Shaft 13, Live Again This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

July 6, 2013
It’s been a week since I met Leah Seal. I have never had a friend before even when I was living; the thing about this punishment is that I can remember certain things of my human life. But only if it had something to do with pain, can I recall it with such vigor, it is utterly despairing. I am still one of the lost and I have had no one to share my thoughts with in all that I can remember.
I am lying on the air mattress Leah had pulled out from one of the boxes in the attic. It is different from lying on the floor as I have been all these years. I’ve forgotten just how comfortable beds are.
It had started to thunder nearly an hour ago and the rain pours down in tears that stream in watery drops down the window.
We are alone in the house even though Leah’s parents are home; they have not come and checked on their daughter. I can hear them move around downstairs, microwaving two Lean cuisines too tired to care about much else, well maybe anything other than what is going on in the house. North Dakota news is way more important than the suicidal girl hanging around a poltergeist upstairs.
I expected to find at least some concern in any one of their minds and was quite surprised that they hardly ever think about Leah at all. If it weren’t for her last name, a stranger would think that she just rented the room upstairs. Without her brother, she has no resemblance to the two people downstairs and neither of them seems to care that she hardly says anything at all to them. Other than spending time with her horses, Leah doesn’t really want to go downstairs. She claims it’s nothing but her thoughts reveal a lot more.
She asks more questions, from everything about StoneHall to how abusive the nurses were.
I am honest, there isn’t much to hide, what’s done is done. So I tell her about Nurse Perry who never gave me enough to eat and often nothing at all. “Oatmeal and grits were what I was given, half the time they were either cold or barely cooked. Sometimes hard and stuck to the bowl even if you flipped it over. Sometimes the food was barely enough or a tiny spoonful and always sprinkled with over doses of medication that made me into a human zombie.
Nurse Perry liked it that way, us subdued into submission, still she couldn’t quite figure out how make us stop screaming during our twice daily electro shock therapy. “
There were of course, other nurses and I had seen them too and maybe they noticed us but I doubt it. Nurse Perry was the one who often handled us and if the other nurses had too, I don’t remember, I was always way to drugged to notice much. It was always like I was drowning even though there was no water I could never get enough air, paralyzed in my own head, my limbs refused to move, and my voice was never found, in the sea of so many others, I was always drowned because I wasn’t important. I was just there, as were the others, wards of the state. We are the forgotten, most of us lost our names and our identities. Like I told you in the beginning, we are the Unloved, but in more than one way. We were forgotten. Those empty places at the table are only set for so long before it is filled by someone else. Memories are only reminisced for so long before they are replaced by new ones and we are long gone in our minds, we are lost. Life moves on for those who can live it.
“Shaft, are you okay?” Leah asks snapping me out of my memories and thoughts. I nod. “You stopped talking…”
“I’m fine.” I murmur. She knows I’m lying through my teeth.
“No, you are not, you fidget when you lie.” She says raising an eyebrow.
“It’s noting. Just stuff I remember.” I say honestly.

Leah is finding me clothes. I am naked except for a pair of boxers I’ve been wearing for god knows how long that appeared arbitrarily. My arms are crossed over my chest, in my lame attempt to cover my deep dark bruises, and a few scars, my deep dark secrets. Leah doesn’t seem to mind my awkwardness or the way my wrists ooze dead blood that never drips.
Leah has me stand in her room, and at my request, she has covered all of the mirrors even though I know there is no chance I would look at my reflection anyway.
“These are my brother’s clothes,” Leah says surprising me and making my face blush, something new I can do, feeling more and more alive every day that I am with her. This is ultimately the reason why I let her cut my hospital Johnny up but I wouldn’t let her cut off the wrist bracelet. I can’t for the life of me understand why I can’t let it go, I just can’t.
The clothes she gives me, fit well enough they are a little bit long and I have to roll them up at least twice. A black t shirt and khaki pants suit my new found style and Leah has even given me a pair of Carson’s old flip flops.
“Shaft, I was thinking, the fourth of July is coming up on Thursday and my dad gave me money to get fireworks, I was wondering if you wanted to try again. You know to go outside?”

I am scared. The door is slightly ajar this time and I swear my heart is hammering in my chest even though it is completely without life. The day beyond is a beautiful one, even if the wind is slightly out of control. Blue skies without a cloud in sight, are my favorite kind of days.
I breathe in the fresh air letting my lungs soak up the fragrance of the plains. Another first for me. Air has never been so clean to these longs nor has it been so appreciated,
“Come on.” Leah murmurs, holding out her hand. I take it as we step forward beyond the cage that has imprisoned me for so long.

