A/N: My gift to all for a Happy Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I wish all you a terrifc new year! This is another long romantic one-shot so I hope you can withstand the build up of this story, I needed it written to get a good line. To ease the confusion if there will be any, this is still a spolier though, I state: the dash(-) is to represent the change in time but still in the same POV of Shizuru, the asterisk(*) is to represent the change in POV, the double dash(--) is to represent the change in time in Natsuki's POV; the break is to represent the change from present to past. A big spolier for all, but I dislike readers getting confused even at the start. So apologies. Until the end, I will not hinder
Shizuru stole a glance at the building, in turn quickly turning back to look at her partner who was busy arguing with the movers over the phone. Her deep crimson held her partner's well built frame and smiled at the sight of her partner storming up and down the pavement, those mesmerising eyes watching the road for the furniture mover's van. When she noticed that her partner had her back turned away from her, Shizuru, as always, like a curious cat, twirled around to feast her eyes on a well-downed flat. It seemed that it had only two simple floors to the simple yet pleasant looking building. It had windows facing the road and Shizuru shivered happily when she thought about how she soon would be the one standing at the window looking down at the road. In her knee length skirt held the small key to the prize she had been waiting for so long. Eyeing her partner from the side, she hastily grabbed the given opportunity and gracefully skipped her way to the entrance of the flat. All in all, it was simply just that Fujino Shizuru just couldn't contain her curiosity.
Oddly, it felt utterly nostalgic.
Pulling the main door quietly, Shizuru gave out a small word of excuse as she took her first step into the flat. A, uncertain, familiar warmth engulfed her form and she let the door swing shut silently behind her as she moved further in. Her eyes looked onto the nice and cozy first floor of the flat, the floor tiled with parquet, which somehow sparkled and gleamed in the sunlight that shone through the side windows. As she focused onto the well-placed tiles, to her astonishment, she realised how the edges were already well chipped and marred with scratches and dents. Shizuru blinked and little did she noticed how her surroundings in short, easily changed as how she easily blink. She had thought she was under an illusion of her happiness, that was what made things seemingly change.
Her low heeled boots clicked on the parquet and she moved on slowly. To her right was the flight of stairs that led to the second floor, titling her head up to the stairs, it seemed that the atmosphere around her had just become a tad bit hotter. It was unusual for a flat to have the corridor insulators working when it was only the start of autumn; when the sun had yet to set when it was only six. Draping her beige jacket over her forearm, Shizuru cautiously moved up the steps that seemed to lead on forever. Upon moving up, she felt her body become lighter and lighter, until all she felt was the simple sensation of walking on clouds; everything seemed to be at prefect ease and stillness. Marvelling at the serenity of the flat, Shizuru was caught unaware of the little figure that ran at her, giving out a voice high-pitched and tinted with mischief,
'Ha! You're going to live in a haunted room!'
Then and there, the serenity was easily broken like it had easily come. Her crimson eyes picked up the little boy with absolute white hair, and when this teasing ball of energy ran pass her, her eyes matched with pink eyes that taunted her. The little boy stopped in the middle of the flight of stairs and pointed a stubby finger at her, his wide smile giving her a sense of utter insecurity,
'You're going to live in a haunted room! A haunted room!'
She looked in surprise at the little boy that laughed eerily down the stairs and raised her eyebrows at the same sentence that resonated through the stair well. Taking her last step to the second floor, a smooth and charming voice sounded out and she turned her head to meet corn-coloured eyes,
'Don't listen to him; he doesn't know what he is talking about most of the time.'
Shizuru gave into a quick scan of the man that stood at the doorway of the other apartment in the flat that her partner had long said that it was already bought by a man. His hair was of dark charcoal, trimmed and kept short, while a smile was eased naturally onto his face. He was tall and lean; his eyes carrying a hint of loneliness…then suddenly, all tiredness seem to disappear in front of her eyes. She blinked twice and tried very hard not to look shocked; the man leaned out of the doorway and inevitably gave into a bow,
'I'm sorry about my son; please forgive his brash behaviour.'
As he pulled back up, Shizuru's crimson caught hold onto a twinkle of fondness and his voice echoed down the quiet corridor,
'Welcome, I'm sure you will adore the apartment.'
He turned to look down the corridor to the door not far away from where she stood opposite him, her eyes followed down and a surge of warmth wracked her. Shizuru had to blink hard…something was oddly familiar about this place. Everything just seemed to fit. It was as if she had walked down this corridor before, stood at the steps feeling lost and lastly staring at the lone door that would lead her to the apartment she would be living in. However, it struck her hard that she had never been to this place ever in her life. Shizuru felt a shiver run down her spine and she tried in vain to keep composed. The man in front of her passed her one more smile before leaving the doorway and walking back into his apartment, door silently closing in front of her. Her deep eyes looked at the wooden door that stood closed just down the corridor and she took the first step towards it. Feeling a weird sensation course throughout her body, she took at second look at the path she had just taken towards the door; she felt oddly attracted to this place…in an unusual way perhaps.
Gazing at the door before her and traced a finger across the neat design that was carved onto the frame. She noticed how dusty it was, and how the carvings held the small engraving of wolves etched onto the surface of the frame. She smiled at the sight and guessed as much of how her partner wanted so much to buy the apartment, maybe inside had more… Like how her curiosity took over her at the entrance, it overwhelmed her at this very moment. Something was urging her to open the door, to move inside and see what this chance would give her. Unconsciously sliding her hand into her pocket of her skirt, she brought out the simply silver key that was passed to her this very morning. Slipping the key easily into the plain bronze knob of the door, Shizuru twisted the key to unlock. However to her surprise, she heard no click of unlocking and all she received from twisting was a stop.
It was already unlocked.
Shizuru was baffled in an instant. She hastily pulled back the key and uncertainly pulled the door open. It creaked as she pulled back, it had a familiar ring to her ears and she felt a surge of security engulf her as she stepped through the door way. Her eyes feasted onto a pleasant looking studio apartment, the warm sunlight of the ending summer filtering through the windows that was layered with thick dust. She smoothly moved into the apartment and looked at how it simply flowed from one side to the other. The living area was decent and it seemed just nice for two people to live in. Adjoining the living room was already the small kitchen, down a small walk way that consisted of only ten steps was the bathroom. Shizuru turned back to look at the dusty looking bed frame that was left in the living area, it sat next to the window that she guessed that over looked the road that her partner was on, currently waiting impatiently. In the middle was a small wooden table that had a single chair that was tucked neatly in. She ran a graceful long stroke over the table and to her expectation revealed the thick coat of dust. Shizuru briefly reminded herself that she had to scrub this place down in order to get this coating off; she sighed. She stood in the middle and looked on in happiness.
