Crossroads

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Chapter 49

Lincoln

“Mia is my muse.
The steady rhythm of my symphony.
The crescendo of my very own composition.”

PRESENT

Here I am. Again.

When I came to this bridge, almost exactly thirty months ago, I didn’t expect those thirty months to turn out the way they did.

Hell, I didn’t expect to even live another thirty months...

I did expect the light.

My patients told me about it. When we manage to bring them back to life, so many of them say they saw it. The light at the end of the tunnel. They say you bathe in a sense of serenity, that life seems gentle, suddenly. Like you’re floating in this brightness.

My life back then was neither serene nor gentle. It was darkness, a violent pitch-black void, and I was craving the light like a moth by nightfall.

I found that light now. It’s a light so bright that I feel the sun could vanish, and still, I would always find my way. I would always know where I need to be.

Right by her side.

It’s where I am right now, right by her side, while the busy traffic on the road behind us becomes mere background noise as we reach the railing. The waves crashing against the shore beneath us create a sound that is both so violent and so beautiful, that I can’t help but close my eyes and take a deep breath, letting those melodies play in my head.

It was this symphony that called me here, back then. These forces of nature, the howling wind whipping against my skin, the streaming water thrown against the shore, and the giant boulders beneath the bridge... They all served their own purpose, sang their own hymn.

I hummed right with them. I was convinced their symphony was the one I needed to listen to, because it was the only one I could hear. My life was deaf for a long while. The only sound in my head was this fusion of demons, their screams echoing through my soul every second of every day.

This symphony, the prospect of my impending death... It was the only voice that could silence them.

Until Mia came into my life.

I still remember how she stood there, strength and confidence rolling off of her in waves as violent as the ones beneath us. The moonlight cast her in this celestial light, and I remember how for just a second I thought that this must be a dream. I thought I was hallucinating.

Turned out Mia is not a hallucination at all. That’s what always drew me to her. She’s the epitome of life, of reality, of raw and dangerous honesty. I think I will never really understand that she shares a life with me now, that she deems me worthy enough to be by her side.

“Link?” Her voice sends me out of my thoughts, her arm wrapping around my waist as she tugs herself closer to me. I can imagine how worried she must be, how confused about the fact that I brought her here of all places, today of all days.

The idea came to me a few days ago. It felt like the right place to start this new chapter of our lives, to prove to myself just how far I’ve gotten. And I was right in that assumption; Being here, taking in this scenery, the memories of that day flooding my brain... I realize I’ve come to peace with it. I’ve stopped fighting myself and started battling those demons, silencing them with my very own weapons.

I created my own melody, my own symphony composed with each of those weapons, inspired by this woman right next to me. Truth is, as much as I know that I learned to battle them myself, fighting is so much easier and so much more beautiful when she’s doing it with me.

Mia is my muse. The steady rhythm of my symphony. The crescendo of my very own composition.

“Lincoln...” Her melodic voice proves my point again, and I quickly wrap my arm around her, pulling her soft body closer to mine. The warmth of her body seeps right into mine, and when I look down to meet her gaze, I almost feel how the pure affection in her eyes takes my breath away.

“Do you feel that?” I ask, brushing some of her hair behind her ear.

She furrows her brows, obviously not understanding what I mean. “Feel what?”

“The wind. Do you feel it?”

Mia looks around, almost as if she was trying to see what I mean, and I immediately know what I need to do. “Close your eyes.”

Her eyes meet mine again when I turn so I stand right in front of her, my back pressed against the railing now. She studies me, searching my gaze for the answer to my question as she wraps her arms around my waist, holding me close until she finally closes her eyes.

I wrap my arms around her shoulders, letting the wind push her closer to me, closer into my arms. It’s not as strong today, and yet it’s strong enough to take me back to that day, to make me remember how it felt on that ledge.

“We have tailwind...” Mia suddenly says, looking back up on me.

I nod my head with a smile, pulling her hood over her head and tucking the wild strands of hair right into it, protecting it from the howling wind.

“Do you remember the blustery winds that night?”

