Submitted Date 06/04/2020

Zodiac the reindeer continued to run as fast as the wind through the legendary cave. He eventually found a pathway that led he and Aurora to another exit. Aurora could literally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Once they went through, she became temporarily blinded by the sunlight. She opened her eyes to see the beautiful mountain she finally came to know once her mind was fully opened.

As they raced through the Northern Mountain, Aurora thought about what Lilia said: that deep down she wanted to know if there was anything special about herself. She didn't think about it that way before. She just thought it was all about finding a purpose and seeing if she was of any worth. That thought reminded her of Lilia's lesson about overthinking. Once her mind was cleared, she realized her friend was right…again. At the heart of this journey, it was about finding herself and seeing what lied within. I was once lost and now I am found. In fact, because of this, I now know my worth and…I think I found my calling. My purpose. One way to find out! Aurora patted Zodiac's side and shouted, "Alright Zodiac, let's see just how fast you can really go!"

Aurora could spot the little village from before. She knew no one would be able to see them where they were at along with their current speed, but she waved at them anyway. Zodiac then made a turn into another area Aurora didn't recognize. To her it felt like Zodiac was taking what was considered to be his shortcut. They went through another little forest of the mountain and came across what appeared to be a narrow wall. In fact, the way nature structured it, the wall almost looked like an ice bridge. Aurora looked down and saw the same electrical fence from before going through one of the openings of this frozen bridge. The path did shape towards the ground, however, it would be impossible for people to just merely walk or even climb it. To make it fully across, you would need a snowmobile, a truck equipped with strong snow tires, or- in this case- a determined reindeer. This must be the secret way Lilia was talking about! The one that helps her and the villagers get in and out during their trips to get supplies! And Zodiac is their key! Aurora thought to herself. The young girl and the reindeer made it through the bridge safely and continued to head towards Winter Nome.


Back in the town, Liam's father was becoming restless as his son continued his refusal to leave. Aurora's family stood close by and observed the bickering.

"Liam, I know how much she means to you, but this is your future we're talking about here! I will not see it ruined!" Liam's father exclaimed.

"Dad! I already told you, I'm not leaving until Aurora is home safe! I'm sure the college would understand," Liam firmly stated.

"No they won't!" his father finished yelling.

"Liam," Aurora's mother stepped forward. "We appreciate everything you've done to help us search for her…but I think you should get going. We all know Aurora would be devastated if she found out you missed your chance for greatness because of her." Liam appeared disappointed. He knew she was right. Aurora's mother continued, "Don't worry. We'll call you the moment we hear something."

A commotion was heard down the street. "What in the world is going on down there??" asked Aurora's father.

All had their eyes down the street where a crowd was gathering. They were staring and becoming glad about something, but the group just couldn't see what it was. Just then, the crowd parted, revealing someone riding a reindeer riding up the street like a madman. The closer the two figures got to the little group, the more they realized that it was a familiar face riding the creature.

"Aurora?!?" Liam shouted. Aurora jumped off of Zodiac the moment he stopped. She rushed over to Liam and tackled him to the ground before he could get a sentence out. Liam moaned in slight pain as they lied in the cold snow. "Aurora, what happened?! Are you-" He was interrupted by Aurora's passionate kiss. Liam at first attempted to finish his second question, but gave up when he began to enjoy Aurora's loving embrace. He knew something was different, something had changed. Since the whole fiasco happened, Aurora did show her love for him, but it didn't feel as affectionate like it was now. As much as Liam wanted to know what happened that caused this change, he was currently enjoying the moment. His Aurora was back, in more ways than one.

When their kiss finished, Aurora leaned up and said, "I love you so much Liam. You mean everything to me."

Aurora got off of Liam so he could sit up. With a smile on his face, he replied, "You have no idea how much that means to me."

"I think I do," Aurora said so sure.

Liam helped his girlfriend up from the ground and gave her a hug. When he looked up, he noticed the large reindeer still standing there, watching them. "So, do you wanna explain to me why you were riding here on a freakishly large reindeer?"

