The Way Back

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Lucy picks me up in a car. I'm so relieved to see her. "It's OK now. Let's go back." She says.

"Thanks Lucy." I say.

"You really screwed things up Rosa."

"I did?"

"Everything was fine before you got here." Lucy says. 

The car seems to be gaining speed.

"Lucy, slow down please." She ignores me and speeds up. We are whipping around curves in the road and I'm getting scared.

"Lucy please! Slow down!"

"Everything was fine before you interfered. You should have stayed at home. No one wants you here." 

We are rapidly approaching another turn in the road, straight ahead is a rock face three stories high, Lucy speeds up even more and doesn't seem to be turning. Any second we're going to crash into the rock wall! I brace for impact.

I wake with a start. Disoriented, I realize I'm still under the trees by the side of the road. I wonder how long I've been asleep. The sun seems to be lower in the sky although it's still bright. My mouth is still as dry as the Sahara, but I don't feel queasy anymore.

I stand up to make another attempt to get back to the cottage but feel dizzy and see stars. I take a few deep breaths and hold onto a tree until the dizziness subsides. I start walking, slowly. I decide it will be safer to try and flag down a motorist than to keep walking, especially since I'm not even sure I'm going in the right direction.

I make my way slowly. A car approaches not long after I start walking, I put up both hands and wave. The car slows down as it approaches me. As it gets closer I realize the driver is Bryce. I frown. I don't want to be picked up by him. Why did it have to be him?

Bryce pulls over the car, and flies out of the car towards me. "Rosa! Thank God I found you! Are you OK?!" He grabs hold of my arms and looks me over.

"Of course I am." I lie.

"You've been gone for over five hours! I was ready to call the police!"

"That's ridiculous. I've just been out for a run."

"You ran here?! We must be 20 kilometers away from the cottage!"

"I had a lot of steam to blow off."

Bryce lets go of my arms and looks down. "I...I'm so sorry."

"You should be."

"I'm so sorry about the terrible things I said to you." Bryce says, looking into my eyes now. "You don't deserve that. I just...I felt like I was losing you and I reacted poorly."

"That's an understatement."

"But when you were missing, I felt what it would really be like to lose you and I can't handle it. Rosa, all of this, even the first year, it was just to get closer to you. I love you, I always have. I think it's great that you're enjoying yourself here. I just want to be a part of your life in any way you'll let me. If you'll let me."

"Do you have water with you?"

"What?"

"Water." I croak out through my parched lips.

"Yeah I should have some in the car."

He grabs a bottle from his trunk. I drink the entire bottle and ask for another. I drink half of that bottle and start to feel more like myself.

"Thanks. OK, now say that again." I smile.

Bryce smiles for the first time since coming to my rescue. "Rosa Vasiliou, I'm the world's biggest idiot and I'm madly in love with you. If you could ever find it in your heart to forgive me, I would spend the rest of my life making it up to you."

"Did you really start an annual orgy just to get closer to me?"

"Yeah." Bryce nods.

"You are an idiot." I purr.

Bryce moves in to embrace me, I try to protest because I'm disgusting from running and sleeping on the ground, but he crushes me before I can.

"Thanks for finding me. I am in rough shape."

Bryce looks worried as he scoops me up in his arms and puts me into the passenger seat of his car. "Let's get you back."

"Bryce?" I ask after we start driving.

"Yes?"

"Did I screw things up for everyone?"

"What? No! You surprised everyone in the best possible way. Everyone is really worried about you. Actually I should call and let them know you're safe."

"Pass me your phone, I'll call Lucy."

Bryce hands me his phone and I call Lucy's cell. "Bryce! Did you find her?!" Lucy answers, worry clear in her voice.

"Lucy, it's Rosa."

"Oh thank goodness! Rosa where have you been?" Lucy exclaims. Then her voice gets quieter as she relays the message to whoever is in the room with her "It's Rosa! She's OK!"

"I'm really sorry I worried all of you."

"It's OK, I'm just glad you're safe. Are you OK?"

Bryce puts his hand on my knee and smiles. I smile back.

"I'm great. I'm with Bryce."

For now...

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