Things We Can't Control
By Sylvia, age 15, JHS School, Jackson, USA
It's been three years since what happened to my friends and I, and although I think of it everyday, it still seems strange and unnatural to be writing about it, but I suppose it's time to reveal what happened. Time to put the past behind me and move on.
I was seventeen; we all were, and nothing we had ever experienced could have prepared us for what was going to happen. A lifetime of experience couldn't have prepared us for what was going to happen.
I never knew that there was so little we actually know about the world we live in. None of us knew, but we soon found out. Now, enough reminiscing through my past experiences. The time has come for me to tell my tale.
The six of us sat in a tight circle in the middle of Taylor's room, concentrating on the old ouija board game in front of us. We were all very close friends (except for Evan and Taylor) but we were used to their arguments by then. Evan was the jokester. You could tell what kind of personality he had just by looking at him. His green eyes always sparkled with the thought of what kind of prank he was going to pull off next. He wasn't bad looking. Not by a long shot. With his warm eyes, broad smile, and soft brown hair, he was actually pretty cute. His best friend was Lee, who was the jock of the group. He wasn't the brightest guy I'd ever met, but I mean, none of us really judged him for it. He was in football, baseball, soccer, and basketball, and he was outstanding at all of them. He had been going out with Carrie for three months.
Carrie was the type who could get lost in the Sunday morning comics and spend hours trying to figure out their secret meanings, but she was pretty cool. She kind of reminded me of Quinn off of Daria if you've ever watched it. Typical stereo type of the teenage girl. Obsessed with guys, makeup, clothes. . . she was even a cheerleader. I had known her since the first day of kindergarten, and we've been friends ever since. Marie was the exact opposite of her. She always made me think that if anyone ever based a book on her, it'd be a bestseller for years to come. That's what a strong personality she had. Things for her were either black or white. In her opinion, gray didn't exist. Why in God's name she was so opinionated is beyond me, but she was. If someone crossed her path, she made sure to let them know about it, and more often than not they didn't have to be told more than once to stay out of her way.
Evan was the only one I knew brave (or dumb) enough to purposefully piss her off, and if you ask me, I think he enjoyed doing it. He'd make fun of her for really pointless reasons like how she got all A's or how she didn't agree with anyone but herself and things like that. She could have killed him for it. Probably would have if it had been legal.
Taylor had had a crush on her on and off over the past couple of months, but she pretended not to notice. He was an okay guy once you got to know him. At first he came off as kind of preppy to some people, but I mean, that's just because of the huge house he has and all of the stuff he can afford and everything. After you hang out with him for a while, you find out that he's really not like that at all. He was always just one step ahead of Evan, and it drove him crazy, but I don't think Taylor annoyed him on purpose. Maybe subconsciously he knew what he was doing when he got on Evan's nerves, but I don't think he meant to bug him out.
Me and Taylor were probably the most alike out of our group (Unless you count Carrie and Lee, but I don't cause I'd feel pretty bad about saying two of my friends were alike because they were only playing with half a deck of cards. ) I was pretty smart, but not as smart as Marie, and I was into softball and I wrote for the school paper. You know, you've probably met people like me. All American girl, apple of their parents' eye, good student, blah, blah, blah. I even looked normal. Brown hair, green eyes, medium height. Nothing extraordinary here. Just another example student who would graduate with good reports coming from each teacher and then go on to college and do something useful with their life. Maybe teach. Whatever, we all ended up about the same, but that wasn't the way I wanted things to go. I wanted to do something incredible. I mean something really special. Something that most people can only dream of, but I had no idea what it was. I just knew that somehow I was going to break the mold or die trying, and I came pretty close to doing both, but I'll let you find that out for yourself.
"This is stupid, " Evan complained, "You guys are never going to get that thing to work. "
"Not with you over there complaining, " Marie countered. "Would you guys, just calm down. We don't really expect it to work. We're just fooling around, " I said looking from Evan to Marie and then back to Evan.
"Well. . . " Evan seemed to think about this momentarily and decided to stop arguing for the time being. "I still think it's stupid. "
"All right, you guys have to put one finger lightly on the little boat thingy and concentrate on the question that's asked, " Taylor said in a slow and deliberate tone, glancing around the circle at each of our faces.
"The little boat thingy?" Evan asked with a smirk. Sometimes he could be really impossible.
"You know what I mean, Evan, " Taylor said coldly.
Taylor and Evan didn't hate each other, but I guess you wouldn't be stretching it if you said they weren't the best of friends. The only reason Taylor had invited him to his relatively small Halloween party was because of our vote. Lee, Carrie, and I voted that he should invite Evan while Marie voted against it, so here he was, getting under Amber's and Taylor's skin as usual.
"Okay, lets get this over with so we can move on to other things, " Lee said impatiently, glancing over at Carrie who had been staring at him.