Aurora remembered Zodiac. "Oh! Liam, this is Zodiac! He was my ride home." She went over to the reindeer and caressed his muzzle. "Thank you, my friend. Please be careful getting back. I'll see you and Lilia again soon. Okay?" Everyone was surprised to see that the reindeer understood and nodded. He even licked her face. As he turned and ran off, Aurora waved and yelled, "Bye Zodiac!" A mystic looking fog suddenly appeared and wrapped itself around Zodiac. When it vanished, so did the reindeer. Looks like Lilia wasn't the only magical being keeping secrets.

Liam stood in complete shock. "Did-did that reindeer just disappear?!?"

Aurora chuckled and went over to her stunned boyfriend, "Don't worry, I'll explain later."

When he got his bearing together, Liam looked into Aurora's eyes and saw someone completely new. "You seem different. A good kind of different. Kind of like the old you, actually. What happened?"

With a genuine grin, she answered, "I was lost and a good friend helped me find my way back."

Something then caught Liam's eye. "Was it the same friend who gave you this cool looking necklace?" he asked as he lifted up the eagle carving of the necklace that was still hanging around Aurora's neck.

Aurora saw again the necklace composed of blue and tan beads, some animal teeth, and the small carving of an eagle that hung right in the middle for all to see. She was reminded of how happy Noah was when she gave him her beloved scarf and when she assured him she would never forget him. Her eyes became glossy at remembering once more the incredible journey she was on and the wonderful people she interacted with. "No, actually, another friend gave this to me."

Liam saw how tender Aurora was holding the necklace once she took the carving from him. He even noticed how emotional she was becoming. Whatever happened on that adventure, it was definitely for the better. "Can't wait to hear all about them," was all he said.

Aurora's family then rushed over and apologized for hurting her. Aurora forgave them and was so happy that she had her family back. When the hugs were done, Liam pulled out that little blue box, got down on one knee, and proposed to the love of his life. To which, of course, Aurora joyfully said yes.


"Did Liam go to that internship?" the eldest granddaughter asked.

"Of course he did. It then led to him having a successful job in Winter Nome," the grandmother replied.

"What about Aurora?" asked the grandson.

The old woman answered, "Well, Aurora did marry Liam and her life became infinitely better. In fact, she did find her calling and became a Guidance Counselor at the town high school. She of all people knew what a delicate time it was for teenagers, especially the graduating seniors, and decided to help them as Lilia helped her. She kept her word and every so often went to the ice bridge to meet Zodiac who would then take her to visit Lilia and the villagers. Of course, she did tell Liam about her journey and even took him with her on one of her trips to meet Lilia and the villagers. As Lilia predicted, Liam never told a soul in Winter Nome about what really happened in the three days Aurora was missing."

"Then how do you know the story Grandma? Especially if Aurora didn't tell anyone either," the youngest granddaughter asked.

"Yeah." The eldest granddaughter began her attempt to analyze the clues within the story to solve the riddle. "Come to think of it. Parts of this story sound kinda familiar."

"Oh, how so?" the grandmother asked.

The eldest granddaughter continued, "Well, the part about Liam proposing to Aurora before leaving for the internship sounds like the story we were told when grandpa proposed to you. And the part of Aurora becoming a Guidance Counselor because of an experience with her friend also sounds like what happened with you. And even the necklace, it's like yours. If I didn't know any better I'd say you were-"

"Now," the elderly woman interrupted, "what did I say about overthinking?"

"To not to or we won't see the big picture," the grandchildren said in unison.

"That's right." The elderly woman watched her eldest grandchild's face light up at realizing where the lesson she taught them came from. She figured it out. The grandmother stood up, "Alright children, it's time to head back. Your parents are waiting for us in the truck down below."


As they were heading back, a familiar voice was heard. A voice only the grandmother could currently hear.


"On second thought children, why don't the three of you head back by yourselves since it's not that far," the grandmother said.

"What about you Gramma?" asked the grandson.

"Don't you worry little one. I won't be long," she assured him. She told them as they departed, "The three of you, stick together now!" Once they were out of sight, she said, "I thought I would never hear you call me like that ever again."

