Well, here it is – the last chapter. These last 10 chapters have been on the shorter side, definitely something I’d expand out in a revision. Sometime in early December I’ll be posting an epilogue to the book, so be on the lookout for that. All told this has been 30 days, and 67,167 words. A 172 page paperback. A bit on the short side, but hey, I wrote it in my spare time – which I’m looking forward to having back again! Thanks to everyone who has taken the crazy journey with me!
Within a minute, Jamie was up and walking, insisting that nothing felt wrong at all. The marks on her neck had disappeared, and she seemed no worse for the wear. Coupled with the fact that Sara Beth appeared whole again both in mind and body, the little group found itself very unexpectedly overjoyed.
“What happened?!?” was a common cry by all. Jamie tried to explain what had happened from her point of view.
“It was really weird”, Jamie said to the group as they sat around her, “One moment G-ma was… you know… but I didn’t feel any pain. You’ll never believe what happened after that – I went back into the real world! All of a sudden, I was back in… me. Instantly I had all of the memories of what’s happened in the last few months. It was crazy. Even weirder, it was almost like I was just an observer in my own mind. I couldn’t really get myself to do anything, but I could watch. I found out that Sara Beth had moved away, but that her parents had moved back after the job didn’t work out the way her dad wanted it to. When I left Julie, a few moments ago, Sara Beth had just come over to see her for the first time in weeks. That probably explains why she’s been… I dunno.. Refreshed?”
“How did that happen to you?”, Mrs. Corum asked, “How did you get… I guess… back here?”.
“Julie hasn’t been doing well over the last few months – it was like we suspected – she was depressed. A few hours ago, I brought her a picture I drew for her, and she had the biggest smile on her face when she saw it. The next thing I knew, I was back here”.
“Did she talk at all about… well… stuff?”, Mrs. Corum asked. All present knew what sort of stuff she meant.
“No, she seemed pretty quiet, and the part of me that was controlling my body didn’t seem to pick up on anything being wrong…”
The group caught up on the activities in the outside world through Jamie, who relayed that Ryan had been at camp, but had unexpectedly left early, much to Julie’s relief. Everyone they knew, including themselves, seemed to be doing fine, at least as far as Jamie knew. Of course Jamie had no knowledge of Mara, but that didn’t seem to bother the girl that much. Mara was just relieved that the drama here had subsided for now, and that Jamie was back after the horrible events of the past few days.
Eventually after several hours of discussion, G-ma spoke up.
“Uh… Jamie… can I talk to you?”
The rest of the group seemed to sense that the two women might want some time alone, so they withdrew. Sara Beth and Mara walking one direction, with Sonic in tow, and Mrs. Corum and Ryan walking and making small talk.
“Yes G-ma, go ahead”. Jamie seemed to sense what G-ma was having trouble saying.
“I was so messed up Jamie, I’m so sorry for what I did when I snapped. I don’t know how you can ever forgive me”. Tears began rolling down G-ma’s face.
“G-ma, I don’t really know how I feel about what happened. It didn’t hurt, and it was so fast and unexpected, it almost seems like a crazy dream. I haven’t spent time since then angry at you, or brooding in silence, I just haven’t felt anything at all about it, really. So I suppose we can try to move on. Maybe at some point I’ll want to talk about it more, or I’ll feel more about it. But for now, we’re OK. And I still love you, you’re my G-ma”
Jamie reached out for the hug that G-ma accepted.
As they finished their embrace, the rest of the group happened to return with news.
“The mountains appear a bit more active, but are nothing compared to when we got here. The sky is still really dim during the day too”, Mrs. Corum relayed.
“I don’t know if there is anything we can do to help”, Sara Beth said, in frustration.
“I think there is”, Jamie said, “Before everything happened, I found something that seemed to work. It wasn’t the song – it was what I did while you guys were singing. The sky started brightening as soon as I started to thinking about and see myself with Julie in my mind. Just like she can see us in her mind’s eye, so can we. And It works in reverse. Here, watch”
As they watched, Jamie closed her eyes. In her mind, she saw her sister and her, playing. While Julie continued to play, Jamie imagined herself getting up and walking over to her sister, giving her a hug and telling her she loved her. When Jamie opened her eyes, the sky had brightened substantially. The group was amazed.
They all decided to try Jamie’s method. Each closed his or her eyes and imagined themselves with Julie. Mrs. Corum imagined her giving Julie compliments on her school work. G-ma imagined teaching Julie a new knitting stitch, praising the girl’s ability. Sara Beth imagined her playing with Julie and Sonic, with Sonic happily rolling around his Aunt Julie. Jamie imagined the hug, once more. Ryan imagined himself apologizing to Julie for everything he’d done to her in the past. And Mara, despite not knowing Julie, imagined herself meeting her and offering her support.
Each time they opened their eyes, the world seemed to improve in small ways. The sky brightened, the mountains pulsed, and small patches of blue were visible on the horizon.
It wasn’t going to happen overnight, but it seemed to be a step in the right direction.
“School will be starting soon”, Mrs. Corum mused.
“Are you missing it, dear”, G-ma said, looking up over her knitting.
“Not in the least!”, Mrs. Corum said, as she sat in her rocking chair.
The chair had appeared one day, just as the knitting bag had many weeks before. Apparently as the world of Julie’s mind began to stabilize, more items filled it, or perhaps simply more thoughts. The sky was blue now, and the light valley had become so blinding that it was nearly impossible to venture near it. Activity on the mountain ranges had also increased.
“What do you think is going to happen to us?”, Mrs. Corum asked her companion.
“Well, Mrs. Corum, you and I seem to be adapting to this place in it’s brighter state. The kids seem to have found ways to amuse themselves – it helps that a few more items have appeared here since Julie has felt better. It’s almost as if her mind figures that if she has ‘dolls’ to play with in here, she’d better have doll houses and doll stuff for us to play with!”
“Do you think we’ll be here forever?”
“I don’t know – I’ve sworn off the forecast the future hobby I briefly engaged in. For now I’m just glad that we all seem content, and that Julie is more active now than we’ve ever seen her.”
“I never would have predicted that we could help Julie by our own thoughts”, Mrs. Corum mused to G-ma.
“I guess it made sense, since we live in hers. I just wish I’d figured it out 8 years ago. Maybe Julie’s adolescence wouldn’t have been so rocky”.
“We all go through tough times”, Mrs. Corum said in reply, “I’m just glad that Julie made it through. I guess in all my years of working with kids, I never realized just how on edge they could be.”.
“I never realized that sometimes you don’t just get over it”, G-ma said wistfully, “Sometimes it starts to get over on you”.