"All right. Somebody ask a question, " Taylor said.
"Is anyone in this room in love, " I asked quickly without thinking, hoping to get all of them to take it easy.
The pointer slowly went up to 'Yes'.
"More than one person?" I asked.
It started to spell out names.
C. . . A. . . R. . . R. . . I. . . E. . . . . L. . . E. . . E. . . . . E. . . V. . . A. . .. . . N.
"Oh come on. Someone's pushing it, " Evan protested.
"Lee and Carrie are in love with each other?" I asked, ignoring him.
Y. . . E. . . S.
"Evan is in love with Carrie?"
N. . . O.
I had to laugh, "Whoa, Evan, got it goin' on for Lee, huh?"
Then it started to spell out something else. Y. . . O. . . U.
"Me? Evan likes me?" I guessed.
Y. . . E. . . S.
"Okay, can we do something else. This thing is messed up, " Evan said uncomfortably.
"No, this is kinda cool. Can I ask it something?" Carrie asked with more than a spark of interest showing on her lively face.
"Sure, " I said, "That is if Taylor doesn't care. "
"Fine with me, " he replied, looking intently at the board.
"This is dumb. I'll just watch, " Evan said abruptly and took his finger off of the pointer.
"Do you guys mind if I just watch for a while?" I asked, realizing that if someone didn't talk things over with Evan, we'd spend the whole night listening to him and Taylor fight.
"All right. Whatever, " Taylor said, sounding distracted. "If you get thirsty, there's pop in the refrigerator. "
"Thanks, " I said, glad to be getting out of the room. The game was a little spooky and I wanted to try to talk to Evan.
"Don't you want to ask it anything else before you leave?" Carrie asked, seemingly unable to believe I would rather talk to Evan than play a party game.
"All right, " I said reluctantly, deciding to humor her, "What should I ask?"
"Whatever you want to know, " she responded.
"Ummmm. . . " I thought for a moment and then said, "Will I ever love someone?"
Y. . . E. . . S.
V. . . E. . . R. . . Y. . . . . S. . . O. . . O. . . N.
"All right, that's enough for me. Come on, lets go get something to drink, " I said as I grabbed Evan hand and pulled him to his feet.
"Okay, " he said as he got up and followed me out the door. I could hear Marie grumbling about something, but I couldn't quite make out the words.
"Are you all right?" I asked him once we were out of hearing distance.
"Yeah. I don't know what's wrong with me tonight. I'm being a total jerk, " he said, running a hand back through his brown hair. "It's just that whenever me and Taylor end up in the same room I always start to get to him. I don't mean to, it just happens. I probably sound really stupid right about now, so I'll just shut up and try to stop getting on everyone's nerves. "
"No, the only people you get to are Marie and Taylor. I think you're great. I love listening to your jokes, " I said, glancing away from him.
"Do you?" He asked, leaning closer to me. I could faintly smell his soft cologne.
"Yeah, " I whispered, "I do. "
Just then Matt, Taylor's little brother started yelling, "They're gonna kiss! They're gonna kiss!" and ran into his room.
I dropped my eyes to the floor and mumbled something about the luck I was having lately.
"I'm sorry, " Evan fumbled awkwardly. "I um. . . I'll get your pop for you if you want. Then I'm going to take Taylor's stupid ouija board and break it over Matt's head. "
I giggled. "No, I'll go out with you, " I started and then realizing how wrong it sounded, quickly added, "To the refrigerator I meant. "
"Yeah. Okay, " he said, starting to walk again.
"Evan?" I called before he could get away. "What the ouija board said, it's true, isn't it?"
"Yeah, it is, " he said looking away.
"Why didn't you say something?"
"I don't know. We were pretty good friends and I didn't want to mess that up, so I just sort of tried to ignore how much I liked you, " he replied as he pulled something out of his pocket. "Here. I wrote this for you, but I didn't think I'd really be giving it to you. " I took the folded sheet of paper from his hand and began to read it.
Hi, it's Evan. I've been thinking about you a lot lately and I really like you. I know this is kinda weird, but I really needed to tell you. I won't draw this thing out and write any romantic poetry or anything like that, but I just want you to know how much I love you and that I'd do anything to make you happy. If you ever want to go out or do something sometime, just let me know.
After reading it twice, I looked up at him. He was tugging at the bottom of his blue Abercrombie shirt and shuffling about restlessly. "I. . . wow, I didn't know, " I said, knowing how lame I sounded, but unable to think of anything else to say.
"Okay, you don't like me and I just totally screwed everything up. Just forget about it. I shouldn't have said anything, " he said, looking even more uncomfortable. "I should have known you'd never be interested in a goofball like me. "
"No, no it's not like that. I'm glad you told me. It's just that I'm really surprised, you know?" I replied as I grabbed his arm in an attempt to stop him.
