hanging a few feet from the water's surface. I try and skip a few rocks, but they just fall uselessly into the center of the swimming hole.
I let out a sigh and contemplate my eternity alone. I'm basking in my own self pity wondering again if this isn't really hell when I hear voices and laughing. I stand quickly and look around.
I hear the voices, but I don't see anything until mocha skin catches my eye and I smile. The mocha skin is followed by dirty blone hair and I know who's walking up the path. I smile and run in the direction of their voices.
Mia and Wyatt come push through some bushes and they are in the clearing with me. The three of us stare at each other for a second before the bubble burst and we run to each other and share a group hug.
"I'm so glad to see you guys again," I say through tears.
"It's been so long," Mia says.
"It feels like a day for me since I saw you last," I reply.
"Lucky you. It's been a lifetime for us," Wyatt quips.
I smile and laugh at the two of them. They look just the same as the last night I saw them.
"Jackson, there's so much to tell you," Mia says somewhat uncomfortably.
"I saw your lives. How's Joy?" I ask. Mia and Wyatt give me a startled look, then it softens as they speak of our daughter.
"She's wonderful. She's tall like you and kind. She's an archeologist with a husband and three kids. She lives in Egypt. She tells her kids about you often. You were never forgotten in our house. I suppose you know Wyatt and I got married." Mia says.
"I do. I'm glad you found someone. Thank you Wyatt for raising my daughter," I say hugging them both again.
"It was the pleasure of my life to raise that little lady. She's perfect."
The three of us walk over to the at rocks to sit and talk.
"How did it happen for you guys?" I ask.
"Cancer," Wyatt replies.
"Old age. Wyatt died a few years before me," Mia says.
"That's amazing. It doesn't feel like it's been a few years," Wyatt says amazed.
"You're telling me," I reply and the three of us burst into laughter.
All l was quiet for a minute and suddenly there was an elephant in the room... or woods.
"Where do we go from here?" Mia asks. I know she doesn't mean physically. Since our happy place is being together, we can probably leave and go wherever.
"I love Mia and I always will, but I know it was nothing like the love you two shared," Wyatt says looking at me, uncomfortable.
He's right. They would never have gotten together if I lived. I'm not bitter about it though.
"How about we just go back to how it was last time we were here. It was happy and uncomplicated," I reply.
Mia and Wyatt smile at me. I dont know how often a friendship like our really comes along. It must be rare, but there's no better feeling than having friends turn into the closest kind of family.
From the day we met in Reading class, the three of us were always supposed to spend our lives together and in a way, we did. Now we get to spend the rest of eternity together doing anything and everything we missed doing together in life.
"Paradise awaits," I say as I strip to my boxers and jump into the waiting water. I hear Mia and Wyatt laugh at I dive beneath the surface then my splash is accompanied by two more and thus begins our forever.