Evelyn stared at the man who stood before her as his soft words of greeting reached her ears. His voice was deeper than she remembered, but still so warm and clear. And his face…
Her eyes lingered over the wrinkles that now lined his forehead, the gray that mingled with the black of his hair and beard, and the thick glasses that sat on his nose, partially obscuring his beautiful green eyes. He was so different, so much older… But he was still the most handsome man she’d ever seen.
Lucas’ eyes studied the ghost’s face as he watched her do the same to him. She’s still so beautiful… He thought, feeling his breath catch in his throat.
For a moment – just one, sweet moment – he was 17 again, and he was staring at the most beautiful woman in the world. She was even more gorgeous than he remembered, like something out of a dream. But Lucas knew he was wide awake… And, however unbelievable it may be, the beautiful, ethereal figure in front of him was real. He could not help but smile as he took in the sight of her.
But his smile faded as quickly as it had come as he watched her color shift to an unpleasant orangey-red right before his eyes. He could still remember how Evelyn’s color so often betrayed her mood – and he knew that whatever she was feeling right now couldn’t be good…
Evelyn had not known physical pain or illness in over 65 years, but, in that moment, she felt the closest thing to nausea she’d felt since her death.
I can’t do this.
Long ago, she’d resigned herself to never seeing Lucas again – and in time, she’d come to accept it. So seeing him there now… It was all just too much. The girl felt herself slowly overcome by wave after wave of fear, guilt, and shame. Evelyn had no idea what else to do, so she followed her instinct – and fled. She floated quickly toward her grave, ready to retreat back into the darkness below.
Oh no you don’t… Lucas thought frantically as he realized what the ghost was about to do. Not again.
“Evelyn, please.” Lucas’ deep, booming voice called out, pleading.
He watched as she stopped in her tracks, mere inches from the tombstone.
“You have to listen to me.” He continued, the desperation still apparent in his tone. “I’ve been waiting more than thirty years to have this conversation, Ev. Don’t make me wait any longer.”
To his relief, she did not vanish before his eyes as he had feared she would. Instead, she hesitated for just a few more moments before very slowly turning around to face him.
“Lucas, why are you here?” She said at last. Her voice was deep and rich with a slight, other-worldly echo, just like he remembered.
Lucas was taken-aback by her question. Wasn’t it obvious? “I-I wanted to see you again.” He replied somewhat awkwardly.
The ghost sighed. “I know that, but… Why now?” She shrugged her transparent shoulders slightly. “It’s been so many years…” Evelyn shook her head. “Why come back?”
She doesn’t know… Lucas realized. But then again, why would she? Clearly Death had lied to him all those years ago…
“Because I just found out you’re still here.” He explained desperately. “Ev, I had no idea. That… thing… Death, or whatever he is… He told me he’d taken you away. He said you moved on.”
“What? B-but he told me you’d given up on me… He talked to you too?”
Lucas nodded. “It was maybe a year after the last time I saw you.” He continued. “That’s why I stopped coming… You know I would never just abandon you like that, Ev… I thought you were gone!” He paused. “But… I’ll be honest… I started to kinda think that anyway, even before he lied to me…”
Lucas was thoughtful for a few moments, remembering how upsetting Evelyn’s silence had been. For the past three decades, he’d assumed it had been because she was gone, but now he knew the truth… He felt a bubbling anger suddenly growing inside of him at the thought.
“How could you just ignore me like that, Ev?” He demanded loudly. “Do you know how many nights I stood out here begging for you to talk to me? Do you know how much it killed me waiting for you to answer? But you never did…” Lucas shook his head, glaring at her.
The look on Lucas’ face was devastating. He was absolutely right, of course. It was my own fault, really… Evelyn felt herself overcome with shame at the thought.
“I know.” She said weakly. “It was awful of me… And if I could take it all back, I would, believe me!” The ghost hung her head for a moment. “I just didn’t know how to face you… I couldn’t Lucas, don’t you understand?” Evelyn sighed. “You broke my heart. And I couldn’t deal with it – I didn’t know how. I guess I was kind of a coward.” She shrugged slightly, not quite meeting his gaze.
When she finally raised her eyes to look at him, Lucas’ anger seemed to have melted away. “I was a coward.” He said seriously, then paused to take a slow, deep breath. “Evelyn, I’m sorry. More than you’ll ever know. The way I treated you… There’s no excuse for it.”