"So what are you saying?" He asked, turning around to face me.
"That I feel the same about you, " I answered softly.
"Do you or are you just saying that so I won't look like a total loser?" He asked.
"I mean it. Do you really love me?" I asked softly.
"Yeah, " he said as he tilted my head up, "I do. "
I knew he was going to kiss me and I wanted him to. He was one of the most incredible guys I'd ever met in my life and he had just told me that he loved me. I moved closer and he wrapped his arms around me.
"I love you, Sylvia, " he whispered as he brought his lips to mine.
I'm not sure how long we kissed, but it must have been a long time because when we broke apart, Carrie and Lee were staring at us with their mouths gaping open. "Well, it's nice to know you two really respect other peoples' privacy, " Evan said irritably.
"Sorry. We went out to find you two, " Lee started.
"You'd been gone for a long time, " Carrie cut in.
"And we saw you out here and you guys were really going at it. I don't see why me and Carrie are playing with a dumb ouija board when we could be doing it. I. . . I mean this, " he stuttered. "I didn't mean we'd do it. "
"I told you, that's for after the party, " Carrie replied, rubbing his neck.
"Excuse me!" I exclaimed, "I hate to interrupt, but exactly what did you want?"
"Oh. We can't get the ouija board to work, " Carrie said, sounding embarrassed.
"Will you ask it some more questions? It won't answer anything we ask, " Lee explained.
"Don't I ever get a break?" I asked no one in particular.
"So is that a yes?" Carrie asked.
A few minutes later Evan and I rejoined Marie, Taylor, Carrie, and Lee in a circle around the ouija board.
"So what happened to you two?" Marie asked smugly. The expression on her face told me she thought Evan and I had had an argument.
"They were-" Carrie started but I quickly cut her off.
"We were talking about how this was one of the most boring Halloween parties in the history of the world. "
"Yeah, " Lee agreed, "why don't we play spin the bottle or seven minutes in heaven or something? Or we could just forget about the games and make out. I'd be cool with that. "
"Can't you get a hormone suppressant or something for him?" I asked, rolling my eyes. Carrie flushed a little and smiled in response.
"So what did you want me to ask it?" I asked impatiently.
"Ask it why it only answers you, " Taylor replied.
"All right. Why don't you answer anyone but me?" I asked obediently.
We waited for what I'm guessing was about five minutes without seeing anything and right before I was about to give up and tell them it was a shame their little toy had broken, it slowly began to move.
"Oh my God!" Carrie shrieked.
"Shhhh, " Taylor whispered harshly. "Concentrate. "
It spelled out the message very slowly, as it if wasn't sure whether to tell us or not.
Y. . . O. . . U. . . . . A. . . R. . . E. . . . . G. . . I. . . F. . . T. . . E. . . D.
"Why?" I asked in a voice barely above a whisper.
W. . . H. . . E. . . N. . . . . I. . . T. . . . . I. . . S. . . . . T. . . I. . . M. . . E.
"When it is time I will know?"
Y. . . E. . . S.
"You guys, this is creepy, " Carrie said, looking as scared as I felt.
"Oh come on. You don't really think this thing is moving on its own do you?" Evan asked uncertainly.
"Well, what else could it be?" Carrie asked, clutching Lee's hand.
"It's Taylor's idea of a Halloween prank. He doesn't have much else to do with his time, " Evan replied hotly.
"I'm not doing it!" Taylor burst out.
"Then who is? The Ghost of Christmas Past?" Evan shot back. "Look, you guys can stay here and be awed by this thing all you want, but I'm outta here. You coming?" He asked, looking at me.
"Evan, come on. All we have to do is ask it a question no one here would know the answer to and then we'll know if Taylor's doing it or not, " I said putting a hand on his arm to calm him down.
"All right. Ask, " he said in a more composed tone.
"Okay, what color is my underwear?" I asked feeling completely stupid, but not knowing anything better to ask.
The pointer began to move again.
B. . . L. . . A. . . C. . . K.
"Oh my God, " I said in a shocked tone.
"What? It's not right, is it?" Lee asked carefully.
"Yeah, it is, " I said slowly.
"Now are you satisfied?" Taylor asked Evan.
"Ask it what color Carrie has on, " Lee said excitedly.
I sighed and said, "What color of underwear does Carrie have on?"
S. . . H. . . E. . . E. . . R.
"Um, what's sheer?" Lee asked.
"See through, moron, " Evan said impatiently.
"Oh. . . " Lee said, probably trying to picture Carrie in translucent underwear.
"Okay, now I think we know this thing's for real, so can we quit?" I asked them.
"No, lets ask it a few more questions. Please?" Marie asked, throwing her blonde hair over her shoulder.