She had told herself so many times before, and she knew it would never change; whatever her partner adored, she too would adore. Indeed so, she took an instant liking to this place despite the dirt and dust, which she apparently guessed that all that was due to the fact that this place was never touched in like a…a few years? A sense of nostalgia wracked her and she felt her eyes act on their own accord, looking for a shelf. Then and there she found it, a lone teak shelf standing up against the wall near the table. She moved on instinct and pulled her body over to the wooden furniture and looked at it as if trying to find something. Her crimson eyes then noticed an object that was lying flat on one of the shelves. She reached up to it and realised how much dirt and dust when she grabbed hold onto it, to her surprise it was a book. Lifting the layer off the cover carefully with a blow, Shizuru carefully opened the book that seemed that it could fall apart anytime soon. As she flipped open the thick hard cover of what it seemed to be a log book, she found her eyes looking at a thin yellowish-brown page. It was empty.
She expected her eyes to find a name of any sort, but instead she received none. She flipped the book to the back to see whether there was any name, however it dampened her hopes as she too received none. Giving out a word of sorry, she flipped open the log book to a random page and she found words. She could read the characters perfectly. The words were written in neat and elegant handwriting that mirrored hers; actually it looked exactly like hers. Intrigued with her findings, she moved to the start of this long log, that she soon realised that it was actually a diary.
From then on, it seemed that she was reeled back into past…For everything around her was brought back to life.
Like a reunion.
I stood at the main entrance with my small suitcase at my feet. The mid-summer wind wrapped my body in a familiar feeling; it felt exactly like it was when I stood at my family house courtyard, watching the sunrays fall to the ground. My eyes looked up at the building and smiled when I knew I was going to live in one of apartment inside the flat. I steered my eyes to the window that I knew I would be looking out when I had settled in, I had a feeling that I would be able to see the cars drive on the road outside and the dazzling lights of the city.
This quiet neighbour was justly situated outside the entertainment district. I, being a hostess at one of the famous entertainment clubs, realised I had to live closer to this busy city in order not to waste time commuting. I knew if I continued to live in my family house, I would be continuously running tired since I started work at seven and ended in the early hours of the morning. To add on the weight, being the top hostess of the club, the demand and the expectations of me was far more exhausting to handle. Therefore I decided to find a place nearby to live; I found that it was nearby and here I am standing at the flat that I had an apartment inside that I have brought.
I wasn't given enough time to decide whether to buy it or not, even worse I didn't even get a chance to look at its interior. However something far inside my mind rattled and spoke in volumes that this apartment was the one. It was urging me to move on, hence I allowed myself to buy the apartment despite even setting an eye onto it. Seemingly, at that time, I just couldn't put aside a decent amount of time to go and look at the apartment. The landlord was more than willing to get this apartment off his shoulders. He looked more than happy when I agreed that I would be buying the apartment. He sold it to me at a reasonably low price; to my astonishment, I wondered why anyone wasn't fighting with me over such a cheap apartment that had such a good location. To end my curiosity, I had asked the overjoyed landlord why no one had accepted to buy the apartment. He face suddenly turned a little pale and he gulped murmuring something about it being haunted.
I found it humorous that people avoided buying the- decently described- apartment once they found out it was haunted as spoken. I chucked the thought aside, finding it being very superstitious. It made me even more excited to be moving into this 'haunted' apartment, I wondered what ghost I would really meet. A poltergeist maybe. The landlord was indeed shocked when I told him that I still will be buying the flat despite it being haunted. Relief spread across his face when I mentioned that fact to him, it seemed that he had to have an unlucky apartment on his list for a long time; lucky that he had found someone like me.
I had packed all my belongings and had it sent over earlier to the apartment. I looked at the simple silver key that I had in my gasp and I smiled brightly one last time before I took my suitcase and reached out, pulling the main entrance door open. I felt the warm sensation of the summer heat in the flat course through my body as I excused myself into the flat. I gazed in wonder at the finely laid parquet, which gleamed. It looked new and I guessed that maybe the landlord of the flat found that maybe it was time to change the parquet of this very old flat. I seemingly remembered he had told me that this building has been standing as a flat for over a decade. I'm impressed in a way, to be living in such an old building of the renaissance. To my right was the stairs that led to the second floor, to the way of where I would find my apartment. I marvelled at the smoothness of the stair's railing, my fingers felt as if it had delved into richness as I ran my hand across, it felt as if I was touching velvet itself. The atmosphere was still and serene however everything broke when I reached the top of the stairs.
A little blur of white was running towards me at the stairs and I managed to pick out the little boy's pink eyes and his wide and mischievous grin. He ran towards me and stopped abruptly before me and raised a daring finger at me, sneering,
'Ha! You're going to live in a haunted room!'
It made me feel a little insecure as this young boy's grin grew even wider. His stubby index finger shook at me and he laughed eerily as he continued his run down the stairs. His body turned to face me as he skipped down the stairs, his eyes twinkling in mockery. His high pitched voice resonating through the stair well as he ran down,
'You're going to be living in a haunted room! A haunted room!'
I was quite shocked at the sense of that little boy's enthusiasm to make me believe that the apartment I was going to live in was a haunted one. I raised my hand to cover the smile that was reaching my lips, I just couldn't resist laughing as such weird happenings. I laughed mentally; if a ghost was to be haunting my room, then won't the whole flat be haunted by this ghost? I turned away from looking down at the steps I had just climbed and I was greeted by a pair of corn-coloured eyes that twinkled in the same amusement of the little boy. I took a step away from the doorway that he stood from, his neat charcoal coloured hair gleaming in the faint light of the setting sun. His build lean and muscular, his face full of life and graced with a natural smile. He looked at the stairs and back at me and leaned forward into a bow,
'Don't listen to him, my son doesn't know what he is talking about most of the time.'
He pulled back up with sincerity spread across his face,
'Please forgive him of his brash behaviour.'
I looked at him in forgiveness and passed him a small smile. He gave a short incline of his head as a nod and passed a smile back at me. He gave a glance at the small suitcase in my hand and met my eyes again,
'Ah, so you must be the one moving into the empty apartment.'
