When the four of them opened their eyes, they were stunned by what they saw. They were standing in a bucolic meadow. But this meadow wasn’t just any generic meadow. It was blanketed with lilac trees and multi-coloured tulips and roses. The grassy floral floor went up to about the knee—Lydia’s knee, not Aiden or Caleb’s—and was as soft as cashmere. They proceeded to take their shoes off, one a time. Erika sat to remove hers and Caleb kicked his off by the heels. They began their walk to the centre, where a fresh water spring big enough to be spacious yet intimate, lay in wait for them.
Surrounding the meadow was an array of different natural landscapes. A mountain too tall to attempt to climb, even after death; which appeared to be floating in the clouds with a tip covered with plush white powder. A forest of green, breathing life out towards the meadow. As the trees blew in the wind they managed to only blow in the forested area and when it blew a slight melody could be made out. It was as if nature was calling out to them, from behind the bed of evergreen trees, serene and vivacious all at the same time. Directly across from that was a sandy covered beach that shored off a small river running from the spring. The sand, golden and velvet, shone with the sun that baked the surface of the seaside. Baby sea turtles could be seen making their way out of the sand and into the tides towards freedom.
It was the best nature had to offer, in all its glory, all in this one spot that Aiden had brought them to. ‘He is so good at this,’ Lydia thought to herself as she self-consciously wondered why she couldn’t bring herself to a place like this in just one thought. Her mind trailed off into melancholy thoughts. Was she too negative a soul to think of such beauty on her own? Was she unable to imagine wonderful because she had always been too ordinary? The tough realizations swirled through her head around and around until she felt dizzy and slowly stumbled to the ground trying not to fall with a vengeance.
“Whoa, easy there Lydia. Are you alright?” Caleb didn’t seem genuinely concerned, so Lydia ignored him and kept her eyes glued to Aiden’s back as he watched the world he created. Still. Entertaining. And now it was their home—if they could manage to stay there without breathing life into negativity.
Lydia didn’t want to go back to the mansion now, not after all of this. To slink back to its unnatural existence, she thought, would be cowardice. After all, in a world where she could create anything why was she designated to just one place? It didn’t make sense. But of course, in the middle, not a whole lot did.
“Whoa.” A tiny squeak came from behind all three of them and Lydia almost forgot about Erika. “It’s... it’s...” she couldn’t find the words for what she was thinking, which didn’t surprise any of them so Aiden cut in to save her and said, “I know.”
“So, what now? We just hangout here, forever?” Caleb snapped as if he had a better idea. That was all they were doing in fact. Waiting. Waiting to be found. Waiting to be born. Waiting for a chance at another life that, after all this, paled in comparison.
“I wish we didn’t have to go back to earth,” Lydia threw out there without much of a tone. “Like there was some sort of clause that stated you could decide when your soul was done with human habitation.”
She realized how incredibly silly she must have sounded. If waiting for another soul was the way it worked in the middle, than as far as anyone knew, that’s just how it worked.
It wasn’t as if she could just show up and change the rules of the universe to suit her own wants and needs. And to not exist in the world would be pointless, wouldn’t it? Wandering around the vast nothingness that was the middle could get rather bland once the imagination had run out. There wasn’t an unlimited supply of amazing, not even in the middle of existence.
“Trust me, you’d change your mind on that. Even extraordinary can be ordinary if you’re around it for too long.” Another useful yet surprising piece of advice from Caleb. Maybe Lydia was too quick to judge the poor guy. Just because he was a shallow actor didn’t mean he couldn’t have any depth at all.
‘I guess actors aren’t that stupid after all,’ she thought to herself as she walked toward the spring. She could feel each step under her feet amplified in such a way that it was almost painful it felt so good. ‘This must be what heroine feels like.’ That last thought made her chuckle to herself.
“What’s so funny?” Aiden asked playfully confused.
“Nothing. Nothing at all.” She smiled at him and he smiled back.
Somehow, he knew more about what she was thinking than he let on and for that she was
grateful. It was always nice, she thought, to feel a certain closeness with another, a feeling that so few and far between actually experience, a feeling that when a person finally obtains it, is something they would hold on to for dear life. Even if it meant dying. And she would, too. She would die for Aiden, if she wasn’t dead already. They just got each other, on a level so deep it wasn’t chemical. It was a higher power controlling that, and then she wondered if the souls were placed strategically in the middle to find one another. Maybe that’s what the time was for in the middle. Finding the one, the only, the soul mate you could never find on earth.
“Alright, so what now?” Erika said, who had clearly transitioned from amazed to uninterested in a matter of minutes. “This is nice and all, but what are we supposed to do?”
She had a good point. One that no one seemed to ask before then. What were they going to do?