"Fine, " I replied, "Were you ever alive?"
It took a very long time to answer this and again I thought it had left.
O. . . N. . . C. . . E.
"Are you male or female?"
M. . . A. . . L. . . E.
"What's your name?"
G. . . A. . . B. . . R. . . I. . . E. . . L.
"Gabriel, " I whispered. "What happened to you?"
I. . . T. . . . . I. . . S. . . . . A. . . . . V. . . E. . . R. . . Y. . . . . L. . . O. . . N. . . G. . . . . T. . . A. . . L. . . E.
"Will you share it with us?"
I. . . . . W. . . I. . . L. . . L. . . . . S. . . P. . . E. . . A. . . K. . . . . T. . . H. . . R. . . O. . . U. . . G. . . H. . . . .
O. . . N. . . E. . . . . O. . . F. . . . . Y. . . O. . . U.
I. . . T. . . . . M. . . A. . . T. . . T. . . E. . . R. . . S. . . . . N. . . O. . . T.
"Okay, so who's it gonna be?" I asked gazing at each face in the circle.
"I will, " came Evan voice.
"Evan? Are you sure?" I asked.
. "Yeah. I'll be fine, " he said, giving my hand a reassuring squeeze.
"But what if-"
"Don't worry about me, " he said looking at me. "Lets get this over with. "
"Yes, lets do it before the spirit leaves, " Taylor urged.
"Look, after this is over I'll never do anything crazy again, okay?" He said softly, ignoring Taylor.
"But Evan, " I sputtered, "you. . . you can't!"
"Why not?" He asked gently.
"Because I love you, " I wailed, knowing how stupid I sounded, but not caring.
"I love you too, " he said as he drew me to his chest.
"Are we going to do this or not?" Marie asked impatiently.
"I won't do it if you don't want me to, " Evan said, not taking his eyes off of me. "It's your choice. "
"Go ahead, " I said, a single tear spilling down my right cheek.
"Ask what he has to do, " Carrie said nervously.
"We've made our selection. What do you want us to do now?" I asked, struggling to fight the tears of worry.
T. . . H. . . E. . . Y. . . . . H. . . A. . . V. . . E. . . . . T. . . O. . . . T. . . O. . . U. . . C. . . H. . . . T. . . H. . . E.
. . . . P. . . O. . . I. . . N. . . T. . . E. . . R. . . . . A. . . L. . . O. . . N. . . E.
"Will it hurt them?"
N. . . O.
"Are you ready?" I asked Evan.
"Yeah, " he whispered.
"I'm scared, " I said in a small voice.
"Me too, but don't worry. I promise you I'll be okay, " he said, trying to smile, but not pulling it off.
"Okay, " I said, gripping his hand tighter.
"Here, you can hold this till I get back, " he said as he took off his Nike necklace and handed it to me.
"Okay, " I repeated, grasping the necklace.
"I love you, " he said as he put both hands on the pointer.
"I love you too, " I said, but it wasn't Evan that I was talking to now, it was Gabriel.
"Evan is no longer here, " came a voice from Evan mouth that flowed like a velvet ribbon. "I am Gabriel. "
"Is Evan going to be all right?" I asked, on the verge of hysteria.
"Yes, Evan is fine, " he continued in that silky voice.
"Can he hear us?" Lee asked.
"No, I'm afraid he can't, " the voice answered.
"Will you tell your story?" Taylor asked, looking somewhat impatient but mostly scared.
"IT IS NOT UP TO YOU TO ASK!" he yelled, silencing Taylor at once.
"Then who is it up to?" I asked timidly.
"You, " he replied, looking at me.
"Well, do you feel ready enough to share what you know?" I asked in a hushed tone.
"Yes. I was young- seventeen- when all of this happened. Probably no older than you. I cannot remember what year it was or where I was at or any of the things that should probably come easiest to me. I've found it's the small details you remember once you've passed on. I remember I was in love with a girl, I do not remember her name, but I remember everything about her. She was much like yourself and I had never been so infatuated with someone in all my life. She was beautiful. Not only in appearance, but also in personality and I knew that she was the only thing I wanted. The only thing I truly desired, " he said in his beautiful voice.
"What happened?" I asked, caught up in the story and completely forgetting everyone else around me.
