The sounds of the morning birds were the ones to wake us gently from our slumber. I looked over to Veronica, my lips turning up in a smile as I saw her sleepy look. Her hair was disheveled, her eyes half closed, and her mouth wide open in a humongous yawn. Still, she was the most beautiful sight in the morning. I was thankful every day I woke up with her by my side.
It had been a month since her awakening, and she was still here. We packed our belongings after we ate. Veronica reached into my bag, pulling out Leo. Leo was the name of the stuffed lion she had made appear out of thin air, a sort of silly gift that was given in response to Ozzie. She took him out too, before walking up to me. I was sitting down, sorting our supplies, so she didn’t have any trouble performing her nonsensical task. She placed Ozzie on my head, his tentacles covering my eyes, and Leo on my shoulder.
“Is there any particular reason they are on me right now?” I asked, finding her as strange as ever.
Just because I had connected to her when she awakened didn’t mean I understood her thought processes. She giggled, sitting down next to me.
“Just because,” she replied, not elaborating further.
I removed the animals from my body, playfully chucking them at her.
”Oh come on!” she exclaimed, “You looked so pretty! I decorated you! You really needed some flair.”
She snickered at my bewildered expression. Yeah, I didn’t understand, and I probably never would. It seemed I had a habit of becoming friends with people who didn’t make any sense.
Julian was so weird; I didn’t think you could understand him if you spent every day with him for the rest of your life. I chuckled at the thought, sure Veronica would agree with me. Well, if she wanted to “decorate” me, I would just have to do the same to her.
Saying I needed to get more water from a close by stream, I slipped into the forest. I pulled some vines from the tree, creating a makeshift loop. There were some fallen flower blossoms floating in a small bank separated from the water. I fished them out, carefully arranging them into the vines so that they stayed. I reemerged, sneaking up behind Veronica. Swiftly, I placed the “crown” on her head, holding it there so she didn’t knock it off.
“Hey,” she complained, “What are you doing?”
I pulled back, retrieving Ozzie from the ground. I set him on top of my head, stepping back.
“A king can’t leave his young companion without any flair,” I said, watching her face become confused as she examined the little circlet of green.
“I have my crown,” I continued while gesturing to the octopus, “And now so do you.”
She laughed, telling me I had finally lost my marbles. I took Ozzie off of my head, but she let her crown linger for a while. She was a princess in this world, one who would become a queen someday. She had already taught me more than I could have imagined. I had thought I would be the instructor, but she had shown me equally as many things. She muttered something about me being strange again.
“What was that?” I asked innocently, completely aware of her words.
She didn’t respond, and I raised an eyebrow. Reaching out quickly, I wrapped my arms around her torso. I heaved her upwards, and she screamed in surprise.
“Weird person attack! I repeat, weird person attack!” I exclaimed loudly, “This is not a drill! Oh no! It’s too late, it’s already got her! Run away!”
She laughed at my antics, squeaking when I held her up too high.
“Let me go, you lunatic!” she shouted, giggling as she was accidently tickled.
I did, setting her on the grass. She sprang up, latching on to my neck. I jumped, not expecting her sudden assault.
“Please,” she scoffed, “I taught you how to be weird. You didn’t even know the meaning of the word when I met you.”
She let go when she realized she couldn’t bring me down. We bickered playfully over the subject on who was weirder. To me, this was just another day on the trail. This was my life now, and I enjoyed every second of it.
Even when Veronica had gone down to town and I was wracked with worry, I was still happy about life. For the town reminded me how we met, and I was grateful to it for giving her to me. She had stayed calm the whole time, her connection full of joy and tranquility.
She had made me happy, and had taken away the only missing thing in my life. She was the reason I was no longer lonely. The more I thought about the connection to other drifters, the more I realized we set out to help others so we weren’t lonely. What we did with the gift of companionship was our own choice, but we had been granted numerous opportunities to be happy. I had never understood until the day I woke up in the hospital, but we were never meant to be alone.
I can understand the “normal” people a bit better now that I had someone important to me. While they spent holidays with friends and family, I spent them with Veronica and Julian. They were my friends, they were my family. I knew the feeling of family, and I understood the phenomenon of truly loving someone, something I hadn’t had since my parents passed away.
There was absolutely nothing in my life that was missing. I was surrounded by the most amazing world, and I had the most amazing girl to be my companion. She was there when I stargazed, there when I saw the mountains, and there when I watched the sunrise. I began to think of us as a unit, not her and I. We sing on the road, we feel the cool night breezes and sweltering hot days, and we watch our shoes become dirty from the particles of dust. The only difference is that hers were converse and mine were boots.
We watched days and night fly by, the journey never ending. A daunting task, but one we both understood was necessary, and one we took pleasure in. We travelled everywhere we could walk. We made it back to Julian’s house, and let him convince us to stay there for the night. We shared stories with him, and in the morning left with fond farewells.
We went to many cities, big and small. Some had a population of hundreds, some thousands. We met interesting people in our travels, swapping stories and spending time with others and basking in the glow of good company. We spent many a day talking to other drifters, speaking of things only they could understand. We look for others who need our help.
Veronica seems particularly interested in helping people, a trait she picked up early on. She loved to teach, and she loved to learn. Both of which you need to be a successful mentor. At least, that’s what I think. Who can say if I can be considered a success? But with all the things I had done wrong, I must have done something right, for she had turned out to be an amazing person, and I knew she would be an impactful and loved drifter.
She had joined our ranks, embarking on the quest we all shared. We would continue to follow the path, to safeguard the way for the others slumbering in their denial, waiting for their hibernation to break. We would be there when they emerged, blinking in the sunlight. We would show them as others had shown us, and we would continue the cycle.
As we walked along the sidelines with another days travel ahead, I could see what was going to be. But the future wasn’t here yet, and we only focused on the present. We would go down that road when we crossed it. The present was here, and it was a precious gift. We would keep doing what we were doing, and would always remain vigilant.
We are waiting, we are watching, and we are hoping. We always will be.
Our fate is in the hands of nature now, laid out for us. It is compressed into a long ribbon, following the lines painted across the ground. We will follow it until we can’t follow any longer, and the ribbon snaps.
But before that happens, we will walk along that line. Anything could happen, and we could just have to wait and see.
The future before us is a road, stretching out just like a highway.