As I traveled through the camping ground and the wellness camp, I could see what Lottie meant by a slow start to summer. There was room for well over one hundred and fifty hikers, and that didn’t include the trailers I’m sure drove through occasionally, at the camp site. The wellness camp had about ten cabins with what seemed like only one being used and a lot of open space.
I made a point to travel through the wellness camp slowly so I could possibly find Kelsey and see if she wanted her bike back, but I only saw a few girls who looked to be about fifteen. They were lacing up their hiking boots while others were preparing for a swim. A few waved at me as I passed, others seemed shy and looked away from me. I tried not to be offended. To them I was an outsider, someone they should stay away from. Just like he had taught me to do. I waved back regardless and continued my ride over Faith Bridge. I could see the town crowning over the hill to my right, but the well-defined hiking trail to my left beckoned me.
Lottie can wait a little longer, I decided with a smile. Turning my front tire toward the dirt path, I took off with the girl’s excited laughter and shrieks from entering the cold-water echoing around me. Their voices faded behind me as trees thickened around me, wrapping me in a cool, shadowy blanket, shielding me from the sun, and silencing everything around me until I was left with only my thoughts.
A few months ago, leaving me to my thoughts would have been dangerous. Maybe even suicidal. In the past few years, I had gone through more turmoil than I thought possible, and it seemed like the pain was never-ending. No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape bad news.
I thought I had found the one, the person I was meant to be with, the one who’s supposed to be by my side for the rest of my life, but then it all fell apart. “It’s over, Mia.” I had been trying to fix a broken relationship; cheating, fighting, and abusive, manipulative behavior. I should have known it couldn’t be fixed, but I didn’t want to give up on him. I thought we loved each other, but it turns out that had been one sided too. “Mia, stop. You’re embarrassing me and you’re embarrassing yourself. It’s over, Mia. I don’t love you, I don’t think I ever did. You’re someone I settled for, you’re nothing. It’s your fault this happened, not mine. Now it’s time to move on. I have, and you should too.”
Trees moved past me in a flash as I peddled faster, taking my memories with them. But once those were gone, I was left with a harsh reality. The same ex who had told me I wasn’t worth anything and would never amount to anything is chasing me to ruin the life I had created without him. I shook my head as the path took a turn. Stop thinking about it. It’s over now. The small flickers of sunlight through the leaves and the light at the end of the tunnel of trees echoed my thoughts; a new life, one without him.
I broke free of the trees and came out on a stunning overlook. The path settled against the edge of one of the mountains, giving me a great view of Peak View, a small town the bus had stopped in for a short time, and the surrounding landscape. It reminded me a lot of Escape, but with more shopping, a high school, a military base, and more homes. It’s going to be packed in the upcoming months. Not that I could blame anyone for wanting to visit. I had been here only a few days and I already loved the little town. Even as I looked over the lush green landscape, I didn’t feel as far from my family as I had when it came to Wes. For the first time, in a long time, I genuinely felt at home. I didn’t feel the need to look over my shoulder. This is the place for me. This is where I can finally heal and move on. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for.
Taking a deep breath of the fresh mountain air, I realized I couldn’t wait to move on. I’d dive in head first, even if it meant accepting another gift I didn’t deserve from Lottie. If this is what they do, then I should accept it. It’s time to move on. Whether he wants me to or not. Turning my bike around to head back to town, I took one last glance at the overlook. The sun hanging over Peak View, the mountains keeping us concealed, and everything in me was screaming for me to take a leap of faith. And that’s just what I’ll do. I pushed away from Mountain Side Height lookout and headed toward town, thanks to the helpful signs on Morning Glory’s trail. I left feeling the best I had in years…I’d return when my life turned to shit again. As it inevitably would.