I've been having a hard time gathering plots. It's RayOC, and I'm pretty glad I've written this not only because it was requested by Hiei's Shadow Tenshi, but also because I think I've wanted him paired up with a different OC rather than with Nuo in my own fic, Cosmopolitan Girl: Beyblade Style! (since it is meant to be a KaiOC)
Nayways, this one shot, 'tis about a girl who gets involved in a accident after having a row with her boyfriend, but it's not only in the afterlife where you can trouble humans.
Hiei's Shadow Tenshi: I hope you enjoy this. I'm sorry if it's not really what you're not really looking for, but I hope its good enough for you. Sorry for taking so long to get it done!
Be prepared for my longest one shot ever!
Park Bench Warmer
By Fish and Chips
I see him everyday waiting there.
At that same park bench. At the same time, every Saturday. I've never seen him so unhappy and serious; it almost pains me to watch over him for the days passing by. All he does is… just…. Sit there; staring into space, playing with his hands for a couple of seconds, no-one ever comes over to him. They don't attempt to sit down beside him in the empty spot. It's just like he's claimed a park bench all to himself. He often looks at people sometimes; his face holds an emotionless void, almost like a frozen picture in a time-warp, but time is passing by slowly even if he doesn't realise it. The clock is ticking, and I'm afraid sooner or later, it'll be too late for the both of us. It's already been several months after the accident which happened to him. I almost feel a bit of pity for him; he doesn't really deserve this, but he thinks he does.
"Hey, Ray," I say angrily, looking at him. "You're late."
He doesn't say anything at me, except stare right through me. Well, duh. I am naturally a non-existent human being at the moment. I wave a hand in front of his blank face; his golden eyes set on me but I know he knows he can't see me. I'm almost like an invisible boundary to him; naked to his weak, deprived human eyes, unlike animals – I have dogs and cats barking or meowing at me when I float around, haunting bars and streets. But his ears perk up, like a dog who had just sniffed out a bone; Ray cautiously looks around as if he's been watched. Well, I am watching him.
"You're late," I repeated. "You're meant to be here at 2pm, you're ten minutes late."
He looks down, and mutters, "I'm sorry…."
I look down at his lap. There is a flyer sitting there peacefully – oh, it's the concert of the Moving Stones which I had been wanting to go to for quite some time. Too bad I won't really get the chance anymore. "Oh, right," I say sadly as he puts them into his jeans pocket. "You were trying to get tickets."
Stop wasting money on me and get a life!
It's already happened. Everything – the crash, the row, the fact that I'm six feet under the earth, my body all rotted to the core, I have no more eyeballs, flesh, hair or fingernails – just bones and empty sockets! And a nasty, decaying smell! I'm dead, goddamnit! I'm a ghost –no-one can see me, I don't have anymore friends because they're still alive – it doesn't hurt where I was injured – sure, my pelvis awfully gets dislocated once and a while, but it's normal. I've gotten over myself, so should you, Ray!
I sigh. Why am I wasting energy shouting at him? He can't really hear me. He can sense me though. Maybe that's why he's not moving on. Ray shouldn't be so upset these days. He's got friends to attend to, school and a future. He's even got his exams coming soon. He hasn't spent any of his free time studying or anything – I think he'll still be here when he's an old man with no money or clothes, just feeding pigeons – wait, he may not even have money to buy bird seed or bread and stuff.
"Desiree – " There is a swirl of pink dust around me, and I look to my left.
"Oh, hey, Haniel."
This girl with long, white hair and pale, blue eyes stares at me silently. She wears a seafoamy-coloured strap top and jeans, and also hovers above me for a bit. Haniel is a Harmony Angel – I don't really know what that means either, but it's something good, I think. She's my guardian for the time being, so I don't get into any trouble or anything. She tells me what's happening up there and down there, and here, and I tell her all about human stuff. She's awfully silent and mysterious; I wonder if all angels are like that, but apparently, it's just Haniel. "Desiree, why are you here?"
"Same reason why you're here." I reply.
We both look at Ray. She shrugs at me. "Well, I was just checking up on you."
"I'm okay, really."
She nods, and vanishes again, waiting for me to call or to pop up unexpectedly.
I hover just above the seat beside him and put my arms behind my head. I'm getting quite used to hovering; it's not really like flying – kinda hard to explain, but at the same time, eerie, but a little adventurous to experience. Unearthly and fun, almost like walking on the moon if you somehow become an astronaut in the future, or try comparing it if you've not much imagination like me and the patience to wait until you grow older; when you're in a glass lift in some posh building with about five hundred stories high, that's a much better description.
"Okay, Ray. I'll be your park bench warmer for now." I say. "But you'd better leave when it's three."
He looks up to his side, and smiles.
She frowned. He's late.
He had already been like that for some time. She didn't know what was on his mind. He didn't tell her these things involving himself or his friends; kept them all to himself. Rarely asked her how she was doing, she believed they were losing it. They were losing the feeling between each other. But she still had mutual feelings towards him. She didn't want to lose him now. Isn't that what girlfriends and boyfriends are not to do – keep things away from each other? They have been dating for quite some time, hugged and kissed a lot, they talked, laughed, watched movies, went out for dinner and all the other things couples do. What couples don't do, are keep several things secret from one another, nor do they argue.
She sighed and checked her watch. He was only ten minutes late, that wasn't so bad, was it? To her, she felt like she was for an eternity on the park bench.
