“I’m telling you, it moved!”
“Ev, it was just the wind.”
“No, look. You’ll see.”
Lucas and Evelyn had been checking up on some of the other plants in the garden when Evelyn cried out in excitement. She insisted that she’d seen the long, tail-like vine on the back of the Dionaea Taurus sway from side to side. Lucas had rushed over, eager to investigate, but returned seconds later with a shake of his head.
“False alarm.” He’d told her with a shrug. “It’s not doing anything.”
But the ghost was insistent about what she’d seen. And so they’d been standing there for nearly three minutes, simply watching as the plant remained completely silent and still.
Nearly another minute passed before Evelyn finally let out a small sigh. “Okay.” She said at last. “Maybe it was the wind after all.” The girl couldn’t help but laugh at herself.
Lucas just smiled in amusement. “I get it, I’m excited too.” He explained. “We’re so close… It’s hard not knowing exactly what to look for.” He admitted with a shrug. “But I have a feeling we’ll know it when we see it.”
“You’re right.” Evelyn replied confidently. “We will.”
Lucas paused for a moment, and grimaced slightly in discomfort before he could reply. He reached up, rubbing his back gently.
“Are you okay?” The girl asked softly.
The old man nodded. “It’s fine.” He explained. “But… would you mind if we sat down? I think I’ve just been standing too long… Guess my back isn’t what it used to be.” Lucas smiled through his pain. “Hell, none of me’s what it used to be, is it?” He laughed as he headed toward the small picnic area behind the house.
Evelyn followed behind him, her mind flooded with memories of her recent conversation with Krystina. Try as she might, she could not fend off the waves of worry and dread that washed over her as she took a seat beside him on one of the benches.
Lucas could sense right away that something was amiss. “Ev?” He asked softly. “What’s wrong?”
The girl hesitated a moment before replying. “It’s just… Krysti came to visit the other night… And she told me about what happened.” Evelyn paused. “About when you went to the hospital…”
Lucas sighed heavily, his annoyance apparent on his face. “I should have known she’d say something.” He muttered softly. “But I was fine.” Lucas continued. “I promise. That’s why I didn’t tell you… Why worry over nothing?”
“But it’s not nothing, is it?” Evelyn replied. “It’s like you said, right? Your body’s not what it used to be. You’re getting older…”
She could tell from the look on his face that he knew exactly what she was implying. “It’s true.” Lucas admitted at last. “I’m an old man with a bad back and a weak heart…” He shook his head. “But do you know what’s also true? I feel fine. The doctor just told me to take it easy and keep taking my medicine.” He explained simply.
“There’s no change in my health, no major cause for concern… He said so himself. So please, don’t worry about it.” Lucas smiled gently. “For now, the only thing to worry about is bringing you back, okay?”
Evelyn was thoughtful for a moment. He’d be honest with me if he was really worried, wouldn’t he? She thought to herself, a feeling of relief growing inside her. Krystina had meant well, of course, with her warning. But she just didn’t understand. And she doesn’t realize how close we really are…
“Okay.” She said at last, returning his smile.
Evelyn fought back the feeling of butterflies in her stomach as she looked into his beautiful green eyes. It seemed that the closer she came to getting her life back, the more difficult it became to suppress her true feelings. It was hard to stop thinking about how close she was to being able to feel him at last — the softness of his skin, the warmth of his embrace…
Sometimes, she secretly hoped he would let her kiss him, just once. Just to finally see what it would feel like, after dreaming about it for so many years… Evelyn quickly chased the thought away.
The pair sat in silence for a while, listening to the soft chirping of the crickets, watching the nearby braches rustle in the cool evening breeze, and glancing up at the endless sea of stars above them. It was a beautiful night.
“The sky’s so clear.” Evelyn said happily. It was a welcome change after the string of cloudy nights they’d had recently.
Beside her, Lucas nodded, then rose from his seat. “Come on.” He said, walking toward the middle of the tiny park.
With a bit of difficulty, he lowered himself onto the ground, sighing as he stared up at the stars above. Evelyn quickly followed, hovering down to lay beside him. She spotted all of her favorite constellations in seconds – Evelyn didn’t even have to think about it anymore. Yet somehow, after all these years, it still had never gotten old. Not to her. And especially not with Lucas beside her.
They watched the stars together for several long minutes, saying nothing.
“It was right here, you know.” Lucas said softly from beside her, breaking the silence.
She turned toward him curiously. “What was?” She asked in a whisper.
“We were laying right here,” He continued, his mind very far away. “Watching the stars, like we always did… God, I was… What? 11? 12?” Lucas shook his head slowly. “And that’s when I decided.”
“To bring you back.”
Evelyn’s eyes widened. “That’s right!” She said as the memory came rushing back to her. “I was worried, because you were being so quiet that night…”
“Which was strange, because I never used to shut up, did I?”
“No, you didn’t!”
Lucas and Evelyn laughed heartily for a few moments at the memory. And then, as his laughter subsided, Lucas lifted himself rather awkwardly to his feet, groaning slightly at the effort. Evelyn floated up from the ground easily, wishing she could offer him a helping hand.
