Shelby knew that it was time for a much-needed break when she felt the world caving in and wearing her down with the pressures of life. She had been down the dark, lonely road of depression and didn't want to tread it again after a difficult recovery that left her exhausted.
The normally eerie air that surrounded the cemetery - where Stephie was one of the spiritual residents - provided Shelby instead with a sense of comfort and shelter that she desperately needed to stay afloat. Even though her shrink had guided her through the recovery stages, she still struggled moving on without her twin sister and closest friend.
Call Matt; he'll help you out, an angelic voice told her.
She briefly hesitated before she punched the number that led to her good friend Matt's private line on her cell phone.
"Why don't you come over to Auckland then?" Matt offered, after he heard her out. "You can stay at my pad until such time when you're better."
"That's kind of you, Matt, but I don't want to be such an inconvenience after my last episode."
"It's of no trouble, Shelby. Trust me on that."
"Thank you so much, Matt. I don't know how to reciprocate."
She heard him giggle. That was so Matt. "Not to worry; just don't blow the utility bills, and I'll be fine."
"Don't worry; I'm not that type of person."
"Let me search for the keys, and I'll let you know when I'll send it over to you."
"Matt, thank you again. I don't know what I'd do without a friend like you."
In the third week of her stay in Grafton, she took the familiar drive to One Tree Hill and ditched Matt's Toyota Prius that he had so kindly allowed her to use in the provided parking space before she walked around the park and explored the area. It had been so long since she came; the last being shortly before her high school graduation.
Long-buried memories resurfaced as she breathed the fresh air that the hill offered. Her happy days in Epsom Girls; the many weekends spent in LynnMall, sampling the many varieties of NZ Natural ice-creams no matter the season (she had to laugh at that; where in the world do you find someone eating ice-cream during winter?); summers spent in either Mission Bay or Gisborne, where her mother's aunt lived in; and more.
She had to admit, Auckland would always be her one true solace and peace.
The flight out was a lifesaver; not only did it refresh her soul, it provided a fresh outlook of life and strength to continue on without Stephie. Immediately after her return - which was eight weeks later, she slowly scaled back on the meetings with her shrink. Thinking back, she realized that the reason why she struggled hard to move on lied with her: she had feared so much that her sister's memory would be gone forever with time that she didn't want to accept the present and strive for the future.
Her new outlook of life, too, brought her friendship with Matt to a whole new level.