I passed him a small yes and he looked happy to see my presence, it seemed that he didn't take that room as haunted as it was told. His smooth voice echoed down the corridor,
'Welcome. If there is anything you need, feel free to ask me for help.'
With that he gave into another small bow and passed me one last smile before leaving the doorway of his apartment, closing the door quietly. I just realised that he had forgotten to pass me his name. Never mind about that. I turned to look at the lone door that stood nearly opposite the man's apartment door. I then realised that this flat had only two apartments, there were only two floor and two doors leading to two separate apartments. It seemed that I could enjoy my privacy much better. I moved quickly to the door and stopped to find that the frame of the doorway was neatly designed with engraving of wolves. It seemed that the previous owner of this apartment must have loved wolves in order to have done such detailed carvings of such lone beast. I looked at the design as I slipped the key into the keyhole at the bronze doorknob and twisted it to let my ears hear the ever soft click of the unlocking. I beamed as I hurriedly took out the key and pulled the door opened.
The door creaked opened and my eyes settled onto the average looking studio apartment. I loved it instantly. The living area was spacious for a single person and moving from one room to the other was as easy as the water in the river. Everything flowed smoothly in the apartment. The boxes with my belongings were already stacked neatly at one corner of the apartment. A simple wooden table with a single wooden chair was placed in the middle of the living area and a similar wood shelf placed standing against the wall nearby. I moved over to the table and realised that it was covered in a thick layer of dust. It seemed that I was to be going on a cleaning spree for this old musty and dusty room. An empty bed frame was placed by the window and I eased myself over to there and I looked outside at the train that was backed with the orange setting sun. I smiled at the sight and looked at the apartment before me.
I might as well get started.
I found a dog bowl in the kitchen and noticed how grubby and old it was. I could still smell the strong tinge of the dry dog food coming from the bowl. I looked at it and picked it up, throwing it into the bin. I was not like I was going to get a dog or something; I didn't need it anytime soon. I moved the empty boxes over to the small corner I created in the living area and soon settled myself onto my bed, sticky from head to toe. I had unpacked everything very quickly to my surprise, despite having so many things that I had transferred from my family house to here. I slumped tiredly against the wall and gave a quick scan at the clean apartment; the wooden flooring now shined and the walls and corners cleared of all cobwebs. The thick dust was swiped clean and the black spots washed away to give a spick and span appearance. I praised myself for such a well done job and languidly move to my closet to pick up my clothing for a shower before I hit bed for the night.
Then and there, I felt it.
My skin prickled and I felt someone staring at me. I whipped around to face my newly-moved-in apartment, no one was there. The atmosphere of my apartment grew a notch colder and I trembled, it wasn't like of the summer. I shook off this weird feeling and hastily moved into the bathroom to get a shower. However through that whole process, I could really feel a solid harsh gaze piercing at me. I looked around to see whether there was really someone watching me but I found that no one could really see me from below on the street or opposite. I felt paranoid for a moment and I seemingly realised that maybe the 'haunting' sensation that had been passed on continuously had gotten to me. I laughed out loud in my apartment and told to no one in particular how ridiculous it was. However after that, the feeling of someone watching me got even stronger.
My eyes moved from side to side as I lay in my bed that night and I guessed as much how paranoid I had become over such a short period. It wasn't normal for a Viola to feel so paranoid, what has become of me? I breathed in deeply before I shut my eyes tight and tried my best to lull myself to sleep. Yet that same awkward feeling of someone staring grew even more intense in the darkness. I felt a cold shiver run down my spine and somehow my eyes were forced opened. Then in the darkness I thought I saw someone standing at the foot of my bed. It was terribly dark, but I knew my eyes were not fooling me because I solely saw the outline of a person standing at the base of my bed. I became stunned at that very instant and immediately shut my eyes, my body became stiff and I felt a rigid sensation engulf me. The gaze of someone grew so intense and powerful that I clutched tight onto my bed spread to prevent myself from screaming. That wasn't like me, but this superstition had apparently wracked my tired mind in this case. I could hear the little boy's voice screeching in my head like a broken record and I felt my eyes roll backwards.
God help me.
Surprise hit me when I noticed how the same dog bowl I knew I threw in to the bin was out back on the kitchen floor. It was at the same exact spot and I moved once again to throw it into the bin. I wondered how it came to same place but I shrugged it off, maybe my eyes were really just playing a trick on me. I sorted my apartment, which things were to be placed and how thing would be run in this new place of mine. It was already in the late-afternoon and in no time soon, I would have to get ready to leave for my work. I sat at the table to sort out my files and the same peculiar feeling washed over me. I snapped my eyes up once I felt the intense gaze land onto me. However as usual, like the last night, all I saw was none. I blinked a few times and slowly moved back to look at my files, then the same sensation grew even more intense that my chest tightened by itself and I shivered uncontrollably on my seat. The atmosphere had once again grown cold and I realised how everything around grew so still and frigid, that suddenly that there was no life in this place. I quickly stood up and stared hard that the area which I knew the gaze came from, I looked foolish staring at space but I knew that someone or something was there. Then as I wished, everything snapped back to normal and my tensed body relaxed from the strange tension.
I never knew it would go on forever.
Every time when I came back in the early morning when the sun had still yet to rise, the room felt colder than the atmosphere outside. It seemed that I was living in the Arctic itself. I coughed and shed my jacket and moved to kitchen to find always to my horror that the dog bowl I always threw into the bin, whether outside or inside, was back at the same place on the kitchen floor. No matter what I did to it, move it, throw it, in vain to try to crush it; it would always return in its state I first found it. I felt unsecure when I found this particular happening; it was as if the ghost that 'haunted' this place was a dog or something. As for the nights and early morning I slept through, I would always feel the same intense, terrifying gaze settle on me. No matter where I went; in the bathroom, when I slept; in the kitchen and especially when I sat at the table to write my dairy, I always felt the same gaze of this ghost of my apartment linger long on me.
I had asked once my neighbour out of pure curiosity whether he felt the same way as I did, however, as charming as he was, he would elegantly say that he lived a normal day without such strange happenings. However the weird thing that what was happening to me instead of the apartment; was that I felt more at ease when that intense gaze settled on me. I knew it was unbecoming to feel it in such a way; ironically yes, I felt safe within these walls, it was as if someone was protecting me despite the terrifying experience I was always constantly feeling. I wanted to see for my own eyes what was causing such nerve wrecking sensations to swarm me even on the hottest day of this current summer day.
