“Our son’s getting married tomorrow… God, it feels so weird to say that…”
Evelyn could no longer bear to listen. It had been devastating enough to learn of the engagement all those months ago. She never dreamed the day would come so soon…
The ghost quickly retreated, invisible to the Ainsworth’s eyes, back into the emptiness below.
She lay there for a long time, trying to calm herself. How had everything changed so quickly?
It had been more than six years since that horrible night when Lucas had broken her heart. But to Evelyn, it felt like only yesterday…
The first several days following her fight with Lucas were some of the toughest Evelyn had ever faced. She was so overcome with emotion and pain that it was difficult for her to even function, at first.
In the beginning, it was mostly anger. Evelyn had never felt that much rage before, in life or in death. It physically heated her entire body as her thoughts bubbled with hateful and terrible ideas so despicable, it shamed her to look back on them now.
It was many days before the anger gradually began to cool, giving way to nothing but an endless sea of pain and sorrow.
It was hard not to wallow in it – especially when she had nothing but time, and nothing to do with that time but get lost in her thoughts. Because there was only one thought that filled her mind, it seemed, every day and night – Lucas.
Evelyn could hear him sometimes, at first. It was a strange sensation – a voice so faint and far away, it was almost like she was imagining it. But she knew she wasn’t. He was there, night after night, trying to talk to her. But Evelyn never replied.
She was hurt. She was angry. And she simply could not bear to face him. So instead, she worked with all her might to block out the sound. Evelyn was never quite sure whether she’d finally succeeded, or if Lucas had simply stopped coming. Either way, his pleading soon stopped, and Evelyn was left in the silence once more.
Without her evenings with Lucas to look forward to, Evelyn’s days seemed to drag on and on as she sat, trapped in the darkness until the sun went down.
Sometimes, though it was rare, Evelyn would encounter another lost soul like herself, passing by on their way to whatever lay beyond the darkness.
It was so nice to have some kind of contact with another being, even if it was fleeting (as these encounters always were). Something would compel them to move on, and so they would – until they had vanished into the black abyss where Evelyn could not follow.
A few months after the breakup, Evelyn finally felt brave enough to venture out to the surface in the wee hours of the morning, when she was sure the household was asleep.
She would wander around the house and yard, thinking about all the happy memories she’d made there, in both death and life. In fact, Evelyn had been thinking a lot about life since her fight with Lucas – The happy life she’d lived with her parents, the exciting life she and her best friend Caroline had always daydreamed about in her youth, and, of course, the new life she would one day live, thanks to Lucas.
All three were gone now, it seemed. Lost forever.
But sometimes, Evelyn wasn’t so sure.
On some evenings, she would wander over to Lucas’ garden and study it for a while – still so meticulously cared for, with the occasional mark where a sample had been extracted. Is he still experimenting? Evelyn had wondered. Maybe he’s still trying…
It was simply too good to be true, wasn’t it? But part of her still hoped that was not the case.
There were so many times she’d come close to trying to talk to Lucas again. Maybe I can learn to forgive him… She’d thought. Maybe he really hasn’t given up on me. Maybe… Maybe we can at least be friends. All she had to do was go wake him…
Some nights, Evelyn would even make it as far as his bedroom before changing her mind.
Ever since her death, time had been hard to keep track of for Evelyn. Sometimes days felt like months. Sometimes years felt like weeks.
So she was not entirely certain how much time had gone by the evening that she found herself faced with an unexpected visitor.
Evelyn glanced over her shoulder nervously as the figure approached. He was even more frightening than she remembered from the first time she’d seen him, all those years ago.
“W-what do you want?” She’d asked softly, trying to swallow her fear.
Death simply shrugged. “What? I can’t pop in for a little visit now and then?” He asked, chuckling to himself.
“Now and then?” She looked at him curiously. “But I haven’t seen you since…”
“I’m a busy guy, what can I say?” The cloaked figure laughed softly. “But your recent anguish has certainly caught my attention… And I’m here to help.”
“Help?” Evelyn hesitated. Does he mean what I think he means? “Have… have you come to… y’know… Take me?” She asked nervously.
“Afraid not, my dear.” He replied sweetly. The figure appeared to be looking her up and down for a moment, though she could not see his face. “Still not ready.” Death shook his head.
“But I am!” She insisted. “Maybe I wasn’t the first time… But not anymore.”
He just continued shaking his head. “Believe me, if you were, you’d know it.” Death assured her.
Evelyn’s face fell. “Well, if that’s not it, then… Why are you here?”
“I come bearing some news you may find, uh… interesting.”
The ghost said nothing and simply stared at him expectantly.
“You’ve been agonizing for months about talking to that boy again, haven’t you?” He asked. “Always so careful about coming out at night, afraid he’ll see you, too scared to face him again…” Death seemed quite amused as he rattled off the list. “Well, there’s no need anymore, my dear.”
“W-what do you mean?”
“That boy of yours is gone.” He said simply.
Death nodded. “Moved away a few days ago to go live with that girlfriend of his. Left the garden behind and everything…” His tone had quickly shifted from amused to apologetic.
“He… He left?”
“Go take a look for yourself, if you don’t believe me.” He replied.
Could he really be gone? Evelyn felt as though her heart were breaking all over again.
She floated as quickly as she could back to the surface and into the house to Lucas’ room. The posters were gone from his wall. There was now a blank space where his bookshelf had been. The knickknacks had vanished from the top of his dresser. And his bed was cold and empty.
“No use dwelling on it now.” A voice called from the darkness.
Death had appeared before her, taking a seat on the edge of Lucas’ empty bed. He patted the spot beside him gently, beckoning for Evelyn to join him.
She took a seat in a daze, feeling a suffocating wave of sorrow crashing down on her. I waited too long… And now it’s too late… Evelyn wiped her eyes gently as her tears began to fall. “M-maybe, if I’d just talked to him…” She muttered softly.
“Oh come now… Surely this isn’t entirely unexpected. You know how the living can be…” Death continued. “So quick to forget, so eager to move on…” He paused. “I hate to say it, but I’m sure it won’t be long before he’s forgotten all about you, my dear. And I suggest you try to do the same.”
Evelyn shook her head, wiping away more tears and turning to face him. “But I don’t want to forget… I –” Huh?
The bed beside her was empty. She was all alone.
Evelyn’s existence was very much the same after that night.
She still spent her days alone in the darkness.
And most nights alone beneath the stars.
But some nights, she would sneak into the house, and listen.
It felt almost wrong sometimes, but Evelyn couldn’t help it… It was the only way to know what Lucas was up to, to know if he was happy…
But there were times when the things she heard were simply too painful…
As she sat alone in the darkness, Evelyn once again found herself thinking about life. But not the one she had lived, or the one she had always dreamed of.
But the one that Lucas was living without her.