The smell of bacon, waffles and fresh coffee floated through the air. It drifted under my blankets and danced around under my nose. Rolling over with a moan, I reached out beside me. My hands grasped around on the empty bed.
Exhaling slowly, I rolled over and poked my head out from under the blankets. My eyes watched the digital numbers on my clock as they slowly changed. I turned it off when the numbers read 4:00am long before the alarm was scheduled to sound. Throwing my feet to the floor, I got up and slowly walked down the hall. My fingers ran through the mess of my curly pixie cut as I trudged over to the kitchen.
Ruby looked over her shoulder at me with a glowing smile. She was wearing a pair of my jeans and a plaid button down, her red hair pulled back in a messy bun on top of her head, shoes already on. “Amazing, you’re up.” Walking over, she put a plate on the table and smiled at me before bringing over a mug of coffee.
Turning, I looked at the two backpacks by the front door of my apartment. “What’s all that?”
“We’ll talk while we eat to save time.” Sitting across from me, she poured syrup all over her waffles and bacon before sipping her coffee. Reaching into her back pocket, she pulled something out and put it on the table between us.
Picking up the envelope, I pulled out the tickets inside. “Fresno, California.” I looked at the tickets for a few moments. “Why are we going to Fresno?”
“We’re not. We’re just passing through. We are going to Yosemite Valley.”
“Yosemite Valley.” I remembered the scenic place from the screen saver I had for five months.
“We leave for the airport in less than an hour.” Shoveling a couple of pieces of bacon into her mouth, she looked at me. Her face was light, like yesterday hadn’t happened. “I am assuming you don’t mind missing work, since you were planning on being dead today.”
Pursing my lips, I shook my head. “Nope.”
“Amazing. So eat up, you can squeeze in a shower before we head out.”
We ate in silence, although every time I looked over at her, she had a comforting smile on her face. Getting up, I put my plate in the dishwasher and walked past her out of the kitchen. “Ruby, why are we going to Yosemite Valley?”
“Sometimes when you are surrounded by darkness, the only thing to do is search out some light.”
Standing with my toes in the water, I looked up at the beautiful mountains that seemed to surround us. It was like a dream, or a painting the way the water reflected the trees and mountains. I breathed in the fresh air; letting it fill me up completely as I closed my eyes and let my head fall slowly back.
Ruby took my hand in her own, linking her fingers through mine as she stood beside me.
We didn’t say anything; we just stood there in silence.
I was no fool; I knew what Ruby was trying to do. She was trying to give me a reason to live. I was not defiant; I was not so set on ending my life that I wouldn’t let any happiness in. I would take all the happiness I could get.
I would follow Ruby around the world if that were what she wanted. As much as she wanted me to live, I still wanted a little bit of her to rub off on me. I wanted to find the light she kept going on about.
I lived my life drowning in a darkness that overwhelmed me, it sunk deep down into my skin, and filling me with a pain I couldn’t describe but felt with every breath I took. All these years, I wanted someone to reach down, to pull me out of the darkness and into the world. Maybe this was when it would happen.
As much as I needed to die, I also wanted to find a reason to live.
That was why I gave her 30 days. That was why I was here, in Yosemite Valley.
“You know, there are two types of people. There are the kind of people who are surrounded by darkness, walking through tar their whole life. And there are those who are flooded with light, rainbows paving their way. Sometimes both can seem overwhelming. What you need is to find your opposite, balance yourself out to make it all seem bearable.”
Looking out at the beautiful world around me, I felt the darkness ebb slightly away. Suddenly I felt light surround the darkness around me, trying to fight its way in. It was slight, but it was there. Strong and forceful.
There were years of darkness to get through, I wasn’t confident it would work. The company made it worth the journey of trying to figure it all out.
Smiling at her, I nodded. “So, Yosemite Valley.”
“Yosemite Valley. Can’t you feel the light here?”
Nodding, I tightened my grip on her hand. “Yes. I actually can.”