Ever since at school one day, they had just faced each other in the classroom – she gave him her hand-written love note with a growing, bright red face. Desiree-Hoshi, the only Russian girl in the classroom, the only girl with a tan who other girls envied for having, the only girl who took her studies extremely seriously, wanting to become a famous landscape photographer one day, the only girl who no-one would've thought - had plucked up the courage to go up to Ray Kon, the hottest boy in their class who had rejected many other girls, the boy who had dumped the most ultra popular girl in the class called Mariah previously, and ask if he was interested in her.
He said yes.
Their dating began almost immediately. At first, it was a horrible time for Desiree, she was in the worst symptoms love even though she hated it; she was ga-ga over him, couldn't speak properly so he always had to bend down to her level to hear her straight, and because of her Russian accent, it would make her even embarrassed when he couldn't hear her properly. She thought she had made a fool of herself in front of him, but Ray was okay with it. She was amazed he studied too, she had always thought of him as being the guys who were laid back – the complete opposite of her – so what had made her fall for him?
Desiree remembered walking back home from school.
That's when she spoke to him for the first time.
She was storming back home from the very first day of school; from a long, hard day of being in contact with non-stop schoolwork being tossed at her direction, teachers explaining hard terms which she needed to grasp in the following week's time and becoming severely separated from old friends in different classes - she had just moved into her fifth year of High School; that's when she only had to pick five subjects for studying before she could go into the next year, and hopefully obtain the good enough grades to get into the university of her choice for her career, yet she got triple the amount of work she received in fifth year compared to the work she got from last year.
Tired and hungry, she had pushed the thoughts that her stomach was grumbling in weak protest away from her mind and continued trotting down the path to the park, before passing several elegant-looking houses down the lane. The park was filled with people; partially because it was summer and the sun was high in the true blue sky – she felt like a roasted pig getting cooked in an oven. These are the days when she wondered if having long, black hair that almost reached her knees was a good thing or not – she had tied it up into a high ponytail yet she was still sweating buckets. Her black uniform didn't help her feel cool either. Her one-strap shoulder bag was also heavy; fully loaded with Biology books, Chemistry books Maths book, English books, French books – it wasn't surprising when she was just passing this bench with a kissing couple that her bag eventually split and everything just spilled out onto the floor.
"Gaaah! Curse you, you cheap seventy three percent polyester bag!" She shrieked furiously, and immediately bent down, not caring if she had suddenly dropped down to her knees to scourge the floor because of her clumsiness, beginning to gather all the books in a desperate attempt to retrieve them before anyone stepped on them or in case they got dirty. So far, so good; she had managed to collect her French book, her maths jotter and her pencil case. It was rather embarrassing – her lunchbox had even spilled out and everyone could see that she had tomato and cucumber salad and Moscow Ponchikis.
"Hey…. Need any help with that?"
She stopped for a brief second, and then looked up at the male for another brief second. It was the same guy who was on the bench with his girlfriend. He must've left his girlfriend's side when he saw her trudging past them before her bag split; his girlfriend was glaring daggers at her right this moment so she felt incredibly uncomfortable. He had a hand on her biology book, a sincere smile plastered over his face. And he's hot. Really. He had this wonderful black hair framing the sides of his face, his bangs being held back by a red sweatband with the yin-yang symbol on it. Not to mention his eyes, they were… golden – those eyes… they sort of reminded her of a black cat. He was wearing this unbuttoned black t-shirt and baggy combat pants to match. The guy smiled again at her as she stared at him without moving her head up – just her eyes – it was hard, but she didn't want to lift her head up to look at him. Why? Because her face grew red; Out of all the times – it just happened to be this kind of situation, the most embarrassing one - when she meets this unbelievably and amazingly hot guy in the central park - and she just realised that today she had woken up to find three spots on her face.
She became shy.
She began to babble helplessly as she clutched her books tightly to herself. "Er… Ashhhuuu uh… " Darn. She couldn't talk properly either! Her tongue felt as if she had just bitten down on it painfully, and it also felt as if it had contorted back in her mouth that she couldn't get a proper word out in edgeways.
Oh mi god oh mi god.
He smiled again. "Here." He had squatted down to her level on the ground and had given her back the biology book – which had a frog on the cover. He looked at it for a split second before holding it out to her.
"T-Thanks…." she squeaked out. She had a strong Russian accent, so she wondered if he could hear her correctly. Her head still made no attempt to lift up and glance at him properly; instead, she somehow found herself engrossed in staring at her sweaty palms as she collected the rest of her books.
"You're welcome." He replied cheerfully. At least he understood her clearly.
"Ray – " The girl on the bench shouted at him. They both turned to her. "Hurry up, will you?"
"Sure, wait until I help her out." Ohhh, so his name is Ray.
The girl sighed and rolled her eyes, before taking her eyes off her boyfriend and diverting her attention to her brilliantly polished fingernails. No wonder she's mad. They had been locked in a rather intimate scene before this 'Ray' guy must've just detached himself away from her just to help her.
"Uh… it's okay." She managed to stutter out to him. "I-I've got it."
She had managed to collect most of her belongings – now wondering how she was going to carry them all back home. She stuffed them into her bag nevertheless and then just held it together in her arms.
"Are you sure?" He asked.
She nodded convincingly at him, before standing back up, wiping some of the dirt from her skirt and legs. Then her stomach gurgled and she quickly shrank, embarrassed and angry with herself for allowing this to happen…. But she was mostly embarrassed. He chuckled slightly; she swooned yet felt like crashing and burning at the same time.
