The silver haired girl ran along the beach, giggling as she tried to stay ahead of the darker haired girl behind her. The sun shone down on the two girls, neither more than eight years old and both of them completely carefree. Their footprints ran in and out of the surf behind them, being washed away by the incoming tide.
The silver haired girl turned again to look over her shoulder as she made to jump a piece of driftwood, but her foot caught on an upturned knot, making her fall face down into the sand. She sat up coughing and began to laugh as the dark haired girl ran up and stood with her arms crossed.
“I told you to slow down Serena.” The dark haired girl said with a faint smile as she finally held out one hand to help the other girl stand.
“Yeah but you still wouldn’t have caught me if I had Elise.” Serena said as she was pulled upright by her friend. “You’re too slow to catch me just like always.”
Elise rolled her eyes and pushed Serena’s shoulder lightly, then turned and looked off towards the lighthouse, behind which the sun was beginning to dip below the horizon.
“I gotta go; mom will want help with dinner.” Serena said as she looked towards the lighthouse as well. “See you at school tomorrow.” She said before turning and heading off towards the tall building in the distance, leaving Elise alone on the beach, the waves the only sound except for her own breathing. She watched the shape of her friend disappearing up the beach and into the growing darkness, then finally turned and headed towards town where her family lived.
The two girls knew each other for many years after that and were always together, laughing and playing, living and loving. They were like sisters who knew everything about one another. They kept each other’s secrets, laughed and cried together. Whenever one was sad the other would hold her tight until she felt better. All of that changed when Serena left town when she turned 17.
“I’m going to miss you so much Elise.” Serena said as she hugged her friend hard, tears rolling down her cheeks. “I don’t want to go, but I’m sure I’ll see you again someday.” She said, standing back a little, her hands still gripping Elise’s shoulders.
“How is that going to happen?” Elise asked sadly, tears on her cheeks as well. “Your family is leaving to some other country and is going to travel around. There’s no way I’ll be able to find you.”
“I left a letter on your bed, inside is all the places I’m going to visit when I turn 18. Follow me when you can and you’ll find me.” Serena said before kissing her friend on the cheek and getting into the car.
Elise watched the car drive off into the distance, her friend waving goodbye through the back window until it disappeared, then turned and walked sadly back to her house. She wanted her friend back, she wanted to hear her voice again and laugh once more.
In her bedroom Elise found the letter as Serena had promised and opened it to read. Inside was a list written in crayon that both girls had made when they were children.
Our Dreams: The list said before being followed by every possible thing the two girls could think of at the time of its writing. Some of it was childish, like going to candy land, but other things were possible to do when put behind the right drive.
Elise looked at the letter for a long time, a couple of tears staining it, then carefully folded it up and put it in her sock drawer. From that day forward she saved up every penny, buying next to nothing that she couldn’t live without. She put everything into a savings account until, at the age of 21, she had enough money.
Elise said goodbye to her parents at the boarding gate and entered the plane, the letter from all those years before in her pocket. She was flying to the first destination on the letter, hoping to find her friend.
It took over a year to complete the letter, to explore and see everything that each place had to offer, to search for her friend, but by the time she reached neared the end of the letter, Elise still hadn’t found Serena. She had met so many other friends during her adventure, experienced passion, love, and friendship. She had wondered at the world and looked up at the night sky with no city lights to block the view. She had seen the ruins of the past and the beauty of the future. She had climbed up mountains and visited forests that seemed as old as the world, but Serena hadn’t found any trace of Elise.
Finally Elise returned home after her long search to see the last place on the list. She had been near it all of her life, but had never seen the inside of it, so when she approached the lighthouse it was with hope in her heart. Surely Serena would be inside, waiting for her to come in where she would get a smile and a hug.
An older man opened the door when Elise knocked and looked up at the tall brown-haired girl through thick glasses.
“Can I help you miss?” He asked curiously. “
“Hi my name is Elise, and I was wondering if I could come in and look around the lighthouse. I’m also looking for my friend Serena. She has silver hair and would be the same age as me.” Elise explained.
The man frowned for a brief moment, and then stepped aside to let Elise inside.
“I’ve seen the girl you mentioned.” The man said as he tottered off through the little home to sit in a chair, gesturing to another chair nearby.
“You have? Is she around? Did she say where she’s going to go next?” Elise asked excitedly. “Please, it’s important I have to see her.”
“You’re that Elise girl aren’t you?” The old man asked as he stood and walked over to a bookshelf. “I remember you, always laughing and playing on the beach. I remember seeing you out there all the time.” He said as he opened the large book to reveal photos covering the pages.
“Yeah I remember, always out there laughing and running. You were always into some trouble or another, but you were a good kid.” The old man said as he turned the page. “You always wanted to climb to the top of the lighthouse and look out at the ocean.”
“Yeah I was always out there playing with Serena, we did everything together. But that was always Selena who wanted to go up the lighthouse, I was afraid of heights.” Elise said with a smile as she remembered the good times. “So have you seen her?”
“Not for a very long time.” The old man said as he turned the photo album around and showed a picture of a family standing in front of the lighthouse. Serena stood at the front waving at the photographer, a huge smile on her face while behind her stood a man and a woman. “Selena was a young girl who died almost 50 years ago.” He said sadly after a few moments. “She fell from the top of the lighthouse because I didn’t pay attention and left the door open. She always wanted to go up there and kept asking while her family was in town.” The old man said quietly.
“What? That can’t be true, she was my best friend, and she went to travel with her family.” Elise said incredulously. “I remember playing tag with her and tossing a ball back and forth. We made this list!” Elise said, pulling out the old piece of paper and showing it to the old man who read it carefully. “She can’t be dead; she was as real as you or me!”
“Yes she was.” The old man said after a few moments. “She was real. Let me ask you something. Did you do the things on this list? Did you go to these places? Do these things?”
“Well yeah, she told me to follow the list to find her.” Elise said after a moment of confusion. “But what does that-”
“Listen just because the Selena wasn’t physically there doesn’t mean she wasn’t with you. You saw her because you needed a friend. You dreamed of doing these things, of seeing these places all because of her. She affected your life more than most other people, and gave you the strength to do what you wanted with your life. Is that such a bad thing?” The old man asked as he gently placed his hand on Elise’s.
Elise had tears in her eyes now and she could only manage to shake her head for fear of breaking down.
“No it isn’t, and as long as you don’t have any regrets and you followed your dreams, then you found her after all. Now there’s one more thing on this list, and that’s to go to the top of the lighthouse. Do you want to finish your search?” The old man asked as he stood and held out his hand.
Elise looked up at the man and smiled, tears on her face as she stood and took his hand.
“Yes I do.”
The universe is full of forces, all of them pushing and pulling, moving and interacting in ways that can’t even be understood by mortal minds. Some can be measured of course, some can be seen and interacted with, but even these aren’t fully understood. Why does gravity exist? How did life begin? Why are we even here?
These things are all important, they make up existence as we know it and were created when time began. What people don’t realize is that there are other forces at work, forces which were created in the minds of living things. Good and evil, love and hate. These things were created in the thoughts of people and they are some of the most powerful forces to control the world that we live in. No matter how far we travel, how much of the world we see, we will always be connected to those we love, to our friends, family, and homes. Nothing can keep those things apart, and given enough time they will always find each other, just as Serena and Elise each found their way back to the lighthouse, each in their own way.