Before I slept, I would always feel that strong gaze and then darkness will grip me hard, and then awkwardly, I would succumb to peacefully undisturbed sleep. It always happened like this as if this spell was cast on me after my first few days living in this apartment. Nightmares won't plague me like I thought ghost that haunted would usually do on the inhabitants. I guessed that maybe this ghost was a kind one after all, however that will contradict why people avoided and gave up on this house after their prime days of living in this old apartment of this decade year old flat. Oddly too, I felt energised and more alert when I woke up to the running of the tap of my bathroom. Seemingly, my tap will always run in the wee hours of the morning and then abruptly off, like how it was with the mysterious dog bowl in my kitchen. Now that when I think about it, it is like how my chair is always left pulled away from the table as if someone was sitting there when I remember clearly that I push it in after I use the chair. It was scary in a way, but I was determined to stay in this apartment until I found out why these things were always happening.
Unexpectedly, my wish of finding what haunted this apartment of mine came true.
True enough, it was even more terrifying in a way.
The owner of the host club had told me that I was able to go home early that night since my regulars won't be coming due to the homecoming baseball tournament. I was glad that I had part a night off. Once I had made sure that I was good to go, I returned back happily to catch a good night's sleep. As usual, I was greeted by the ever enthusiastic little white haired boy that insisted that I made myself sure that I was living in a haunted apartment. His father on the other hand greeted me with warmth and comfort that I found soothing and relaxing in a way. I stepped into my apartment to be engulfed in the same coldness and the sight of the chair pulled away from the table. I sighed at the sight and pushed the chair back in hoping that the gaze that always settled on me would come later when I was really tired. I came into the kitchen to find my eyes looking at the same grubby dog bowl in the kitchen. I sighed noisily this time; it seemed that this particular dog bowl won't leave this place in peace.
I made a quick supper and moved over to start my bath. My bathroom was the same as those that I usually saw in different apartments. Mine was just a little bit bigger at the showering area. I pulled my top over and slipped my skirt down to the cold floor, then as I always expected, the same intense gaze returned; it seemed that this ghost of mine was a perverted one indeed. I reached over to turn on the tap to get the hot water running, coming back to shed my undergarments, then seemingly the gaze left me…maybe this ghost wasn't all that of a pervert. I turned to look at the empty bathroom before me and I realised I longed for that gaze to return to watch over me, however it never did. I didn't know why I sighed this time round as I looked into the mirror, the water was running and I had to turn the tap off soon, before it overfilled the tub. I scratched my cheek and looked at how I was apparently turning red for no rhyme or reason…what was really happening to me? As I peered in the same crimson eyes the mirror held, I thought I saw a flicker behind me, forming into something I had never seen before. As how my curiosity always got the better of me, I whipped back to find nothing and then the lights suddenly went off and I shrieked.
I thought my head would have hit the side of the basin but it seemed it did not. My head was not throbbing, only that my feet were wet from slipping over a puddle of water behind me; I shouldn't have turned around. Yet I felt something else, I felt a frighteningly cold grip around my torso and my arms. The cold that was pulsating from these areas made me tremble and I bit onto my lip to prevent myself from screaming when I realised that I was floating above the ground. In the pitch dark of the bathroom, I thought couldn't see a thing but apparently not as I was extremely terrified when I caught onto emerald glowing eyes staring intensely at me. They were just a hand away from my face and instantly I was mesmerised by this apparition, unfortunately I was too petrified as all I saw were a pair of eyes hovering in front me while the coldness that was coursing to me growing even more extreme. My skin prickled like before and I shivered violently when I felt what I thought was a breath brush across my face and down my chest, this time I couldn't hold the fighting scream that was choking me.
Then I was abruptly dropped onto the wet floor and the bathroom light was brought back to life. Light flooded my eyes and all of my senses came back suddenly, the coldness that wracked my body dissipated faster than it came. I was shocked from head to toe as I saw nothing but the same empty bathroom before me. Yet this time, the hot water from the tub washed around my naked form. I screamed again…
From that night on, the feeling of the gaze grew even more extreme than before. I could feel it stripping my body of everything, I could literally feel hands wandering down my body and I would unknowingly shiver in utmost pleasure. The sense of protectiveness grew stronger in my apartment and I longed to return to it after work, just to be under the strong eyes that I saw that night. I knew I was acting a bit off my usual, even my colleagues and my regulars that I entertained told me how I dazed out I was most of the time. This wasn't good for a Viola, it wasn't good for me, but I seemed that I could not but help to grow attached to this apartment ghost of mine. Ironically, I was still as terrified as before, bit less at least now I knew that there was certainly something inside my apartment. The atmosphere of my room grew colder when I was around doing nothing, but once I was getting ready for bed, the temperature would seemingly return to normal. It is most likely that this ghost of mine had taken a liking to me; its gaze would settle from the moment I stepped through the doors, watching my every action. I found it annoyingly frightening in a way, but as the months flew past from that day, it seemed that my body and soul had grown accustomed to such treatment and even welcomed it whenever I went around in the apartment.
Those emerald green eyes would appear from time to time, scaring my usual self to a person that I found was hopeless. Sadly regardless of how I loved those eyes, those pair of eyes would scare me no matter what, for it came without a face and all I would see would be two gleaming eyes that only came hovering in the darkness. It scares me to the bone, but the intense gaze of those mesmerising pools gives me a feeling that sends a shocking and pleasurable sensation through my body. I wanted more than just eyes; I wanted to see this ghost of mine.
I didn't know when I had gotten so possessive…over a ghost?
Oddly, on some days when I didn't have to report for work, I would usually revel in the secure feeling of my apartment. I would feel the strong gaze, over and over and again; there beside me, behind me, in front of me, it apparently would be always around me. Then at times I would be able to feel the soft caress of this ghost around my body and my face. Something even at the point I can even feel the kiss upon my lips. I could feel it with all my sense. I could actually smell this living ghost of my apartment, I just found out recently that whenever this ghost was around all I could smell was the coming of the rain, the heavy feeling of the water and the rush of the coldness. Before that I thought that it would be just raining, but now I knew. Sometimes even I thought I was foolish to be reaching out to space, but apparently this foolish action of mine is returned with a cold sensation that engulfs my hand that sometimes I just believe that the ghost is there holding my hand. I would let all my defences down for this supernatural force to see, it seems that there is nothing to hide from this ghost that has been watching over me for months now. I'm sure it knows me from the inside out, with or without the façade of mine.
