They rarely talked anymore. Ally and DJ were twins and had grown up close. They'd done everything together, mostly getting in trouble. Both natural explorers, they spent more time in the woods behind their grandparents’ old mansion than they did in school.
“I’m sorry to inform you that your Grandmother Kay has passed away. However, I am pleased to inform you that she left all of her EastWood Estate to you and your brother, as well as all of the belongings.”
The voice on the other end of the line was proper and formal, a well-to-do Socialite who was probably friends with Gram. Ally put down the phone and stared out the window. Minutes later, she burst out into tears and couldn’t stop.
DJ felt his heart sink deep within him and struggled to find the words, as the voice on the phone told him that he could come by any day to inherit the Estate, along with his sister. It had been hard enough losing Pop just a few years ago, and now Gram…
“Ally! My dear sister. Did you hear the news?”
“I can’t believe it, DJ!” She cried. “I miss her already.”
“As do I. When shall we go see our old and new home?”
The alarm went off and Ally woke up confused before realizing where she was. She stumbled into the kitchen to find DJ and his two kids making breakfast.
“Sis! I figured there was no point in us wallowing around in our pain while we are here trying to sort everything out. We should start the day with a good breakfast and then I figure we could show the boys around. What do you think?”
Ally smiled. She’d forgotten how much her brother meant to her.
“I think that’s a great idea! Let’s have fun while we are here. Gram and Pop would want that.”
She turned to face DJ’s boys, Sammy and JoJo, ages 9 and 7.
“How would you monkeys like to go exploring today?”
“Yay!” The boys enthusiastically exclaimed.
Ally and DJ had done some exploring inside the mansion as kids but many rooms were off-limits and had creeped them out. The majority of the time was spent outside.
“Hey brother, I think it’s time we did some internal investigating, you know... to uncharted territory.”
DJ smiled. He knew exactly what his sister meant.
“Sammy! JoJo! You boys want to investigate the mansion with us?”
It didn’t take long before the twins and the boys were up on the 4th floor, which had been mainly a no-go when Ally and DJ were kids.
After going through some rooms that looked more like storage units for old, dusty furniture, DJ was ready to give up.
“I don’t know sis, nothing out of the ordinary here. Just some old, creeky couches and chairs. Doesn’t look like Gram and Pop had that many secrets.”
“I don’t know brother, something tells me to keep searching. We are missing something. Surely, there has to be more to this mansion than a bunch of boring rooms. What do you think boys?”
“Keep going!” Sammy exclaimed. “Yeah!” echoed JoJo.
“Well you heard the kids, exploration time is not over yet.”
DJ smiled at his beloved sister. “Ally is always right, boys.”
“You can say that again,” Ally grinned.
“Come on little men, let’s go in this room next.”
Ally opened the door to a large room with yet another sofa and a beautiful rug laid out in front of it. It looked as if it had been a pretty special room, reserved for special occasions.
“Look, Aunt Ally! A comfy couch!” Sammy ran straight across the giant rug and leaped onto the couch, but not before making a large creak across the floor.
“Did you hear that?” Ally stared at her brother.
“The floor under the rug…” Ally pulled the big carpet back to reveal a portion of the wood flooring that seemed mismatched to the other parts. “I bet there is something under here…”
She messed around with the old boards and sure enough, two pieces lifted up to reveal an opening in the floor.
DJ ran over and reached down into the opening.
“There’s something down here!” He pulled out a small chest.
“Open!” JoJo exclaimed.
DJ opened the chest to reveal one, single key.
“What does it go to?” Sammy asked out loud.
“That’s what we’re going to find out!” DJ smiled.
Only a few hours had passed before the search for the locked door came to a close. Sammy was a lot like his Auntie, spell-bent on finding whatever he was after. After the four had turned over the whole mansion looking for a secret door, Sammy came running down the hallway.
“Aunt A, Dad! I found something!”
