IN THE SUN
Chapter 48: Redemption (Fields of Gold)

It never occurred to me how difficult running my own business would be; the construction cost alone nearly drained me, financially and emotionally. It was incredibly slow at first, but soon, things started to grow. I made an eight-by-ten copy of the photograph Steve took of Nick and me and hung it in the lobby of the bed and breakfast, and beneath it, a sign read, For Nick. Before I knew it, two more months had gone by, and business continued to build. I talked to Nick every day, and I talked to the twins, as well. If Nick was right, which he usually was regarding such things, they really could hear me. Nick came to me through my dreams often, and every time, I would wake up a little lighter.

About a month into business, Cathy came up with an idea that ended up working beautifully-- and also helped raise money for the bed and breakfast. After much advertisement, we, every Sunday, would get together and cook an amazing breakfast for the folks staying with us. And it wasn't just any type of thing: we became very theatrical with it. We would open up the kitchen and play music and dance around the little hotel as we cooked the food and brought it out to our guests, who enjoyed the whole thing immensely. It felt so good to laugh again. I had my bad days and my good days, but for the most part, they were slowly getting better. Nick's birthday, the fourth of January, was especially difficult.

I woke up on the morning of my twenty-seventh birthday at six, same as always. Birthday or no birthday, there was work to be done. Emery and Cathy, as well as the other regular workers, were scheduled to come in any minute. Stepping into the back, I let Elijah out to do his morning business. It was a remarkably cool February morning for Southern California, and I pulled my robe in around me, shivering. When I let Elijah in, I gave him his breakfast. He was getting so big, and was nearly a year old, although, gauging by his size, you probably would have guessed older. He was a monster of a teddy bear, the sweetest and most loyal dog you could ever hope for. It was when I was flicking on the kitchen lights, getting the place ready for the day, that the pang hit my gut, just above my hips. Seconds later, it happened again, only stronger. I let out a cry, clutching my side, and when the third one hit, I was down. I'd been blindsided by it, and I found myself unable to get up, I was in so much pain. A few minutes later, I heard the front door open, and the sound of Cathy's laughter reached my ears as Emery was talking to her.

"Cathy!" I screamed, and I could practically hear her jump.

"Liza?!"

I was in a hospital bed in what seemed like mere moments; Emery stayed at the hotel to take in patrons and keep watch over the ones we already had. Cathy stayed with me, and I couldn't believe how quickly it all happened. But by one that afternoon, I sat holding my son and my daughter in my arms. I couldn't have asked for a better birthday.

Nick and Maggie were a year old when I finally went back to Seattle. I flew in to visit Steve, Sissy and Annie, as well as the boys from the band and play with them for awhile. It was so strange to go back after so long; Annie, Steve, Sissy and I drove by the site where Rose Red had stood. The condos were almost finished, but when we got there, we ended up leaving shortly thereafter. The twins got very upset almost as soon as we'd arrived, which I knew wasn't a coincidence.

The twins and I celebrated our birthdays-- they were four and I was thirty-one-- by going out camping with Chris, who took the ferry over from Los Angeles to help us celebrate. Nick woke me up at about four one morning, asking about the voices that were outside the tent. Maggie woke up, too, and together, we sat up and listened to the Russian hunters as they set up their own camp. When Maggie bolted out to say hi, she, like myself so many years before, found herself to be alone.

"Maggie! Maggie, honey, focus. Can you leave those up front, please?"

"Okay, Mommy, okay!"

"And where's your brother?"

"Somewhere out in the fields, with Elijah."

"Alright," I sighed. "Well-- go get them, will you?"

"Calm down, Mommy!" Maggie laughed, and next to me, Cathy did just the same.

"Are you sure you're going to be?"

"What?" I glanced at her, smiling. "Alright? Yes, yes, I'm fine, I promise." I laughed. "It's just.... it will be really nice seeing them again, you know? I'm excited. And jeez, you'd think it took him long enough to pop the question, am I right? I mean, five years....."

