Susan was floating, much like she'd done back in her bedroom when she was a child. She looked down from her vantage point above the trees and saw her body lying in the weedy ditch below. She was relieved to see that Oliver was already on his feet and trotting along the road, back to the safety of the barn, the empty stirrups slapping against his sides.
Looking up, she discovered she could reach up and touch the pale, lavender-colored sky. Then, in less than a blink of the eye, she was standing on top of the clouds. How was it possible that a person could stand on a cloud? Would she keep floating, up and up, only to finally get lost in the glitter-filled sky? Or would there be a limit to how far her powers of floating could take her? She heard a soft nicker behind her, and turned in surprise. Standing before her was a stunning chestnut horse, marked with a narrow white blaze. It was, unmistakably, her angel horse. She reached her hand out for the horse but he pulled his head back, tossing his fire red mane and refusing to allow her to touch him. Then the horse turned around and galloped off toward the beckoning stars.
"Come back," she called, feeling a deep sense of loss as her horse faded away, just like he'd done the first time, all those many years ago. "Please, come back to me…" She stopped calling for the red horse to return, thinking about Oliver and feeling a sudden rush of guilt. Her horse would need her, far more than her angel horse… wouldn't he? And then there was Russ, something very important that she needed to remember about Russ…..
What was that annoying, constant beeping, anyway?
"Susan, come back," a male voice was saying. "Please, come back to me…"
It took a great deal of effort, but she opened her eyes and looked up… into bright lights and Russ' worried face. What did he think he was doing, floating up in the stars with her? This was her special talent, and she felt a momentary rush of annoyance that he would dare intrude. "Russ?" Her voice sounded rough, and her tongue felt thick inside her dry mouth. "Why are you here?"
"I've moved here, to Indiana. Can you remember anything?"
"Your horse threw you and rolled on top of you," Russ explained, swiping a tear from his face. "You had a cracked skull, broken ribs, punctured lung, just to mention a few of the injuries. I tried calling you on the phone and when you didn't answer, I got worried and called Peggy to go check on you."
"Is Oliver alright?"
Russ gave a shaky laugh. "Oliver is fine." He leaned closer and took her hand. "We thought we'd lost you, Susan."
She felt a rush of happiness that Russ cared enough about her to stay by her hospital bedside. "I came back."
"Thank you for coming back." Russ took a deep breath before adding, "I couldn't stand the thought of not having you in my life, Susan."
"Really? Does that mean you're my boyfriend?"
"I'd like to be more than that," he replied. "Just promise me that you'll never leave me again."