Walking to her side was a familiar face. "Uh, let's not forget how upset you were that night you didn't hear my voice calling you. Remember, Aurora?"

"How could I forget? I was so lost and hearing your call gave me hope," Aurora replied.

Lilia, looking exactly the same, continued, "Hey, I'm just glad you listened to me and found your own way back. All I did was point out the obvious." The two laughed as they usually did whenever they met up. "I'm glad you told your grandkids the story of our adventure up here. Now it will continue to live on. I am curious though as to why you didn't tell them you're that Aurora."

Aurora answered while smiling, "I told them a story, now it's up to them whether or not to believe it. Should the time ever come where they need help, I want them to be strong enough to ask for it without overthinking everything."

"You want them to be like how you were. When you were on the fence about the legend, but decided to have faith and be brave by asking for guidance. Only, for them, they'll be more open-minded. That's a nice little subtle lesson," Lilia said impressed.

"Thank you my old friend." Aurora's smile faded. "Lilia, even after our journey together, you kept your promise and helped me whenever I needed it. And I kept my word in visiting you and the villagers whenever possible. However, I've become very old and don't have the strength I used to…I'm afraid this is my last trip up here."

Lilia saw how much her friend aged over the years. She even how dim the light was becoming in her eyes. From the looks of things, there wasn't that much time left. "I know," she said sadly.

Aurora removed the necklace Noah gave her and put it around Lilia's neck. "I want you to have this. A gift of love to remember me by. May it remind you forever of our friendship and the adventure we had."

Lilia's eyes became glossy at the thought of this time being their last together. She pulled something out of her pocket and placed it gently in Aurora's hand. "Here, I want you to have this. Something to remember me by when you go. Besides, it was meant to be yours anyway. And don't argue, just take it, please."

Aurora saw Lilia's old snowflake brooch in her hand, still appearing the exactly the same from the last time she laid eyes on it. Deep down, she knew this, too, was a gift of love. "Thank you, Lilia."

Lilia said as she took the brooch and pinned it to Aurora's coat, "Yes, you kept your word to visit over these years just as I have kept mine to always be there for you." She took in a deep breath. "I promise I'll continue to keep my word to you…" Lilia then gave her friend the biggest hug she could without hurting her fragile body. Her voice started to crack as she finished saying, "even if it means guiding you to the Great Beyond."

Aurora then heard sniffling. When they finished their hug, she saw the streams of tears falling down Lilia's cheeks. As she wiped them off of her friend's face, Aurora said, "I thought spirits couldn't cry."

"This one does." Lilia meant every word she said, both in the past and now in the present. Out of all of the people she's helped so far- though she took joy in assisting all of them- Aurora was by far her favorite. Their journey together was one she would never forget. She found a best friend in Aurora and that was a precious gift Lilia would keep within her heart for all eternity. I solemnly swear this to you as well, she began thinking, I will continue to watch over your family for all time. If they ever need me, I'll be right there to help. A reindeer calling away was then heard. Running out of the cave to greet his friends was Zodiac, the very large reindeer. "Look who decided to come late to the party!" Lilia said jokingly.

"Oh, Zodiac! It's so good to see you again!" Aurora exclaimed. The reindeer licked Aurora's face, happy to see her as well.

An idea suddenly came into the spirit guide's head. "Say," Lilia began suggesting, "how about Zodiac here give you one more ride? What do you say?"

If Aurora were a typical elderly woman, she would have been wondering if she was healthy enough or stable enough to ride the reindeer. Lucky for her, she wasn't and she had a friend who knew better than anyone what she could and couldn't do. So, if the Spirit Guide suggested a ride, then she was more than capable. "Why not?" Aurora finally said, smiling away. Zodiac got down and Lilia assisted her friend onto his back. The reindeer was ready to take his friend on her last ride. Aurora then said, "Alright Zodiac, let's see just how fast you can really go." She patted his side and the large reindeer took off.


It was at that moment Lilia no longer saw an old woman, but instead saw that nineteen-year-old girl who found herself by braving into the unknown and received some help from the legendary Spirit Guide of the Northern Mountain.




Related Stories


Please login to post comments on this story