Isaac turned to find Ruby Perrin next to him. “Long time no see,” he tried to smile.
“I’ve seen you around countless times,” Ruby replied. “But you’re never on your own, so I couldn’t talk to you. Some of the kids you hang out with are quite the characters – especially that Pace guy! I sure hope my son didn’t turn out that way.”
Isaac’s first instinct was to try to comfort Ruby (which is shocking, because his first instinct normally is yelling at people): “I’m genuinely sorry about your son Ruby, and about everything my parents did to you. My parents…”
Ruby: “No Isaac, I am the one that’s sorry! I should have never said those things. I was so angry when I first met you, and I did blame them for what happened, but the truth is it wasn’t their fault at all. In fact, they did everything in their power to try to save me. Your father even pleaded with the grim reaper.”
Isaac: “He did? I thought they didn’t care, they seem to not feel guilty about what happened to you at all…”
Ruby: “Isaac, if that was the case why would they have me buried at such a prominent place. Why would they name the park after me? Why would your mom tell you I was worth remembering when you were a child?”
Isaac: “You heard that?”
Ruby: “Well of course, I was here. I’m always here, as you know. It’s not like I exactly have places to go.”
The pair chuckled.
Ruby: “Look Isaac, your parents are great people. I let my bitterness take the best of me when I talked to you, but I’ve had quite some time to think about thinks – I’ve been dead for over 20 years! I have no hard feelings against them, and neither should you.
I’d been trying to talk to you and rectify the situation ever since those words left my mouth, but you didn’t come back here for years, and once you did start coming back you were always surrounded with other kids… and always up to no good.”
Isaac: “I wish you had talked to me sooner Ruby. I would have made more sense of it all. I’d been so confused for the last few years…”
Ruby: “I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t change the past. But there is no time like now. We can talk now. We have all night!”
They did end up talking all night, and by the time sunrise came Isaac felt closer to Ruby than to anyone. For the first time in years, he could be completely himself with a friend. He didn’t have to try to be a tough ladies man like with Pace. He didn’t have to try to be interested in what the other person had to say, like with Juanita, as he truly found Ruby interesting. And unlike with his parents, he could open up to her completely about how scared he was of the big responsibility on his shoulders; building a new neighbourhood and carrying on a legacy.
Ruby: “Well it’s the morning Isaac, I have to return to my grave now.”
Isaac: “What about if you didn’t though! Why don’t you come with me? I’m sure it would be great for you and my parents to have a chance to talk again!”
Ruby: “You know that’s not possible Isaac. I told you, I’m tied to my remains, I have to stay here because that’s where my ashes are.”
She disappeared in a cloud of mist, like it had all been a dream.
But Isaac knew it hadn’t been a dream. “Tied to the ashes, you say,” he muttered to himself…
It seemed simple enough then. He just brought Ruby’s ashes home with him.
Isaac walked into the living room to find his parents sat there, beyond themselves with worry.
Maranda: “Isaac, where have you been all night? You’ve had as worried sick! Why do you keep doing this to us… we can’t handle it as we used to, we’re not young anymore. And it’s your birthday today, you’re almost a grown man…”
Kirk: “I’m so sorry mom. I’m sorry about everything I’ve had you both go through in the past few years. I’ve been acting so ridiculous, I know, and you’ve been nothing but kind to me. I was so lost… but now I’ve found what I needed to. I’m going to make things right, make it all up to you!”
One apology couldn’t erase all that had happen and make everything the same again, but Maranda and Kirk were overjoyed. The words “I’m sorry” had not been a part of Isaac’s vocabulary for years, and hearing him apologise was a brighter glimmer of hope than they could have hoped for.
The elderly parents smiled at each other lovingly by Isaac’s birthday cake.
“I think we may have our sweet boy back,” Maranda whispered.
Kirk: “I knew he would turn out fine in the end.”
Maranda smirked: “You did? How could you possibly…”
Kirk: “Simple, you raised him. And you’re the most incredible woman I’ve ever met, So how could it turn out otherwise?”
It was time for Isaac to make a wish.
And before the eyes of his proud parents, he turned into a young man.
The family enjoyed the cake together, and for the first time in years, there were no arguments over the dinner table. In fact, there were smiles!
Isaac was exhausted after having been awake all night, and went to take a nap for the rest of the afternoon. Kirk and Maranda continued to enjoy each other’s company, and spent the rest of the day talking about their son, teary-eyed and relieved.
Little did they know what happened in their house as soon the sun set.
Ruby: “Woah, where am I?”
Isaac: “Mom, dad, there’s someone who’d like to talk to you…”
To be continued!