"Hey, you're Desiree-Hoshi Tanaka… from class, right?"
He got up and stood before her. "Well, uh, take care, and have something to eat soon, too." He said sheepishly, running a smooth hand through his hair as the wind blew through it. She eyed him dreamily. Ahhhh, heaven. Behind him, she could see that he had a one metre long (or so she estimated roughly)…. Ponytail… encased in a white and red 'cord' with a tuft of black hair protruding out. She stared slightly, before quickly turning away – staring is rude!
"Umm, yeah, thanshhfurhepingeebye." She knew it came out slurred. Drat, her face flushed again. Before he could say anything, she had darted out of the park.
Too bad he had a girlfriend.
But, she thought, I want to see him again.
This was their regular meet-up spot.
The park bench – where she had first seen Ray properly, where he had first seen her properly. It was the bringer of fortune.
Now the bringer of misfortune, she thought.
After a few more minutes, she eventually spotted a black blob approaching the park slowly. He was wearing jeans and a white t-shirt, looking as casual as ever, talking to someone on the phone. He reached her, quickly said 'bye' to the person on the other line, and stuffed the cell phone into his duffle bag.
"Hey, Ray!" She said angrily, looking up at him from the bench. "You're late. You're meant to be here at 2pm, you're ten minutes late."
"Sorry, Dezzy," He said, scratching the back of his head awkwardly. "I was kinda distracted."
Dezzy – an intimate nickname he had given her. She didn't mind it – it made her feel special.
"Yeah, by the phone," She replied sullenly. "Who were you talking to?"
She looked to the side and sighed. "Oh, whatever. You're only ten minutes late. We can still go out."
"Oh, okay, where do you want to go?" He asked, plopping himself beside her on the bench.
Desiree leant against his shoulder and he put an arm around her. "I'm not sure; I thought you were going to take charge."
"…. Hmm, I'll think about it. How about I get you an ice cream? It's quite hot."
She nodded happily. He got up from the spot and strode towards the ice cream truck, which had been parked just outside the gates. Desiree watched him; she knew how cool he looked as he strode, another thing she liked about Ray; everyone envied her for able to be with him. She was happy herself; he was the most thoughtful and generous guy she had ever met; he didn't care about being popular, he was just living his life. She watched him for a moment; he waved back to her as he waited in the queue, she smiled and waved back.
Then she heard Ray's phone go off.
It was just a text message.
She flipped it up; it was a flip phone, and the message instantly appeared.
Hey, Ray, How R U? I am KK. Missing U Already. Mariah. XxXxX
But she thought Ray and Mariah had broken up…
Desiree felt herself sweating; her hand trembled, she pressed onto his menu, attempting to access into his Message Inbox. She knew she was invading his privacy, but even if Mariah and Ray were just friends, an ex-girlfriend wouldn't send kisses to an ex-boyfriend who already had a girlfriend. She ransacked through the rest of his text messages – all of them – all from Mariah. Her heart raced as she accessed one.
Hey baby. Wot R U doing? Am Bored. TXT me back soon. XxXxX Mariah.
Desiree felt sick. There was another one.
Wanna go out 2 da movies 2morrow? Luv ya, Mariah XxXxX Dun tell Desiree.
It had only been two text messages and already, she had grown suspicious. And furious. What were these? These messages… not only did they display to her that something was up, but also, something Ray was keeping away from her. But he had never kept anything from her. Was… Ray… cheating on her? Desiree shut his phone and shook her phone.
"No…. Can't be… we've been together for months… how could he change like that…?"
Beside her, a crow standing on the bin cawed at her. Normally, she liked crows, but today, she was in a foul mood. She swatted it away, and the crow rose up, and flew into the sky, away from her view. Huffing, Desiree stretched and claimed her bag. She stormed up to him – he was still at the ice cream van, having bought two strawberry cones, she didn't care that she had left his duffle bag behind on the park bench.
"What's this?" She shoved his phone into his hands – he put down the two ice creams at a table complete with two benches near the ice cream van.
Ray blinked, and then he looked at his phone, and back at her. "You looked at my messages?" He said heatedly.
She nodded briefly. Now was not the time to back down. Her mum had always told her not to stay quiet. So naturally, Desiree never stayed quiet – she stood up to bullies when she was younger, and earned a reputation of being a hyperactive girl not to mess around with. "Yeah, you just received one. I checked it for you. What's all this then?"
He frowned. "Look, Mariah and I are still friends. I can't believe you would invade my privacy like that!"
"A good thing I did. If you were still friends with her, why would you be sending kisses to one another and keeping things from me? I thought we were together, Ray." She replied, raking a hand through her smooth hair.
"We are, Dezzy, just – you know. Listen to me; Mariah and I – "
"Shut up! I don't want to hear it!" She shouted at him. "This date is off!"
Ray sighed, and then threw his hands up at her in an angry rage. "Fine!" He knew she wouldn't listen to any side of his disagreement for the time being.
It was just a stupid argument, he thought. Sooner or later, Desiree would cool down and they would talk things through – that's when she would listen to him. He realised that now, Desiree could be like a blind oxen charging at a red flag – rash and bold – she didn't see any other way, would only calm down and think of other explanations and conclusions after a long talk of persuasion and reason.
Ray let her go for now.
Desiree, at this state, wouldn't be easily persuaded to come back to him for the moment.
