The reviews were lovely everyone, and I see I got ya with the cliffhanger ;) I hope you all had a great Christmas or any other holiday that you may celebrate! Here's my guft to you, the FINAL chapter of "Here After"!
I don't feel myself rocking like I did in the ambulance, but I do feel overcome with the same sensation of worry and panic. I scoop Levina into my arms and cry her name while tears roll down my face. Doc hears all the noise and joins us outside. He doesn't speak at all but grabs Levina and carries her back through the doors. I rush to follow him, but Mater holds me back.
"What are you doing? Let go of me!" I scream, trying to twist out of his clutch.
He whips me around and brings me so close to his face that I could count the freckles on it. "Miss Sally, get a hold of yerself. She's gonna be jus' fine. I found her layin' out in Ornament Valley, probably just got bitten by a snake or somethin'."
"A snake! What if it was poisonous? Damn it, Mater! Let go of me!" I struggle against him some more, but like Lightning once pointed out, I'm weak when I'm scared. I start crying violently at the memory of him placing his strong arms around me when he'd said it. He knew me inside and out, just like I knew stupid little things about him. He couldn't resist chocolate covered almonds, he hated the word 'boisterous' and he loved to sing Bon Jovi songs when no one was around. The things I'd never forget about him…the tiny details that etched their way into my mind.
However, I'm not going to start a list like that for Levina. She's the only thing I have left of him, the only thing I love above all. I don't intend to lose her too. I fight harder against Mater, but he doesn't free me.
I finally give up, and when I do, he drags me inside the waiting room. He sits me down with some force and gives me a stern look.
"Miss Sally, I know this is hard fer ya, but I won't have ya goin' losing yer mind again. Just sit still and we'll wait for Doc."
I nod back and relax into the chair. Surprisingly, Doc comes out relatively quick. He moves closer to us and I stand up immediately. His eyes grow wary, but he says, "Everything is OK. She just passed out from some severe dehydration. I've got her on fluids, and I told her to rest, but she's begging for you, Sally," he pauses to clear his throat, "I think there is something she wants to talk to you about."
I don't hesitate for a second, I dash to her room. I open the door and I'm met straight on with her blinking blue eyes. My heart stops as I realize just how much she resembles Lightning.
I approach the bed with caution and then lift her head to hug her. She hugs me back, and after a minute I release her. I gaze at her through my teary eyes and stroke her soft brown hair from her face.
"Levina…oh, baby, where did you go?" I whisper.
Her face changes to an indescribable expression. I watch as she reaches under the sheet and withdraws a fist. Slowly, she uncurls her fingers to reveal a golden ring.
I gasp and my hand flies to my open mouth. It's the ring Lightning gave me when he asked me to be his girl. The ring I put away in the storage shed…
Levina takes my ivory hand and places the ring where a wedding band would go. With pleading eyes, she peers up at me and asks, "Mom…can you tell me now?"
2 weeks later
Levina and I stand side by side on the bridge crossing over the Tailfin waterfall. We each hold an envelope, mine addressed to 'Stickers' and hers to 'Daddy'. I grab her hand and squeeze it gently. I look out into the depths of the water and stare at it whirling far down below us. This isn't the first time I've done this, but it feels so much more special with my daughter.
Levina kisses her letter, and I do the same. In unison, we throw the envelopes over the railing and watch them drift downwards until they are swept away by the rushing currant.
I turn and hug her closely, feeling more complete than I have in years, nearly 15 years to be exact. I may not have Lightning anymore but at least I have her to shower with my love. She's the nearest thing to a piece of him that I'll ever find.
I let her out of my embrace and she smiles lovingly at me. I smile back at her and ask, "Now, what do you say we go work on that race car?"
Thanks to everyone who read this story, and a special thanks to those who reviewed too :) I really hope you enjoyed this story and will look at my other work and anything to come. My next piece will most likely be a holiday one or my Francesco one-shot. I'd love to reach at least 60 reviews on this story, so please leave one last review telling me anything you like about the story. Your favourite chapter, what I can improve, what you would rate it out of 5 stars, I'd love to hear! Oh, and if you do leave a review then would like to know how most people view my stories. I tend to read them from a DSi, but what about you guys? Do you read them from a computer, phone, etc? Answers would be appreciated. Thanks, until next time!