I collapsed into the afterlife with the sound of your voice still in my ears. The soft lilting tones caressed me, and if I closed my eyes, I could feel the phantom weight of your slender fingers on my cheeks. My chest ached with the ghost of your presence. Hot tears slipped down my chin; shuddering, I opened my eyes and forced them to focus on my surroundings.
All around me loomed skyscrapers, steel giants reaching into a cloudy sky. I was in a city. To my left, people drifted down a dusty gray road. They were headed towards a concrete building, four monotonous stories of brutal architecture, so I, with few other options, pushed my way into their ranks and began walking. As we approached the building, a faded bronze plaque came presented itself. “Department of Newlydeads,” it announced.
Dead. I’d died, and wherever I was, it was a whole world away from you. If it weren’t for the wave of people pushing through the double glass doors, I would’ve slowed to a stop, but my feet numbly followed the other souls into a large room. It appeared to be a repurposed office space with beige walls and beige carpet. People congregated into lines. They all faced towards the center of the room, towards an enormous circular desk. In the half hour I stood in line, I thought of the round table where you had poured me tea, until I realized that I was next.
My hands shook as I took in the demon behind the desk, perhaps because its vast, scaled body was cornflower blue, the same as your eyes. Its clawed hands pecked at a thick desktop computer; adjusting the pince-nez on its snout, it surveyed me and said, “Lydia Shepsky. Age 25. Cause of death: murder by poison. Is this you?” After a nod, it continued. “Due to the circumstances of your death, you have been given an opportunity to haunt your murderer until they, too perish. The offer will stand for twenty-four–”
“I’ll do it.” My ears still rang with the melody of your voice, so soft even as you watched me die; my face still burned with the brush of your hands, so comforting even as I realized what you’d done, what you’d slipped into my tea.
I wanted revenge.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.