She grabbed her bag tightly, glared at him and stomped away from the park, from the ice cream van, muttering curses. She marched across the open road, she didn't even bother to look – too engrossed in seething and thinking bitterly about Ray. She was fuming – how dare he? She trusted him, she thought he liked her, she thought –
"Desiree - !"
There was a screech of brakes.
She stopped and turned quickly, hypnotized in what was happening at the moment. It was too fast for her to catch up. And suddenly, she could see a large truck coming her way. Her mind flashed white – she saw her mum, her friends, Ray, Mariah – her school, her house, her room, but her unpredicted future didn't appear. Her father was last on mind – whom she hadn't seen for ages. She froze, like a deer caught in the headlights. Her feet were glued to the road. She couldn't move.
There was a loud scream.
Someone screamed again.
Then there was a silence.
When I saw the truck, I had screamed - That's when I got that flashback - Of my dad with the gun pointing to his head – shooting himself through the temples. I rethought back to my father's death.
Wasn't he afraid?
His body fell down, limp – I stared for a split second – his head had this large hole, something horrible and grungy leaking out along with blood oozed out – that's when I also first saw so much blood around a human. His brains had splattered all over me.
I was afraid.
I touched him.
My hands got soaked in blood.
He's dead, he's dead, he's dead.
I feel like screaming now.
But I'm not covered in blood – just wearing the same clothes I had been on that 'date'.
And now, I am dead.
My pelvis had been crushed, along with both my legs, my mum and Ray had been told. The blood loss was too much – when the ambulance got me to the hospital it was too late. The truck hit me right in the chest and had me right under the wheels – by that time I would've no longer felt the lower half of my body if I hadn't died instantly. It would be a miracle if I survived, but if I did, I would have half of my body amputated or something. I wouldn't be able to move anymore, just stuck in a wheelchair or something.
I remembered that day.
There was a lot of blood on the road.
I fell on the road and winced. But I couldn't feel my elbow being scraped on the rough surface.
People were flocking over to the middle of the road, and I was thinking: "Hey! I'm over here, I'm okay!"
But people didn't hear me.
"I'm here, not there!" I had screamed, when they didn't reply, I knew something was wrong. "Hello?"
Some people were crying with shock. I was afraid again. I saw Ray; he ran up and pushed through the crowd, dropped to the floor and stayed hushed – he was shaken with shock and horror. For once I believed, he had been crying.
I pushed past – well, tried to – I fell through onto the ground, and came face to face with my body.
My eyes were open when I died, staring into the blue sky above as my body lay under the van, lifeless.
I screamed again.
"No! That's not me! I'm here! I'm right here!"
The sounds of ambulance sirens were approaching.
It took hours trying to get me out of there. They sealed off the area and people were waved off. Ray didn't leave. Neither did I. I just stood there, staring at my body.
In the hospital, the doctor helped me close my eyes as I watched them from the corner of the room. After the crash, I was stuck here – not only in the hospital, just here, in this world. I didn't really know why I couldn't move on – or why no angel came for me like how other programmes I had watched of people dying had appeared before the ghosts. Ray was beside the tray my body was being kept in the Preservation Room aka the Room-with-the-Fridge for the time being. My mum was also there too. My dad had already died – committed suicide when I was small, I wondered if I could see him now – I had always asked my mum that – if I was able to see my dad if I died – but so far, I've not seen him one bit.
At the start, I was enraged.
I wouldn't accept my death.
"Mum, Ray!" I yelled in their faces irately. "I'm right here! Can't you see me?"
They just kept quiet.
I tried to touch them – my hand just went through them.
My face paled.
The bottom half of my body was covered up by a white sheet – too gruesome for mortal eyes to see, I believe, but doctors had to look at it. I really admire them – especially surgeons - they are able to treat people with missing limbs etc, or work on people's insides to save them. And they know exactly what to say to people who had just lost a loved one.
Clamping my hands over y ears, I broke down and closed my eyes. "I'm not dead yet! I'm not dead! I'm still here! Mum! Speak to me! Someone - Just speak to me!"
"Just think about Desiree in a better place, Mrs Tanaka, a paradise." The doctor said, completely talking through me – they really couldn't hear me. "In Greek mythology, the Elysian Fields are a popular place where souls go, to become reborn into their favourite animal, or something, or even get a new life. People don't really die. They live in their loved one's hearts, where memories of them are cherished – and that's how people survive. People make impacts on one another, and they remain there for time. If they aren't alive or even appeared in at least one person's heart, they might as well not have a reason to exist."
Death, is it really that hard to bear?
I didn't really understand that long last sentence the doctor had said back then, but my mum did; she looked red-eyed enough already, that when she started crying once more, I thought she might cry her eyeballs out.
"Oh, Desiree, now what do I do?" My mum was whispering to herself over and over again. "What… do I… do? What's going to happen to me?"
What about me?
What about my life? My time? Over? All of it - over already? It was too quick – it was an accident – it's not fair! I still want to live, to grow, and be with my family and friends. What about Ray? I still want to become a photographer, I still want to see everyone, and I want a future.
I shouldn't think this way.
I started to cry.
No, no, no!
Someone puts a hand on my shoulder.
This is when I first met Haniel.
I turned around and dabbed at my eyes. "Who are you?" I asked her wobbly. I was frightened. How can she touch me? How can she even see me? This girl with the impassive look smiled softly at me.
She was still wearing the pale baby-blue strap top and jeans which she wears today, and she takes her hand off my shoulder. "Your guardian."