"I told her my feelings for her on Halloween, just as Evan told you, and keeping in line with previous events, she revealed her love for me. We had gone to another friend's house and were telling ghost stories and playing other party games like bobbing for apples. You must understand that this was somewhere in the eighteen-hundreds and things were much different than what they are today. We didn't have games like 'seven minutes in heaven', " he said, casting a stern glance at Lee who immediately dropped his eyes. "Nearing the hour of midnight I heard something outside and volunteered to go see what had made the commotion. God only knows why I was so determined on going out there, but I felt as if I had to. I couldn't see very well, but figured it had been a dog or some other small animal and decided not to worry about it, but before I could go back inside, I heard it again and tried to follow the noise, but I lost my footing and fell into a tangle of thorns. When I regained my balance a man, the girl's own father to be precise, stood in front of me with a rifle in his upraised arms. He was obviously drunk and I tried to get back into the house as fast as I could, but I didn't make it. He took three shots, two of which were completely off target, but the third pierced my left lung and by the time my friends found me, which couldn't have been more than five minutes later, I was barely hanging on. My last words as a living, breathing person were, 'It shall be avenged, '"
"That's horrible, " I heard myself say.
"Yes, but that's not all. Every year on the twelfth hour of Halloween I am forced to take someone back to the world of the dead with me. "
"Forced?" I croaked.
"I have no choice. It is a curse I put unknowingly on myself when I promised my death would be avenged. At midnight I will be forced to take someone back with me. "
"What time is it?" I asked in a trembling voice.
"Eleven forty-five, " he answered regretfully.
"I'll go. Don't take anyone else. I'll go with you, " I said looking at my friends.
"Don't you understand?" He asked sadly.
"Understand what?" I asked with growing dread.
"I don't get to choose who I take. It is already destined. Whoever I speak through is the one I have to take. I have no choice. It was up to you. "
"NOOOO!!!" I shrieked, unable to prevent the tears from rolling down my face.
"I'm sorry. "
"Isn't there anything we can do?" Carrie asked through a flood of tears.
"But there must be-" Lee started.
"THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO. I AM SORRY I HAVE TO TAKE YOUR FRIEND, BUT THERE IS NO POINT IN ARGUING WITH ME!"
"Please, " I said, struggling to get myself under control. "Take me instead. "
"I cannot do that. There is only one other alternative. "
"What? Anything! Just please don't take him, " I said desperately.
"I can take his place, " he said calmly.
"Wha-" I started.
"I can take the place of Evan. If I do that then he will have never existed. You won't remember him. He will be dead to the world. His mark in life will be erased. You will fall in love with me instead of Evan. I'll do everything he would have done, but his spirit and personality will be gone. He will be nothing, " he explained.
"No!" I protested.
"I'm sorry, " he said softly. "I leave it in your hands. "
"No, no no, " I moaned.
"But what if you didn't exist?" Carrie asked. "Then what?"
"I don't exist. I'm no longer alive. "
"Can you bring Evan back and let me talk to him?" I asked quietly.
"Yes, " he said and put his hands on the pointer.
"Evan?" I asked looking at the same person who'd just told me all of that.
"Who else would it be?" He asked smiling.
I tried to tell him what had happened, but I started sobbing instead.
"Shhh. It's all right. I'm here now, " he said softly as he stroked my hair.
"Evan, " I started, "Something horrible happened. The ghost says he has to take you with him. He's going back to the world of the dead and he's taking you with him, " I sobbed.
"No. I'm here. Everything's gonna be okay. Don't worry, " he said, trying to soothe me.
"She's telling you the truth, " Carrie broke in. "That ghost said he had to take you at midnight. "
"This isn't funny, " Evan said cautiously. "Really. "
"We're not joking. That's what he said. And he said that if he didn't take you back then he had to take your place and I wouldn't even remember you, " I explained as fresh tears swelled in my eyes.
"We only have thirteen minutes, " Marie said, glancing at her watch.
"This is crazy!" Evan exclaimed. "This can't be happening. "
"I don't want you to leave. I love you Evan, " I said.
"I'm not going to leave. Don't worry. He's not going to take me without a fight. "
"But-" Taylor protested.
"But nothing. Are you with me or not?" Evan asked with fire in his eyes.
"I am, " Lee said.
"Me too, " came Carrie's terrified voice.
"So am I, " Marie offered.
"You know I am, " I said softly.
"Michael?" Carrie asked.
"Count me in, " he said looking at me instead of Evan.
"Good. Now you need to tell me exactly what he said, " Evan said as he ran his fingers through my hair. And we did, or rather they did. I was still crying too hard to be of any help.
"Okay. Well, I guess we'll just have to wait it out and see if he really does come for me, and if he does then we're going to have to do whatever it takes to get him to leave, " Evan said, clearly shocked at what they had told him.
So we waited, and waited, and waited until Taylor's clock finally struck midnight. That's when we heard the voice.
"It's your time, Evan, " it said in a hollow, emotionless tone.
"No. It's not, " Evan said angrily.
"Please don't argue. There's really nothing I can do about it. By the time this minute is up your soul will be mine, " it replied coldly.
"No!" He screamed. "You can't. "
"I CAN AND I WILL, " it roared. "You have only thirty seconds. I suggest you say good-bye. "
"No, " I sobbed. "No, please!"
