She’s still here.
Oh my God… She’s still here.
It seemed to be the only coherent thought Lucas had been able to form since Krystina had finally left nearly half an hour ago.
Lucas still had a hard time even believing their conversation had actually happened… It all still felt so surreal.
“Dad…” Krystina’s voice had been very soft as she spoke. “I know all about Evelyn…” The girl bit her lip before continuing. “I know that she didn’t die back when you were in your 20s… She died a long time before that, didn’t she? Before you were even born…”
Lucas felt like he was going to be sick. “K-Krysti, I don’t – ” He’d tried to interject, but his daughter went on.
“I know she was already dead when you met her, dad. I know you wanted to bring her back to life…” The girl had paused then, taking a slow, deep breath. “And I know because… Evelyn’s my best friend. I’ve been visiting her at Grammy and Grampy’s house, ever since I was a little kid.”
Looking back on it now, it all seemed to make sense… He remembered now how much Krystina had always begged to stay over her grandparents’ house. How she’d stay up so late at night, but only when she stayed with his parents, it seemed.
And of course, there were all the questions she’d asked about Evelyn back when she was a teenager. Her sudden interest had seemed so strange at the time… But now, he understood.
“B-but th-that’s… That’s impossible!” He’d cried. “She’s… gone.”
“I know that’s what you thought, dad… but she’s still there. I promise.”
Lucas had felt a rush of pure joy and excitement unlike anything he’d felt in years. “You’re serious?” He’d asked, his eyes wide. “You’re sure?”
Unfortunately, his joy was rather short-lived…
“Ten years?!” Lucas had cried angrily. “You’ve known for ten years and you never told me?! Krystina, do you realize how long I’ve… How many years I’ve… Jesus, why didn’t you say something?!”
“I know! I know! I screwed up, dad… and I’m sorry.” The girl hung her head in shame, holding her face for a moment. “But you got so upset whenever I tried to talk about her… And Ev, she… She’s heartbroken. I mean, she’s never really told me how she’s feeling or anything, but… I can tell.” Krystina had paused to let out a soft sigh.
“I thought that maybe… It would be too painful for you guys to talk about it… Or see each other again…” The girl bit her lip.
And then he realized – maybe she was right.
How could he possibly face Evelyn again? He’d strung her along, broken her heart, and left his promise unfulfilled… She probably still resented him, even after all these years. Why else wouldn’t she have told Krystina the truth?
And then, of course, there was his own anger towards her. What about those months and months of silence? How many nights had he visited her grave, begging for the chance to talk to her again? Despite his guilt, Lucas could not help but feel angry too. After believing Death’s lie, Lucas had thought her silence was simply because she’d moved on…
She was there the whole time?
They’d talked for nearly an hour, Krystina explaining all she knew, and Lucas – somewhat reluctantly – answering his daughter’s questions.
“So…” Krystina muttered when it was all over. “I just thought you should know, I guess.”
Lucas did not immediately reply. “Well… Thank you.” He said softly. “I just still can’t believe it…”
“Dad… what are you gonna do?”
“I dunno yet…” He shrugged. “Maybe nothing.”
“I just… need some time to think things through, okay?”
What was he going to do? Lucas still wasn’t sure.
And a few hours later, when he sat at the dinner table with his wife, he felt even less sure than before.
What would he tell Mel? How would she ever believe him? And even if she did believe it, how would she feel about him seeing Evelyn again?
Seeing Evelyn… Just thinking about it made him feel giddy and terrified, all at once… And then guilty when he glanced up at his wife’s concerned face.
“Honey, is everything okay?” Mel asked softly.
There was something very strange in the way she was looking at him, but Lucas couldn’t explain it. It was almost like she knew what he was thinking.
Yeah right… I’m probably just paranoid, he realized.
“I’m fine… Just really tired.” He replied, trying to smile.
His wife eyed him curiously for a few more moments, but went back to her dinner without mentioning it again.
That night, sleep eluded him. Lucas tossed and turned for hours before finally giving up and sitting on the edge of his bed in the darkness, lost in thought.
It was all he’d wanted for more than thirty years, wasn’t it? To see her again? Despite his lingering guilt and anger, he just couldn’t pass up the chance to see Evelyn, could he? He felt butterflies in his stomach at the thought.
It had been so long – sometimes, Evelyn felt like nothing more than a dream. In fact, as horrible as it was to admit, he’d all but forgotten what she even looked like. But he’d never forget what she’d meant to him, and the way she’d made him feel…
And I can keep my promise… He thought excitedly. I have the flower now… All I need is the fish, and I can bring her back… I can give her what she’s always wanted… It almost seemed too good to be true.
He glanced over his shoulder at his sleeping wife, his excitement quickly replaced with a sinking feeling in his stomach.
But could he really do that to Mel? Would she feel angry? Jealous? How would he explain everything to her? How could he justify all those years of lies?
Maybe she doesn’t have to know…
Lucas shook his head. No. He told himself, chasing the idea away. If I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna be honest… For once. He thought guiltily.
But could he do it?
Lucas sat in the dark, staring down at his feet as he tried to find the answer…
Evelyn smiled to herself and let her mind wander as she continued her nightly ritual of staring up at the stars. She’d been thinking a lot about Krystina lately, and the new baby she would soon be welcoming. How had her friend grown up so quickly? It made her a little sad, of course. But excited too. If Evelyn couldn’t get her own life back, at least she could live vicariously a bit through someone else’s…
It’s better than nothing. She thought with a sigh.
The ghost was brought back to the present by the soft rustling of approaching footsteps in the night. Krysti… Evelyn’s smile widened as she floated to her feet, amused. Speak of the devil…
She hadn’t been anticipating another visit from her friend so soon, so seeing Krystina again came as something of a pleasant surprise.
But Evelyn quickly realized that it was not Krystina who was walking toward her now. It was…
Oh my God.
Evelyn found herself completely unable to move. Or speak. Or breathe. Or think.
So she simply stared wide-eyed as the figure drew closer, cleared its throat nervously, and opened its mouth to speak.