I stared at her in disbelief. She looks no older than twenty, and dressed casually too. "You gotta be kidding me."
She shook her head. "No, why would I be?"
"Why do I need a guardian?"
"I understand that you're going to need some guidance for some time. So I'm here to help you for the moment."
"… Have you got a name?"
"…. They call me Haniel. I'm a Harmony Angel." She replied gently. "I'm supposed to stay with you for a while."
"Oh, okay. I'm uh… Desiree."
She nodded and held out her hand. "Here, I'll take you to a different place to talk some things over. Would you like to come with me?"
The first thing I thought was: "Don't trust strangers!" But Haniel gives me the feeling that she's trustworthy. I shook my head. "Not right now, sorry. I… I want to stay here for a while."
"I understand, call me if you need me." She disappeared in a mist of pink dust. "Just call my name, and I'll be here."
I nodded, and continued to stare at my mum and Ray.
My mum had it bad enough, first dad, now me. What was going to happen to her? She would be forever lonely.
"Don't worry, mum." I mumbled when I heard her speak. "I'm a lot closer to you than you think. I won't leave you behind."
There was a short silence.
"Desiree always said she liked dogs and wolves." My mum said wobbly. "I never let her have one."
A few days later, my house had a newcomer – a Siberian husky. Mum called her Shi-chan, a nickname she used to call me when I was younger – she thought the dog had the privilege to be called that, and she would give it baths every single day, talk to it and walk it three times a week. She took lovely care over it. Shi-chan was white – mum knew I thought white foxes were lucky – unfortunately there aren't any foxes up for domestic keeps so she made do with the wolf-like dog. That's quite close. I thought this was a way of how my mum would deal with my death. I was right in a way.
I left my mum.
Haniel and I talked for a while afterwards when they had left the hospital. She said that what the doctor had claimed was true – everything seemed psychological. My mum had let me go, that's why…. I don't exist in her life anymore even though virtually, I could be still described as being 'alive' somewhere else. Although, my body, my shell - is broken, my soul is still living on. I'm not… really dead.
But it seems that way.
Slowly disappearing from my mum's heart was tough. She learnt to put my death behind her after my funeral; after all, she had already put my father's death behind her. I know she can too, and I was happy, but also miserable at the same time. It's very ironic - I'm lonely, I need someone with me, be there for her, aside from Haniel who I talk to a lot these days. I'm glad she's my guardian; she's very comforting and gentle, and she keeps me company, because I've become forgotten in almost everyone. My mum lived through with her life; she constantly put incense sticks in my altar in home and prayed.
What was praying for?
To have your wishes heard?
What wishes did my mum have for me now?
My mum bowed three times in respect, clasped her hands togther and closed her eyes, locked in prayer. "Desiree, if you are here… I hope you are very happy in the place you are now, ah…. I'm okay, just joined a new aerobics club for middle aged women down at the local gym…. Hope you're doing well. Ray, he's not doing well. Been waiting at the park for you, wants to say sorry. I already told him I don't blame him – it was all a misunderstanding, but he blames himself. Desiree, you'd better sort him out."
Shi-chan, who is lounging beside my mum, looks up from her basket, and stares straight at me, and barks acknowledging.
I smiled at her, and nodded at my mum's direction. "Okay, mum. I'll leave you for now, I'll check up on Ray, don't forget about me, okay…?"
My mum puts the apples up on the bowl. "Ah… almost forgot your favourite cherry apples…"
Awkwardly, I grin slightly.
I found Ray at the park as my mum mentioned. He goes there every Saturday, that's when we always went out – at 2pm. That's the time when we always met up.
Ray is still at the park bench because he's filled with guilt over my death. He looks really lonely there. Ever since the funeral, he deleted all of Mariah's messages and rarely talks anymore. At school, they treated him differently, no longer a popular boy – now, they avoided him. No-one said anything to him. They didn't know what to say to him anymore – because Ray wasn't recuperating over my death as some others did, and naturally, not everyone knew what it was like to have someone they loved dearly, die.
From time, to time, I watched Ray becoming…. Forgotten.
It was horrible.
In fact, he forgot all about himself.
I haunt him, and he haunts me in return. It seems that we both can't live without each other. Right now, seeing him sitting by himself on the same park bench, while others laugh and run around with their friends, families or pets, I can only watch him forlornly. And I think: He needs a park bench warmer.
So here I am beside him.
I know what he thinks as we sit back to back on the park bench. He sits in the front, I sit at the back – he can't feel me, but I can feel him. He is wondering: "What if I had grabbed her back then… before she crossed the road…?" But the answer would still be the same – I would've tugged my arm from him, shout at him again and storm on the road, and get killed.
Now I understand.
The only reason I exist in this universe, is because Ray hasn't given up on me yet.
And if he gives up on me… Then I will leave his heart.
And this world.
"I'm sorry," I say. "I should've listened to you, Ray. I'm sorry."
I think he can sense me. He speaks quietly. "It wasn't your fault, Dezzy. It was mine."
My eyes start burning. "God, Ray," I begin angrily as I wipe at my eyes. "This isn't going to get us anywhere."
"Come on, get a grip." I flop back down beside him and put my invisible hand over his, giving it a squeeze. "You need to get your life sorted and so do I." Ray doesn't say anything, but he's eyeing his hand warily. I swallow sharply as I intake a breath; this'll be hard for me to say as well. "You have to forget about me, Ray. That's the only way how I'll leave this place. Don't you want that for me?"
