Evelyn stared down at the cluster of odd-looking flowers below her. Their bright pink petals contrasted sharply with their unusual center discs, each one distinctly resembling an empty-eyed skull. The longer the ghost stared at them, the more it felt like they were staring back. It was a peculiar feeling – one that Evelyn did not particularly enjoy.
Those weird little things are supposed to help me? She thought skeptically, floating away back toward her grave. Yeah, lotta good they’ve been doing… Evelyn shook her head as the bitter thought crossed her mind.
She’d been thinking a lot about the death flower lately, and how many years it took to finally grow. Even to Evelyn, whose perception of time had changed so much since her death, it felt like forever. Was the search for the angelfish doomed to take just as long?
It can’t… Evelyn thought nervously. Because that would mean that Lucas… The thought was simply too painful to complete.
No. She told herself. Lucas had started it all, and he would be the one to end it. And as soon as she got her life back, she would stay by his side for however long he had left. She wanted to be able to finally taste his delicious cooking, and share her gift for music with him in return; to stand beside him with the bright light of the sun on their faces; to reach out and feel the warmth of his skin against hers; to live and breathe by his side.
Even if it had to be as his friend, she didn’t care. I just want to be with him… Evelyn thought desperately, staring up at the stars above her. Alive.
But the more time that passed, the more it seemed that it would forever be nothing more than a fantasy. The lights were still out in the house behind her, though it was not very late. Melanie must have gone to bed early, and Lucas… He’s still looking.
It was hard not to feel guilty. How many countless hours had Lucas and his family wasted trying to find this ‘cure’? Especially him… Ever since he was a boy – before he even knew for certain a cure existed – Lucas had been looking. And even when he thought Evelyn was lost forever, something in him had told him to keep going, cross-breeding his plants for years until the death flower finally bloomed.
He’s never given up on me… But will it all be for nothing? After their painful string of failures, it certainly seemed that way…
Evelyn’s train of thought was suddenly derailed by an excited cry of greeting from behind her. “Evelyn!”
Lucas… The ghost floated to her feet at once, passing through the hedge to where the smiling man was waiting for her. He’s back… And he looks so happy… She thought curiously. What could it mean?
“You’re back!” Evelyn smiled warmly at him as he continued grinning from ear to ear. “I didn’t even hear the car door… You snuck up on me.” She teased.
“Ev, you will never believe what I’m about to tell you. I can barely believe it myself, but…” He paused, laughing joyfully.
Lucas was speaking very quickly, his voice getting louder and louder with each word. It reminded Evelyn of when he was a young boy, and would excitedly share an amusing story about his day at school or something silly Noah or Sam did.
“I guess it really happened…” He continued. “After all these years, I did it!”
If Evelyn’s heart were still beating, it would have stopped in that moment as she took in his words. “Lucas, are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“Come on, I’ll show you!” Lucas replied gleefully. “But try not to not freak out too much…” He teased. “Mel wasn’t feeling good this morning, and I’m pretty sure she’s trying to sleep…”
Now he really reminded her of when he was a boy, playfully warning her not to wake his sleeping parents (though he knew full well that they could not hear her anyway). It was so strange and amusing to see him like this. This can only mean one thing… Evelyn followed behind him eagerly, trying her best to contain her excitement.
Lucas stepped aside, allowing Evelyn a clear view of the large glass fishbowl that sat on the dining room table. Inside, a striped blue fish swam slowly in circles around the tank. Its delicate fins rose and fell in a hypnotic and graceful rhythm, and there was an unusual shimmer to its scales unlike anything she’d ever seen before. It was beautiful.
“Is that really it?” Evelyn asked in barely more than a whisper.
Beside her, Lucas nodded. “It has to be.” He replied. “And there’s more where that came from.” His smile widened. “It took half the day, but I managed to catch three more. Two are in the freezer… and there’s another live one in a bowl in the kitchen.” Lucas explained. “I tried to get more, but…” He shrugged. “They just stopped biting after a while.”
“Lucas…” Evelyn whispered. Her voice was thick with emotion, and she felt as though she could burst into tears at any moment. “This is amazing. You’re amazing… You did it.”
He beamed at her. “I promised I would, didn’t I?”
The ghost floated forward, throwing her arms around him and holding him tightly. Lucas returned the gesture, and Evelyn could almost feel the warmth of his body as it pressed against hers. And soon, she realized, I really will feel it.
“Thank you, Lucas.” She whispered fervently. “For everything. I love you so much.”
Evelyn could hear the smile in his voice. “I love you too, Ev.”
Though his words warmed her heart, she would have given anything for him to mean it in the same way she did. But those days were long behind them. Evelyn did her best to shake off the depressing thought as it crossed her mind.
He held her for a few more moments before finally pulling away. “We’re so close.” He said softly. “After all these years…”
“I know.” She smiled gently at him. “But…” Evelyn bit her lip before continuing. “Now that we have the fish and the flower… What do we do with them? I mean, where do we even start?”
Lucas shrugged, his face showing no sign of concern. “Well, we can assume you’re supposed to eat them somehow, right? Not to brag or anything, but you’re talking to the founder of one of the most successful restaurants this side of Bridgeport.” He said with a small laugh.
“I’ll be able to figure it out.” Lucas continued confidently. “But that’s why I got the extra fish – Just in case… Plenty of room for a little trial and error.”
He was so positive, so sure. And Evelyn could not help but believe him. He’s gotten us this far. She thought happily. He can do this.
“I just can’t believe it…” Evelyn muttered, still trying to take it all in. She sat gently on one of the dining room chairs. “We’re almost there…”
Lucas said nothing in reply and simply walked around the edge of the table to sit across from her, his smile never leaving his face. It felt like there was so much left to say, but in that moment, words failed both of them.
So the two old friends sat together in silence for a long time, simply marveling at the beauty of the tiny blue fish they’d sought for so long, and all they’d went through to finally find it.