The next months slowly passed. Most days were awesome and
fun, yet others were spent in a gloomy mood. I didn't have any
more flashbacks or strange dreams, yet that strange feeling kept
naggin' at me, and wouldn't leave me alone. Sometimes when I got
that feelin' that something was gonna happen, I'd get butterflies
in my stomach and my heart would beat a little faster. Sometimes
I couldn't help but smile.
"Hey, you wanna go shopping tomorrow? I'm off, and you've been workin' those horses hard. Y'all need a break. So...?" Lynna asked me as we sat on the couches. I was drawin' an ocean scene, while she was listening to music on the mp3 player.
"Uh, sure, I guess.''
"I know shopping isn't really your favorite thing, but we gotta do somethin'! I'm so bored!" Lynna complained. I giggled at her dramatization, tellin' her I'd go shoppin' tomorrow.
"Yes!" Lynna said triumphantly. I was bored, too, but I wasn't gonna wait 'till tomorrow to entertain myself. So I made a paper airplane with a blank sheet of paper, and tossed it at Lynna.
"What the heck is that?!'' She asked. Lynna wasn't expectin' anything to be thrown at her, so it kinda scared her, makin' her jump off the couch and slap away the paper. I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe. Lynna glared at me, though I know she was just playin' around, grabbed a pillow off the sofa, and hit me with it. I grabbed the one my head was layin' on, and returned the favor. She took the paper I was drawing on, waved it my face, and teased me to come get it. I hopped up, and went on an all-out chase through the house, just to get a picture. That's me though. Finally I got close enough to Lynna that I just tackled her.
"Okay, okay, take it!" Lynna was crackin' up, and I took the paper from her. But I was laughin' pretty hard too.
"Yeah, let's just go shoppin' tomorrow.'' I suggested, going back to the couch I was layin' on.
When I got up in the morning, I picked out my favorite outfit. A bright red T-shirt, faded jeans, and my boots. Such faithful friends my boots are. As I looked in the full length mirror, I thought about how long it'd been since I'd thought about Armani. Nearly a week ago. Then I thought about how long ago he'd died. A little more than a year ago. Today that nagging feeling that something was gonna happen was stronger than it'd been before- way stronger.
Months passed extremely slow. I could finally feel again-
after 3 months. I could speak just fine- after 5 months. I
finally got to where I could walk without stumbling- by the end
of the year, yet I still had a slight limp on my left side. But
it took a long time to make that much progress.
Gradually I regained my strength, but there was still plenty of
room for improvement. My father was extremely angry- but he
didn't know I was alive. Before I knew it, no matter how long it
seemed, the end of a long year's time approached.
"Do you think I'm ready to go home?" I asked my doctor who had been helping me rehabilitate.
"The question is, Armanalreigh, do you think you're ready to go home?"
"I want to, but I don't know if I'm ready to." I wanted so badly to leave the place I was, to go home, to see Mali- to tell them I was alive!
"You can go. I know how bad you've been missing your family. I'll send a few of my workers with you to see you get home safe."
"No, I want to go alone." I insisted. No one was going to treat me as an invalid anymore.
"Why? It isn't safe-"
"I am going alone." I didn't wait to hear any more, I would not argue. I would do what I said. I walked away to the room I had been staying in, and grabbed the small sack of gold and silver coins I had always carried with me. Other medical officials tried convincing me to let them take me home- but I refused. Sure, I didn't know if it was safe to go alone, but I wanted to. So I would.
It was midday when I finally left the place I had been staying in for the past year. The reason it took me so long was because those doctors were insisting they go with me, just so I would be safer. I eventually got extremely irritated, and harshly refused their company. They left me alone after that. I had one place in mind to go, and that one place only. Mali's village. I had stopped to buy a change of clothes- I'd only need one because I would be going back to the Palace tomorrow. Thankfully no one recognized me. So the sun was setting by the time I reached my destination. Going through the small plaza with little shops and such, I saw two familiar people carrying bags from some of the shops. Lynna and Mali. I was a ways behind them, but I could tell exactly who they were. There was definitely no problem recognizing Mali. I was sure it was her by her build, skin tone, and long brown hair. I was absolutely positive it was her by her faded jeans and her boots so worn out they were two different shades. Yep. That was her.