Then, when I think about it again, I thought I didn't believe in ghost.
I came back after a terrible long work day. My legs were sore and my body ready to fall into the comforts of my bed. Oddly, on that hot summer day exactly a year later from the day I moved in, I couldn't feel the gaze when I moved through the door way. The temperature of the apartment was as hot as the outside and I found that there wasn't even a sprint of frost. The tantalising sensation that roamed my body wasn't there to greet me and all of a sudden I felt incredibly insecure. My crimson eyes darted around in the dark, hoping that if I didn't on the light, I would be graced with those emerald eyes that somehow, this time, didn't settle its lingering gaze on me. My hands were shaking from the tiredness, and it trembled violently when I washed my face in my bathroom. Hope filled my body that when I looked up into the mirror, I would be able to see those eyes behind me staring at me by the reflection. However, all I saw were my tired eyes and exhausted features. I looked spent.
I returned to the living area with a mug of tea, hoping to calm my nerves before I settled in for bed in the early morning. The chair was oddly tucked under the table, since I was used to see it always pulled away from the table. I sat down and spotted a new bulb that lay alone in its clear plastic on the table near yesterday's papers. I gave it a long stare and then it struck me hard. I had forgotten to change the light bulb near my bed.
No wonder why it was so dim.
I looked over to my bed that stood by the window and travelled upwards to the fused bulb that went off a few days ago. I had been forgetting about it until I couldn't take the fact that my apartment was a little less bright than usual, that was why I made an effort to leave early one day to buy a bulb. I frowned inwardly and muttered under a breath that I had to change it to the new today, or else I would never get it done. I placed my mug down after a sip of the hot tea and grabbed the yellow tinged light bulb over to my bed area. As I walked over to get my ladder from my storage corner, I thought I felt its gaze settle onto my back, but it only lasted for a second and it disappeared. As easily as it arrived.
I climbed up the ladder slowly and I frowned at how tired my legs were to take action. Dragging my fingers over the fused light bulb, I felt a yawn escape my mouth. I took a quick look at my table clock and noticed how late it was; a quarter pass three…not good. I was supposed to sleep immediately I came back. I fumbled with the bulb in my hands and then I felt something whisk pass me and I snapped my closing eyes wide open to find its source. Yet as the usual, all I faced was space. I passed a breath and I felt a perspiration droplet roll between my breasts. My mind seemed to have been engulfed by a wave of miasma that I felt groggy all of a sudden. I could hear my heart beat irregularly and the next was that my vision hazed. I think I had said something about the summer heat, and then my view started to change as I felt light all of a sudden. After that, all I saw was black…
I woke up to a violent start. I had thrown my sheets to my feet and I could feel my chest heave in my rapid breathing. My eyes swivelled to the living area and I saw no ladder, however the bulb was on, and I could see the faint glow of the warm yellow emanating from the bulb in the late morning sun. It was fixed…but I recalled that I didn't fix it. Where did the ladder go? My crimson eyes searched my apartment from where I sat on the bed. Then it struck me…I fell from the ladder when I was in the midst of fixing the fused bulb… but how did I land up in bed. Questions swarmed my mind like a erupted volcano and I closed my eyes to sort things through, a Viola shouldn't panic in times like this…Then my ears picked up a rough and husky voice, I spun to the source and I parted my mouth in fright…
I had someone standing at my door, emerald eyes staring straight at me. I fought a rising blush and all I heard next was the same nonchalant husky voice,
'I won't be always there to catch you.'
'You shouldn't be doing anything when you're exhausted,' she looked at me from where she was sitting in the air, repeating, 'I won't be always there to catch you.'
Her emerald eyes shot through me and the same intense feeling returned and I trembled in the pleasure I always wanted to dwell in. I looked at her from my bed and I caught her moving to the switch near the door and she flicked it, turning the bulb off. She spun to look at me again and pulled her knee up to prop her arm up; she sat in the air, looking down on me. I was fighting that rising blush, it was always rare to see a blush don my face, I couldn't allow one now, especially when I had finally seen this ghost of mine. I stared at her and took her in bit by bit and I gasped at how she really looked.
First and foremost, she was translucent. I couldn't see every minor detail of her, but I was surely taken by her major features. She had midnight blue hair that ran beyond her shoulder to just above her waist. Her face was smooth and had the hue of a healthy peach, but it was as if in a fraction of a second it became so lifeless like a sheet of white. Her eyes were of the same dazzling emerald, the ones that gleamed in the darkness and watched me every second. She was dressed with a plain white shirt and thick looking long pants that matched the colour of her hair. Her physique tall and lean and it was as if I could see toned muscles rippling under the fabric. I looked at her from head to toe and finally I allowed myself to flush red.
I couldn't help it…
She raised a sleek eyebrow of hers and shifted to a stand. I raised my head to look her at full height and I stare at her in awe as stood perfectly still in mid air. Her eyes were still trained on me and I couldn't help but pass her a smile. She cocked her head to the side and unpredictably gave me a lopsided grin…
Then again, I thought at first…that I didn't believe in ghost.
I looked at the chair that was pulled out from the table and then as I wanted, her emerald eyes formed and slowly came her face and her body. She was dressed in the same loose attire and she sat languidly in the chair. She shot me a glare and she cocked her head to the side, as if wanting me to say something from where I was seated on the bed. I trembled slightly. The summer heat was firstly making my apartment feel like a blast furnace and apparently she noticed; she soon made it feel like autumn all of a sudden. It explains the temperature change; however I wasn't so interested in that. I stared at her long enough to make her growl at me; it was just what I wanted,
'Why the hell are you staring at me?'
I leaned back in the heat against the wall and looked at her with a smile, I tapped my chin with a finger and raised a eyebrow questioningly,
'Why can't I, when you stare at me twenty-four seven?'
Her mouth twitched and she became frozen all of a sudden and I realised that she actually was a solid colour. I blinked twice when I realised that I thought I saw a tint of pink rush across her face. For no rhyme or reason, I was actually quite pleased with my doing…Oh my, I think I am becoming like my mother. I tugged the sheets at my feet away and moved over to the edge of my bed. As I moved I noticed her gaze trained onto my every movement and when I looked back at her, her eyes would hold my gaze and then turn to look somewhere else. So that was why I felt the intense gaze linger on me for so long…until I looked into her direction, I was actually looking at her.