"I'm excited, too."

"Hey! We've got the stuff!" Emery breezed in with a grin on his face, carrying a huge wedding cake in his arms, and he was followed closely by another one of our employees, a girl of about twenty, who carried in all the disposable utensils. They immediately took it into the dining hall and started to set the things up on the tables that were already decorated.

"Are you excited about going back to school?" Cathy smiled at me, turning back to our chat.

"Oh, my gosh," I sighed, laughing. "I don't even know. Yeah, I am, but I'm nervous. It's been awhile since I've gone to school."

"I think you'll do so well, honey. You've been wanting to study parapsychology for so long..."

"I have," I nodded. "I just wanted to make sure the kids were squared away first in kindergarten. Now I feel like, once I do it, I can better help them understand their abilities."

"Well, at least they won't feel alone, with all of us around!" Cathy laughed.

It was a beautiful summer day, the perfect day for a wedding. At five years old, both of my twins had a part in Steve and Sissy's wedding: Maggie would be the flower girl and Nick would be the ring bearer. Annie was Steve's maid of honor, and Cathy and I were bridesmaids. Emery was Steve's best man. I was so glad they'd decided to get married at the bed and breakfast.

"Mommy!" Nick came bursting through the front doors, jumping up and down. "They're here, they're here! Come quick!"

The wedding was well underway come four that afternoon. There was still a dull ache in my heart, remembering the same vows that Nick and I had shared years earlier, and yet I was so happy to see that it was now Steve and Sissy's turn. The wedding wrapped, and the party was taken inside for food and general merriment. Some people stayed outside, as well, enjoying the gorgeous breezes coming up off the Pacific.

Music, dancing, drinking and fun continued for the rest of the evening, but it was just after the cutting of the cake that Cathy came to me with a smile on her face. "Liza," she found me in the kitchen as I started another load of dishes. "You need to come see this sunset."

I stepped outside to find my children running through the high grass with Elijah, howling in delight. Annie was chasing after little Nick, and he reveled in not being caught. The sky was indeed beautiful; the orange, yellow and red bled out into a deep indigo. Steve and Sissy were out within minutes to enjoy the sight, and Annie went to stand with her sister.

"It's him, isn't it?" Maggie was next to me, gazing at the sun as it disappeared behind the clouds. She found a seat next to me in the grass, which had turned golden in the light from the sunset.

"That's right, love," I nodded, hugging my daughter as she put her head down in my lap. My son came to me moments later, and we sat together in the fields. Elijah came up and collapsed next to us, exhausted.

We sat for a long while, watching the colors bleed out above us as the sun went down.

"Mommy?"

"Yeah, baby."

"I'm so glad we're together."

And as my throat closed in on me, I held tight to my son and my daughter, thanking the stars for everything that I'd ever been blessed with.

"Many years have passed since those summer days
among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
among the fields of gold
You'll remember me when the west wind moves
upon the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
when we walked in fields of gold."
-- "Fields of Gold," by Sting

THE END.

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MUSIC:

-- "Exogenesis: Symphony pt. 3 (Redemption)" -- Muse
A beautiful piece that ends the story perfectly; the way the song sounds, along with the simple yet beautiful lyrics, are perfect! "Let's start over again, why can't we start it over again? Just let us start it over again… and we'll begin, this time we'll get it, get it right. It's our last chance to forgive ourselves."

-- "Fields of Gold" -- Sting
I took the end quote directly from this song. To me it perfectly represents the sadness in the loss of Nick, and how, even though he may be gone, he will always be with his family, and how they will always remember him. Plus, the whole fields thing plays a big part, too, considering where their bed and breakfast is.

And that's it, folks! If you've made it this far, I thank you sooooo much for sticking with it. I have a question for you: did you like it? :) I so appreciate you sticking around 'till the end with me……. Always remember to live, laugh and love!! :D

Love,
Firefly-ErinMW