JoJo and the twins found a thrilled Sammy smiling ear to ear.
“Come on! This way!” Sammy led them down the hall in a hurry.
There on the 3rd floor, Sammy dramatically stopped in front of the stairwell that led up to the 4th and 5th floors.
“Back here!” He ran behind the staircase, up under it, to a little, camouflaged door meant for someone small to crawl through.
“Here, give me the key please Dad! Let’s see if this works…”
Seconds later, Sammy unlocked the small, nearly invisible door.
“It’s a match!” Sammy and Ally exclaimed.
“Let’s go!” JoJo threw himself on the ground and began to crawl towards the door.
“Wait!” DJ yelled. “We don’t know where this goes...or even if it’s safe. For all we know, it’s just a cupboard under the stairs. I should be the one to go first, just in case…”
DJ pulled out his pocket keychain and turned on its’ flashlight and shined it in the small passageway. “Wait for my word,” he said.
He crawled through the small door to find it open up to a small, standing space with something in front of him. He shone the light that direction.
“It’s a...it’s a slide!” He exclaimed.
“A slide?!” Sammy hastily made his way in there with his dad.
JoJo quickly followed, with Ally holding up the rear.
DJ shone his flashlight directly on it but it was really dark.
“Dad it looks like there is a light at the bottom of the dark.”
Sammy was right. It appeared that the slide led to somewhere bright but it was impossible to see the length of the ride.
“I’m going!” JoJo pushed his way to the front and before anyone could stop him, he was on his way down the slide.
“JoJo!” Ally and DJ screamed. DJ leaped on the slide after his son and you could hear his screams all the way down.
Sammy and Ally looked towards each other.
“I guess I’m next!” Sammy happily chirped and he was off!
Ally considered the costs for a moment. Either she had just officially lost everyone in her family, or she could take a risk, and join them, wherever they were.
She let out a deep sigh of relief. Be a kid again Ally, she told herself. Be strong. Be brave.
Before she could think about it any longer, she closed her eyes and crossed her arms and ankles and was screaming her way down.
Kerplunk. Grass as green as green can be and that much softer, as soft as the softest pillow, broke Ally’s fall. That had been one long, slightly terrifying ride. But where were they? Ally looked up to see a beautiful world unfold before her eyes.
This didn’t resemble the dark, foggy woods that surrounded the estate. Ally stared in amazement at the surroundings that opened up magically before her. It was an open field with grass bright, so bright green, it was almost impossible.
There were flowers too, lots of them, spring and summer colors: bright pink, light pink, yellow, orange...like a field full of happiness. And the sky...the sky was a light, bright, baby blue so magnificent with its’ perfect white, fluffy clouds.
“Where are we?!” Sammy echoed out loud, still sitting in wonder on the ground, eyes wide. “I have no idea…” said Ally.
“Aaaaaaaahhhh!” A scream could be heard in the distance resembling that of JoJo. Ally snapped out of it.
“Hey, where’s your dad and JoJo?!”
“I don’t know…”
“Come on Sammy, we need to find them.” Ally slowly rose up.
“What is this place, Aunt A?” Sammy asked.
“I don’t know kid, I’ve never seen anything like it…”
“It’s magnificent…” Sammy still stared in awe.
“Yeah...like a dream.”
“Or like Heaven…” Sammy remarked.
“JoJo! JoJooooo!!!” A voice yelled.
“What was that?!” Sammy asked.
“Hold on, be still.”
The voice yelled again.
“I think that was your dad. Come on, it sounds like it’s coming from over here.” Ally and Sammy started running towards the woods.
“Wow,” Sammy and Ally said at the same time.
The woods were as lovely as the field of flowers. Large trees seemed to shoot neverending straight into the sky, and squirrels, rabbits, and deer seemed to lurk around every corner. They watched them curiously, colors equally as brilliant as everything else.
The sky faded from its’ bright blue to a romantic, baby pink ceiling, promising an equally incredible sunset.