At that point, Ray got up, and left the bench.
"Ray!" I call back to him desperately. "You can't escape from it – sooner or later…. You'll have to… You'll have to face it!" He ignores me and continues down the path. Now… I'm not sure if he really can't see me. But he can't run away from me forever either.
I find him again on that park bench the next Saturday, and I hover around him, looking over his shoulder. Haniel has already paid us a visit; before vanishing off again to do her angel business, leaving us alone as usual.
He stares at the tickets in his hand. "One more week to go."
"I'll say; who're you going to go with?" I ask curiously, I have a slight bet; Mariah.
Ray takes out a lighter from his bag, he begins to burn the other ticket and my eyes widen at him in shock. "Here you go, Dezzy. The ticket to the Moving Stones concert."
I look at my empty hand, and then – Poof! The ticket appears in my hand. I stare at it in bewilderment. What the - ? The next thing he does, he has a piece of paper in his hand – and he burns that as well. People are staring at him – of course, you don't really do these kinds of things in public. In my other hand – as I put away my ghostly ticket to the concert – the piece of paper appears in my hand automatically. I stare at Ray longingly, he doesn't look up. My gaze lands back at the paper in my hands. It looks like a letter.
"Okay, Ray. I'll read this if you want me to." I say, unfolding the letter.
I don't know how you are in the other 'side' as people call it. I'm not even sure why I wrote this letter – your mother introduced me to this method, she said that burning things especially for the deceased – will bring it to them in their world. Maybe…. This letter won't even appear to you. I don't know if you have become a ghost or what. That's what people think these days.
When you're dead, you're a ghost.
Anyway, I wanted to say… I'm sorry. I should've grabbed you back and made you listen to me, and then it wouldn't have happened – all of it. I'm sorry. It feels as if I've completely the fault of your death. I remembered what you said before you stormed away – 'this date is over!' - does that mean….
We're over too…?
I find myself literally in tears once I finish and I wipe my eyes again, and revolve back round to him. "Oh, Ray…." I throw my arms around his neck and attempt to bury my head into his body.
I think he feels something. Ray jumps up a bit when I wilt into his lap, trying to snuggle myself comfortably into his chest – but all I feel is nothing. I hate knowing that emotion; that even though I can tell my heart is burning, I can feel absolutely nothing stir inside me. It's more like that I am an empty shell at the moment. I can't feel his warmth anymore. I'm just…. Cold. In fact, my hand, which is at his chest, goes right through him and I feel that horrible yet bizarre feeling again.
"You're such an idiot… " I say to him, still crying. "Of course we're not over… It's only just beginning…"
"Dezzy…. " He starts as he stares in front of us. "I miss you too."
Ray's going alone to the concert. I still don't know why he's bothering, but he has already bought the ticket – maybe that's why. He was there again on the day of the concert – a Saturday – but this time, Ray didn't speak to me at all. Bored, I had floated away from him and towards an electronics shop.
"Go," Haniel urges me as we watch a documentary on animals in Madagascar; she is sitting beside me watching a lion pounce on a small antelope while I do acrobatics in the air.
I look up and stop whirling around. "Go where?"
"To the concert." She explains thoroughly. "You've got a ticket."
"Of course, I'm going, Haniel. But I'll just float around the crowd, ghosts don't need tickets." I say, putting my hands behind my head. I hover o my back for a second, as if there is some invisible hammock there. A man passes right through me to get to the digital camera area and I squeal.
"Give me your ticket." She sighs.
I gape at it and flap it around. "Why? It's all burnt and ghostly now."
"Just hand it to me, Desiree." She held out her hand, and I hesitantly give it to her. She closes her eyes; I peer at her hand where the ticket is enclosed around – it begins to glow pink – and then, the ticket is not to ghostly anymore. In fact, it's solidly sitting in her pale palm.
I blink. "… What did you just do?"
"With some of my power, I can turn a non-existent object back into what it had been before, Desiree." She says.
"And now," I start to laugh. "People will become freaked out when they see a floating ticket."
Haniel stares at her hand, then back at me, and begins to shake the ticket up and down, as if there is a breeze making the ticket float.
I laugh. "You're funny."
She stops and stares at me. "I'm only doing this for your amusement… You never smiled after you died."
The concert is more like a gig. It's featured in a restaurant complete with a bar and a performing stage. The Moving Stones hadn't come out yet, probably still backstage getting ready; they're a jazz band, they specialize in a lot of dance, slow music with a good rhythm and soft tone. They're also quite popular amongst the older generation; Desiree liked them because her dad used to like them.
Ray stepped in and looked around. He was wearing a white shirt and black dress trousers. Nothing really much to see – he was the only young person there. The other people were around their mid-40's. He made his way up to a spare table by the corner, with a good view of the stage thankfully, and sat down.
Well, he thought. I'm here. Dezzy, you'd better be here too.
Ray did the usual – the waiter went up to him; he ordered for a glass of water – and waited as the waiter strolled away to the kitchen. Many other people began pouring in from the entrance; most of them with dates, their friends or families. He did feel lonely; he was the only one who was sitting by himself. Ray wondered what Desiree would be doing if she was still alive – then he quickly shook those thoughts away. Ever since the accident, he believed he was responsible for her death. Every night, he would have dreams about it – they could be called as nightmares, but he had seen it happen, he was there. He was the cause. He was the reason why Desiree wandered away from him, and got eaten by death. That scene would replay in his mind; when she went up to him – demanding to know about the text messages, even though she didn't ask him, he knew – it was in her eyes –
She was screaming at him: Are you cheating on me?