Once I reached the edge of my bed, I let my legs hang from the corner and leaned back on my hands, and then I looked back at her on the chair,
'Are you really a ghost?'
Then she laughed.
I took out a piece of paper and placed it onto the table. Within my gasp was my pen and I wrote a simple introductory sentence. It was simple short and sweet,
'My name is Shizuru Viola.'
I placed the pen down and I noticed her gaze from behind leave me and the space next to me suddenly became cold. I was readily waiting to be shocked, but I think I assumed too much that I almost jumped out of my skin when I felt a caress on my writing hand and suddenly the pen was out of my grasp and I saw it move on its own on the smooth sheet of paper. She wrote in quite messy hand writing,
'I already knew that.'
I sighed when the pen dropped onto the table and the intense gaze return to me. I took hold onto the cold pen and wrote what I intended to find out in the first place,
'What is your name?'
I waited for the same experience I felt previously but instead I heard her voice instead. It was rough and husky, sounding from behind me - like how the gaze came from behind - she spoke,
I quickly whipped my head back and found her eyes staring down on me and suddenly her full figure formed before me with solid colours. My hand automatically reached out to ease my curiosity and I was shocked. I could actually feel her. My hands could feel the fabric of her white shirt and when I deepened my touch, I could feel the flat surface of her abdomen. Oddly she didn't flinch and I looked on in awe, the next thing I knew was that my hand slipped right through her and I yelped in horror. Deep laughter immediately sounded from her and I saw her as translucent as before,
'That trick gets everyone!'
I frowned and instantly she stopped her laughing and bashfully lowered her head and raised a hand to scratched her hair,
'Sorry, I didn't mean to…'
The next sound was a grunt and she vanished before my eyes in a puff when I took notice of how her cheeks turned into a shade of red. My crimson eyes widened and took a note of how this ghost of mine could really do. She could make herself solid as human, as hollow as a ghost and as unbearably adorable as my old stuff toy I had when I was a child. I smiled at space and I felt her gaze return when I turned back to the table. I twirled my pen around my fingers and stopped abruptly when I thought of something interesting. I noticed how my hand was shaking when I was writing,
'Kruger? As in?'
I didn't have to wait for an answer as immediately after that I felt a cold breath against my ear,
'That is for me to know and for you to find out.'
I squirmed in my seat as my skin prickled when I felt a wave of coldness run up my back. I felt giddy in the head and I dropped my pen onto the table.
I think I had enough for the day.
I whined about how hot summer was, and immediately I felt the temperature of my room drop instantly. I gave out a loud thank you…she was saving me at the present moment. I looked around but I couldn't find her translucent form - which she usually now appeared floating around - anywhere in the living area. It was odd. I groaned out loudly, not like to my usual grace, and flopped back onto my bed. Today's work was tiring and I was in need of my ghost to help relieve some of that tension with some attention. Simply to put it…I wanted her eyes on me. I did not know why, but it seemed that I was going more attached to this endearing phantom. I looked at the living area from my bed by the window and I sighed heavily when I felt her presence nowhere near. I rolled lazily to face flat on my bed and soon did I realise that I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up to the sound of the running water from my bathroom. Upon a second after I opened my eyes, it stopped. I groggily looked up to see through my hazed vision to find her walking out to the living room with her shirt lifted up, wiping her face. I was amused and bemused by the sight and I noticed how she suddenly stopped and turned to look in my direction. Our eyes meet and I flinched suddenly when she started towards my bed. As she walked closer to me in the dim light of the rising sun, I noticed how her features where more distinct…Oh, she was solid this time. I turned my body slightly up when she stood at the edge of my bed. My mind didn't quite function properly in the morning, so I looked at her in confusion.
Suddenly she dropped to the ground and pushed me back down to bed. A cold sensation swept over my body when her green eyes looked deep into mine. I could feel her fingers and her firm grip this time on my arm…how cold this phantom of mine was. I looked at her sleepily and it was quite a sight to see her first ever smile. She flashed me one I couldn't just forget and I forced my eyes to stay open to take one last look at her fine features she was willing to show me. However my exhaustion had crept over my efforts that my eyes lids were slowly pulling shut. My ears heard a soft whisper issued from her and I didn't know how gentle she could sound, unlike the gruffness she always threw at me when I tried to interact with her,
'I didn't mean to wake you.'
I tried to shift my body towards her by the edge of my bed and I felt her hand agonizingly run down my arm. It was freezing cold at first, but soon her hand grew warmer by the time she ran her hand down my arm. My eyes were shut closed from her sight and I relaxed under her touch… It seemed that she could ease all my fears away, I'm positively sure that she could if she was given a chance to see my real fears. She could make me feel secure; in a state that of absolute calmness, and then I took notice,
'Why are you taking such good care of me?'
After so many mornings of hearing the water run in the bathroom and so many night of her easing me back to sleep. I simply came to a conclusion that she apparently washed her face - like I knew how - to allow her to feel fresher when she looked over me. That explains the morning rush of water previously before I came to know her. I felt assured and safely guarded… then a weird thought intruded into my brain that maybe she was my guardian angel. Oh please…not when she has been labelled a ghost of this apartment by so many people. She rarely spoke long sentences, the longest one I heard was when she first saved me from falling from the ladder, after that, I never heard such long sentences. She would make small approvals or disapprovals for example when I asked to the space of should I really make bacons and eggs for breakfast. I too didn't know why I said such things out loud, but I apparently did…it seems that she was really a part of my life now.
At times I would find her sitting on my bed watching me talk about my day of work. I would be able to feel her stable aura and my fast beating heart…sadly I couldn't hear hers; she was dead already. I would feel her gaze always on me…I think I've talked about this thousand of times, but her eyes were always there for me. She would, at times, appear in her solid form and sit on the chair and just listen to me. Her hands would always be crossed in front of her and her eyes watching my moves. I didn't know why, but I wanted her to come to me and hold me when I talked. It was just a thought, but I did want it to come true.
I too knew she disliked the times when I talked about my regulars that I hosted at my work place. I didn't know why she disliked it, but all I knew was that she was annoyed by it, the room would turn a colder than normal and at times I would watch her just disappear and reappear the next day. It was irritating so see such behaviour from her, but somewhere in the back of my mind said,
'Jealousy is necessary, in just a different way.'