“This is gorgeous.” Ally said out loud.
“Yeah…” Sammy agreed.
“It will be nightfall soon, hopefully we can be out of these woods before it gets too dark.” Ally told Sammy.
Just like that, the sky turned licorice black, but it wasn’t just the sky illuminated with more stars than either had ever seen, that seemed to keep the lights on for them. It was the trees…
“Oh my!” Sammy’s jaw dropped wide open as he stopped.
“I can’t believe this!” Ally stopped with him.
Towering mighty over top of them, the trees seemed to be showing off. They appeared to have turned their lights on, as a light green illumination lit up every tree. The trees were glowing!
“This is Heaven…” Sammy remarked, eyes wide with wonder.
“This can’t be,” Ally said. “It’s impossible.”
“But it’s not. We’re here Aunt A. This is...sooo cool!!!”
“It is the most amazing thing I have ever seen but we have to stay focused. We have to find your father and brother.”
“Yeah, right. But where are they?!”
Just like that, a shining, blinding white, deer ran directly in front of them up ahead. It seemed to have its’ lights on too.
Sammy ran after it.
“Come on, Aunt A...I think it wants us to follow it!”
After a wild goose chase down a pebbled path that was somehow still smooth, also faintly lit up, Ally was nearly out of breath.
“Sammy, I don’t think I can go any further!”
“We’re almost there, I can feel it.”
The glowing white blur in the distance seemed to suddenly disappear behind something. Sammy stopped running.
“Whoa...Look Aunt A, it’s a house.”
There in the middle of the magical woods was a small, yet welcoming cabin. It looked well-kept with rocking chairs on the front porch, flowers in vases, and even ground lights leading up to the door. Inside, it appeared that a lamp was on.
Sammy ran up to the door.
“Wait, Sammy, I don’t know if that’s a good idea…”
“We’ll never know if we don’t try…”
Ally let out a deep breath and when she looked down at the ground, she saw small footprints, like JoJo’s feet, and large footprints.
Sammy knocked on the door and as if someone had just been waiting for them, it immediately opened.
Ally watched Sammy step through the door and ran up behind him. She couldn’t believe what she saw next.
DJ and JoJo sat smiling at them. But even more...was that? No, it couldn’t be…
“Mom? Dad?!” Ally somehow knew. Maybe it was from the pictures.
An older, sweet woman ran over and immediately embraced Ally. She felt familiar and smelled wonderful.
Ally felt her eyes getting teary. This couldn’t be…
The older man was waiting to shake her hand and pulled her in for a long hug. “I’ve waited so long for this…” he said.
“My dear, I know you must have many questions. And we are here to answer them; please have a seat,” said the woman.
“DJ, what’s happening?”
“It’s them sis...it’s really them.”
“What beautiful children you have son,” the man told DJ.
“But I don’t understand, I thought you were dead.”
“In some ways we are,” said the woman, “and in other ways, no.”
“I don’t understand either,” Ally trailed off.
“I am so glad you found this place, dear,” said the woman. “We have missed you and waited a long time to see you again. Now look at you, all grown up, a beautiful woman…”
“And a fine-looking father,” the man smiled at DJ.
“But how?” Ally wondered.
“We were young when the accident happened,” said the man.
“It was a car crash,” said the woman, “one that unfortunately called us here. Unfortunate in that, we wouldn’t see you grow up.”
“Welcome to the Edge of Heaven."
“This place,” continued the woman, “where you’ve traveled through, is the entry point to life on the other side.”
“While we can’t come to you in your world,” continued the man, “you were allowed to meet with us for 24 hours before you must return, and so must we.”
“Whoa,” remarked Sammy. “Heaven is real.”
“It is and you are closer now than ever,” said the man.
“Come on, we have prepared the best food that you will have ever tasted and then you must rest, for tomorrow, we show you what this place really has. Call it, a taste of Heaven.”