I’ll finally make them pay… Evelyn smiled to herself.
She was so caught-up in her bitter and violent thoughts that she almost failed to notice an unfamiliar figure emerging from the darkness behind her.
“Uh… hello!” A voice called out uncertainly. “I didn’t really expect to run into anyone out here…”
Evelyn turned around, annoyed. “Yeah, well… Here I am.” She shrugged. What does he want?
The man paused awkwardly for a few moments. Evelyn just glared at him.
“Um… are you okay?” He asked nervously.
“Do I look okay to you?” Evelyn sighed, shaking her head. “Nevermind, you wouldn’t get it…”
The man laughed to himself. “Well, uh, if you haven’t noticed, it seems you and I are in the same situation…” He gestured toward their transparent forms. “So I might understand better than you think.”
Evelyn hesitated. I’m never gonna see this guy again anyway… She thought. Guess it wouldn’t hurt to vent a little.
“Fine…” She began, sighing. “I’m just really upset, because… Well… It’s kind of a long story. But there’s this guy… He’s the love of my life.” Or maybe afterlife? She amended mentally. “Or at least, I thought he was… We were so happy. And I thought we’d be together forever, but…” Evelyn paused. She didn’t feel like getting into all the details.
“Anyway, things didn’t end well…” She said bitterly. “He started seeing someone else… And then they got married… And now they’re having a baby…” Evelyn shook her head.
“And… And it just sucks.” Evelyn’s voice steadily grew louder and louder. “He forgot all about me, and all about his promise… He just left me behind! And now he’s starting a family with someone else! It’s not fair!”
The man listened intently, nodding knowingly, completely unfazed when she started to yell. “Believe me,” He said finally. “I understand… My wife – well, I guess she’s not my wife anymore…” He added sadly. “She was my soulmate – I always thought we’d grow old together…”
“But when I… died,” he said the word uncomfortably, “everything changed. She’s married now too… And pregnant.” As he spoke, there was a fleeting flash of pain in his eyes that Evelyn did not fail to notice. “So I get it, trust me.”
Evelyn said nothing for a few moments. She was still angry – but now she was angry for this man too.
“That’s awful.” She said seriously. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be.” He replied with a shrug. “It took me a while to figure this out, but… It’s not awful. It’s… It’s wonderful, actually.” The man smiled slightly as he spoke.
Evelyn stared at him, wide-eyed. “What?! How can you say that? I mean, not to be insensitive, but… She left you behind. You should be pissed!”
“And I was pretty pissed, for a while.” He confessed. “All those years ago, when she visited my grave to tell me she was seeing someone else… I was so mad. I might have even gone up there and confronted her right then and there, if it wasn’t the middle of the day.” The man shook his head. “But that was a long time ago. And now… Well, now I’m just happy for her.”
“Happy for her?” Evelyn asked uncertainly. “Even though she moved on without you? But… why?!”
The man shrugged. “Because I realized that her life had to go on without me.” He said simply. “Just because my life ended doesn’t mean I should stop her from living hers. All I ever wanted was for her to be happy… I guess fate just decided it wouldn’t be with me.” He sighed.
Evelyn just shook her head. I can’t believe this guy! “Well I guess that’s fine for you to feel that way… But with me and Lucas, it was different.”
The man’s ears seemed to perk up at something she had said, but he did not interrupt her.
“I mean, when we were together I had already… y’know.”
She hesitated, then tried her best to explain about Lucas’ promise to bring her back, all the research he’d done over the years, and his sudden decision to “throw her away for some stupid bimbo”. She chose not to mention the encounter with Death.
“So I decided I was done being a burden to him. I didn’t wanna get in his way anymore… So I hid.” She sighed. “And I haven’t talked to him ever since the night we broke up. I think he tried to talk to me a few times, but…”
The man was thoughtful for a moment. “That couldn’t have been easy.” He said sympathetically. “For either of you. But… it sounded like you’d made up your mind… What changed?”
Evelyn hung her head. “Nothing changed…” She said slowly. “I just wasn’t being honest with myself…” It felt so strange to finally speak the words aloud. “Even though I told myself I didn’t want to hold him back… Part of me still hoped that somehow, he’d… I mean, that we…” The thought hung in the air, unfinished.
She took a deep breath before continuing.“I thought I’d moved on. But I really hadn’t… And after he left, I knew I’d lost him forever.” Evelyn blinked back tears as she spoke.
“But now…” Her eyes suddenly lit up. She’d been so caught up in her confession that she’d almost forgotten. “He’s coming here tomorrow tonight. With his wife.” She smiled slightly. “And it’s finally my chance.”
“Chance?” The man asked nervously. “For what, exactly?”
“I don’t know yet… Revenge, I guess.”
“Revenge?” He said incredulously. “For living his life?”
Evelyn shook her head. “No…”
“Trying to be happy?”
“Of course not!
“I… I don’t know…” She whispered. Her anger had begun to fade slightly, replaced by a feeling Evelyn could not describe. “Forgetting me, I guess.”