"Don't worry. I'm gonna be all right. I promise. Don't you worry about me, " Evan said as he hugged me tightly.
"Don't talk like that Evan, " I sobbed.
"Ten seconds, " the voice cut in.
"Oh God, I love you Evan, " I said through the tears.
"I. . . love. . . you. . . too, " he sighed and then went limp in my arms.
"Nooooo!" I screamed. "Evan?!? Please!"
I knelt down beside him and felt for a pulse but I couldn't find one.
"No!" I cried. I closed my fists tightly and felt something prick me. When I looked down I discovered that it was Evan necklace. A thin line of blood rhythmically pulsed from my cut palm.
I sobbed even harder and put my head down on his chest. I cried for nearly a full five minutes. I'm not sure what happened to Taylor and Marie and Carrie and Lee. I guess they were in shock.
"Oh Evan, " I whispered. "Why?"
"Come on, lets go find help, " Lee whispered, trying to pull me away from Evan.
"No. I'm not leaving him. You go on without me, " I insisted.
He was about to protest, but evidently decided against it. "Please? You're only making this harder on yourself, " he asked softly.
"No. I'm staying with him, " I repeated through the tears. "I won't leave him. "
"All right, Marie, you stay with her. We have to find help, " Taylor said, still looking at me. "Are you going to be all right?" He asked.
I couldn't answer him because I was crying too hard, so I just dropped my head.
"Come on then. Hurry, he still might have a chance, " Taylor said, but his expression told me all I needed to know. He knew Evan was dead, but for my sake he'd try to pretend otherwise.
As Taylor, Lee, and Carrie left the room, Marie sat down beside me. "He's better off, wherever he is, " she assured me.
"Don't say that, " I sobbed. "Please. "
Evan lay on the floor, his head tilted to the side with a small lock of hair tumbling down his forehead. His mouth had the slightest hint of a smile playing across his lips. Seeing him like that and knowing that I would never see him again made me cry even harder and that's when I heard the voice. It was just a whisper at first but as the spirit entered the room I could begin to hear it with more clarity.
"I am sorry, " came the voice of Gabriel, "to have taken what is yours. "
"Please bring him back, " I begged. "Oh please bring him back. "
"I wish I could, but I can't. If I did bring him back, it would destroy my soul and I will exist no more. "
"Please, " I whispered.
"You really do remind me of the girl I was so in love with. That is why you are the only one I can talk to. I don't want to leave. In over a hundred years I have never met someone as wonderful as you. Please allow me to take the place of your Evan, " the voice said, sounding very distant and thoughtful.
"I can't do that, " I whispered.
"You do understand that if I bring Evan back then I will have to destroy my spirit, " he asked softly, sounding as if he was crying.
"I love him, " I sobbed as tears rolled down my cheeks.
"As you wish, " he whispered, "I am no more. "
"Wait!" I screamed. "Can you show me what you looked like when you were alive?" I asked, hoping he was still present.
"I would very much like to know what you looked like before you leave, " I said softly.
Moments later a shadow appeared in the room and began to take shape. Within no time there was a being in the room. I could see it with inexplicable clarity. He looked absolutely perfect. A figure of innocence. His blonde hair fell gently to the tops of his ears and his eyes were the brightest color of blue I had ever seen. They were enchanting. His face was that of a model's, but far more captivating. He was, simply put, absolutely perfect.
"Gabriel?" I whispered, astonished by his looks.
"Yes. I'm here, " he said softly.
I didn't know what to do, so I collapsed into his outstretched arms.
"How much time do we have left?" I asked urgently.
"Not much. If you want to save Evan, we have to hurry. Once he reaches the other world there is nothing I can do to bring him back. "
"What will happen to you?" I asked, already knowing the answer.
"I will exist no more. Evan will take my place and no one will remember me. Not even you, " he explained.
"You're willing to give up your soul for me?" I asked, looking up into his beautiful, blue eyes.
"Yes, " he whispered. "Because you would do the same for the one you love. "
"I don't understand. "
"When you told me to take you instead of Evan or your friends, you knew what would have happened to you. You would have sacrificed your life for the people you love, and now I am doing the same for you, " he explained.
"You. . . you love me?" I asked, feeling as if I were in a dream.
"Yes, " he whispered. "In over a hundred years I have not experienced being in love. I have nearly forgotten what it's like, but suddenly it's all become clear. "
"That love is synonymous with sorrow. I love you, but I can't have you. You love Evan, but in order to save his life, you must end mine. Nothing is what it seems and there is no happily ever after involved. No matter what you do, you can't win. "
"I don't know what to do, " I whispered.
"It is your decision. You must choose between the two of us. "
"I know what happens if I choose Evan, but what if I choose you? What happens then?"