She nods her head at my question, her eyes glimmering in the glow of the setting sun behind us. “Yeah, the wind hit us from all directions. It almost pushed me off of there,” she says, and again I feel this huge boulder of emotions settle in my chest.

I will never be able to describe just how much I feel for this woman, just how much I owe her my life. The courage she showed by stepping onto that ledge with me, by risking her own life to save mine, it will forever be a mystery to me.

“It did. We stood just like this, arm in arm, and still it was almost impossible to stay still.”

“It’s easy now...” Mia says with a smile on her lips, obviously understanding what I meant to say. “We have tailwind now.”

“Yes, we do... And do you know what that means?”

She shakes her head, and I see the emotions storming in her eyes, see the pure love and joy radiating right off of her when I cup her face with my hands, pressing a swift kiss on her lips before I whisper, “It means it’s our time now, sola. Mother nature is on our side now, because we deserve it to be.”

A triumphant smile tugs at her lips, the sole sight of that making my heart thunder violently in my chest.

“Because you fought for that, Link. You’re worthy of mother nature’s love because you gave it your all.”

It’s these moments that make me realize just how much she understands me. She sees me, sees who I am, who I want to be... I’m pretty sure she knew all of that before I did, Mia just always had that talent to comprehend my soul with a single glance.

I can’t help but kiss her, a kiss so brief and gentle that it’s almost imperceptible, and still it sends me to heaven and back. Because the truth is, every slightest touch of her makes me lose my mind. “Thank you,” I whisper, resting my forehead against hers.

And the fact that she doesn’t ask me to elaborate on that simple statement just shows she knows it all. She knows me; she knows who I am, what I’ve been through, and what still lies ahead of me. I’m not afraid to face all of that, as long as she’s with me.

We stay like this for a while until a quiet gasp leaves her lips, and I realize that it’s probably time. I quickly spin her around, letting her face the railing now. We look at the skyline in front of us while I wrap my arms around her, intertwining our fingers on her stomach as I rest my head on her shoulder.

“What is this?” Mia asks.

I look at the orange river in front of us now; the sun setting right between two skyscrapers at the shore. “Once a year, the sun falls between these two buildings, and for just a few minutes they’re so perfectly aligned that the orange light illuminates the whole river in this particular shade of red,” I explain, holding her as tightly as I can.

“That’s so beautiful...” she whispers, squeezing my fingers as she leans against my chest, giving me everything I need: Her.

We enjoy that moment for a few minutes, watching how the bright star keeps wandering, and we just embrace each other’s warmth as the sun takes its own beneath the horizon.

Mia presses our intertwined hands on her chest, letting us feel how her heart gallops in her rib cage. “That was magnificent,” she mumbles, “I’m sad it’s over...”

“I’m not...” I respond, feeling how she tilts her head to look at me, those sapphires studying me with curiosity. Her heartbeat still vibrates against our fingers until she turns around, facing me with a smile and a raised brow, asking me to clarify.

“I’m not sad,” I explain. “This sun right there...” I nod to the skyline where only a shimmer of orange on the horizon reminds us of what occurred moments before. “This sun will come and go as it pleases. I have my own sun now.”

She swallows when I brush the hood from her head, somehow wanting to look at all of her. ”Sola... You know what that word means?”

I’m not surprised when she nods, “Yeah, I looked it up, but I didn’t quite understand it... I was wondering why you’d call me alone all the time.”

A laugh escapes her lips, and I can’t help but join right in, brushing my thumb over her cheek as I elaborate. “When I was in elementary school, my mother tried to teach me some Italian words. I hated it, I thought it was unnecessary and always refused to listen to her. She kept speaking Italian to me though, not that she was really good at it either, she just tried to remind herself of her roots.”

“She kept playing that game with me. Said she’d push me on the swing if I try to memorize the Italian words to things around us. It seemed like a good deal, it wasn’t like she tested me on those words afterward...” I can’t help but chuckle, shaking my head before I focus on Mia in front of me, the smile on her lips instantly warming my heart.