A very familiar voice that I had not heard in a very long
time called my name. That voice sent a tingle down my spine,
butterflies in my stomach, and stopped me in my tracks. I dropped
the bags of clothes and accessories I held. I couldn't believe
what I'd heard. It couldn't be possible. I slowly turned around
and what I saw sent my hands flying to my smiling mouth, and I
don't know why, but I backed up, laughing. Not because it was
funny, but because it was strange, and I was a little
overwhelmed. I kinda did that when I got scared or surprised.
There was no way possible I'd heard what I heard, and saw what I
saw. There was just no way! I was scared to go to him, 'cause
what if this was just a dream? What if I woke up from that dream
right as I went to him? Lynna told me to go to him. I told her I
swore I was dreamin'. But when she pinched my arm as hard as she
could, I knew I wasn't dreaming. Slowly, cautiously, I made my
way to the person I'd been missin' so much. He met me
"It ain't- you can't be- this ain't real- is it-? You- you're- dead!" I couldn't get a full sentence outta my mouth for the life of me, I was so surprised, and so confused, yet so happy!
"It's real. I'm not dead. And you have no clue how great it is to hear your voice again." He said, and hugged me. He held me close, like he would never let go, and I didn't want him to. I wrapped my arms around him, now sure that what was happening was completely real. But... how?! People walkin' the streets thought it was cute. I don't think anyone recognized the Summer Prince who had "died" a little over a year ago. He was alive!
"How- what- just- how?!" I asked, as we stood there, still holding onto eachother, even with a few extremely shocked and unbelieving spectators- I think some had finally recognized Armani.
"I was almost dead. But I wasn't quite gone. It took me the whole year and a little more to get back to normal. When I myself realized there was hope, I vowed I would stay alive as long as I could, and you would be the first to know." Those around who heard Armani say this were touched to the heart, yet they could still not believe that he was here- alive. Even Lynna was tearing up, but hers were tears of joy. I still couldn't cry, even for joy, but that was just fine, 'cause I couldn't stop smiling. I could only imagine how this amazing reunion looked- sunset in a beautiful Summer village, and two people who hadn't seen each other for over a year hugging in the middle of a plaza, happier than ever before.
"Armani," it was awesome to actually speak to him again! "it's late- you ain't goin' to the Palace tonight, are you?" I asked.
"One thing I didn't exactly think about. I didn't plan on going until tomorrow, though-"
''Don't leave- at least- not 'till tomorrow." I begged. I didn't control what came outta my mouth at that moment, I just didn't want him to leave. Not after being gone a whole year.
"I won't leave tonight. And I'm taking you with me tomorrow.'' I explained to Armani that I'd been banned and all that. "All the more reason to take you." He smiled. I just laughed, and the kiss I'd been waiting for after all this time finally came up, and I knew then that it was all real. That made whatever people who was watchin' smile, and the women wiped their eyes free of tears. This wasn't the welcome-home party the women and I had planned so long ago, but that was fine. I didn't need to throw a party to let Armani know how glad I was that he was there. He was the one who'd surprised me, anyways, but he knew I was way more than happy. Lynna came to us then, when we were back to just holdin' each other.
"It's late, you wanna just- I mean, I don't know- but, there's a spare room-" Lynna offered, shocked to be talkin' to Armani again. He nodded, and I could tell he was tired. I don't know how he'd gotten here in the first place, and he seemed a little sore. But he kept up just fine as we walked home.
"Okay, you two, no closed doors. Got it?" Lynna said, very seriously. I tried not to laugh. I sounded like a chipmunk. "I mean it."
"Don't worry, I ain't stupid." I said, tryin' to sound serious. When I'm happy, I can't sound serious. At. All. Inside, I realized how empty it'd seemed before, but now everything was just fine. We sat in the livin' room for a while, beggin' Armani to tell us how in the world he wasn't dead, and how he'd finally gotten here. Lynna had to go to work tomorrow, so she went to bed a little early. But she reminded us that if she heard a door close, she'd strangle us both. I looked over at Armani, who was laid back on the sofa. When he looked back at me, he raised his eyebrows, askin' why I was smilin' so deviously.
"Hold on!" I ran to my room, changed into my pj's, and grabbed a couple of pillows. When I went back to the livin' room, I tossed a pillow to Armani. I held my pillow like a baseball bat, and winked.
"Oh, great.'' Armani rolled his eyes, but he smiled and sat up. Then he threw his pillow at me. I hit it with mine, knockin' it against the wall.