I am outside. For the first time in ninety six years I am outside. The wind caresses my face with her fingers as if welcoming me back into the world of the living. Leah is still holding my hand as we run across the yard.
Leah’s horses are named Stryker and Reid. Both paw nervously at the ground their eyes wide and staring at me. I had learned years ago that animals saw me kind of like a cold spot with human features. It would be like looking at me on one of those cameras that detect heat, you know one paranormal investigator’s use? I hold out one of my hands slowly and the one I’m guessing is Reid sniffs it. He doesn’t freak out, so cautiously, I put my hand against his snout and rub his head. When I stop, he leans into my hand and closes his eyes as if I don’t creep him out.
“He likes you. Have you ever ridden a horse before?” Leah asks, making me jump. I nod.
“I used to own two of them. I can’t remember what their names were but they were black and silver like Stryker and Reid. I got thrown of a lot, but it was the best freedom I got.” Leah chuckles.
“My brother, Carson, used to ride bareback. He- um - suffered from Depression and um he always said that riding was the best time of his life, he said felt more alive.” Leah murmurs. “You remind me a lot of him. He was so outgoing before he had Depression. He was always so sad and I never knew why.”
“What happened to him?”
“He shot himself three months ago. We were home by ourselves, my parents were working. I was in my room and he was downstairs. I don’t know where he got the gun, but I went downstairs and there was blood everywhere. And he was there on the floor. I tried to stop the bleeding but he took my hand in his and just smiled at me until he died. I think I called the police I don’t remember but they had to drag me away from him.” Leah says. Staring at only something she can see. I take her hand and squeeze it.
“You know my parents blame me. I knew he shouldn’t have been left by himself, but his boyfriend was talking to him. And I thought Scott would help him, he was so good at cheering Carson up. I just wish I knew why! He and Scott were so happy together!”
“Maybe he was being bullied? Isn’t that what teenagers do these days? Bully people?”
“I guess. Everyone knew Carson was openly gay. I mean he never hid it.” Leah says. I shrug.

Getting Leah to talk about Carson was hard in the beginning, but after a while she finally started talking. Carson was the same age I am, and it’s clear he and his sister were friends. The way she talks about him, if I had a brother, I wish I could be that close. Leah tells me about Scott, Carson’s boyfriend and how he and Carson were together for over a year. You can tell just by word of mouth, just how much Scott loved Carson. Leah thinks it’s funny that I can handle two guys who love each other.
I being from the age where we don’t do anything out of what is considered saintly, humor her. I don’t think it matters much as long as one of them isn’t an axe murderer, why have an issue? My father would roll over in his grave that much I am sure of, but why should I follow in my old man’s footsteps?
“Scott came to the funeral. Helped carry Carson’s casket and helped me stand up in front of everyone and talk. He didn’t blame me.”
“It’s not your fault. Caron was unhappy, Leah. You didn’t do anything. You were in your room so he could have some privacy, that doesn’t make you guilty.” I say knowing it doesn’t make a difference. Guilt if a fickle enemy that riddles his way into your heart until you can no longer stand being a home to him. And even then he has no cure except that you have to learn to soldier on and resist his depressing temptation to giving in.
Most people escape with a little taste of his cruelty other’s bend on their knees and beg forgiveness and mercy.
Other’s like me and Leah, aren’t so lucky. We constantly blame ourselves for a fate that was handed to us and batter our brains until our thoughts are rendered useless and bloody.
I can see it in Leah’s mind that no matter how much I barter that it wasn’t her fault her brother died, that she won’t believe me. I think she needs it written out by Carson himself before she can begin to concept the idea of forgiveness. The sad thing is Carson is long gone by now and hasn’t stuck around.

