Lucas watched as the thin ribbons of steam rose from the bubbling water around him. The crisp fall air hit his damp shoulders, contrasting sharply with the soothing warmth of the hot tub’s water. He glanced sideways at Evelyn, who sat on the bench beside him, the rising steam blending seamlessly with the tiny puffs of smoke that rose from her transparent form.
“Can you feel it?” He asked curiously, breaking the silence. “I mean, the water and the jets and stuff… Does it feel like anything?”
“Hmm… Not exactly.” Evelyn said, thoughtful. “It’s kind of warm, I guess… But I can’t even tell that it’s wet…” She shook her head. “Kinda weird, right?”
Lucas nodded, chuckling to himself. “Yeah, about as weird as being able to think about a bathing suit and suddenly be wearing one!” He teased.
Evelyn couldn’t help but laugh as well. “I’d never tried it before…” She glanced down at the bathing suit that now covered her. “I can’t believe it worked. Y’know, I’ve been wearing the same outfit for the past 25 years…”
“Yikes! I guess we’d better sign you up for one of those makeover shows…”
“Ha-ha. Very funny.” Evelyn rolled her eyes, but smiled.
The pair fell back into silence. Evelyn had closed her eyes, moving her hands slowly back and forth through the steaming water. Maybe she’s trying to feel it? Lucas wondered, staring at her. His eyes followed the slight bend of her delicate arms up to her shoulders. His gaze continued almost subconsciously across her collarbone and down the plunging neckline of her swimsuit…
He turned away, embarrassed. Jeez, get a hold of yourself. Lucas took a deep breath. Don’t mess this up…
“Ahem…” He cleared his throat nervously. The girl opened her eyes. “Evelyn,” Lucas began. “Do you remember what today is?”
“Wednesday?” She tried. “No, Thursday.”
“Oh come on, you know what I meant…”
Evelyn was thoughtful for a moment, then shrugged.
“Okay, picture me with lighter hair… a little shorter… not as dashingly handsome…” His lip curled into a smile. “Wearing a pretty awesome Llamapalooza t-shirt…”
The ghost giggled as the realization hit her. “It was tonight? The first night we met?”
“Five years today.” Lucas confirmed.
“Wow… Time flies, I guess…” Evelyn smiled. “Especially for me.”
Lucas returned the gesture, leaning closer to her as he spoke. “And do you know what the first thing I thought was? The first time I saw you?”
“Hmm… ‘Why is that lady so see-through?’”
“I thought ‘She is so beautiful’.”
If Evelyn could have blushed, she would have. “Lucas…” She whispered, not realizing that her color had shifted to a vibrant pink.
Lucas lifted his arm carefully, wrapping it around her and barely grazing her shoulder. He could feel the coolness of her transparent skin as it brushed his fingertips. “And when I look at you now, I think the exact same thing.” He continued.
Evelyn looked into his eyes, and Lucas instantly knew something was wrong. One moment, she seemed to be falling into his gaze, the next, her entire form paled to a sickly yellow and she pulled away from him so abruptly that she passed through his arm. An intense chill washed over his limb as she did so.
Lucas pulled it away, shocked at the sudden cold.
Neither of them spoke for a few moments.
“Ev, I’m sorry…” He muttered, staring uncomfortably into the swirling water. “I-I shouldn’t have –”
“Don’t.” Evelyn cut him off, rising to her feet. “Please, don’t.” Her voice shook slightly as she spoke with feigned cheerfulness. “I should go. You have that Spanish quiz tomorrow, right? You should get some sleep.” She stepped out of the hot tub, turning away from him. “Goodnight.”
Lucas didn’t even try to stop her.
I am the biggest idiot in the entire world. He thought miserably, dropping his face into his hands.
Evelyn watched sadly from afar as Lucas sat alone, lost in his thoughts.