Tears stream from my eyes, and I press my palms to my mouth. I squeeze out another scream, and it splits through my fingers like heat from a radiator. My stomach flips as he stares at me, and I can't find the strength in me to speak. I can barely breathe, but I can still think.


He shakes his head, and as his little skull moves back and forth, I realize that he doesn't look like Ronny at all.

No. That isn't possible! I know what I saw. I saw my son. I know my son!

I choke out three frantic breaths. "What – what – what did you do?"

He doesn't move. "The world spins, and the sun rises, no matter what."

What is he saying? Why is he saying it to me?

"Please," I cry.

"You have been treating the world as if it's been stopped in place for three years," he continues. "You've wasted three years of your life. One thousand and eighty-three days."

I feel sick. I know what he's saying. It's been one thousand and eighty-three days since the accident, since I lost my life. My son. Ronny. I've counted every day as they slip past me. How does Gabriel know that? How could he possibly...

"You abandoned your faith, your work, your home, your purpose," he explains. "And what have you gained from it?"

He's right. I left my job at the law firm, I moved out of Charleston to this small little farmhouse. I gave up everything after Ronny died. I had to. I couldn't face the world anymore, I couldn't watch people go about their days with happiness and hope after losing the light of my life. I couldn't.

"I've gained nothing," I croak. I don't think about saying it. It just spills out.

"Exactly. Your son is not proud. He's confused, and he's sad. He doesn't understand where the determined, lively, passionate woman he calls 'mommy' has gone. He wants to see her come back. And so she will."

I feel my lips trembling, but I speak.

"So she will."

I shoot out of my sleep, and I nearly scream, but I hold it back. That... that was the strangest dream I've ever had in my entire life. It turned into a nightmare near the end...

Wait. No.

That wasn't a dream.

I fling myself out of my bed and just barely avoid kicking my door off of its hinges. I rush down the hall and into the guest bedroom... it's empty, and the bed is made, like it wasn't even slept in. A sound that I recognize lifts from my throat – I remember making it with my knees on the road, cradling my son's head in my arms. I run back up the hallway and flash down my stairs, where I manage to put together that I should leave through the kitchen door, since that's where I led him in.

I slip on the kitchen tiles before I tackle the door open, and I see Gabriel standing out in the field, his head tilted up toward the sky. My heart thrums against my ribcage with strength that a heart shouldn't have. I wasn't dreaming. Gabriel spoke like an adult, a wise one at that. He's staring directly up at the Sun. He should be in pain, but as I stumble forward, I can see a smile on his face. A warm, pleased smile.

He drops his head, and looks directly at me, and I see him. Ronny.

I run forward and drop to my knees, sobs thrashing through me. I loop my arms around him and squeeze him as tight as I can. I kiss his cheeks and his forehead and the spot between his eyebrows, and I hug him again. I can't let him go. I can't let him leave me again.

"Mommy," he says, pulling away from me.

"Yes, Ronny? What is it, baby?"

"Live again," he says. "I'm happy. I'm okay. I love you, mommy," he drawls in that adorable little voice that puts joy in my heart whenever I even think of it.

"Oh, Ronny-"

He looks up at the Sun again. "I have to go now, mommy. Gabriel is calling me back."

I crawl closer to him again. "No, no, sweetie, you can stay here with me. Come on, we can go inside, and I can make you some breakfast." I grab his hand. "Come on."


I look at his face, and my son is gone. It's Gabriel again. I throw his hand away and scramble backwards.

"Where is he? Bring him back! Let me talk to him! Just a few more minutes. Please, please let me see Ronny!"

He smiles, and when he speaks, his voice isn't one of a child. This is a man I'm speaking to. I don't know how, but it is.

"I cannot bring him back, Rachel. It's not within my power. But, I feel I've done something better. I've brought you back. Do what he asked, Rachel. Live."

With that, he vanishes.

Into thin air.

I drop to my knees and sob. Ugly, body-racking sobs quake through me for a time I can't keep track of, until the truth comes washing over me like lemonade on this hot summer morning.

Gabriel wasn't a little boy. I don't know what he was, but he wasn't a boy, or a girl, or a woman, or a man, or anything in between. I was raised religious, but abandoned my faith after Ronny was taken from me. Gabriel... he wasn't from here. He was from somewhere beyond this world, I'm sure of it. I know it. He knows my son, I know that even more. He's spoken to him. He's been with Ronny, watching me. Maybe not in the place that I learned about in church, but they're somewhere, and they're there together.

I stand up and dust my pajama shorts off. Maybe somewhere down the line, years from now, I'll be able to be me for me. That's what Ronny wants. He wants me to know that even though he's not here with me anymore, the world is still spinning. I look up at the sky, and put a hand over my eyes to shield them from the big yellow, the one that rises every morning, that Ronny looks down from. I can feel him pushing me forward, pushing me not towards death, but towards life.

I'll do it.

I'll start living again.