The switch had worked perfectly. The explanations had not, everyone wanted to know how I had appeared out of thin air and where my grandfather had gone to. All kinds of reporters, policemen and people from the government had shown up. I had to be hospitalized at first due to the struggle of all the transitioning.
I held a deep sadness, I knew I couldn’t see Tony anymore now that I had crossed over. We were now worlds apart.
My parents fawned over me nonstop, my father bullied the press and curious people out of the room. I pretended to have no knowledge of the events that occurred. I didn’t want to start a scare over the true reason behind some people who were missing. Hopefully, they would use their gems on giving people close to death a second chance instead.
It was a week before I was finally allowed to go back home, the questions had died down and everyone simply thought my family had pulled the world’s greatest prank.
Once we were home, I told my parents the truth of all that had transpired. I showed them the gem I had used. I was scared they would think I was crazy again. Instead, they held me close and cried with me. They didn’t have the strange look on their face anymore that they used to get. They believed me.
My parents believed me even more when Chelsea showed up on our doorstep, ragged and hungry looking. She hadn’t done so well in our world, the others of her kind who had crossed over refused to help her because she was not the one their father had sent.
We took her in and fed her, even though she had been the one to cause this mess, now she was in trouble. Chelsea cried nearly every day missing her family, sometimes I cried with her because I missed Tony. In the rush of everything, I had never gotten to tell him goodbye.
I had to hide Chelsea in the house, I didn’t know how to explain her to the authorities and she lived with us over the years, slowly becoming a part of our family. In her brokenness, she became a new person, rebuilding herself and she became my friend. We did everything together like we were sisters. Tied together by things beyond us.
Sometimes, I could see Tony in her face and it broke my heart. When I was younger, I had questioned what love was, I had questioned if what we had was real. I wish I had never questioned it, I wish I had begged him to come and be with me and that we would have made it work somehow.
I wished that I could run to his arms and tell him how much I still loved him. I was 20 years old now, it had been 6 years since I had last seen Tony.
I was sitting on the porch with Chelsea, who was chattering on about her boyfriend. She had turned into quite the boy crazy girl as she grew up. All I could feel was the cold wind, I had gone a little numb inside.
Chelsea often urged me to go on dates, to live a little, but no one I saw compared to Tony.
No one smelled like him or smiled like him. No one did all the things he did to make sure I was constantly okay and cared for. The emptiness that his absence had left in my heart stunned me, as long as I kept busy with work and college I could almost forget it was there. But it was in the silent moments at night, or when I was out with friends, that the loneliness hit me. Even surrounded by other people, all I wanted was Tony.
As I sat there, languishing in my despair as Chelsea talked about her first kiss, I saw him. Striding up the driveway. Chelsea’s chatter stopped.
Tony had a beard now, I almost hadn’t recognized him. He was grown up, the boy had turned into a man and he had a bouquet of flowers clutched tightly in one shaking hand as he approached. He was all dressed up, in the fanciest clothes I had ever seen him in with a classy coat on top.
My heart stopped and started, over and over again. I felt my hands sweating nervously and with a burst of energy I flew off of the porch and into his arms, he desperately grasped at the bouquet while pulling me close tightly. Both of us laughing and crying at the same time. He picked me up in the air by my waist and kissed me. His lips were firm and gentle, the kiss was so full of love and waiting. I felt at that moment how much he had done to get back to me.
“I missed you so much,” he breathed, holding me tightly against him. I was so attached to him, I couldn’t let go.
“I missed you more than words could say. How… when…” I stammered.
“When your grandmother died, a year ago, in Germany,” he explained. “I’m sorry it took me so long, I had no way to get to you and I didn’t know how to contact you in this world. I told her she could be with your grandfather in my world and that I would take care of you, it helped the bond between us to form quickly.”
Tony stopped and drew in a deep breath. “She was all alone in her house, dying. I was glad my father was able to let me know in time. Afterward, I woke up in a hospital in Germany, I met with my people there who gave me an identity in this world. I had to work hard every day to make a living. I wanted… to take care of you.”
I cried even more then, I remembered when I had heard the news that Grandma had died. Once Grandpa had passed, she had traveled the world, trying to fill her own sadness. Eventually, she had moved to Germany and lived alone. I was happy to know my grandparents were together now.
“Shh,” Tony said, the same way he had said it all those years ago when I was just a child, crying on the ground with no friends and no hope. “I told you, I’d always be your best friend. The distance between us only made me work harder to be with you. Waiting for you, only made me realize how much I loved you every single day. The ache in my heart wouldn’t stop, so my father allowed me to come over. We’ve improved on our travel technology, and in a few years he and mother should be able to visit us.”
I just kept crying, latched on to him. “I love you too, there wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t miss you. I’m sorry for all the mean things I said.”
Tony laughed. “Is that what you were worried about all these years?”
“Yes!” I said, laughing with him.
He rubbed my face gently. “You’re more than forgiven.”
“Ahem! Lovebirds,” Chelsea said, pulling us both into a hug. “I missed my brother too, you know.”
All three of us stayed like that in the driveway for a very long time.
I felt like my world had finally tilted back into place. I realized it wasn’t about what the circumstances in my life were, but it was about being with the people who made me feel happy and loved.
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