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I don’t remember when I found you, or how, but suddenly, there you were.
Everyday, it gets harder and harder to remember what it was like being alone. I just have hints of memories of drifting through the In-Between, lonely, and then there you were.
You were watching the traffic zoom past when I faded back into this world. Your caramel hair was whipped around by the gust coming off a speeding car. There were others with you, but you gave them no mind. You were lost in your own world; swaying in time to something from your iPod.
I drifted closer, overcome with curiosity. Never before have I seen eyes so green. You cast a wary glance at your friends, something empty written across your face. They were so engrossed with their conversation, they didn’t see you place your backpack on the sidewalk - or when you walked right into oncoming traffic.
But I did.
Someone shouted, then tires screeched. You stood rooted to the pavement, your green eyes wide open. I flung my arms around you as a truck struggled to swerve out of the way.
I should have passed right through you, but for a moment, I felt your shoulders. Then I spun you away and shoved you back onto the sidewalk. The truck went through me, scattering me for a moment. When I settled, I swear you were looking right at me. One of your friends pulled you to your feet, and the spell was broken. You glanced back to where I was, but you saw right through me.
I followed your ambulance to the hospital (you argued that it wasn’t necessary, but none of your friends would listen). On the way, you kept asking one of the medics about someone who was hit. They told you no one was - well, almost counting you, they joked.
“Someone pushed me back,” you argued, looking down at your bloody palms, “I saw them. I swear the truck went right through them.”
I smiled to myself, moving my legs out of the medic’s way even though I didn’t need to. Sometimes I forgot I wasn’t alive.
“Maybe it was your guardian angel, kid.” The medic replied, taking your blood pressure.
That night in the hospital stretched on forever. You were kept on suicide watch while the doctors waited for your parents to show up. I learned that they were split, and lived a state away while you came to a private school here. You looked so young when the first tear rolled down your cheek. I felt an emptiness in my chest when I tried to wipe it away, but couldn’t.
After an hour of quiet sobs into your pillow, you whispered “Are you there?”
I lowered myself into a chair next to you. Yes, I wanted to say. Yes I’m here.
You looked down at your bandaged hands, and I noticed thin white scars covering your forearms. I reached out to you, but let my hand fall back into my lap. “I’m not crazy,” you sighed shakily, “I know I saw something. I felt you - whoever you are - push me back. I guess..... I just want to say thanks.”
You looked around, your eyes misty. “Hello?”
I bit my lip, wanting to show you that I was here. I leaned forward, brought my hands close to you ear, and clapped once. Nothing. I tried snapping, but you didn’t hear that either. Glancing at the nightstand, I placed my hand on a stack of papers. I focused as hard as I could, and pushed.
A single sheet fluttered to the floor, making me jump around in excitement. I looked back to you and couldn’t help but giggle at your surprised face. You folded your hands in your lap, a small smile tugging at your lips. “I knew it,” you breathed, laying back on your pillow and drifting to sleep.
You got out a few days later; squinting at the sun peeking through the heavy clouds. Your parents argued quietly by their separate cars, and you lowered yourself onto the hospital steps to wait them burn out. “I wish they wouldn’t do that,” you mumbled, and with a start, I realized you were talking to me.
I settled next to you, my shoulder passing through yours instead of brushing it. I absently blew at a lock of hair in your eyes, and it shifted slightly. You pushed it away with a sigh. We watched your parents go at it for a few more moments before you chuckled sourly. “And they wonder why I wanted to go to a school two hours away.”
I’ll watch after you, I said, in the way they couldn’t.
You rose from your seat, hopped down the steps, then walked off down the sidewalk. Your parents called after you, asking where you were going. “Back to school!” You shouted, rounding the corner without looking back. I hesitated by the corner, looked back at your parents. When I knew they weren’t going to follow, I chased after you.
There were tears in your eyes when I finally found you again. I sensed that you wanted them to follow. I reached out, gently touching a tear that had rolled down your cheek.
You gasped and jumped back, almost knocking over a few people. I looked down at my hand, my finger buzzing with the feeling of actually touching your cheek. You leaned close to my face, narrowing your eyes and looking around. Can you see me? I asked.
You shook your head slightly, then turned abruptly and continued walking.
And I drifted after you like a lovesick puppy.
You walked at a quick pace all the way to campus. Not once did you stop until you had slammed your dorm door close with a bang. I respectfully turned away while you change into your pajamas and crawled into bed. “Wake me in two years,” you mumbled, pulling your comforter over your head.
The next morning, the Dean came to your door with a slip of paper. On it was an appointment time and a name. Dr. Anne Cathy - two first names, how odd - was the school counselor, and the Dean asked that you go. You nodded politely, and was welcomed with the Dean’s permission to be excused from class that day.