Lucas paused, looking down at the grass for a moment. “I was just a dumb kid… I should have been honest with you… But I was afraid.” He sighed. “It wasn’t that I stopped loving you, Ev. That was never it. I just… felt so trapped.” His green eyes glanced up at her almost guiltily. “But I didn’t know how to tell you. I thought that maybe, if I just kept trying to find the cure, I could bring you back and fix everything. But then I met Mel, and…” Lucas left the thought unfinished.
“I should have been honest with you from the start. I thought I was sparing your feelings, but I was really just being scared, and selfish.” Just like I’ve been with Mel about this whole thing… Lucas realized guiltily. “This is my fault.” He continued seriously. “Maybe if I’d done things differently, we could have made it work as friends… And I’m sorry I didn’t.” Lucas sighed sadly but said no more, waiting for Evelyn to speak.
He watched as her color shifted to a soft translucent blue and she looked up at him with eyes full of regret and sorrow. “And maybe if I’d done things differently,” She whispered. “We could have had this conversation years ago…”
“I’m so sorry, Lucas. You hurt me so much… But I know I hurt you, too…” She paused. “And…” The ghost hung her head. “We lost so much time together… I wish I could have been there to see you grow up… Get married, have a child, open your restaurant…” Evelyn blinked black tears. “So many wasted years… And now it’s too late.”
“Hey.” Lucas stepped forward, placing his hands gently on Evelyn’s arms. He’d almost forgotten just how soft and fragile she was. “There’s nothing we can do to change the past, right?” He said softly. “But… we’re both here now. And that’s what counts.”
Evelyn could not help but relish at his touch, though she could barely feel it. Just knowing that his soft, gentle hands were there was enough. She looked up at him, smiling gently.
“Well, for what it’s worth… I forgive you, Lucas. I forgave you a long time ago.” Evelyn confessed. It was herself she was still struggling to forgive now. “Do you think… You could ever forgive me?” She asked in a whisper.
“Of course.” He returned her smile, and Evelyn felt a warmth flow through her entire form as her blue hue began to fade away. Neither of them spoke for a few moments.
“So…” Lucas continued uncertainly. “Does this mean… we’re friends again?” His voice sounded so hopeful as he spoke.
“Were we ever not?” She asked, smiling.
Lucas laughed softly in reply. “I guess you’re right.” He said simply, studying her face for a few moments. It was still difficult to wrap his head around it – 35 years, and she was still exactly the same as the last time he’d seen her.
“Look at you.” Lucas whispered finally, breaking the silence. He reached out his hand and brushed it gently against her cheek. It felt like a fine, cool mist against the back of his hand. “You’re still so young…” He marveled. “And beautiful…”
Oh God, what am I saying? Lucas pulled his hand away abruptly, embarrassed and guilty. He cursed himself mentally for allowing himself to get so caught-up in the moment. What would Mel say? He thought, horrified.
Evelyn had smiled against his touch, but did not outwardly react when he pulled away from her. Instead, she simply continued to smile. “And you’re…” She began.
“So old?” Lucas finished for her with a laugh. But beneath his smile, he could not help feeling a twinge of embarrassment as he thought of his graying hair and wrinkles. God, I’m more than old enough to be her father… He realized. Heck, in a few years, he’d be old enough to be her grandfather. She wasn’t kidding about those wasted years…
The thought was so strange… and so depressing. Lucas tried his best to chase it away.
“I was going to say ‘still handsome’.” Evelyn chuckled. “But… I guess ‘old’ is also kinda accurate…” She teased.
“Gee, thanks.” Lucas couldn’t help but laugh.
Evelyn’s smile widened, and she felt a pleasant tingling sensation wash over her as her body began to glow a bright green. “Well, you are about to become a grandfather, right?” She paused. “I can’t believe it… Krysti’s growing up so fast.”
“I know!” Lucas agreed. “Wow… I can’t believe you’ve known each other for all these years.” He shook his head slowly. “How the heck did she keep this from me for so long?”
Evelyn just shrugged. “She’s a clever girl. And… I’m guessing she’s the reason you’re here tonight?”
