The morning sun was peeking over the foothills, a comforting warmth that peeled back a light blanket of fog. As the light diffused slowly across the valley, the animals awoke. Birds called out greetings, as lumbering cows made their way to breakfast on loose bales of sweet hay.
She appeared suddenly on the dewy grass. A slight chill raised goose-flesh on her arms, and she hugged herself in an effort to hold in what heat she could.
Looking around, trying to recall where she came from, she noticed there were no footprints leading to or from where she stood, only a pale shadow spreading out behind her.
Gone were the dirty busy streets, and rank city smells of her home. The air here was so sweet, she could taste the honeyed wind on her tongue. Shielding her eyes from the bright sunlight, she squinted against the shimmering dawn. Across the pasture, she could just make out the outline of a teetering farm building.
Only then did she realize she was barefoot. Taking a tentative step, she smiled at the feel of cool grass under her feet. Halfway to the barn, she looked back to where she came. Still no footprints marked her passing through the silvery dew.
Approaching the open barn doors, she saw an old farmer mucking out the stalls. He looked up at her as she stood at the threshold.
“There’s some boots over there, you’ll need them in here,” he nodded towards a corner of the building. “Grab a fork and help me with this.”
She sat on a crude bench lining the far wall, and pushed her feet into the worn wellies. She grabbed a rusty rake leaning against the stall door, then joined the old farmer.
“What is this place?” She asked, flinging soiled hay into a wheelbarrow.
“Well, lassie, you’re in Summerland.” His answer a cross between a laugh and surprise. “Do you not recognize it?”
“I’ve never been here before.” She stopped mid-toss to consider his question. “At least, I don’t think I have.”
The farmer kept shoveling, occasionally looking over his shoulder to see that she was still working too.
“Am I dead?” Leaning on her rake, her chin trembled slightly, fearing his answer.
“Kinda, sorta, but not really,” he said.
“Is this heaven?”
“This is Summerland.”
“Have I gone mad? Is this all only a figment of my imagination?”
“This is Summerland, and you’ve not gone daft.”
“Can I stay here forever? It really is quite beautiful.”
The farmer stopped his work, and looked at her with compassion and fatherly love.
“No, lassie, you cannot stay forever,” he said. Waving his hand to tell her to keep working, “you’ll remain here as long as you need to, not a moment longer.”
She wiped her tears away with the back of her hand, and started raking again.
“I hope I’m here for a long while, it’s peaceful here,”
“Indeed,” he agreed. “This is Summerland.”