You accepted and crawled back into bed.
After a little while of silence, interrupted by the ticking of your clock, you whispered: “You there?”
Of course, I replied. I flicked a cat bobble head, making it bounce gently.
You sighed, watching the bobble head until it stilled. “Are you gonna be here forever?” You asked, looking about your room.
I shrug, then remembered you couldn’t see me. “Obviously, you can’t answer,” you said to yourself, rolling onto your back, “or I’m just talking to myself.”
Focusing in the edge of your comforter, I managed flipped it over onto your face. The room spun for a few moments and I rubbed my head, suddenly groggy. I reminded myself that I needed to rest; didn’t want to wear myself out.
You chuckled, brushing the comforter off your cheek. A few beats past, then you asked “Want to come with counseling with me?”
Well, I was bored.
Dr. Cathy listened closely as you spoke of the event a few days ago. When she interrupted - which was rarely - she asked why you stepped out into oncoming traffic. You ran a thumb over one of the scabs on your hand, not speaking for a while. “Have you ever felt just... to tired to do anything? Like breathing and stuff?” You said in a small voice.
“When I was younger, yes.” Dr. Cathy answered.
I, on the other hand, don’t remember what it was like to breathe. I said this to you, but you didn’t hear.
You lifted up in your seat, tucking your legs under you like a child would. “Well I was just tired of being tired,” you stated, looking down at your lap.
I leaned close to your ear. Is that why you walked out into oncoming traffic? I asked.
“Yes,” you replied.
“Yes what?” Dr. Cathy blinked, looking up from her notes.
You looked around. “Didn’t you just ask something?”
She shook her head slowly.
I covered my mouth, pulling my knees close to my chest. I glanced down, noticing I was floating, then began to do somersaults in the air. Sometimes it was fun being a ghost.
A moment later, Dr. Cathy asked you if you heard voices.
You curtly said no.
But you heard me, I know it. Somehow, someway, my voice reached your ears. How did I do it though? I didn’t think, I just spoke and you heard. Maybe thats the secret: not trying so hard. Don’t focus on it like the way I try to move a paper. Just.... speak.
On the way out of Dr. Cathy’s office, I tried again. I whispered your name on our way down the stairs, and across campus. You picked up the pace until you were almost in a run. The bell rang, unleashing a torrent of students swallowing you whole.
When I finally caught back up to you, you were speaking a mile a minute to one of your friends. They shook their head at what you were saying, and you grabbed their shoulders and shook them. “I think I’m going crazy!” you cried. “I heard someone - something, saying my name.”
Your friend sighed, running their hand through their hair. “I - I can call my aunt. She’s good with stuff like this. But it won’t be free -”
“I don’t care,” you cut in, looking over your shoulder. “I’ll pay. Just give her a call, please?”
Back in your dorm, with the stereo on full blast, I began to feel bad for frightening you. I had just felt like a happy child, being able to do something I never had before. You heard me! Even if just for a moment, you had heard a voiceless thing that has been silent for so long.
I hovered around your room, trying to pass the time. For a while I wondered who was to be coming by and why you were so desperate for them to be here. I laughed to myself at the thought of a priest coming in to ‘banish’ me. There was no where else for me to go - you seemed to be all I know now.
We both jumped when someone knocked. You switched your stereo off, then bounded over to your desk and raked a brush through your unruly hair. The person knocked again, and you quickly pulled the door open. A tall, slim woman with long wispy black hair smiled down at you. She had a narrow hooked nose and paper thin lips that lifted higher on her right side. In her hand was a large black purse, and it matched the rest of her dark wardrobe.
She introduced herself as Madam Barry, and your friends aunt. When you asked where your friend was, she told you she preferred to meet her clients alone.
Client? I inquired, drifting closer.
Madam Barry tilted her head slightly. “Yes. My client.”
You looked around. “Huh?”
She smiled. “Not to you, dear.” Madam Barry paused, scanning your room with bright eyes. “I wasn’t talking to you.”
Madam Barry drug one of your chairs to the center of the room and motioned for you to do the same. She pulled over a stool, inviting me to sit. Well, she didn’t say it out loud, but I sensed that was her intentions. She took your hand in hers, then offered me one of her hands.
I laid my palm gently on hers.
“Now,” Madam Barry sighed, flicking a strand of hair from her eyes, “is there something you want to say to the spirit?”
You glanced over at the empty stool, and at my hip. “Uhh....what’s your name?”
I chewed on my lip. I don’t have one anymore, I answered.
