Seasons turned into years, years into decades. Mary-Anne and Zack married, and had a daughter, Niamh. She lived in Australia with her husband, a marine biologist, and two children. They cared about nature too.

Though in their seventies, Mary-Anne and Zack still loved to walk in the forest, though cataracts gave Mary-Anne’s vision a misty, grey hue.

One morning, Mary-Anne found a note pushed through the letterbox. She lifted it to her nose and inhaled the scent of summer. She unfolded the note to reveal two words, ‘Come Home’.

They’d spoken about Tír Na nÓg many times over the years, both longing to visit again. They’d told Niamh about it, but they knew that if they returned, they would likely never see their family again.

Niamh told them that they must go. “You never know,” she said, “One day I may visit you there.” It was a tearful conversation, but by the end of it their minds were made up.

They’d always had a dog. Their current one, Flynn, would be going with them. “And I’m not leaving the cat,” said Mary-Anne. So Teko was bundled into a basket and they left their home with no regrets.

The doorway in the forest opened at their approach. Aspen and Raydor waited for them, looking just as they had years before. They helped Zack and Mary-Anne down the winding stairway, Flynn bounding ahead. Tír Na nÓg was bathed in the soft glow of a spring sunset. Petals fell like pink snow, carpeting the ground they crossed towards Lady Nimhue.

“Welcome, my children,” she cried, “I hoped that you would come. You will stay, won’t you.”

“We would love to stay,” said Mary-Anne.

“Then allow me to bestow you with a gift.”

She took them both by the hand, the air around them shimmered and they felt a dizzying lightness.

When they looked at each other, they gasped in surprise. “You look exactly like you did the day we first met,” laughed Mary-Anne.

“As do you, my love.”

They thanked the Lady Nimhue, tears of joy on their faces. They were home.

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Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
1 month ago

A perfect end to the story of our Sherwood Forest lovers. I just wish it hadn’t ended so soon. But that’s the way of life, isn’t it? Beautiful story. How nice to have the Gems contest last long enough and allow enough entries to have an extended series like this. It gives me some ideas. ?

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
1 month ago

Hello, Carrie. What a lovely ending. Splendid. I am in love with this series. Well done. 

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
1 month ago
Reply to  Carrie OLeary

You’re welcome, Carrie. I hope that too.

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Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart (@melissa-taggart)
1 month ago

This whole series is beautiful, Carrie! You should be proud of yourself as this showcases the talent you clearly have. “Seasons into years, years into decades” is my favorite line in this story because I feel that is something we all can relate to. Time goes without even knowing it! I’m glad I got to enjoy Mary-Ann and Zack’s story. Great work!

Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse (@marianna-pieterse)
1 month ago

Brilliant ending! They made the right choice, indeed. I really enjoyed the unfolding of the story right up to the end. Beautiful and well written. Well done, Carrie!

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