Chapter 27: Could It Possibly be a Happy Ending?
“Coco?” Oliver couldn’t believe his eyes. “Where have you been all this time? How did you find me? Why?” Coco peered at him. She flung her head to the path at the right and sprinted.
“Wait, Coco! Where are you going? Wrong way!” Coco kept going. Oliver released a huff and followed the footsteps. Identical large bushes draped the sides of a curvy passageway.
This seems endless. Oliver followed Coco through the infinite sections of turtle-green bushes. They rounded the same curves over and over. Are we going in circles?
“Coco, where are you leading me? I’ve had enough of people finagling me,” Oliver said. He picked up the pace, but the path had ended.
“Oh my!” He stared ahead. “Coco…I can’t believe it. You found it! You found it! If only Lizzy could still see,” he said.
Dazzles and shining lights blinded him. A castle-like ice-building stood taller than life and surrounded him with a pool of frozen water. Icicles hung and glowed like the snow’s version of diamonds. Foxes, snow leopards squirrels, and bunnies all slid across the ice without a care in the world.
Behind it stood ice sculptures. Crystal clear benches aligned with a cave on the side. The thick and soft snow extended for ages. Luscious steps cascaded up, down, and around the pond. Though in his own view, it revealed itself to be more beautiful than ever. Half of it seemed real, half appeared as however one wanted to imagine it. Its daunting presence made to enchant, like a princess stepping out of her castle.
There was no cold, no terrorizing winds, or mean old pounding snow. No more fear or sadness in Oliver’s eyes. No more crying or reminiscing or wishing he was somewhere else. In fact, Oliver had a little hope.
“The ice pond, the city, she would’ve loved this! I can’t believe I found it! It exists, it exists! This is the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen!” Oliver said.
“Huh? What was that?”
“Did you do that?” Oliver scrutinized Coco. The bunny hadn’t coughed. “Is someone else here? Has someone else followed us along the mountain?”
*Cough.* Oliver scanned around. What is that? A sudden movement shifted on his shoulder. He felt a kick to his stomach.
“Why, it’s beautiful. A snowflake!” The voice turned its wide eyes to Oliver’s.
Oliver opened his eyes. His mouth quivered open. “Li…Lizzy! Lizzy, oh Lizzy.” Oliver lifted his sister in the air before hugging her tighter than ever.
“Oliver, I can’t believe it. Why, we found the ice pond,” she said. Lizzy jumped up and down. The glimmering pond reflected in her eyes. Birds surrounded Lizzy and Oliver, humming and chirping to welcome them.
“I can’t believe you’re alive!” he said.
“Of course I’m alive! Why wouldn’t I be?”
Oliver grasped her hand. “Through the storm, you got sick. You fell asleep and didn’t wake up. After a while, I gave up on you. You don’t know how excited I am! ”
“Well, good thing we don’t have to worry about that. We have the ice pond, and snowflakes! My dream, I just wish…”
“Wish what?” he interrupted.
“I wish, Charlie and Ellie and Jeffrey could see this too,” she said.
“Hold on one second,” Oliver said. He unzipped the backpack and grabbed two bedazzled bracelets and watches.
“What are these? They’re wonderful,” Lizzy said. She casted her fingers on the jewels.
“Before we left on our trip, I found these in Mother and Father’s room. They planned on giving them to us when we grew up, telling us to make our life our own and explore outside the house. I suppose we’ve already down that though You can have them. To remember your brothers and sister forever,” he said.
“Oh thank you Oliver, but why don’t we go find Mother and Father? They can still give them to us. The storm has ended. Wait, what’s that?”
Sights of tall buildings and endless roads clouded her thought. “The city.” Oliver said.
“So that’s the city?” Lizzy approached the shimmering lights and towering buildings. Cars drove along the streets while miniature people-figures took a walk along the sidewalk, holding their hands out to catch the snowflakes.
“Yup. Where Mom and Pop have gone so many times,” Oliver said. He stepped behind her.
“So this means we can go get Mother and Father? They’re somewhere over there! What are we waiting for, Oliver?” She clutched his hand to head there, but he didn’t run with her.
“Lizzy, wait,” Oliver said. He sat back on the bench. “There’s something I need to tell you, and it mustn’t wait.”
Stopping in her tracks, she tilted her head to where her wide and bright eyes met the serious, sorrowful ones of Oliver. She marched to Oliver, losing her smile. He patted the space next to him. She stood above the bench, unsure if she wanted to sit. She peered at Oliver’s eyes, never turning her gaze. “Sit,” Oliver said. Lizzy lowered herself beside him. She took a gander at her boot, sweeping the snow back and forth. Oliver fisted his hands together and stared into her eyes. Her glance stayed on her foot.
