A Winter's Bloom : Chapter 13

A Winter's Bloom : Chapter 13

   

Fortunate enough to make it to the hule before dark, I sit up against a rock. Crossing my arms and rocking back and forth, I try to keep warm and rest before sunrise. My thoughts are racing all over. Am I where I'm supposed to be? Is Bowski really in Kernel Springs?

I feel the warmth of the rays from the sun on my eyelids. I slowly blink them open and eventually gather my things and make my way down the hule, no sign of life or end in sight. I think about what Jim Jim said, how they found Bowski injured at the munn of the fjell - quite similar to how I found them in Humble Park. Through twists and turns, without a map, I am determined to find a way out. There has to be a way out.

I grow weary and famished, having walked for what seems like an eternity, as my foot slips on a rock and my body gives in to the ground. This is it. I'm completely lost. This must be my fate.

A short while later, I feel a repetitive tiny poke on my head, and barely open my eyes.

"Oh hi there," mumbles a low friendly voice. 

Mustering any ounce of energy left, I turn to my side.

"Here, drink this," the inhabitant offers me a cup of liquid bread.

After a few sips, I'm immediately feeling rejuvenated. "What is this?" I mouth softly.

"Oh just some of my Vossaøl. I'm Tafas," Tafas Cambridge offers me another gulp. "Pleased to meet you! Glad you like it. It's a family recipe."

I oblige with another sip. "Did I make it?" I mumble as I try to get up.

"Here, why don't you just jump on my back. I can manage," Tafas helps me up.

We make our way out of the hule not much longer, and I realize how close I was to the light. The rays of the sun, the bright blue sky, and gentle wind all feel rejuvenating.

"Welcome to Kernel Springs Ø!" Tafas looks back at me as we make our way out of the mountains into the beautiful and vast prairies ahead. It appears the winter's frost is beginning to melt away.

"But, how, how did you know?" I begin to question.

"Oh, word travels fast around here," Tafas laughs, slowly trudging along. "In fact, I've got a friend I'd like you to meet."

I finally begin to feel a renewed sense of strength in my body. Although I can probably forego riding on Tafas' shell, it does feel nice to not be in control of my destiny for once.

Then all of a sudden, far off in the distance, I notice a figure lurking above a barely melted body of water. I immediately flash back to the night when I saw Bowski getting into Mr. Sparkles' magic pond. 

"Is that Bowski?" I mutter to myself in utter disbelief. The closer we get, the more clearer the figure becomes. Wiping my eyes, all I can see is, Bowski! It has to be them!

"Bowski!" I cry out in joy, leaping from Tafas' back, running straight for the body of water. 

"Wait, Ø, you don't understand!" Tafas shouts out behind me.

I'm already leaps and bounds ahead, as the figure hovering over the water comes into focus. It has to be Bowski! I'm sure of it.

"Bowski! It's me, Ø! Remember me?" I scream with all my might, as I approach. The figure goes into the water. I rush in and dive head first to try and save them.

I survey the entire area, holding my breath, swimming as fast as I can, but there's no sign of Bowski or anything for that matter. 

Feeling defeated, I finally approach the surface and gasp for air, my thoughts racing, my mind perplexed. The extreme defeat and sorrow weighs heavily on me, as I cry out in pain. Is Bowski gone? Why did they jump in the water, and how come I can't find them moments later? I take out all my frustration splashing my arms and kicking my feet all about - so much so, I start to feel light headed and weak again.

Am I hallucinating? Is something wrong with me? I finally stop and just lie there, head above water, while nothing but the eerie calmness of the wind envelops me. 

What's the point? Why did I come all this way for nothing? I should've went back to the skog to save Bowski. All of sudden, a huge rush of guilt and deep sadness takes over. I can't breathe. I feel cold and completely numb. Completely lost with nothing to live for, I let myself slip away, swallowed up by the body of water, everything fading to black.

Moments later, I feel something take hold of my arm, pulling my entire body up to the surface, towards the light. Boom! I fall flat on a tiny raft made of chamomile stems, and immediately cough up a bunch of liquid, curled up in a ball. All my thoughts are scattered, as I try gain my senses, when I suddenly feel someone put their arm on my shoulder.

"Are you alight?" the mysterious being asks, towering above me.

I finally gather enough strength to sit up and open my eyes a bit more, trying to decipher what is happening.

"Here, this will keep you warm," Sundae wraps a teppe around me as we reach the edge of the water. I notice how tall and strong they are, as they pick me up off the raft and we head towards the mountains again. I doze off to sleep.

I can feel the breeze brush against my skin. A whiff of chamomile flowers tickles my nose, as I blink my eyes open.

To my surprise, I find a lovely plate of beet hummus with what appears to be rugbrød.

"There you are," I hear a voice call behind me. They make their way over, a towering being with a giant, calming smile. "Go ahead," they say as I immediately dive in with a purpose.

"It's an honor to finally meet you Ø. I'm Sundae Prairie," Sundae sits down across from me on a rock.

"Did you see Bowski?" I ask, trying to scarf down the food at the same time.

"Here drink this," Sundae hands me a delicious, light & floral hoppy farmhouse ale that has remnants of the chamomile stems in the air.

"I saw them, hovering above the water, and then, and then they were gone." I shake my head in disbelief.

"I'm so sorry to hear that Ø," Sundae speaks calmly. "I am aware you and Hamlin became very close, and that encountered some troubles on your journey here."

"It just doesn't make sense," I raise my hands. "Everyone I meet says they know Bowski, or they know me. Feels like I'm always one step behind Hamlin, and I can't catch up."

"I'm sorry you feel that way Ø," Sundae says calmly, sipping their ale. "Bowski has been and will always be a shining light in us all." Prairie stands up and sits down next to me putting their arm gently on my shoulder.

"You are not alone Ø. I feel your pain, but you must trust that Bowski will always be with you wherever you go. It is only when you decide to let go and trust your inner compass that you will finally see them again, " Sundae points to my heart.

"I don't understand," I get up and start walking in circles. "I have let go. I've been stuck on this desert island for so long, I don't even know what is real anymore. I mean, how did I get here? I've been traveling for so many days and nights, I don't even know who I am anymore."

Sundae stands up calmly. "Precisely. I know the feeling. Believe me I do. But you mustn't give up Ø. You have to believe in yourself. Don't give up hope."

I shake my head and stare at the ground, still feeling a bit defeated.

"Here, let me show you around," Sundae puts their arm on my shoulder and stares into my eyes. "There's a few people I think you should meet. Trust me, It's *Ok Not To Be Ok®, but you must have *Hope for the Day®, even just this once. You owe it to yourself Ø. You've come so far to give up now."

Sundae points to the beautiful landscape lit by a dreamy wide spectrum of red and orange hues as the sun sets far off in the distance. 

I finally give in. "Okay," I mutter softly. "Okay."

Sundae gives me the biggest hug and lifts me off the ground," Woohoo! You're gonna love it here Ø, just you wait and see!" They put me down and we stare off into the distance for a moment, letting the night fall in.

"Okay Ø, get some rest. We start off first thing in the morning!" Sundae smiles and puts out the fire. 

"Hey Sundae," I call out. Prairie turns around. "Thank you. Thanks for lifting me up."

Sundae smiles and nods. "See you in the morning."

I take the last sip of the farmhouse ale, and find a comfortable spot to rest my eyes. As I survey the night sky, I spot a shooting star flash right before my eyes. For once, even for just this moment, I am at peace.

***********

*Hope for the Day (HFTD)® is a non-profit movement empowering the conversation on proactive suicide prevention and mental health education. Visit their website to learn more and get involved.

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