[This post is from Thomas Merlin Ambrose’s point of view.]
“We’ve been looking everywhere for you.”
The fact that Carolyn said it so softly, so gently, made it almost worse. Sitting in the grass in front of what was supposed to be his parents’ grave, I expected her to be angry—I expected all of them to be angry after I pulled my disappearing act and ventured off alone. I knew that they were worried about me, but they were worried about all of us, even themselves. They knew that something was out there, stirring. I knew it, too, I just hadn’t wanted to believe it until I’d gotten jumped in the ravine.
I still didn’t know what the vision I’d had down there meant, what I’d experienced meant. What was it, anyway? Some kind of dream or vision shared across time? A spot where reality folded enough that I’d glimpsed my parents as they’d been when they were barely older than me?
I stared at my hands and the journal in them. It was one of my father’s. I wasn’t sure why it was that particular one that I’d brought out here with me, but I had and I’d found myself thumbing through it, looking for answers I wasn’t sure I’d find anywhere.
I wasn’t even sure what the questions were anymore.
Carolyn sat down next to me, watching me for a few seconds before her gaze drifted to the headstone. “Are you okay?”
“They’re not there, are they?”
If the question startled her, she didn’t give any sign. She just sighed quietly. “How long have you known?”
My fingers tightened around the journal. “I don’t know. I think I’ve always suspected. There was just—none of it really made sense, you know? I knew Mom had been sick. But her and Dad at the same time?” I sighed and rubbed my face. “Something didn’t add up.”
“Almost everyone else believes it.”
“I know,” I said. “That’s why I’ve never asked and just kind of let it go. But now…”
“But now you have questions.”
“I’ve always had questions. I just never asked them.”
“Are you going to ask them now.”
I closed my eyes for a second. “If I do, would you answer?”
“If I can,” she said softly. “I don’t know everything.”
I nodded slowly. “Do you know why?”
“Because they had to,” she said. “Because they had no choice.”