The sound of the wind whistling softly through the trees reached the ghost’s ears as he curiously scanned his new surroundings. Very slowly, his eyes began to adjust to the dim light, and he soon realized why the long hedge, painted white benches, and tall church steeple looked so strikingly familiar; it seemed he was standing in the middle of the tiny churchyard where his parents and wife had been buried. And now me too, I guess… He added as he continued to survey the scenery around him.
Though he had not been gone for long, this world already felt so strange and alien to him. Everything seemed so dull, so colorless…
But not the figure who knelt before him. She was by far the most vibrant and beautiful thing to be seen.
His eyes took in the silky locks of her deep brown hair, the pale ivory of the skin on her arms and shoulders, her small and delicate hands draped in her lap… He hadn’t even seen her face yet, and he was already in awe of her beauty. This is even more amazing than I ever could have imagined… A rush of joy washed over him at the sight of her.
“Evelyn.” He said at last. “It’s me.”
For a moment, he was shocked by the sound of his own voice. It sounded deeper now, with a strange and other-worldly echo that made it sound as though he were speaking from very far away.
He watched with anticipation as the girl rose uncertainly to her feet and turned around to face him at last.
She was even more stunning than he’d dreamed she would be. Her sparkling blue eyes, the dusting of freckles over the bridge of her nose, her soft pink lips… She was perfect.
“Hey, Ev.” His smile slowly grew as he spoke. “I can’t believe it… you look amazing.”
Evelyn’s eyes widened in disbelief, and for a few moments she simply stared at him, completely dumbstruck. “Lucas?!” The girl cried at last. “Oh my God…”
She practically threw herself at him then, and Lucas could not help but laugh as she did so. She wrapped her arms around him tenderly, and he tried his best to do the same.
It was so strange… Touching Evelyn had always felt like running his hands over a layer of fine mist – cool to the touch, but so light and delicate that he could barely tell there was anything there at all.
But this was different. The closest thing he’d ever felt to this peculiar sensation was having one of his limbs fall asleep– not the discomfort or tingling sensation that often came with it, but the bizarre experience of trying to touch something with skin that had gone numb. He could tell that there was supposed to be something warm and solid pressing against him – but try as he might, he could not feel it.
Overjoyed as he was to see her, Lucas could not help the small wave of sadness that rushed through him. How many years had he dreamt of embracing Evelyn just like this – whole and alive once more? But in all of his dreams, he was alive too, and was able to truly feel her at last…
“I missed you, Lucas.” The girl breathed, and Lucas could hear in her voice that she had begun to cry. “So much…”
“I missed you too.” He replied warmly.
Evelyn held him for several more moments before finally pulling away, wiping her wet eyes with the back of her hand. “I thought you were gone.” She said softly. “That old woman told me you were…” Evelyn shook her head.
“But you’re here now.” She lifted her head, her eyes meeting his. “I knew you’d come back. No one believed me, but I just knew you couldn’t really be gone.”
Lucas hesitated a moment before replying. She was already getting her hopes up, just as he’d feared.
“But… I was gone, Ev.” He explained gently, speaking at last.
“What?” Evelyn almost smiled in amusement. “No, no…. I know you were ‘gone’… So was I, for about eighty years, remember?” The girl teased, shaking her head. “What I mean is… She told me you’d, well… moved on, I guess.”
“And she was right.” He said, smiling. “I left all this behind me… and I’m so glad I did. It’s the most incredible place, Ev.” Lucas’ voice was almost dream-like as he recalled the beautiful paradise he’d left behind. “It’s so colorful… So beautiful… And you feel amazing. No more pain, no more worries… I mean, look at me.” The ghost gestured down at his young and healthy body. “Someday, you’ll see it for yourself… And you’ll understand.” Lucas assured her, returning from his reverie.
Evelyn did not immediately reply. The girl looked down at the grass below her feet for several long moments before finally speaking. “It sounds amazing… But… I don’t get it.” She said slowly. “You’re here now. You came back.”
He nodded. “I did.”
There was something almost hopeful in the way she was looking at him. “But… how? Why?”
Lucas sighed softly. He had to make her understand. “I wasn’t supposed to come back.” He explained. “I shouldn’t have even been able to…” He paused for a moment. “But Death decided to give me a chance… He came to me. And he told me everything.”
“He told me what you’ve been doing since I’ve been gone.” Lucas said sadly. “Or not doing, I guess…” He shook his head. “And that was bad enough on its own… But now this? Going to Granite Falls? Trying to throw your life away to bring me back? What are you doing Evelyn?” There was also the hint of an angry edge to his voice as he spoke. “This has to stop.”
Evelyn simply sighed. “I can understand why you’re concerned, okay? But… I have to do this. For you. Just like you did it for me…” She said gently. “This is what I want to do, Lucas.”
“Ev, if you want to do something for me, then stop this. Please.” Lucas’ voice was pleading.
Evelyn was silent then, and appeared suddenly thoughtful. She bit her lip nervously, and sounded almost guilty as she broke her silence at last. “I don’t get it. I thought you’d be happy.” She said softly, shrugging her shoulders slightly. “I thought you’d want this.”
Lucas almost laughed. “You think I’d want you wasting your life trying to bring back an old man who’s already lived his?” He asked.
“But you said it yourself – You’re not an old man anymore… Look at you.” Evelyn smiled softly at him.
“That’s not the point.” He shook his head slowly. “You can’t keep holding on like this. All you’re doing is hurting yourself, Evelyn… You’ve gotta let me go.”
“But… But you weren’t supposed to die.” The girl continued, her tone becoming more desperate with every word. “Not yet, anyway. We both know it’s true.”
“No.” Lucas said softly. “You don’t know.” The ghost let out a small sigh. “This is how it has to be.”
Evelyn shook her head. “Look, I know your heart wasn’t great, okay? But do you really think –”
“It wasn’t my heart, Ev.”
For a moment, the only sound was the gentle breeze whistling through the nearby trees.
“W-what?” Evelyn’s eyes widened as she spoke. “What are you talking about?”
“I didn’t have a heart attack.” He repeated slowly.
The girl said nothing in reply. She merely stared at him expectantly, a look of both confusion and curiosity on her face as she waited for him to continue.
Maybe now she’ll understand… Lucas thought desperately. Or at least, he hoped she would.
So he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and told her everything.