"I don't know, " he said softly. "I've never been in this situation before. I'm afraid that if you choose me, you will be forced to cross over to the world of the dead. "
"I. . . I want to be with you, but I don't. Can you understand that?" I asked as a tear streaked down my already wet cheeks.
"Yes. I think I know what you mean. You don't know who you love, or what the right thing to do is, or if this is even real, and you're running out of time. Yes I do believe I understand what you're talking about. "
"I want to go with you, but I can't. I can't leave Evan. I. . . I'm sorry, " I said, lowering my head.
"We must act now then. He has nearly reached the world of the dead. You must tell me what you want me to do. "
"I want you to bring Evan back, " I said in a tear choked voice.
"Very well, " he sighed. "I want to thank you for loving me. "
"Don't forget me, " I whispered, pulling him close and kissing him deeply.
"Be assured that I won't. I could never forget you. Farewell, my sweet one, " he said as he put his hands on the pointer for the very last time. A thick cloud of blue smoke arose from the game and then it too disappeared.
The next thing I remember is Evan kneeling over me and trying to wake me up.
"Are you all right?" He asked when I opened my eyes.
"Evan?" I whispered, barely able to talk, "You're alive?"
"Last time I checked, " he smiled, "What happened to you?"
"I. . . Gabriel, where is he?" I asked as I shot up. "Is he still here? I never even got to thank him. "
"What? Who's Gabriel?" Marie asked, looking puzzled.
"Gabriel. The spirit. He had to take Evan back to the other world with him, but he gave up his existence to bring Evan back from the dead. He did it because he loved me and I didn't even get to thank him, " I said, looking at each of their faces.
"You just had a bad dream or something. No one named Gabriel was here, " Lee said.
"Are you okay?" Evan asked.
"Don't you remember?!?" I shrieked. "We were fooling around with the ouija board and the spirit spoke to us through Evan and he said he had to take Evan back with him at midnight and he came back at midnight and you died, Evan. Don't any of you remember?" I asked, losing control.
"Sylvia?" Taylor asked timidly.
"That can't be true because it's only eleven thirty right now. It was just a dream, " he said reasonably.
I slowly looked up at the clock on the wall and stared at it for a long time.
"It happened. I'm not making this up. It really happened. Please, you've got to believe me, " I pleaded.
"We didn't play with the ouija board. Right now it's in my closet. If it'll help to calm you down I'll show you, " Taylor continued in a calm voice.
"It won't be in there. When he gave up his soul, the ouija board disappeared, " I said, trying to get them to believe me.
"Well, I'll go check and then you'll know that it was nothing but a bad dream, " Taylor said as he got up and opened his closet. "There. See?"
"See what, Taylor? It's not in there, " Evan said, pointing at the empty closet.
"Huh?" Taylor asked and checked for himself, but the game was gone. "Well, I've probably just misplaced it. I'm sure it'll turn up. "
"What if she's right?" Evan asked. "Maybe it really happened. How can you say it didn't? You don't know for sure. "
"Do you think it did?" Carrie asked slowly.
"I don't know. Where's the game at if it didn't happen?" Evan asked doubtfully.
"I told you. I probably misplaced it, " Taylor repeated.
"Taylor, you're the biggest neat-freak in the world. You've never 'misplaced' anything in your life, " Evan countered.
"Well, that's the only explanation, " Taylor replied.
"No, it's not. I've already told you what happened. It's up to you if you believe it or not, " I said, looking directly at Taylor.
He glanced away which told me that he didn't believe a word of what I had said.
"Why is your hand bleeding?" Carrie asked as she stared at my hand with wide eyes.
"Oh, Evan, your necklace. You gave it to me before you allowed Gabriel to speak through you, " I said, handing it to him.
"My necklace?" He asked, not understanding.
"Yes, you gave it to me to hold on to and promised you'd come back. That proves it really happened. "
"It really did happen, didn't it?" He whispered, clutching his necklace.
"Yes, and he gave up his soul to bring you back to life, " I said softly.
"You've both gone nuts. Nothing happened here except a really boring Halloween party, " Marie said, rolling her green cat eyes.
"I need to get some fresh air. I can't stand being in this room much longer, " I said and got up.
"I'll go with you, " Evan said as he got up and headed toward the door.
"Hey Evan, " Lee called out, "go get 'em tiger. "
"Come on. Lets get out of here, " I said, grabbing his hand and pulling him out the door. Once we were outside, I pulled him closer and kissed him. We kissed for a long time. I didn't want to let go of him. I had almost lost him once and I wasn't going to do it again. When we finally broke apart, we were both out of breath.
"Whoa, " he exclaimed, "it's nice to see you too. "
"Oh my gosh, I forgot. We're not going out yet. I'm sorry. Can we just forget that ever happened?" I said, blushing immediately.