The man just shook his head. “But don’t you get it? Moving on isn’t the same as forgetting. If he really cares about you, then he still remembers you.” He paused. “And… if you really love him, you’ll see that you have to let go and accept it… You can’t hold on to your anger or sadness anymore… It won’t change anything.”
He sighed. “It took me years to figure that out. Our lives are over. Theirs are just beginning.”
“But my life wasn’t supposed to be over.” Evelyn said sadly. “And he was supposed to bring me back…”
“Well, maybe he still wants to.” The man replied. “How can you know for sure? It sounds like… I mean, I don’t wanna point fingers, but…” He bit his lip, glancing at her uncertainly.
Is he saying this is my fault? Is this jerk for real?! Evelyn’s mind was suddenly full of a dozen venomous replies… But before she could choose the right one, she realized.
It is my fault… Thinking back on it now, it seemed so obvious to her. How many times did he try to apologize? And I just ignored him…
“You’re right.” She whispered. “I should have given him a chance.” Her face fell.
“Look.” The man put a gentle hand on her shoulder. “I can’t say whether it would work out if you tried to talk to him now. That’s up to you to figure out… But I can tell you that trying to do something crazy… Trying to ruin his happiness… That’s not the right thing. And I think you know it.”
“I… I dunno.” She muttered. “I guess I don’t know what to think right now.” Evelyn confessed.
“You love him, don’t you?”
“Then trust me. You do know. And when you figure it out, you’ll feel so much better.” He smiled warmly at her.
“I wish I could stay…” The man’s eyes darted toward the deep emptiness over Evelyn’s shoulder. “But It’s really time for me to go… I can feel it.”
“So… You’re… moving on?”
He shrugged, smiling. “I guess so. It’s a weird feeling… I don’t know how long I’ve been walking, but there’s something that keeps pulling me forward… I just keep going, waiting to see what’s ahead. I mean, there’s gotta be something out there beyond all this, right?”
“I guess so…” Evelyn looked at him curiously. “What do you think was keeping you here in the first place?”
“I’ve been wondering that myself for a long time.” He looked thoughtful for a moment. “But… I think I figured it out. No matter how angry I was, what was really holding me back was making sure my wife was happy. That she’d be okay without me. I used to worry about her a lot… She’d cry for hours at my grave, day after day… for months. It was horrible. I wanted to go to her, but she never came after the sun went down…”
He paused, shaking his head.“But I’m glad I didn’t. Seeing me wouldn’t have helped. She needed to grieve… and to learn that it was okay to move on…”
“Everything’s different now, though. She has everything she’s always wanted – a great job, a big house, a loving husband, and now a baby on the way…”
His smile widened. Evelyn could not help but marvel at how truly peaceful he looked. “I guess I finally know for sure that she’s gonna be okay. She doesn’t need me anymore, so…” He glanced again at the blackness beyond.
“I wish I could talk a little longer, maybe do more to help… But I know you’ll figure it all out, just like I did.” He said confidently. “When you realize how happy he is, I think you’ll understand.”
Evelyn felt speechless, trying to take in everything he’d told her. He makes it sound so easy…
The man broke the silence after a few moments. “Well, it was nice talking to you, uh….?” He hesitated.
“Evelyn.” She replied, her voice flat as her mind continued to swirl with countless thoughts and emotions. “Evelyn Magee.”
“Evelyn Magee?” The man repeated, seemingly in disbelief. “No way! Hah… I knew it…” He began chuckling heartily to himself.
Evelyn raised an eyebrow. “What’s so funny?”
“I think you and I have a couple of, uh… mutual acquaintances.”
He took a few steps, walking past her toward the edge of the darkness. It seemed to take great effort for him to stop himself, but he finally managed to do so. “I’ve really gotta go… It’s hard to fight it now… But there’s a few things I think you’d want to know.” He smiled.
“Your friend Caroline got accepted to that science school you convinced her to apply to. She even went on to open her own research center in Bridgeport.”
Evelyn’s eyes went wide. “Caroline?!” She choked back a sudden wave of emotion at the mention of her friend’s name. “But… how…”
“And she says it was all thanks to a dear friend who’d always encouraged her to follow her dreams…” He gave her a small wink as Evelyn continued to stare at him, dumbfounded.
“And as for Lucas…” The man continued as a strange, knowing smile came to his lips. “Trust me when I say he hasn’t forgotten about you. I promise. In fact, I bet he still thinks of you every day…”
As he spoke, he turned away from her and began walking, pulled by some unseen force from beyond. “I’m sorry… I can’t stay…”
He turned back, looking over his shoulder and calling out to her as he faded farther and farther away. “Maybe try talking to him, if you can… But please…Don’t do anything stupid. I’m begging you…”
“You’ve gotta let it go. Let him live his life. That’s what’s best for him…” His voice was far away but still clear, even as he began to slowly fade from view. “When you see how happy he and Mel are, you’ll understand…”
Did he say ‘Mel’? But… how did he…?
Evelyn wanted to call out to him — she had so much more she wanted to talk about, so many more questions…
But it was too late. He was gone.