"Uh... Hehe.. I'll get that." I dived for the pillow at the same time Armani did. Then we were whacking each other with the pillows, full force. I was laughin' real hard, so every time a pillow hit my face, the sound would break, which was absolutely hilarious. I ran around the house, with Armani chasin' me. He couldn't really go as fast as he used to be able to, but he was runnin' along right behind me. The little Tom-and-Jerry chase woke Lynna up, and right as I passed her bedroom door, she stormed out. I had intended to throw my pillow at Armani, but ended up hittin' Lynna right in the face instead. Oops...
Lynna picked the pillow up off the floor, glarin' first at me, then at Armani, who was tryin' so hard not to laugh, bless his heart. When she looked back at me, she didn't hesitate to throw my pillow at my face as hard as she could.
"You two are such kids! Adorable, yes, but I'm tryin' to get some sleep! Keep it down, or I'm gonna smack you both in the face with a matress!" Uh, yikes. But Armani couldn't help it no more, and he busted out laughing so hard, he had to put one hand on the wall to keep from fallin' over! Lynna snorted and giggled, turnin' around and closin' her door. When I figured it was safe, I slowly started slidin' my feet further down the hall, and when Armani stood straight, ready to throw his pillow, I dashed into my room and jumped on my bed. I pulled the blankets up over me, and I felt like a little kid hidin' under them.
"Oh, gee, I wonder where she went." Armani said sarcastically. I was biting down hard on my lower lip to keep from laughing as he walked to the bed and stopped. He just stood there for a second, then as he threw the blankets offa me, he picked me up, ticklin' me so hard I couldn't breathe from my laughter. I was still laughin'- well sorta- but it was the kind you can't hear, and every time I inhaled, I squeaked.
I tossed a thrashing Mali on her bed, letting her catch her
breath. She was laughing so hard she squeaked when she inhaled,
which was absolutely hilarious. Instead of just landing on her
bed though, Mali was rolling with laughter- literally- and rolled
herself off the bed on the other side. My left side was sore from
the scar the silver arrow had left, but I was having too much fun
to care. So I jumped on her bed, landed on my stomach, and looked
down at her on the floor. Mali had stopped laughing when she
landed on the floor, and she seemed a little confused.
"Uh, how'd I get here?" She asked when she looked up at me. She appeared to honestly have no clue as to why she had rolled on the floor.
"I think your landing gear is broken." I could barely get the words out without laughing. Never had I laughed so much or so hard than that night. It was almost like I'd never been gone- especially not for an entire year.
"Oh. Pick me up." Mali reached up at me, smiling.
"I don't know- should I?" I teased her, sitting up.
"I don't know..."
"For me?" Mali was begging, and I stopped restisting.
''Okay." I reached down, grabbed her hands, and pulled her up. She hopped on the bed, crawled to the pillows, and sat in front of the headboard. I crawled over beside her, and she rested her head on my shoulder.
I never thought I'd see the day someone came back from the
dead. 'Cept of course Armani wasn't dead in the first place, but
I sure as heck was sure he was. As we sat beside each other on my
bed, my head on his shoulder and his arm around me, I decided to
start a reminiscant conversation.
"Remember that one night, when we snuck out just to watch the stars, and it started rainin'?" I asked.
"Sure do. You said the rain sounded like music, so we danced to it."
"What about that time when we floated in a canoe half-way down a river?" Armani chuckled at this.
"Yeah, and we only got halfway because we capsized trying to turn around."
"You remember how we met?" I was sure he did, but I wanted to hear what he thought about it anyways.
"Yes, yes I do. I was headed to get sheet music for my guitar, and you just walked in and ran right into me." I giggled when he said this. But I didn't know he played guitar!
"How come I never knew you played the guitar?"
"Not many people do. But that's probably because I only play just for the fun of it. Thaddeus says I play pretty good, but I don't know."
"Come on, I'm sure you do. Can you play for me?'' I asked, lookin' up at him with puppy-dog eyes. Armani pretended to think for a moment, occasionally lookin' at my begging face and smiling.
"I guess I could do that."
"Yes!" I said triumphantly, with a fist-pump. We talked for a little while longer, later and later into the night. I kept gettin' more tired, and eventually, fell asleep. When Armani heard me breathing very quietly, very softly, and saw my eyes closed, I felt him move over. He laid me down on the pillows when he had gotten off the bed. Pullin' the blankets over me, he kissed my forehead, sayin' goodnight, and walked into the spare room one door down.