"What are you talking about? We're not going out yet? Are we supposed to be or something?" He asked, looking confused.
"We. . . I. . . " I stumbled. "No. When we were playing with the ouija board, me and you went out into the hall to talk and you gave me this note telling me you really liked me and then we kissed, but I keep forgetting that you can't remember any of that stuff. "
"Do you remember what the note said?" He asked shakily.
"It said you'd been thinking a lot about me and you really liked me and you'd do anything to make me happy and you signed it 'Much Love, Evan', I replied, struggling to remember.
"I. . . I wrote that!" He exclaimed. "I was going to slip it in your car after the party. I don't believe this. Everything you said. . . about the spirit and me dying. . . it's true?"
"I know it's hard to believe, but it really happened. Gabriel gave up his existence to save you and I never even got to thank him, " I said, a single tear sliding down my cheek.
"I'm sure he knows what he did is the greatest thing anyone has ever done for you, " Evan whispered, gently wiping the tear away.
"You think so?" I asked softly.
"I know so, " he assured me as he drew me into a hug.
I hugged him back tightly and mouthed the words 'Thank you Gabriel'.
At that same time a warm gust of wind fluttered through the leaves of the nearby trees and I heard a voice that flowed like a velvet ribbon whisper, "You're welcome. Good bye, my sweet one. . . good-bye. "
"Good-bye, " I whispered.
You might think that's the end, but there's still a few loose ends to tie up, so please try to have patience.
All of that happened three years ago, but up until now I've never put any of it into writing. I guess that 'special thing that most people can only dream of' happened that night with all of my friends and a century old ghost named Gabriel who was in love with me. I graduated from high school two years ago and now I'm going to the University of South Carolina. Instead of becoming a teacher, I'm going to write for a career. I know it sounds kind of corny at first, but it's great. I get paid for telling people stories. Well, it's a little more complicated than that, but you get the idea.
Evan is going to the same college as me to become a computer technician, but in his free time he does stand up comedy acts at a place called 'The Mellow Tiger'. We're still together, and I'm guessing it'll be like that for a long time.
Lee got into Ohio State University on a football scholarship. He's been in the starting lineup since he came there and last year. A couple of NFL teams had come to watch him. Some of them were really interested. He wrote me a letter about a week ago and told me everything and I wrote him back telling him how things down here were going and how glad I was that he was doing so well in football. In the letter he mentioned that he had broken up with Carrie during his freshman year.
She was going to North Western University in Indiana. She hoped to become a beautician. She was in cosmetology and doing very well. I guess some things never change. Marie was going to the University of California to be a doctor. She wrote me once and told me she didn't want to be a doctor, but it was the only thing she could think of that she'd be really good at. She said she wanted to live somewhere in New York and I told her to go for it if it was what she wanted.
Taylor went to the University of Texas to become a high school history teacher. One Saturday not too long ago I called him up and asked how things were going. He said that he was seeing a girl named Celina or Cicilia or something like that and they were engaged. I told him how everyone else was doing and we talked for almost three hours. Somehow our conversation ended up with us talking about the Halloween party and he told me that he'd thought things over a lot after that night and he decided that it probably did happen and when I asked what made him change his mind, expecting him to say it was because the ouija board wasn't in his closet or since I was an 'All-American Girl' I'd never lie, but the answer he gave me was that I had Evan Nike necklace in my hand when I woke up. He couldn't figure that out and guessed that I was telling the truth because of it. He apologized for not believing me and we promised we'd stay in touch as we hung up.
I think we all have our own separate opinions about what happened that night, but I know that everything I've just told you really happened. I've sometimes caught myself wondering at odd times like in my car going to the university or taking a shower or right before I go to bed of how different my life would be if I'd agreed to let Gabriel take Evan place that night. I don't believe what he said about me not being able to remember Evan. Maybe he was lying about it or maybe he honestly didn't know, but I believe in my heart that if I had allowed Gabriel to switch places with Evan, I never would have forgotten who Evan was.
I haven't heard from him since that Halloween three years ago, but there's no doubt in my mind that he's still out there somewhere. Maybe I helped him break the curse. I hope so. Maybe he's turned into a guardian angel or something. That thought always makes me smile. Just thinking that Gabriel could be up there somewhere watching over me is the best therapy I could recommend. I hope that someday I'll get to talk to him again, but I'm not in any hurry for that day to come. I hope I've still got a lot of life left to live because for the first time in a long time I'm enjoying how things are going. I hope Gabriel feels the same about things. I really miss him. Sometimes I get the feeling that he's near me, and when that happens I really wish we could have been together. Maybe someday we will be, but today isn't that day. I want things to stay just the way they are for a little while. No more breaking the mold for this girl.