My horse nosed me gently, bringing me back to present. I smiled weakly and stroked his neck. “I’m sorry, baby. You want some hay… don’t you?”
My words slowed as I became aware of a presence behind me. It was warm, familiar, and yet I almost didn’t recognize it. Slowly, I turned around.
Time seemed to stand still. Surprise, disbelief, and inexpressible joy washed over me in a tidal wave of emotion. I began to tremble. I remained there, stupefied, eyes focused on the figure that approached me. My heart was pounding in my chest and my mouth had gone dry.
No… this… this can’t be real. But even as I argued with myself, his face broke into a wide smile.
A sort of strangled laugh escaped me as I ran toward his open arms. I threw my arms around his neck as he drew me into his embrace. He was so warm, so real.
“Oh Josh!” I cried. “You came back! We all thought that you were dead. We had a funeral, and hundreds of people came. You should see all the things that people have said about you. Oh Josh, you’re here! I missed you so much. Everyone has missed you. What took you so long to come home? I love you, Joshy!”
The words tumbled out of me in a rush, mingled with sobs. He said nothing, only held me close. I pulled back slightly so I could look into his face.
Oh, how I’d missed those eyes.
“You’re home, Joshy.” I whispered, a smile spreading across my face. “You’re home.”
I didn’t want to open my eyes. I knew what awaited me, but I wasn’t ready to go there. Not again. But I knew I had to.
Wiping away the tears that wetted my cheeks, I opened my eyes. The clock read five fifty AM. I sighed and rolled over. For one, brief moment, I had been in ecstasy.
But it was just a dream.