Chapter 35 - A New Day

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When Jaylina awoke, she saw Afunakwa smiling down on her.

"You have traveled a long way, my sister," said the blind girl.

Jaylina tried to speak, but Afunakwa shushed her. "Eat first."

Jaylina sipped some warm broth. "This is the best thing I've ever tasted," she said through a weak smile.

Afunakwa giggled. "Not too much," she said, her voice like music. "Now sleep. We will talk soon."

Jaylina did not argue. She slept.

In the days that followed, Jaylina slowly recovered her strength. Her senses were uncannily delicate. She heard fish as they darted to and fro in the waters of the lagoon. She smelled fresh honey from a beehive in the forest beyond. This newfound connection with the material world instilled in her a sense of peace she had never before known. And with that peace came clarity.

Soon she could walk again. As she stepped lightly back into the outside world--the world of the living, her home--the people of the village bowed politely to her as they did the elder leaders of the clans. They brought food and drink to the door of her bako. She asked Afunakwa about this.

The blind girl smiled. "You are venerated."

When Jaylina asked about Michael, Afunakwa frowned for a moment and changed the subject. "He is well. You will see him soon," is all she would say.

One warm night, after Jaylina had regained her strength, her intuition encouraged her to the banyan tree where she and Michael had made love what seemed like a lifetime ago. While she sat watching the stars with newfound serenity, she felt a familiar displacement of the air and heard a voice behind her.

"Hello, Jaylina," said Michael.

Jaylina jumped to her feet, shouting her glee. She hugged him and kissed him and together they laughed. Jaylina realized she'd never heard his laugh before; a pleasant baritone that caused her to smile and blush when she heard it.

Then she could not resist the flood of questions. How was he? What happened? Where had he been? Where was the Shadow Queen, Luna?

But one question in particular burned in her mind: "Aiden. What happened to my little boy?"

Michael hesitated before answering. "Aiden sends his greetings. He looks forward to his time with you."

Jaylina puzzled on that for a moment, but Michael interrupted.

"You have many questions. Some I can answer. But before I do, someone wants to talk to you again."

And for the last time in that lifetime, Jaylina crossed with Michael to the other side.

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