He couldn't answer – in a way; Mariah still had feelings for him back then, even though she knew they had broken up. Instead, they swore to be loyal friends. She never acted on him – in fact, Mariah had been the one who had eased down the pain inflicted on him by the fact that Desiree was dead. Mariah still cared for him, and he did too, but not in that way. Why could Desiree see that? Although her mother had told him that it wasn't his fault – why did it feel like it was? Could he ever forgive himself?
The music began. It was a slow, hopeful tune. People were nestling comfortably in their seats, watching the band on stage. A soft voice broke his thoughts and he looked up.
"May I sit down…? The other tables are full…"
The girl was young; she had a hat on, and sunglasses – he didn't understand why she never took them off. He nodded, and gestured to the opposite chair. "Sure,"
She sat down scruffily and noisily, people were staring at their direction; she waved apologetically to them as she made herself comfortable. The girl looked around several times, then back at Ray. "So, uh… you like Moving Stones?" She asked quietly, under the music.
"Yeah, uh, my girlfriend did." He replied truthfully. Ray noticed how this girl's English wasn't very good.
"Ahh, where is she?"
Ray's face fell. "She's… dead."
The girl looked sympathetic and almost began to babble remorsefully. "Oh, mi god… so sorry, I shouldn't have say – bad, bad mouth of mine, uncontrollable… sorry… "
"Its' okay." Ray quickly said, realising how uncomfortable he had made her. The girl did look a nervous wreck. "It's been… months… I've gotten over it."
"Oh, I see…" The girl said, scratching her chin thoughtfully.
For the next half hour, she barely spoke to him. Ray didn't want her to blame herself for asking him, so he decided to spark up a conversation up. "Do you like them too?"
"Moving Stones? We-ull, er, I'm meant to be leaving here in two or three days. Went to gig for kicks, as my friend say. I don't really like them." She laughed nervously.
Ray nodded concededly. "Where are you going to?"
"Back to homeland, very, very far place."
"I see, what's your name?"
"Please to meet you." She said, again in broken English.
"… You too." He replied awkwardly.
"You want drink?" She asked, holding up a couple of wine glasses she ordered.
"…. No thanks, Naguri."
"Come on, you look unhappy. Smile. It is a gig, should be happy. So smile, drink up." She drank down one glass, and handed one to Ray.
He looked at unsurely, and then nodded. "I guess you're right." He gulped it down.
After a couple of drinks, Ray began to feel a bit dizzy.
"Hey, you okay?" She asked him curiously, waving a hand in front of his dazed face.
He groaned at her.
"Oi, why don't we dance?" The girl pointed to the other couples dancing on the clearing.
"Dance - ?"
Before Ray could protest, she had grabbed him off his seat and whipped him up to the dance floor. She held his hand gently, and looked at the floor, Ray was too drunk – he ended up leaning on her, his head on her shoulder. She blinked under the sunglasses, and shrugged inwardly – then awkwardly put a hand on his back.
"You miss her a lot, don't you?" She said quietly.
"Yeah…" He nodded semi-consciously.
"What was her name?"
"Desiree…. But I called her Dezzy… You know when you came up to me, I actually thought you were her… but your hair, it's shorter, and it's not black…" He moaned. "It was an accident. The truck hit her right in the upper torso, grabbed her legs, and pulled her under. They had to cut her hair off to free her. She was dead when they came – "
"Ahhh, Ray, relax. No more unhappiness. If you want to cry, cry. But just to let you know, people don't really die, and Dezzy, she is alive – "
He jerked up slightly. "Where is she then?"
Naguri waved her hand as they swayed around on the spot amongst the others. "Ah – let me finish. She is alive. In your mind. At the back of your consciousness, only you are prolonging your unhappiness, you keep thinking she is blaming you – 'Ray, Ray, how could you cheat on me? How could you? I thought we were together?' – but really, she is not, she wants you to forgive her, forget her… it's all in your head… all in your head…"
Ray blinked. "….How - ?"
He stopped leaning on her shoulder and looked at her properly, even though his head was still hurting like mad. "Dezzy…?"
"Ahh, no, my name is Naguri. I am just person familiar with these experiences. Mum died just a year ago. I understand how you feel at this moment."
"Oh, thanks, I guess." He mumbled as he tried to stand back upright, holding her hand back as they danced. "So, Dezzy isn't angry at me?"
"Of course not, Dezzy is just a soul, not a ghost. You can feel her sometimes, right? Does she feel angry around you?"
"….. No. I guess she doesn't."
"See, there you go… so after this gig, I think, best thing for you to do – is to let go of everything. And Dezzy. She won't mind, ah. Sorry to say, but it is you who is keeping her unhappy, the fact that you aren't moving on, she won't be able to move on either."
Ray thought for a moment. He didn't mind Naguri telling him this, because, for over the past week, he had thought about it as well. "I guess you're right." His eyes drooped – he was starting to get tired. She noticed this and struggled to keep him upright.
"See, Ray? If you learn to put the past behind you, it wouldn't come to get you, eventually…." She said soothingly, stroking his hair slightly; the touch was scarce but he felt her warmth. "I'll miss you too, Ray. I'll miss you too."
Ray… I'll miss you too.
