Krystina tried to blink away the hot sting of her tears as Evelyn drew closer, gently placing her hands on the girl’s shoulders.
“Oh my God, Krysti… I’m so sorry.” She said seriously. “That’s terrible.”
“I know.” Krystina hung her head as her tears began to fall.
She turned away from Evelyn and crossed around the hedge to the small table that sat near the back door. Krystina felt like she was in a daze as she took a seat in one of the stiff white chairs, hugging her knees to her chest.
Evelyn sat beside her, and said nothing – something which Krystina appreciated greatly. The two girls sat in silence for a few minutes as Krystina tried to compose herself.
“I just can’t believe he’s gone.” She said at last, lifting her head and lowering her feet to the ground. “I mean… he wasn’t even that old…” The girl shook her head slowly. “He had a heart attack before, when I was little.” She explained. “But I guess I didn’t think that he’d ever…” Krystina shook head yet again, leaving the rest of the thought unspoken.
“I’m sorry to just show up like this.” She continued. “But you’re the only one I felt like I could talk to right now, Ev…”
“What about your parents?” The ghost asked gently.
Krystina shrugged. “They’re both so upset… And my grandmother’s gonna be staying with us for a few days… Everyone’s just a total mess at my house.” She shook her head. “I didn’t really see how we’d do each other any good right now.”
“You might be surprised… I’m sure they’d appreciate it if you tried talking to them. Especially your dad…” Evelyn’s brow furrowed in concern. “He must be devastated. They were so close…” She paused. “F-from what you’ve told me, I mean.”
Krystina looked at the ghost curiously for a moment. There was something a bit strange about Evelyn’s tone. Why’s she so worried about my dad? The girl wondered.
“I guess I could try…” She said slowly.
They fell into another uncomfortable silence then. Krystina bit her lip, glancing nervously at her friend. I wanna ask… But I feel so dumb… The girl sighed.
“Hey Evelyn?” She said a bit awkwardly. “Can I ask you something?”
“Of course. Anything.”
“Is it possible…?” Krystina hesitated. “I mean… my grandfather… Could he be… y’know… Like you?” She asked softly. “Do you think… I might be able to see him again?”
Evelyn sighed. “I don’t think so.” She said, her tone apologetic. “I mean, I guess it’s possible, sure… But he lived a great life, Krysti. He accomplished so much… He saved so many lives at the hospital, got to grow old with your grandmother, watched his son start a family, saw you grow up… I don’t think he’d have much of a reason to stay, you know?”
“So then… where is he?”
Evelyn just shrugged. “He’s wherever you’re supposed to go when you’re done here, I guess.” She paused. “I’m sure it’s a good place.” Evelyn assured her. “He’s probably really happy now… I don’t know if that helps at all, but I really think it’s true.” She said seriously.
Krystina thought for a moment. Did it make her feel better? Maybe a little… I guess I kinda take it for granted. She realized. So many people struggled every day with what to believe about spirits or the afterlife… But Krystina knew that both were real. Shouldn’t that help ease the pain a little?
Maybe someday it would, but all Krystina could think of right now was knowing that she’d never see her grandfather again. Not in this life, anyway.
As Krystina pondered where her grandfather’s spirit may be, or what he may be doing at that very moment, another thought crossed her mind – one she had not thought in a very long time.
“So… if he’s moved on… Why are you still here?” She asked softly.
Somehow, in all the years they’d known each other, the question had never come up. At least, not out loud. Krystina had secretly wondered about it, of course. But she’d been too nervous to ask until now.
Evelyn looked slightly uncomfortable as she replied. “I guess I just wasn’t ready.” She said simply. “There was so much I never go to do in my life… I know that applies to a lot of people like me, but I’ve always been pretty stubborn, so…” She almost laughed. “I dunno. The little boy I used to be friends with, remember him?”
Krystina nodded. Evelyn had shared a few stories over the years about the little boy who used to live in this house a long time ago.
“That’s what he thought.” She explained. There was a wistful, far-away look in her eyes as she spoke. “But… who knows?” The ghost shrugged. “For a while, he even thought there might be a way to bring me back to life… Sounds crazy, right? He spent so much time researching and fishing and gardening…” Her eyes flicked briefly toward the empty gardening boxes on the other side of the yard. “He was always experimenting… I used to really think he’d figure it out someday. But he stopped when he moved away.” She finished sadly. “So I guess I’ll never know…”
Krystina raised an eyebrow. This was the first she’d ever heard about finding a way to bring Evelyn back to life. Could it really be possible? She pondered her friend’s words for a few moments. There was something else too… Something she couldn’t quite put her finger on.
There was always something strange about the way her friend spoke about the little boy. She couldn’t explain it. But sometimes, like tonight, it made her wonder.
After all, her father was once a little boy who’d lived in this very house… A little boy who’d had a friend named Evelyn. It couldn’t just be a coincidence, could it? But no matter how many hints Krystina had tried dropping over the years, Evelyn never gave her any indication that it was any more than just that — a coincidence.
Might as well give it a try anyway… “Gardening?” Krystina glanced toward the garden boxes as well. “My dad loves to garden…” The girl said significantly, flicking her eyes back to her friend and studying Evelyn’s face for a reaction.
Evelyn hesitated for the briefest moment. If Krystina hadn’t been looking for it, she may have missed it entirely. “I remember… you’ve told me about it before.” She replied simply.
Krystina paused, waiting for Evelyn to continue. But she didn’t. The girl eyed Evelyn curiously for a few moments, saying nothing. Krystina did not bring it up again.
The two friends talked for a while longer, mostly reminiscing about Krystina’s grandfather, and all the great memories she’d made with him. Krystina shed several more tears before the time came for her to leave, but she also found herself laughing too. When the first hint of light came into the pre-dawn sky, Krystina found herself feeling much better than how she’d felt when she arrived.
“Thanks Evelyn.” She said seriously, hugging her friend as tightly as she could without passing through her transparent form. “You always know what to say.”
The ghost smiled. “I’m glad I could help. Hang in there, okay? Just… don’t forget what I said… About talking to your parents. I really think they’d appreciate it.”
“I will.” Krystina promised. “I’m not sure when I’ll be back… But I’ll try to make it soon, okay?”
“I’ll be here.” Evelyn replied. “Whenever you need me.”
Krystina gave a small wave, then trudged sleepily around the side of the house to where she’d left her bicycle.
The girl mounted her bike, and glanced back toward the distant hedge for one last farewell to her friend. But when she glanced over her shoulder, Evelyn was already gone.