THE FIRST DAY IS ALWAYS THE BEST DAY
“Okay. I’ve got an idea.” Aiden spoke with a tone that sparked a fear in Lydia and she wasn’t quite sure why. Every idea he’d had up until then had been pretty great, so why did the overwhelming feeling of trepidation rush over her like a wave over a pier at high tide. “We’re going to climb up that mountain and see what we can see.”
Aiden jolted for the mountains without so much as an agreeing nod from anyone, and Lydia couldn’t help but sprint after him. The rush she felt was more than she could bare but she loved it, so. She must have been an adrenaline junky when she was alive. It was the only thing that could explain her dangerous curiosity with the terrifying unknown. The long blades of grass whipped off her legs, making a light clapping sound that echoed through the meadow. Aiden’s body speeding through the grass made its own unique song and as the other’s followed, the sound of their limbs together smacking off the tall turf produced a melody fit for a montage. Erika, Caleb, and Lydia all managed to catch up to Aiden with an abrupt hold. They craned their necks to stare at the top, which was now invisible to them. They were like a small
collection of insects standing at the feet of their God, hoping for safety in a world beyond their own.
“This doesn’t look very safe. What if we fall?” Erika asked, and Caleb thanked her in his head. He was thinking the same thing but couldn’t very well open his mouth to tell the group how scared he was to climb a mountain when the option of falling to his death was completely off the table. He thought to himself while he watched the others prepare themselves by stretching their nonexistent muscles, that even though death wasn’t around to take them, he was still afraid of its cold grips.
“We’re not going to fall,” Aiden said with a billowing laugh. The sound echoed through his imagined scene and shook the forest. No one seemed to notice. “Besides, we’re all already dead!” His laughter grew louder and louder.
“Stop laughing at me!” Erika whined.
“Alright, Alright,” Caleb started trying to diffuse the overreactions of both parties. “Erika, you’re not going to get hurt. I promise you, okay?”
Erika looked at Caleb with puppy dog eyes and a quivering lip and whispered, “Okay.” If she weren’t so adorable Lydia would have sent her back. She was starting to turn into a job.
The four of them each walked cautiously towards the edge of the mountain as if it were a hungry bear they were trying to calm in the wilderness. Aiden was the first to grab a hold
of the side, and when he did he swung up effortlessly to a small plateau. “See!” he said smiling. “Easy as pie.”
Erika and Caleb grabbed on simultaneously and Lydia could see Caleb mouthing the words, ‘You’re fine’ to Erika over and over again, so as to keep her from freaking out. It was working too, and Lydia really started to appreciate Caleb’s existence in the middle. He was, after all, helping with Erika, even though he was the one who invited her along. When they reached the first clearing it became apparent that up there in the middle, weight was a totally different kind of thing. It didn’t take the same strength to pull oneself up, as it did on earth, not even close. It was if they were all lighter than air and able to control where they went without so much as a flick of the hand.
‘We really should have just imagined ourselves at the top,’ Lydia thought to herself as she ascended. She tried to push the thought away, and have some actual fun with it.
“This is incredible. First one to the top?”
She smiled playfully to Aiden, who had already accepted the challenge, sealing it with a silent smile of his own. And then they were off.
They flew up the side of the mountain, each thrusting further and further away from the ground with each toss. The grassy field, the evergreen forest, the serene spring—all getting miniaturized as they made their way up.
Lydia lost her grip and, in an instant, was
plummeting to the bottom.
“Lydia!” Aiden yelled with his hand outstretched but it was too late. She was falling, and fast. It was all she could do not to scream and panic, but something in her mind had made her remember that she was in fact already dead so the opportunity for injury was almost non-existent. She let go of the feelings of fear and when she did that her speed slowed and she began floating down the side of the mountain like a weightless feather gliding back and forth as it descends. And then she stopped. She lay there, hovering about 100 feet up from the first plateau—where Caleb and Erika still stood procrastinating the climb—and began to look around.
The view was nothing short of majestic. She could see all sorts of things from her spot in thin air. She could see the Valley of the Lost souls, she could see the mansion, and countless other mansions at that. And she could see what appeared to be other souls creating their own worlds all around her. They all had imagined their own pleasures and when Lydia looked around it was the first time since her death that she felt truly content with her existence, in this dimension, as she was, at that very moment.
“What are you doing? You know I win, right?” Aiden was screaming from the top of the mountain but she heard him clearly, as if they were in one of those rock formations that sound travelled through effortlessly.
She began swimming through the air to the side of the mountain so she could grab a hold and fling herself up again. When she reached the top, she climbed up over the edge and landed on her hands and knees, completely lost in her own mind.
“That was. I can’t believe it.”
“You can’t believe that? Turn around.”
And with that Lydia turned around. She was blown away yet again by the sight of true beauty, in all sense of the word. It wasn’t her imagination or even Aiden’s. This was the middle. The place that souls go to wait. And it was the most inconceivable thing she had ever seen. She couldn’t shake the feeling that this, right here atop the mountain with Aiden, was where her soul was meant to end up.
“I don’t want to leave this place, you know. Not ever,” she said in a quiet voice.
“Then don’t.” Aiden sat down next to Lydia, put his arm around her, and the two sat in gratified silence.
Meanwhile, perched on the plateau like two sitting ducks, Caleb and Erika bickered about who would go first.
“I’m not going first.” Erika said with a humph.
“Ladies always go first,” Caleb whined. “Why are you being so difficult?”
“I’m not being difficult. I didn’t even want to come here you know. You guys, like dragged me. And I’m scared. A lot more scared than you Mr. Big Shot Actor. I don’t do adventurous, and I don’t do mountain climbing. That’s that.”
“Erika, it’s not like that and it’s certainly not the same kind of mountain climbing on earth where if you fall without protection you die. We’re already dead.”
“Stop it!” Erika screamed, which hit Caleb on the head with an obvious hypothetical thud. Erika wasn’t ready to accept that she had died and her old life, no more. She was still so scared because it was if she still didn’t believe that this was her fate.
Caleb took Erika by the shoulders and shook her. “You have to accept it Erika! You’re dead! You’re dead!”
“No!” she screamed and then flew up the side of the mountain faster than a locomotive derailment. She zigged and zagged, grabbing tiny edges to chuck herself up, away from the evil that was bestowed upon her in the form of a dead actor. She had to get away from his true, yet unsatisfying statements. In no time, she was halfway up the mountain, sitting on a new plateau, crying.
When Caleb finally reached her, he realized that his idea to get her up the mountain had backfired. He had made the poor girl cry. How was he going to fix it? Just then, an idea popped up into his head.
On the ground in front of Erika a small piece of green started to form out of the ground, and as it grew Erika started to realize it was a single blue rose, stemming out of the ground like a time lapse video.
“Wow,” she whispered. “It’s beautiful.”
“For you my lady,” Caleb said in the most non-threatening voice he could think of. “I’m sorry I yelled at you like that.”
“It’s okay. I probably needed it. You’re right. I need to accept the facts. Maybe when I do I can start to imagine things here, too. And maybe I can grow my own flowers.” She smiled at Caleb and hugged him so tight he was thankful he didn’t need oxygen to survive. “Thanks Caleb.”
“Anytime, sunshine. Now, let’s catch up to those two. They’re making us look bad.”
Caleb and Erika flung themselves up the mountain to meet Lydia and Aiden on the clearing. When they arrived, they saw them sitting together, content and truly happy with the silence, and decided that interrupting them would be a sin. They sat down in the same form and enjoyed the view.