The Meaning Of

During a discussion about the meaning of life with my friend, we somehow began writing this story. I would write an installment, and then she would, completely making it up as we went. This is the result. Basically, for 70 some years, my friend searches for the grand question and answer to the meaning of life. Finally, after all that time, we come in contact again.

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41. XLI

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My heart was pounding. Why was I so nervous? Or was it excitement that was coursing through my veins? Either way, I was on edge. We entered the compound and followed the man who had saved us through numerous hallways. He led us down multiple staircases to what seemed like another underground bunker, yet there were windows that overlooked the beautiful scenery of the surrounding New Zealand mountains. I realized that the compound was built into the cliff side. We weaved through past all the rooms, turning corners every so often. I lost track of my sense of direction almost immediately. How did anyone find their way around here? I was pretty positive that the man we were following was lost, but then he stopped at one of the doors. It didn't look particularly different than any of the others. Was this where Carmen was waiting? I hoped to God that this wasn't another trap. I was an old woman, and I was tired. As the tattooed man knocked on the door, it came to my attention that I still did not know his identity. Who was he and how did he know where to find me? Why did he know the location of Carmen Ramirez? She obviously trusted him, but I wondered about his importance to her. He didn't look familiar, but before I could ask him any of my questions, the door in front of us swung open. He motioned us inside. I was startled by the door slamming swiftly behind us after we entered. He had stayed in the hall. Oh God, what if this was a trap after all? Beside me, Jason took a sharp intake of air. I glanced over to his crippling face and noticed he was staring deep into the room. I followed his line of sight. My heart beat faster and faster still. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was her. She was alive, and she was here. We'd found her. She'd finally let herself be found. We had found Carmen Ramirez. Or rather, Carmen Ramirez had found us. She had her back to us, looking out a huge windowed wall that overlooked a valley below. I couldn't see her face, but I knew it was her. Even after all these years, I would have recognized her anywhere. She turned to face us. I swear my heart skipped a beat and nearly stopped, as if I was seeing a ghost. She smiled, her eyes sparkling as though she was in on the greatest joke in the universe. She spoke, "Hey," Her voice shattered me to the core, unleashing oceans of memories. "Nice of you to show up." How could she be so casual? She had almost gotten me killed, more than once. Without thinking, I rushed forward and slapped her on her cheek, so hard that the force rocked her whole head. Before she could react, I wrapped my arms around her and fell into her frame. Surprisingly, she hugged me back. She supported my weight as I embraced her. With relieved tears in my eyes, I felt as though this nightmare was finally over. 

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