Jackson was exhausted. Today had been a rough day at school; not really the classes, but the actual day.
On this day, four years ago, his mother had died.
He remembered her fondly most of the time, not normally sad. Today, it was as she was everywhere he looked. He had seen her face in the window, looking in as if trying to see what kind of man her little boy had grown up to be.
In gym class, he had seen her face looking down as he struggled to complete the rope climb.
"Come on, Jacky. You can do it! There we go, almost done. I'm proud of you, Bud." She had said, her hand reaching out for his.
Before Miley, Jackson was Bud. That was a nickname his mother had made for him when he was just a little boy. When she had died, he couldn't stand being called Bud, so it became Miley's name. It used to bother him to hear his father saying that name to someone else, but now he didn't mind so much.
Finally home, Jackson kicked off his shoes. He flopped down on the couch, not wanting to do anything except sleep. He closed his eyes, and began to dream…
Miley's friend Lily was in Jackson's dream. She had seen him crying, and had come over to see what was the matter.
"My Momma's gone." Sobbed Jackson. "And Dad says she can't come back"
"I'm so sorry," said Lily, crying with him. "Come here…" She pulled him into a fierce hug, comforting and rejuvenating at the same time. It felt good to have someone to hold on to.
Several years down the road, Jackson was with Lily, hiking in the mountains. She slipped, and almost fell down the cliff, but Jackson caught her quickly. He pulled the terrified girl into a hug, holding her close, scared to death as well.
"Thank you," she whispered in his ear, her knees weak from the scare. "Oh my god, Jackson. You saved my life…" He knew that all she needed was someone to hold on to.
Again, many years later, Jackson saw Lily and Miley playing with a toddler.
"Look at her, Jackson!" said Lily, thrilled. "Our baby's walking!" she gasped as the little girl stumbled and fell. Jackson scooped up his baby girl, saying, "It's all right, Bud, Daddy's got you, Daddy's got you… Shhh…" The little girl squeezed him tightly, as if to say don't let go. Lily smiled.
"She's lucky to have someone to hold on to."
Jackson awoke, back in his family room. He shook his head, trying to remember where he was.
"Woah," he said to himself. "That was one crazy dream."
Just then, Miley and Lily walked in the door. "Hey Jackson!" they said, and as they walked up the stairs, Jackson thought that Lily really was very pretty.
It might have been crazy, he thought, But it was nice to have someone to hold on to.