He brushed her hair out of her face and spoke into her amber eyes. “Lizzy, our parents never made it to the city that day.”
“What? What happened then?” she asked.
“Lizzy, remember that day when I didn’t want Mother and Father to leave because of the storm?”
“Ye-yes, I remember, but you, you shook it off and s-s-said you felt fine. Nothing seemed wrong.”
Oliver leaned on Lizzy. “Lizzy,” Oliver said, “Mom and Pop crashed into a tree due to the storm and didn’t survive. Ruth, Betty, and I lied to you, Charlie, Ellie, and Jeffrey because we didn’t want you to feel upset.”
Oliver peered the other way. Tiny snowflakes fell over buildings. Yellow lights shined brightness, but Oliver felt the gloom. A jaw drop and disbelief consumed her face. Not a sound did she emit, but tears didn’t stop flowing. She covered her face and Oliver swallowed her in his arms.
Coughing up a few more tears, Lizzy pushed away from the hug. “This means everyone’s gone,” she said, “and Mother will never see the ice pond.”
Oliver embraced her. She is right. Even I had lost hope. What do I tell her now? His thoughts turned empty. Oliver sighed.
“Lizzy, we both lost so many dear to us, but you’ll always have me. I know I can’t make up for all of them, but I promise to stay with you for both of our entire lives,” Oliver said. He pushed her hair out of her face. She spit out a few sobs from the clouds in her eyes. She stood and faced him, smiling.
“The song was right,” she said.
“The one Father and his father sang. If one or two or three get lost, then I know I’ll always have one more.”
“That silly little ditty?”
“It’s not so silly if you think about it,” Lizzy replied. “After all, Jeffrey got lost, Charlie got lost, Ellie got lost, but I still have you.”
“I guess so. Aren’t you still upset though?”
“Of course, I’ll always be. I’ll always miss them, but there’s nothing I can do about it and I’d rather not dwell on these things forever.”
“C’mon, let’s explore the ice pond! I never thought I’d see it for real. Oh Oliver, do you realize that this is the best day of my life?” Lizzy said. She slid down to the ground. Lizzy’s smile turned contagious. Each stared at the other, until they couldn’t help but laugh. ’Twas like nothing bad had happened at all.
“The best day of mine too,” Oliver said. Leaping off the ice bench, Oliver crashed into snow and spilled Lizzy. Snow erupted into the air like a volcano and giggles spewed out amongst each other. Lizzy dragged Oliver to the bench again. The city skyline shined back.
“We made it to the end,” Lizzy said. She tilted her head, gazing at the city.
“The end of what?” Oliver asked.
“The end of our trip across the mountain. We made it. Didn’t we make it to where we wanted?”
“Gee, I never had an exact plan,” Oliver said. “Who knows? One day we might start a trip across the city.”
“Not another trip! I don’t want to live in the city. I want to live in this ice pond with you!” Lizzy said. She jumped into his arms.
“I couldn’t wish for anything else. We should visit though,” he said. He narrowed his eyes in on the lights.
“Oh of course! We have to find everywhere that Mother and Father traveled,” Lizzy said.
“What do you think Ellie, Jeffrey, and Charlie would’ve thought of this?”
“Well,” Lizzy said, “Ellie and Alice would’ve loved it. She could dance and play with all the animals and Alice could’ve been princess of the pond. Charlie, he would claim this is a fake so he wouldn’t have to admit he was wrong about the ice pond existing. Oh Jeffrey,” she giggled halfheartedly; partially from the funny memories he brought and the idea of little him in this grand place and partially from missing him so. “he wouldn’t have understood the grand scope of it all, or the city. But he would’ve felt happy as soon as he saw all the animals and places to play in.”
“Does it hurt still?”
“There’ll always be a numb spot in my heart for all of them. I think most of all they would’ve loved exploring the city. Seeing all of Mother and Father’s mysteries. We’ve all wondered about it.”
“Yes, yes. Some day we’ll go there and see all they saw. For now though, we’ll get used to life here.”
“Some day,” Lizzy said. She clasped on her right wrist where she wore the bracelet of Ellie. She glanced at the city and leaned her head on Oliver’s lap. She batted her eyes to close. Oliver gazed upon her. He too shut his eyes. And with them, the city lights faded away into the night.
In the morning they were replaced with light—from the sun. The snow and storms had ended along with the trips from this tale.
So that’s the end of this tale, for no one knows the rest. All we know is the maids went on to live and die and with nobody else certain of the family’s existence, we will never be sure if this story is true or false. For now let’s go back to our lives and see what other adventures strike upon us.
See you next time folks.
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