“Well, one day, she did test me. I still remember when I sat on that swing, and she pushed me, with every push asking for a new word. It was already close to sunset when she pointed ahead, and asked Lincoln, what do we call the sun? and I answered without hesitation because I thought I remembered that word so well, and I basically screamed it out at the world, Sola, mama, sola!"

Mia’s smile broadens when I focus on those glassy ocean blue orbits, their gaze once again settling right on my soul. I run my thumb over her cheek, catching a tear that fled those beautiful eyes before I continue.

“As you can imagine, she just laughed and shook her head when she corrected me. It’s sole. Sola means alone, sole means the sun. And I just absolutely didn’t understand that. But the sun is alone, isn’t it? I asked, and my mother being my mother, answered the smartest thing ever when she said, There is only one, yes. But it’s far from alone, look how it affects the earth, how the whole world blooms because of its warmth. The sun lives from the growth it allows, from the lives it creates. It’s the only company it needs..."

“That’s such a beautiful sentiment...” Mia whispers, and I nod my head, again wiping the stray tears off her face.

“It is. And still, I didn’t listen to my mother.” I laugh.

“You didn’t?”

“No.” I shake my head with a smile. “To me, the sun would always be sola. That word would always remind me of those days, of the happiness and weightlessness I felt as a child, of the fact that we should thank the sun every damn day for the growth it gives us.”

“Link...” Mia almost sobs, but I hold her tightly, trying to make her understand when I look at her, letting both our tears flow without shame now.

“You’re my sun, Mia. You have always been, and always will be, the person that helps me grow, that lights up the world every time you step in my view. This day... I couldn’t have made this without you. Not like this. And I just need you to know that you are everything. You glow like the sun, you give me so much love and warmth that I don’t know how to contain all of it. You’re just... You’re it. You, sola, are the only sun I need.”

Mia wraps her fingers around my own, my palms still resting on her cheeks, that so familiar and warm feeling only altered by her tears trickling from our knuckles.

“I love you, Lincoln. So much, I can’t even... I don’t...” she sobs, and I just nod my head, brushing my lips against her own to calm both our hearts, to give them what they crave.

“I love you, too, sola. More than any other star in our solar system...”

As we lose ourselves in this kiss, as our souls and hearts unite in a warm symphony, I know just how true those words are.

I’d rather live a whole life without the sun in the sky, than a single day without Mia by my side.

And I know I can conquer it all with her, I can face all those demons without fear, knowing I have all I need.

My orchestra of instruments to defeat them.

My very own symphony.

My sun.

THE END.

Hey friends!

Wow. This is it.

Well, almost. Next chapter will be an Epilogue, from both Noah’s and Summer’s POV - I hope you enjoy that one.

But for now, I want to say thank you, to both my readers and to Mia and Lincoln as my characters. As a writer I aspire to bring my characters to life, to make my readers feel what I do. I always have an idea of where I want the story to go, usually meticulously planned, too, but never in my life does that work out the way I expected it to, obviously.

Lincoln and Mia did an exceptional job at running this show on their own, I was only their puppet master, moving them the way they needed me to. That might have been because, in one way or another, I find myself in both of them. I’ve been where Lincoln was, I’ve lost people, had and have mental health issues, just like a lot of us do. I’ve also been Mia, been strong as hell but also heard the harsh things people said to her, and know just how much it hurt when they were expressed.

When I got the idea to this story I didn’t think it’d turn out to be this intense, to be honest. Mia and Link just made it that way, and I’m really glad it turned out the way it did. I wanted to raise awareness of an issue, of a stigma that exists in our society, in people’s heads, and show that you can’t just get over your depression. That you can’t just get up and do stuff because someone tells you to. Mental health issues are different for everyone, and depression, anxiety, panic attacks... All those things show uniquely for everyone.

Remember this when you judge someone, or when you yourself feel judged. Remember that they can’t know what it’s like. That our society does a crappy job of educating those around us. But there are people out there who will listen, who want to help, who want to know how you’re doing.

You are not alone.

Your mental illness is valid.

Your feelings are valid.

Get help when needed.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Sincerely.

Jane

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