As Nancy awoke, she felt the warm sunshine falling on her through the window. She breathed in the light air, wondering what she would find when she opened her eyes. She tried to roll onto her side, realizing in the process that she was sitting in the chair in the living room. It was a familiar feeling, since she often fell asleep while sitting in the chair. But something was different today. It seemed that the dark heaviness that had been hanging over her for the last several years had dissolved as she slept. She tried to remember the events of the night before. Little by little, the memories returned. She remembered the wights and their eyes staring at her from the darkness. She remembered the fire and the cellar and the broken shard that she had finally let go. It was all over. The ghosts were gone.
She slowly became aware of another presence in the room. She could hear voices whispering to each other. They were talking about her. But these were not the dark, oppressive voices that had filled her head so often in the past. They were familiar voices so sweet that she could not believe she was imagining them. She finally allowed her eyes to open, squinting a bit in the bright daylight. There were five faces staring back at her.
She thought for a moment that she was still asleep and dreaming. “Frank? Is that you?” She sat up and blinked a few times. Standing next to her brother was her sister-in-law. Nancy could only think of one possible explanation. “Am I dead?”
Frank laughed. “No, Nan, you’re not dead. You’re home. We’re all home.”
Nancy, hardly believing what she was seeing, jumped to her feet and ran to embrace her brother and his wife. “Where have you been? We all thought both of you were gone.”
“It’s a long story,” said Frank, wrapping his arms around his sister. “But Don and Miracle found us. We’re all here now. Everything will be alright.”
Nancy looked around at the other faces gathered in the room. There was her nephew and her niece, and another face that she did not recognize. He saw that she was looking at him and stepped up to introduce himself.
“Hello, Miss Nancy. I’m Dwight. Your family here was kind enough to let me come over for the day.”
Nancy shook his hand, then turned back to Frank. “How long have you all been here?”
“We just got back,” he said. “We found you sleeping, and we weren’t sure whether to wake you up or not. We’re just glad you’re safe.”
Nancy smiled. “Of course I’m safe. With all of us here, this is the safest place in the world.”
The next day found the Evers family gathered around the table for breakfast. Everyone was quiet, but no one minded. It was perfect just to be together again. There would be time later for stories.
Dwight had left the night before. He knew he had to get back to his family and the life that he had run away from so long ago. He promised everyone that he would come back to visit someday soon. He shook everyone’s hand before he left, but he gave Miracle a hug and told her that he would write.
Frank looked around the table at his family. His children were so much older than the last time he had seen them. He was sorry for all of the life that he had missed, but he was even more filled with thankfulness that he was able to see them now. He was proud of the adults they had grown to be. He looked at his sister. She seemed older than she was, but even she had a new spark in her eyes that he had never seen before. For the first time since he found her all those years ago, she seemed alive. Finally, he turned to his wife. His Crystal was the one shining piece of his life for the past years. Even in the darkness of the prison that the wights had kept them in, he was able to find happiness knowing that they were together. She caught his glance and smiled back at him.
Don saw his parents smiling at each other. He had forgotten how much he missed that. His father had promised an exciting tale of being captured by the wights and living for years as a troll. Mother had just shook her head. “There’s not much to tell, dear. Life as a troll is dull to say the least.” Don turned to look at his sister. Her violet eyes were sparkling again, just as they had when she was younger. But she was not young anymore. She was growing into a beautiful woman. He looked across the table at Nancy. He had always felt sorry for her, but now he finally understood something of what she had gone through. He was glad to see her happy and looked forward to getting to know her all over again. Yes, despite all that had happened, they had all come home again.
Miracle was glad to be called Miracle again. She had never gotten used to being called by her middle name, especially when that name belonged to her mother. She was not sure exactly how the family would fit together after all these years, but it was enough to know that they would figure it out together. It had been a long time since the table had been full like this. Every chair was filled. One, two, three, four. Not a face was missing. She then looked down at her own chair with a smile. Five.