She got back to her room, climbed into bed, and tried to sleep. But with what she just experienced, who could sleep after something like that? She was dying for an explanation and for the next few days she was tortured by her own mind trying to make up something that made sense. Of course, nothing came to her. And during the course of her wonderment, Aiden was nowhere to be found. She checked his room several times a day and even searched the hallways. During her search, she had run into more and more souls staying in the castle. First, she met Nancy, a young girl who could have only been about 6 when she passed away. She was quickly sent to another body, so their friendship was short lived, but for the limited time she knew Nancy, she loved her. The sense of adventure she had was nothing short of typical for a little girl—much like Lydia’s grown up sense of adventure which made her question her own maturity—but it did make for one exciting partnership while she was around. She would beg Lydia to play tag, and then disappear into the vastness of one of the amazing ‘rooms’ behind the big doors at the end of each hallway. Sometimes, she would even try to get Lydia to chase her into the Valley of the Lost Souls, but
thankfully Lydia always caught up to her in time to avoid it.
“Oh come, on Lydia. Can’t we please? They won’t catch us, we’re too fast!”
“Sweetheart, you have got to stop doing that. Let’s pick another place, okay!” Lydia had this conversation with Nancy quite a few times before she realized something.
Unfortunately, the thing she loved most about Nancy was probably the culprit behind what sent her here. She could picture her, out with her mother at a shopping mall. She’d disappear into a crowd trying to find excitement, ending up disappearing for good. It made her sad to think that someone so innocent and so full of life was in fact dead. When she was sent to start another life in another human, it gave Lydia relief. One of her lives was cut drastically short by a tragic event, no doubt, and now she got to start all
She also met an older gentleman, quite grumpy, but in a humorous way. She enjoyed spending afternoons with him playing Texas Hold’Em, especially since when she would win he would throw his cards and storm off claiming she must have cheated to beat his amazing hand. He was in the middle for quite some time, and it really showed. His name was Walter and Lydia always called him Walt, which bugged the hell out of him.
“My name is not Walt girl, it’s Walter. T-E-R, right there at the end of it.”
Lydia would always laugh and say, “What, you don’t like it when I call you Walt?”
Lydia and Walter had only one serious conversation during the time they spent together in the middle, right before Walter finally got his chance at a new life.
“You know, girl. I’ve been here a long time. I’ve seen a lot of souls come and go through here and I’m still sitting here. It really makes me wonder, what kind of person I must have been,” he said with a quiet sadness.
“Oh, Walt. Your time is coming, don’t you worry.” Lydia said trying to be as sensitive as possible. She couldn’t tell him he was a good soul because, well, she had no idea and Lydia wasn’t the lying kind.
“I just mean, oh I can’t believe I’m talking to you about this.” He scoffed a little under his breath and Lydia prepared herself for a mean quip. “It scares me to think that if I was a bad
person in my last life maybe, just maybe, I won’t be able to get a chance to be good. I’m just stuck with a bad soul that maybe shouldn’t get recycled. Maybe I should just get lost. I can’t spend eternity playing cards with you.”
“Walter, don’t you dare say that. You wouldn’t be waiting for another soul if you weren’t good enough for another chance at it. Whatever higher power is controlling this seems to think so.”
She smiled, looked him straight in the eyes and said, “It’s up to you how you turn out even
if you can’t remember this conversation.” They both laughed, and got back to playing cards. About two days later, he was gone. Sent to be reborn and it was the first time one of her friends left she didn’t feel a hint of selfish sadness.
There was also a family; mom, dad, and three children Lydia assumed had all died together in some sort of freak accident. That could have been the only explanation. They shouldn’t even remember one another, but maybe coming together changed that sort of thing. She didn’t know. She probably never would. They pretty much kept to themselves, except when approached by others and even then, would speak in short sentences as if the conversation itself was keeping them from something much more important. Even when Lydia had asked if they had seen Aiden, they barely answered her. The father just shook his head and shooed the lot of them down the hallway. Lydia wondered where they were going as they headed out
another one of those big doors but she didn’t have the energy to really follow and find out. Especially after the incident at Aiden’s cabin.
It had been almost a week and she still hadn’t seen him. She was starting to get very worried as she tossed and turned in bed nearing the eighth sleep he was away. And then she noticed him standing in her doorway.