Lucas ignored her concerned look as he dusted himself off and took a seat at the nearby picnic table. “And then we sat right here…” He paused for a moment, smiling to himself. “And I made my promise.”
The ghost nodded. “I remember…”
“Can I be honest though?” She almost laughed as she spoke. “At the time, I thought you were totally nuts.” Evelyn confessed. “A cute kid.” She added. “And incredibly sweet, of course… But I never imagined you’d actually be able to figure it out…” Evelyn shook her head, her smile widening. “Not in a million years.”
“Well, it wasn’t a million, was it?” Lucas teased. “Just…” He paused for a moment, doing the math. “About 65.” The old man shrugged, smirking playfully. “No big deal.”
Evelyn just rolled her eyes, though she could not help but giggle slightly. “It just feels so surreal, doesn’t it? To be this close… After all this time…”
“It does.” He agreed. “And… I mean, I know we’ve thought we were close before…” There was a slight painful edge to his voice for a moment, though he kept his smile. “But this is different.”
The ghost nodded. “You don’t need to convince me, Lucas.” She said gently. “This is it. It’s real.” It’s so crazy to finally be able to say that… Evelyn added mentally, amused. “Any day now…”
Beside her, Lucas yawned heavily, and she realized just how late it must be.
“You should go to bed.” She said kindly.
Lucas nodded reluctantly. “I wish I could stay and talk more, but… I’m just so tired.” He explained as he slowly swung his legs over the bench and rose to his feet.
Evelyn just smiled. It was the same conversation they had almost every night, it seemed. “Don’t worry about it.” She assured him. “There’s always tomorrow night. Not like I’m going anywhere…” The ghost smirked.
“Not yet.” Lucas corrected her. “But soon, you will, Ev. You’ll go everywhere. You’ll see so much. And do so much…” He sounded so genuinely excited, so happy… For a moment, it felt almost like she was talking to that same young boy who’d promised to bring her back all those years ago.
Evelyn smiled warmly at him and floated to her feet. “And it’ll all be thanks to you.” She said seriously. “Your family’s done so much too.” The ghost added. Melanie, Krystina, Mitch… Even Danica had played a part. “But none of this would even be possible without you, Lucas. I haven’t forgotten that. And I never will.”
Lucas returned her smile for a moment. “You make it sound like I’ve already done it or something.” He shook his head, and his smile slowly faded. “There’s still a chance something could go wrong… I’ve let you down so many times already, Ev.” His face fell. “But this time… Well, I’m sure as Hell gonna try not to.” He tried to smile.
Evelyn just shook her head. “You’ve never let me down.” She explained. “Maybe there were a few bumps along the way, sure… But what you never did was give up on me… And no matter how things turn out, that’s what I’ll always be the most grateful for.” She said sincerely.
Lucas said nothing, and simply pulled her into a gentle embrace. Evelyn returned the gesture, trying to hold onto him as tightly as she could, and wishing for the day when she would truly be able to hold him in her arms, just like she’d always dreamed of.
Soon. She told herself. Just a little longer.
We’re almost there…
Lucas yawned softly, blinking slowly against the bright light of the morning sun. He hadn’t had his usual cup of coffee yet, and was already feeling it. He smiled slightly, amused by just how much he’d come to depend on the stuff after all these years.
Just a few more minutes. Lucas told himself, as he did nearly every morning. It had become ingrained in his daily routine – wake up, get dressed, check on the plant, then coffee. But there were some mornings, like this one, when his groggy mind liked to protest a bit. He almost had to fight to keep his eyes open as he drew closer to the plant.
It looked just the same as it always had. Lucas realized sadly as he looked the plant up and down for a moment. He reached out to press a wrinkled hand against its soft black-and-white surface when the Dionaea Taurus pulled back slightly, cocked its head to the side, and made a soft grumbling sound that resembled a grunt.
“Holy shit!” Lucas pulled back from the creature – for surely it was not a mere plant after all – and simply stared at it, first in horror and then in amazement. “Oh my God… This is it!”
Lucas couldn’t help it – he started laughing. It began as a soft chuckle but soon turned into a loud belly-laugh that almost made tears run down his face. I did it! I really did it!
He turned instinctively toward Evelyn’s grave, but he knew it was no use – she was in the darkness far below, and would remain there until the sun went down that evening. I wish she could see this thing… It’s incredible!
But Lucas knew it would be impossible. The book had clearly stated that the plant would only leave its dormant state for a few hours. Which meant… I’m already running out of time.
Moving quickly, he retrieved a nearby watering can and emptied the liquid inside onto the grass. Guess this’ll have to do. Lucas placed it on the ground below the creature’s udder. This has to be where it comes from… Right?
“Alright, buddy.” Lucas said with a laugh, reaching uncertainly for the ‘plant’ once more. He gave what appeared to be its snout a gentle stroke. “Let’s do this.”
The old man reached for the soft pink udder, grabbed it firmly, and pulled.