"Mom? It's me, Aidan."
Alyssa blinked and peered through the haze before her eyes. "…Aidan?" she mumbled, her voice barely audible.
The vague shape nodded. "Don't worry, I'm here."
Alyssa sighed. "I-I'm sorry…"
Aidan blinked tears from his eyes. "Don't worry, it's going to be alright."
"Where… Where's your father?"
Alyssa tried to remember why she was here. She had become sick, and the doctors told her she had a stroke… "Aidan, help me…"
Aidan took her frail hand in his own. He was a middle-aged man, around fifty, with black hair except for the silver streaks that ran through it. His mother, who lay on the hospital table before him, with many machines and tubes attached to her, had completely gray hair. "We're doing everything we can," he said softly.
She sighed again. "I love you, and your father."
"Keep the family…" Alyssa never finished that sentence.
There was light everywhere. Alyssa had a feeling of weightlessness, while oddly having no feeling at all. She opened her eyes and looked into the light. It didn't hurt her eyes, but she couldn't see anything through it. It's as if it were a veil…
Where am I? she suddenly wondered. Am I dead? Am I blind? Maybe I'm in a coma. Is this a dream?
The light swirled around her, giving her an odd sense of peace. Suddenly, she had the impression that she was back in her mother's womb. I feel… safe… She was no longer weary, or drowsy. In fact, despite the comforting feeling, she felt rejuvenated, refreshed. But she didn't feel a need to do anything except stay. She was content. For the first time in my life…
"Is this your life?" a voice said, echoing from around Alyssa.
She felt confused at this voice, but not afraid. "Who are you?"
"You know me well enough, Alyssa…" the voice said.
Alyssa suddenly found herself standing on a beach. The sound of waves pounding against the shore reached her ears. Looking around, she saw that it was identical to one which she had often visited in her youth. Sand dunes gave way to grass, which in turn gave way to houses in the distance. She bent and ran her fingers through the sand; it didn't stick to her skin like it always used to, but instead it ran through her fingers. She then straightened, and suddenly she was aware that someone else was standing there, watching her. He was a man, about in his mid-twenties, with tanned skin and who was wearing a white t-shirt and jeans.
"Where is this?" Alyssa asked.
"This is the place all people aspire to reach," the man said softly. "They strayed when they left, and they seek to return home. This is their home. In their origins they find comfort."
Alyssa looked at him. His eyes were dark and mysterious, but vaguely… familiar. "Who are you?"
"Would it matter if I told you my name?" he responded. "I am someone you knew well. I loved you during my time on Earth, and… I still do. Despite the great offence you gave me…"
"Offence? When could I have offended you?" Alyssa was now even more confused. "Am I not on Earth anymore?"
He shook his head. "No. This is not Earth. This is your home, as I said before. And you did offend me, in the greatest way possible."
"Am I… dead? Are you dead?"
"Yes, we're both dead."
Alyssa blinked. "How did you die?"
"You killed me," the man said simply.
She felt a creeping horror crawl through her soul. "How? I never killed anyone."
"You're wrong. My name is Isaac. I would say I was glad to meet you, but we've already met." The man turned away from her, and looked out at the ocean. "The ocean is beautiful, isn't it?"
She turned with him, feeling her gaze drawn to the ocean. She watched as it shifted and changed, beating ceaselessly against the shore. "Yes. It is."
The man, Isaac, responded without looking at her. "It changes constantly, yet in essence it always remains the same… Just like people. They change constantly, but deep down they're always the same. They're always who they were, and will be. Nothing can change that." He then turned and glanced at Alyssa. "Come with me." He then began to walk off.
She automatically followed him. They passed between the sand dunes, until finally the sand turned to grass. Isaac walked to a house, a brick-walled, two-storied one, and, grasping the doorknob and twisting it, opened the front door. He beckoned to Alyssa before disappearing into it.
She approached the house. It seemed innocent enough, not dangerous at all. In fact, it seemed almost welcoming. She looked into the dark doorway, and then passed through it and into the house.
There was enough light for her to see by inside. Isaac was there, sitting casually on a large white couch. A small brown dog was curled up next to him; it looked up and whined as she approached. "Alyssa," was all Isaac said.
She sat down, with the dog between her and Isaac. "Why are we here?"
"All places are the same. It makes no difference where you are; it's what you're doing that matters." Isaac smiled. "Do you know who I am yet? I am the only person you ever killed during your lifetime, but I don't hate you for it."
She shook her head. "I'm afraid I still don't know."
He sighed. "When you were seventeen, you became pregnant. Do you remember Jay?"
Her eyes widened. "Yes…"
Isaac's eyes softened. "You, Alyssa, are my mother. And he was my father."
She shook her head in disbelief.
"You had me killed, mother," he continued quietly. "I didn't know why then. Now I know that it was because you felt you weren't ready for me to come." He looked straight into her eyes, and she found that she couldn't look away. "But I was already there, and I couldn't come again once I was gone."
Alyssa was silent for several moments. Then she said, "I'm sorry."
"It was a selfish decision, but… I didn't know what else to do."
"I understand why you did it. But it still destroyed my life." He looked around at the small room. "I am happy here. I only regret that I had no chance to feel the pleasures of the other world. Now that you're here, however, I don't feel any hatred for you or for what you've done. I still love you, mother, as I did when I was in your womb…"
She smiled, feeling tears begin to spill from her eyes. "I love you, too. I won't say I always did, but I do now."
He nodded. "I know." He then stood. "Welcome home, mother."
She stood up as well, and embraced him happily. "Thank you, son."
"I've been waiting for a long time to be with you, to get to know you," he whispered. "Now I can, at last."
She nodded, and suddenly there was nothing around her but light. It picked her up, and carried her. She was filled with a sense of contentment and euphoria.
I forgive you, mother… Isaac's voice said, echoing through her soul.
Now that she was forgiven, Alyssa could be at peace. At last, she felt fulfilled. She smiled. At last…