Leah says she has to call her neighbor to get a ride into town. I have another idea instead of calling an elderly lady from three miles away, when I could use my own power?
“Ghost Repositioning System. G.R.S for short. It’s a network of magic working together to let us move around. The Ghosts who prefer to stay here, use to all the time and Poltergeists use it to move through the house they decide to haunt. It works all over the world.” I say as we walk to the middle of the field. Her curiosity about the world in which she lives but knows none of the secrets of, is something to see. Her excitement sparks something inside of me, and is something if I didn’t know about my empathy, I would say I was able to feel again.
What I don’t tell Leah is that it is only for the immortal world and if a mortal shall use it, they would burn up instantly from exposure to such a powerful magnetic force. But I want to test my theory of her possessing some immortal qualities, and my idea of her being a Gaurdian.
I’ve seen the way she looks at things through her own mind, and have found she even at sixteen, still see’s things young children often do before their minds are warped and bitter by adults. Usually it’s just the twinkling lights that shimmer near the twilight hour of the grassy green plain but she has seen other ghosts whether she knows it or not.
I should tell her that I have seen inside of her mind that I know what she has been seeing all her life, but it is hard to explain when I’ve been locked out of her world. I can still see it clearly, but I can’t make sense of what I am seeing, I can no longer enjoy it. It is like knowing and seeing something you want to do, but can’t because I am trapped inside my own mind. I can express myself but I mainly think, after years of being silenced, what if the same thing happens to her?
“Earth to Shaft?” Leah says. “Are you there?”
“Yeah I’m here. Are you ready?”
“Are you sure this is going to work?”
“It should.”
“And if it doesn’t?”
“We die.” I take her hand, and close my eyes picturing a place that she knows. Ocala, Florida. I will all of my cells to stop moving, my breathing to cease, my mind to stop in its endless thinking. I become the air, the wind, the atoms within every particle that makes up the invisible magic around us. I become it, breathe it, and mingle it with my own magic.
The process takes all but two seconds before I am dissolving and I only have a few seconds to decide on my anchor, the thing that will keep me alive, or as alive as I can get.
I breathe one more glorious lungful of North Dakota air before I dissolve.

We are in Ocala Florida. Which means Leah is some part of immortal. Great. Now I just have yet to figure out which Sect she belongs in.
“You brought me home? “Leah asks stunned. Her home!!! Oh man I should really pay attention more to the locations in her head. Or find my own.
“I can’t stay in North Dakota.” Ocala’s not so bad right? We are near a Winn Dixie and a small fruit stand that is selling fireworks, shrouded partly by trees, perfect for a mosquito hangout when the rain stops.Which doesn’t seem possible because we are soaked already.
“People know me here, Shaft. People who know for a fact I moved to the middle of nowhere!” Middle of Nowhere, nice.
“Maybe you are visiting? With your cousin?” I ask. She snorts.
“Jesus, Shaft! My cousin who doesn’t have a reflection, who can’t be seen?! I might as well say you are my sparkly imaginary friend!” She sighs. “Hopefully it’s Ed. The day we moved he was drunk maybe he’s forgotten.”
Ed a stout beer belly of a man is drunk and still drinking when we enter his tent. Which smells between a mix of sour mash and fresh air.
“Leah Seal? I thought ya moved to North Dekota?” He says in a fake North Dakota accent.
“My parents flew me down here so I could spend some qualiy ime with my friend, Shaft.” Seeing me, Ed laughs making me jump.
“Well then, I’ll tell ya what, take anything you want free of charge.”
“Oh no, we could do that.”
“Nah, go ahead I need to get rid of these things, fourth’s tomorrow.”
So we clean Ed out, and Leah pays him a hundred for the whole lot, because Ed refuses to take any more money. I hold all of the bags intending to GRS them back to the house as soon as we go. We are about to leave when Ed asks boldly. “You two dating?”
“No.” Leah answers her face redder than a beet.
“Oh you two would make a cute couple.”

We are quiet at the next few firework displays. Leah embarrassed, won’t even look at me and her emotions are way too much, so I filter them. I don’t know why she is so embarrassed, Ed is drunk. Unless of course she likes me. Ugh. I mean don’t get me wrong, Leah is wonderful, but me with her? Yikes. I’ve never really in a week, thought about any of this. I didn’t think I was capable it’s kind of like eating, I can’t do that either. I tried eating a bit of pizza Leah had ordered from TJ’s , but it tasted like nothing. I mean absolutely nothing. Like I didn’t even have a tongue, or my taste buds are dead. I think they are, even though they are completely visible on my tongue’s visage, they no longer serve a purpose. I have not told Leah this, instead I chewed and swallowed and tried not to wince.
“You like these?” Leah asks holding up a pack of multi-colored smoke bombs. I nod. In truth I have no idea if I like them or not. I’ve never seem them. The only time I’ve ever seen fireworks is briefly in the distance. And even then, I’m not sure. Color is something I was never sure of in the Asylum. I only ever saw white and the dirty underground of the sewer like cell I was kept in.
After a while I had started losing my sanity, Color was something I thought my mind dreamt up. Why not hallucinate something as beautiful as the sunset splashed with pink or the water as deep and blue as the endless sky?

Leah sleeps soundly on her bed, more soundly than I have ever seen her sleep since I’ve known her. I don’t know how long it will last but I hope it does. She told me that she had fun visiting her old home though I forgot most of it for some strange reason. I just feel like I’m not completely living inside of myself.
I’m sorry for that; I didn't realize you would lose your memories. A voice murmurs from the door way. I look up to find a boy about my age, with stunning blue eyes and brown hair. Dressed in a suit and tie, perceptibly strikable, I know instantaneously that this is Leah’s older brother.

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