The Reincarnation of Lydia Ashes

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8

THE SEARCH FOR ANSWERS

Lydia was starting to get antsy and quite sick of all the souls secrecy in the castle they all shared. With the exception of Aiden and a few people that had been sent back to earth, she had barely spoken to anyone. They all kept to

themselves or with those they soon realized they had died with. Lydia was shocked at how many people didn’t actually die alone. While innocently stalking the family that had always seem scared of everyone else she noticed something. It wasn’t a family anymore. It was a father, sitting alone in an empty room, crying.

“Are you okay?” Lydia asked in a sort of whisper as to not frighten him. He looked up at Lydia and shook his head to signal that, no, he was not okay. She walked over and sat down next to him on the floor, not saying a word.

“They’re all gone. They all got sent back without me. I don’t understand. What did I do?” He looked at Lydia with a glaze in his childlike eyes and she realized he was actually looking for her to answer the question.

“I don’t know. I’m so sorry. Maybe we can try to figure out a memory of yours that could help you find out?”

“Why would you help me? I just completely ignored you, all of you. Kept my family away. I thought I was keeping us safely together. But

we shut you out.”

“No harm, no foul. Now let’s go. Come on.”

The man got up, wiped his tears, and started to follow Lydia down the hallway towards one of the ‘other world’ doors. Turns out his name was Bill, and his wife and three children had all gotten sent back in the past week. What he remembers from his life was that he was a construction worker, drove a pick-up truck

with one of those four-door cabs that can carry an infinite amount of people. Probably to get his family from A to B without having to drive around in a minivan. He was a big drinker, but the only reason he remembered that was because of how many bar fight memories kept popping up for him. His kids were 4,7, and 9 and each of them had their own little hobby. The 4-year-old was a hockey prodigy, or so Bill says. The 7-year-old loved karate, and the 9-year-old was into the piano. His wife was a stay-at-home mom, who Bill says worshiped him and always had dinner ready at 7. It all sounded so simple. A real old-school family, alcoholism and all.

“Through here,” said Lydia as she opened a big metal door into a snowy atmosphere that looked like small town New Jersey. “Don’t worry, you can’t feel the cold.”

They walked through the snow, every so often kicking the powder up and each other, without playful laughs or mocking conversation. Bill wasn’t much of a talker and Lydia didn’t mind not having to hold a conversation to feel

comfortable with him. He broke the silence with a question she wished she had a better answer for.

“Why here?”

“I missed the snow,” she said, slightly smiling.

And that’s when it happened. Both Lydia and Bill were thrust to the scene of a black pick-up driving through the snowy roads. The truck was full of people; a family.

It had pulled out of a restaurant. The family had just been celebrating Bill’s 45th birthday. They enjoyed a lavish dinner full of expensive cuts of steak and in Bill’s case, a few too many whiskeys.

The truck swerved a little in the snow and Bill lost control, totaling his truck and everyone inside.

“You knew,” he said to Lydia. His voice was angry. “You knew, and you made me remember!” He was screaming now and Lydia didn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to see something like that anymore than he did and she sure as hell didn’t mean to make it a group event when he did remember the death of his family.

“I didn’t, I swear,” she stammered. “I’m so sorry Bill, I didn’t know!” She said it twice to make sure he believed her. He didn’t.

“You stay away from me.” He ran away crying and Lydia imagined that she had never felt so guilty for something she didn’t do. It was his tragedy, and his fault, but somehow she felt repentance as if she had caused the accident.

For the next few days, it kept eating at her. Where was Bill? What land did he end up in? She prayed to God that he didn’t get himself ‘lost’ because he was racked with the guilt of being the sole cause of his whole family’s death. She tried to tell herself, as horrible as it sounded even as a though, that he did kill his own family. Lydia couldn’t imagine how he felt or what he was going through but she sure wished she could find him and try to help. It had a sense of urgency to it for her, for some reason. All she felt was that she had to find Bill, and she had to do it as soon as possible.

The first place she checked was the obvious empty room she found him in. Nope. No Bill. Second, she went to the scene of the memory crime. She wandered for what felt like hours in the snow and she still couldn’t find him. Not even a set of footprints. ‘This is useless’ she thought to herself. But then it hit her. She must go to the Valley of the Lost Souls, because that’s probably where he is. She ran back to her room to plan her trip.

“What are you doing?”

Lydia jumped to the sound of his voice.

“Aiden, dammit. You scared the crap out of me. I’m just planning to go find Bill, you know that dad of that family that hated everybody?”

“Why on earth are you going to find him, he’s a drag.” Aiden said teasingly.

“I sort of forced him to remember how he and his family died and let’s just say it was not good.” She raised her eyebrows without looking

up from her pile of planning papers. “It was his fault and I made him remember it, and I just feel awful. I have to find him before the guilt makes him do something he can’t take back.”

“Like get lost?”

“Exactly.” Lydia looked up at Aiden and even he looked scared.

“Lydia, you can’t go there. Not alone. I’m coming with you.”

“You’re not going to try talking me out of it?”

“I feel like I know you well enough to know that even if I did you wouldn’t change your mind. So, I’m doing the next best thing.”

Lydia smiled and they started out the door.

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