“How come?” Madam Barry asked, looking right at me. You raised an eyebrow at her, and I remembered you couldn’t hear me.
I’m forgotten, I replied, and a forgotten ghost has no name.
Madam Barry relayed what I said to you. Your face fell, and you looked back over to my stool. “Why’d you save me?” you whispered.
I looked into your green eyes for the longest time. It seemed like you were looking right into my eyes. I whispered to Madam Barry, and she grinned softly.
“What?” You asked, leaning toward her. “What’d they say?”
Madam Barry chuckled. “That they came into this world at that moment to save you. And as long as you need protection, they’ll be here.”
You looked down at your feet, blinking quickly. You smiled weakly, and asked me “You don’t watch me change, do you?”
Of course not!
“Or take showers?”
Madam Barry rose, collecting her things. “I believe my duty is done,” she announced.
You asked her how much you had to pay, and she waved it off. No charge, she answered.
A month passed, and we watch the snow fall out your classroom window. I’d float out, collect a single cluster and bring it back to decorate your hair. Your hair gradually grew damp with melted snow until you whispered for me to go away. You said it with a smile, and I left just as your teacher began passing out tests.
I can’t remember the last time I played in the snow. But any remnants of those memories were fading. Who know how long before they were gone?
I spiraled up and up through the falling snowflakes. I’d like to see living people try to do that. Air currents carried me across campus until I willed myself down to your dorm. I passed through your closed window, and was surprised to see you left your space heater on. Flicking it to a lower and safer setting, I laid flat on your floor and waited for your return.
Two hours later, your door banged open and you came rushing in. You ran straight through me, cutting me in half for a moment. In your hand, you held your final exam paper, with a large red A on it. “I passed!” you exclaimed.
That’s amazing! I laughed, floating around you as you danced in excitement.
You tossed your exam onto your desk with a content sigh. “Just one more year of good grades, and I’m out of here.”
Glancing down, you turned your space heater up to full blast. Be careful, I advised, don’t sleep with that on.
You snorted. “You sound like my mom.”
I drifted over to the window, watching the snow settle out on the campus lawn. “Why don’t you go play?” you asked me.
I turned towards you, and jumped when I saw your green eyes looking at me. Actually at me.
You can see me? I puzzled.
You nod, a smile creeping across your face. “When you’re in the window like that, I can sort of see your outline.” You took a step closer, looking around me at the window. “You were watching the snowfall, right?”
Yeah, snow is very peaceful.
“Then go, play.” You motioned out into the swirling storm. “I’m gonna take a nap, and I don’t want you watching me like a weirdo.”
I brush a strand of hair from your face. I’m not a weirdo, I said softly before drifting out into the snow.
It is truly mystical how empty the world can feel when winter rolls in. Silence blanketed everything, and it made me feel even more like a ghost. I don’t think I died in snow because I don’t fear it. I welcome the sharp chill that used to make blood rise in my cheeks and nose.
I soon found myself on the street where I first saw you. Some unseen force brought me here that day, and it brought me there to save you. How was it that someone no one can see was the only one who saw your pain?
And you, you saved me as well that day. You gave me reason to be existing, even if not in this world. Even if I wasn’t alive.
My thoughts were interrupted by the wailing of a siren. Looking up, I was able to step aside before a fire truck ran right through me. It sped down the road, turning a sharp left and racing away. Through the falling snow, a dark form rose into the grey sky.
Coming from the direction of the school.
I began to run. My mind spun and pulsed with a blind panic. Your face danced before my eyes, and I was praying to whatever greater power lead me to you to keep you safe. Another fire truck roared past, but I was able to grab ahold of the end and let it lead me to you.
Once I was close enough to your dorm building, I spiraled up and away from anything solid. Your window was busted out, and from it, inky smoke billowed out. A hollow scream escaped me and the world pitched. The air was filled by your name coming from my mouth.
I battled into your room where just before I had floated. Flames raged around me, so hot my dead self could feel the heat. Fire consumed everything. But where were you? Where were you?!
The smoke and the heat drove me back out the window. I tumbled down, down, down until I somehow found my feet on solid ground. I helplessly watched with a cluster of students around me as your dorm burned. Some cried, some watched in wonder. I felt like a rug was ripped right out from under me, sending me tumbling down a flight of stairs with no end.
Suddenly, a hand slipped into mine.
I spun around, and there you were; nose to nose with me. Your bright green eyes shone, and you smiled so wide. You glanced down, and so did I, and I gasped. You and I - we were floating. You reached for me, touching my face the same way I had just a month ago.
So this is what you look like, you whispered. Your voice wrapped around me.
I leaned against your hand, letting the feeling wash over me. Together, we faded from this world, never to return.