I caught her staring at me - not like she always did - in the kitchen when I realised I was taking longer than usual to make my supper. She stood at the kitchen walk way and stared at me lifelessly as if she looked she was lost. I was seated on the kitchen top and looking at my supper at the small microwave oven by the corner, only did I then notice my apartment get colder, then did I find her staring. She looked like a lost child for a moment and then immediately after I passed her a small smile, then did I see a spark relight in her eyes that still mesmerise me. She stood at the walk way and looked at me, I was confused as she usually floated over to see what I was doing but apparently she did not. I peered into her emerald eyes and then I barely noticed I slipped a worried note,
'Are you alright?'
She looked stunned for a while but in a click she was back to her usual self. She floated up and sat crossed legged in mid air, her eyes gazing on me. She kept quiet and I sighed at her motion. I heard a series of beeps from the microwave oven and deftly jumped off the kitchen top and reached to open. However as I did, I stumbled over the dog bowl that always came back and then I felt her cold hand on my arm again and I noticed she now stood beside me holding me as if she was afraid I'd fall. I wanted to thank her but instead she stopped me from doing everything with just a simple appreciation,
'Thank you for not throwing Duran's bowl away anymore.'
It slipped out so easily like my curiosity and she took a step back from me and passed me a sheepish smile,
She looked like she was riding a motorcycle in mid air and then suddenly she let her body drop backwards. Flopping lazily in the air into a lying position, I stopped applying my lip balm, I gave her an awkward look that she felt and turned her head slightly to face me, peering through her messy dark midnight hair. My crimson eyes narrowed at her and I realised how pathetic she had been looking lately. Her solid forms became less resistant to my touches and when she appeared as a translucent figure, she looked more like a faded tracing paper instead. The blushes that I had been working on had become more immune to my frequent teasing and her intense gazes at me had oddly become even more irregular. I frowned at her and she turned away from me, her arm coming up to block her eyes. I adjusted my clothes and I crossed my legs, I was not going to leave for work until I had gotten her out of this stump. It was unpleasant for me and I undoubtedly knew that she felt worse. I leaned back a little on my bed and I spoke out to her translucent form that floated in space. I had prayed that my voice did not carry so much worry that I had for her,
'Kruger…Are you bored?'
She gave out a huff of hot air and she turned her back towards me. Oh, it was getting frustrating! I eased myself onto the bed and turned away from her strong back,
'Fine. It seems that my sympathy is not needed then.'
I saw her cringe. My eyes saw it clearly and I felt a frown tug at my lips. I held it back and I let out a long sigh and pushed myself up from my bed, it seems that this cold wall was still yet to thaw; she was indeed cold for such a beautiful girl. I reached for my jacket at the door and I grabbed my small bag that I brought to work, I looked back at her and decided in the end that I'll come back later to sort things like the mundane problems for all us humane people. Then it struck me like a bolt of lighting… If she –a ghost- could feel like how humans felt about the things that made them and the things around them, then the questions asked would be as similar as how we solved out own problems. I mentally slapped myself…she was once human. I turned to look at her and realised that she had turned and was focussing her eyes on me. I walked back to her form in the air and stood with my hands on my hip and placed my weight on my right, my voice lighted with interest,
'Kruger, if I may politely ask… Why do you haunt this place?'
Her eyes grew wide and from where I stood I saw her jaw turn slack. She looked baffled by my question; it seemed that she herself wasn't ready for it. I realised that no one was ever given an opportunity to talk to her, they would have moved out by then to even get to see her. I moved over to the side of the table and gazed into her deep emerald eyes that were lost in utter confusion. Suddenly, she snapped at me, her body propped up and her fist tightened into a ball. She barked,
'That's none of your business.'
I passed her a small smile; that is something I had to find out…later perhaps. I then allowed my eyes to wonder to the dog bowl that belonged to her dog that she owned when she was alive, and another questioned popped out faster than what I was suppose to say to her previous statement. Oh my, it apparently seemed that I was full of questions,
'Then…Do you ever feel lonely?'
She retaliated as if she was trained to fight against any questions asked,
'I have Duran with me, I never feel lonely.'
I raised an eyebrow…then where was this Duran of hers now? She was currently looking as bored as I had ever seen. I cocked my head to the side with curiosity,
'Ah? Then why don't I see this brown dog of yours?'
'Did I not say? I never feel lonely.'
I touched her face, by accident and it seemed that she wanted it to be there. I didn't mean to touch her in the first place but she had made such a long silence that I failed my hands when I spun around to look at what was preoccupying her stubborn mind. I hit her actually, I'll take back the word touch; I didn't know she would be in her solid form. Her head jerked a little on the impact and I gasped at what I had done, I really didn't mean to hit her. However she took everything in another path…She stopped my hand from leaving her cheek and her coldness engulfed my body like a blue flame. I felt hot yet cold at the same time, I didn't know whether it was the autumn chills or just that she was able to make me feel so. We stood there in the kitchen for a full long minute until my hand moved on its own accord. I started to caress her cold cheek that grew increasingly warm for a phantom and she on the other hand welcomed it. She leaned into my touch and kept her eyes locked with mine.
I was lost for another minute until the question that had been tingling in my mind just slipped out,
'You are lonely, aren't you?'
She looked defeated when she broke our connection as she pulled back. Her eyes were trained on the floor and her form turned as lucent as glass. I lowered my hand from the air and felt a pang of guilt rise within my body when she floated up and walked out of the kitchen. She looked dejected when I walked returned to the table to find her sitting on top of my shelf. She had a pack of cards within her grasp and she flipped it up and down in a two second cycle. I glanced at her and pulled the morning's newspaper out…I needed to distract myself. Then, unexpectedly, she started the conversation,
'I'm never lonely, since I always had a good audience.'
My crimson eyes widened at her sudden statement, I did not know what she meant by audience. Was she an actor of some sort? A performer? A maestro? A… My mind whirled in different directions and then she continued to deepen my confusion,
'Once I'm done, I realise that it's all for show.'
Apparently she wasn't speaking coherently, there was no link between the first and the second…Then what was she sputtering? I leaned onto my propped up hand on the table and laced my fingers together,
'Kruger…what exactly were you doing then?'
