She was going back for the first time in years, and she was terrified.
Her whole family had left, one by one, as they sought jobs in better, bigger places. She herself was the consequence of her family’s flight, which had forced her parents to return—temporarily, as the finances fell into place and the routine resettled to city life.
As she grew older, she forgot she’d ever lived there. She’d been so young when she left, and any memory she had was shrouded in all the things she had to do, all the deadlines she had to meet. She had school to complete, jobs to apply to—a future to work for. She had no time to remember the place she’d left behind.
She received a letter a few weeks before. It was short and brief, but the message was clear. She had to come back. She had to come back before the leaves turned and the winds changed, before the old home succumbed to the forces of nature.
The night before she left, she dreamed of a meadow covered in daisies, bridged between two expanses of trees and the open sky. It was far from the first time she’d had this dream, and it was hard to place exactly when the first time was. There she ran, back and forth, her mind devoid of all worries and just here, right now, free to roam around the trees and the wind and the sky.
She wished she could stay forever in that dream—in that moment that stayed perfect and beautiful no matter how many times she dreamed of it. But she had to wake up. She had to wake up and get on that train, before she missed the opportunity.
Hours afterwards, when she went to meet her aunt at the edge of the train station, she couldn’t help but think about the life she was leaving back in the city. The responsibilities. The work. The money.
But then her aunt’s car pulled into the woods, and she realized that she’d been wrong all along.
There, right in front of an old log house littered with twigs, was a meadow. It was covered and daisies and bridged between two expanses of trees and the open sky. Memories flooded through her, of running and running until there was not a worry in her mind.
She’d been so young when she left—too young to realize what a mistake it was. She spent so much time trying to find her place, and here it was, right there in front of her, carefully preserved within her dreams.
All along, she’d been dreaming of home.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.