"Ray… Ray… Ray!"
He opened his eyes groggily. There was a bright light shining down on him, and in front – was a figure staring gently down at him. He blinked.
He blinked again. Once, twice, another time. He rubbed his eyes, and pinched himself. It hurt – that meant – he wasn't dreaming!(?) He looked around himself – he was in this odd area, with flowers and a waterfall. He couldn't describe it, it was just… unreal. So… was this apparition unreal too? Only one way to find out…
"Dezzy!" He shot up and immediately wrapped her into a tight embrace, delving his face into her neck. God, how he missed her so much. He put a hand to her cheek, her forehead, her nose, her neck – he raked a hand through her materialized, smooth black hair – he could feel her - she really was there! "Oh god, oh god, oh god."
She closed her eyes. "Well, yeah."
"I missed you so much – " He breathed. He froze. Now that she was here, what could he say? He couldn't get himself to speak, but if she left him again, he would be locked in a depressed slump again, and he didn't want that happening.
She wrapped her arms around him tightly. "Ray, you're such an idiot." She said quietly. "How could you blame yourself for all this time? It wasn't your fault… it never was."
"I-I can't. It just seems – all of it – "
"Really, Ray, it's not. You have to believe me. I missed you too."
He sat back up and touched her warm cheeks again. She looked alive. "Where've you been all this time?"
"I've been beside you all this time, Ray, watching you."
"How've you been?"
"I'm okay, you?" She paused; they hadn't seen each other for months like this and they were talking as if they were over the phone?
"Horrible." He replied grimly. "I'm so sorry, Dezzy – "
"Didn't we talk about this already? It's okay, I've never blamed you. It's not your fault. It's mine… I'm should say sorry…"
"But… everything is okay now, yeah?"
She nodded happily.
"Yeah, everything is fine…"
He embraced her tighter.
"Ray, I have to go now – "
"Where are you going?" He asked in astonishment. "But you just got here."
"With Haniel, she was my guardian – and I've been here for quite some time."
"Oh, no… Dezzy…"
She touched him – stroking his hair back and closing her eyes, as if she wanted to keep a reminder of him before she left. Smiling, sniffling – her eyes began to water. God, no, not at this time – this was no time for sappiness. The tears flowed down. She allowed herself to be carried away – he used his shaking hand to trace her jawline, over her soft lips and cheeks. He smiled, and he also sniffed. Seemed they both were crying. Of course, it was too good to be true. She could touch him – he could touch her. Everything was just… beautiful. They pressed their foreheads together – if only time would stop. If only…
She took a deep breath. "Ray, I – "
"Shh… " He interrupted her gently, and lifted her chin to him with his hand, and lightly pressed his lips to her own – she blinked in surprise, then slowly closed her eyes as well. Oh, how they longed for this to happen. He smoothed her hair down with his hand, the other on her shoulder – she stroked his cheek gently, a tear rolled down her cheek. Unfortunately, the kiss was over when it started.
They broke apart, breathing heavily.
"Don't worry, Ray." She whispered. "Even if I'm not here beside you, I'll always be with you, in your heart. Forget about me – but not too much." She smiled, and then turned away from him. "Tell my mum, I'm fine, okay?"
"Just like the doctor said. People don't really die. They're like plants – not a very good description, but – ahem - you start with a bulb, then it grows into a young plant, then an adult, then there's fertilisation, and a new plant grows, and the parent plant dies, but the seed is left behind, and that seed, will grow into another new plants."
After a couple of moments of silence, Ray let go of her. Desiree smiled at him gratefully, and stood back up. He got up with her. There was another bright light shining in front of them. Desiree almost stepped back as she looked at it, and clutched onto Ray's hand tightly. "Are you scared?" He asked softly.
"A little." She replied, she squeezed his hand tightly. "What do I do?"
There was a swirl of pink dust before they took a step forward, and Haniel appeared, this time, dressed in a white garb. "Hello, Ray, hello Desiree."
"Hey, Haniel." Desiree said nonchalantly. "I'm glad you're here." She turned back to Ray, mouthing 'My guardian'.
Ray blinked at her. Haniel looked at him, and nodded. "I'm here to take Desiree away, Ray, thank you for letting her go."
He was unsure if this was making him feel any better – and amazingly, he did feel better. This girl named Haniel gaped emotionlessly at him. He nodded as well. "I understand. Bye… Dezzy."
She gave him a brief nod, and then turned to Haniel, standing in front of her. Haniel gave Desiree her hand, and she took it. They both looked at one another, and then, they took a step forward.
"Ready, Desiree?" Haniel said.
"Yup." Desiree replied. "I'm ready."
Ray wanted to shout 'No! Not yet!', but he couldn't. That was too selfish. He knew Desiree had been waiting for this time to come, to leave this universe, where she would be happy – reborn, perhaps, and live life again.
"Bye, Dezzy. I'll miss you!" He called.
They had already reached the front of the shining portal. She looked back at him, smiled, and waved. "Goodbye… Ray. I'll… see you soon." Again, she waved; there was another tear forming in her eye but she wiped it away quickly.
Haniel and Desiree stepped into the light.
There was a bright flash – Ray shielded his eyes. His heart was pounding fiercely in his ribcage. What was happening? Was Desiree still here? What about Haniel?
As the flash dulled, he let his arm go back to his side.
Desiree and Haniel were gone.
But he felt something stir inside him.
Desiree really was still with him.
In his heart.
She was finally free.