He nodded. “I don’t know what made her have such a change of heart, but I’m sure glad she did…”
Why had she changed her mind? If she really knew that I was trying to bring Ev back, maybe when she saw the flower, she figured out that… Lucas paused, his eyes suddenly lighting up.
“Oh my God, Ev! I have to tell you… The most amazing thing happened!”
Evelyn almost laughed at how joyful and excited he’d become. Now that’s the Lucas I remember… “What is it?”
“I grew it, Ev! It took nearly forty years, but I did it! The death flower! Can you believe it?” He was practically shouting now. “Those plants that crazy old lady gave me actually worked.”
“Are you serious?!” Evelyn’s eyes widened.
“Yes! We just need that fish, and we’ve got it, Ev.”
Lucas watched as the girl’s expression softened. “So, even after all this time, even when you thought I was gone… You kept trying?” She asked.
“I did.” Lucas replied seriously. “I haven’t really gone fishing in years…” He confessed. “But I never stopped gardening … I just couldn’t let it die. Not when I’d finally started getting somewhere…” Lucas sighed softly. “I just never thought it would take this long.”
Evelyn just shrugged. “Better late than never.” She said. “But… do you really think this will help?” The girl asked nervously. “I mean… Death… He lied to both of us… How can we even be sure he was telling the truth about this cure thing?”
“We can’t.” He replied. “But it’s the best chance we’ve got right now, Ev… And now that I know you’re still here, I’m not gonna stop until I’ve kept my promise.”
Evelyn simply beamed at him in reply, at a complete loss for words. She could hardly believe it. After so many years, he still hadn’t given up on her. She finally had a reason to hope again…
The sky above had begun to slowly brighten as the sun peeked over the horizon. Evelyn glanced up at the dawn sky a bit sadly, feeling that familiar pull calling her back to the darkness of her grave. “We’re almost out of time…” She said softly. “But I feel like we still have so much more to talk about.”
“I know.” Lucas agreed. “We do have about thirty years’ worth of conversation to catch up on…” He laughed softly. “I’ll come back soon, and we can pick up where we left off. Maybe not tomorrow, but as soon as I can, okay?” He promised.
“Okay.” Evelyn smiled. She stared at him wordlessly for a few moments as it finally hit her – It’s really him. He’s here. He’s back. It was almost too good to be true.
“I missed you, Ev.” Lucas whispered, breaking the silence at last. “More than you’ll ever know.”
Evelyn floated forward, pulling him into as tight of an embrace as she could manage. “I missed you too.” She replied softly. “Every day.”
Lucas closed his eyes as he held her, hoping and praying that this would not all turn out to be some cruel dream.
When he finally pulled away, he saw that Evelyn now glowed a soft pink. He remembered exactly what it meant – and judging by the look on Evelyn’s face, she knew that he would remember too.
“I’m sorry…” She muttered somewhat awkwardly. “I can’t help it… I mean, after all this time, I still…” Evelyn paused. “What I’m trying to say is that I… I’ll always…”
“Don’t apologize.” Lucas interjected kindly. “Please, never apologize for how you feel. And…” He hesitated, just for a moment. “I want you to know that no matter how things turned out in the end, I’ll never regret one moment of what we had, Ev. Not ever.”
Evelyn felt her heart about to burst at his words. Perhaps it was not quite what she’d always dreamed of hearing, but for Evelyn, it was enough. Lucas was no longer hers – he hadn’t been for a long time. But no matter what happens, she realized, I’ll always be his… And that was okay with her.
“I’ll see you soon.” She said softly, floating slowly toward her grave.
Lucas smiled as he turned to walk away. “Bye, Ev.”
He paused to glance over his shoulder, and watched as she disappeared down into the darkness below, just as the soft light of the morning sun fell upon her marble tombstone.
Lucas was still beaming as he headed back toward the street. He was not exactly in the clear yet, of course. He and Evelyn still had so much to discuss… He and his daughter still owed each other so many explanations…
And, of course, it was time for a very long-overdue conversation with Mel… He could not help the wave of dread that washed over him as he thought of it.
But for now at least, Lucas did his best to chase the thought away and allow himself a brief moment of peace and happiness.
I can’t believe it… After all these years, he finally had his best friend again. And this time, he promised himself, I won’t let her go.
And at that moment, somewhere far below, Evelyn was thinking the exact same thing.