She stopped the flipping of the pack of cards and floated over to me at the table. I didn't know where she had gotten the cards from since I never owned one. I watched her deft fingers take out the deck and shuffle them smoothly as if it was built into her hands. She glanced at my curious eyes and turned solid; her features became so prominent that I saw every detail of her. Apparently she was able to turn things into a solid form as well into a hollow form all in a single touch. The deck of cards was placed on the table; with a swift hand she spread all the cards out in a form of a fan. Elegant, I would speak. She gave me a charming look and I felt enthralled by her in an instant. Her husky voice prompted,
'Take out any card from the deck.'
Was she doing some trick on me? I passed her a questioning look and I pulled out a card from the fan. I slipped it up for my eyes to see as she collected the cards into a deck. Oh, the Jack of Spades…my favourite. Once she was done reshuffling, she asked me to show her the card and I willingly showed it to her. She gave it a look and I kept quiet, I wanted to know why she suddenly putting up a performance. She reached over for the pen I always left on the table and passed it to me saying,
'Sign the card.'
I looked quizzically at her and teased,
'Oh, you could have just simply asked for my autograph. You know how willing I would give more than one to you.'
She blushed into a certain red on her pale cheeks and she snapped at me to hurry. I passed a devious smile and gave a neat signature on the picture of the card. She took the card and slid it back into the deck; after a quick shuffle, she placed the deck back down and lifted her hands up to show me,
'I've nothing up my sleeves.'
I found that liner cute and funny in a way. I trusted her with a nod and I smiled a wide smile for my acknowledgment. Rolling up her sleeves to her elbows, she tapped the deck twice with her forefinger and she spread the deck out and up in front of me, showing me all from the two of diamond to the ace of spades. However my eyes widened at the fact that I couldn't find the Jack of spades with my signature on it. I was shocked and then I looked up puzzled to find a lopsided grin smeared onto her face. Her finger pointed at my chest and I looked down to find myself in wonder,
'You're a magician!'
She showed me a few more exciting tricks like biting off the top of a coin and bringing the other half back on it in a puff of breath. She was solid the whole time, so I knew her phantom tricks weren't playing any role in this performance. She did another with her pack of cards, making all the Jacks disappear when I held the Aces and return all the Jacks when the Aces were back in the deck. I didn't know how she did them, but she wasn't the ordinary magician I knew whereby they pulled a rabbit out of a hat and make people disappear in a box. I was amazed by her acts and I was contented with her surprises that whole afternoon. I wanted more, she wanted more; there was a smile upon our faces and we were happy. It seemed that nothing bothered us until I slipped my stupid mouth of mine; it seemed that it was a habit already,
'You were popular weren't you? I'm sure you even had a fan club.'
She looked away and her hands upon shuffling stopped. She turned lucent again, after a small silence, she relented,
'I was and I had.'
She continued with a meek smile,
'I was happy, contented. I always had good company.'
I saw her smirk,
'I had men and ladies hoping to get into my pants.' I stopped breathing, 'Had a few actually.'
I cringed in jealousy and I looked away from her gaze, I heard her stop and gulp…I was sure I heard a small sorry from her. I felt her intense gaze return and when I looked back I saw her in the air again. Our eyes kissed and she turned away to look out of the slightly jarred window,
'This is why I never feel lonely.'
She was such a lair.
I looked at the moving scenery… Wait, I was the one that was moving. I looked out from the train and gave out a sigh when I noticed the dark sky that loomed over the area of the flat. I hoped that it will not rain before I returned to my apartment. I had forgotten to bring my umbrella along. However it seemed that the gods had wanted to cry over their hearts that I came back to my apartment all drenched. My neighbour being up awake was weird even for a reason; I've never seen them stay up till such early hours in the morning. The little boy bounced over to me insisting that my ghost had been making such a fuss in my apartment that it made things noisy. I hoped she had not made things into a messed, I've not seen her fury yet. However I was presently preoccupied why she was even kicking up a fuss. I turned annoyed all of a sudden when I stepped into my apartment. It must be my premenstrual…my mood had been quite out of my control lately.
I was engulfed by coldness and then suddenly warmth, when I turned on the lights; I saw a mess in my house. My jaw turned slack and then my mood swung again like a pendulum. It was ungraceful to shout but it seemed that my mood was too over domineering this time that I had to. I was sure I cursed the premenstrual effect, I hated it when I became like an ungraceful lady. Violas were always of grace. Yet I had to shout,
'Kruger! What is wrong with you!?'
'Nothing that concerns you.'
I dropped my soaked jacket onto the floor, kicked of my boots at the door and stormed at her sitting figure at the table,
'Nothing that concern me? This is my apartment! Everything that happens in here concerns me! That includes you!'
She looked at my wet clothed body, and scoffed. I suddenly fumed with my insane mood of mine that rarely surfaced with my best formed façade. I was internally shocked by my behaviour, but I somehow couldn't control myself once I was unleashed. I slammed my fist onto the wooden surface,
'Don't scoff at me! If you don't want to be included then stop haunting this place!'
I didn't know why I continued my barrage, but I saw her face change drastically,
'Why do you even haunt this place!? Aren't you already dead!? Why can't you just leave earth and go somewhere else…like heaven or something!?'
I took in a deep breath and I couldn't tell apart from the rain that had drenched me or the real tears that I was feeling rolling down my cheeks. I didn't even know why I was crying,
'You know something Kruger? It is either you have something unfulfilled down here or you just don't want to leave haunting.' I heard my own ragged breathing after a while, 'It's either one, because a ghost doesn't just linger down on earth for no rhyme of reason!'
Then I heard her bark back, strong and equally harsh I knew I was now, I was crumbling inside,
'What about something being unfulfilled!?' She seethed at me through her bared teeth, 'I had everything! I had the fame, the fortune, the company, the attention. I had everything! What makes you think I'm unfulfilled!?'
She pointed a daring finger at me and I held my breath to control the onslaught of tears that was ready to burst,
'You have no right to judge me! I can come and go as I wish! To hell with your bloody judgement!'
She disappeared in a snap from the chair and I broke down sobbing like a little girl on the parquet of my apartment floor. Clutching tight onto my wet clothes, hoping to solve and ease the torrent of emotions I had for the phantom of mine. I didn't mean to yell at her and I didn't mean to make such a judgment, but something tingled inside of me that it said that all of this was for the better… It was somehow true for the both of us. I cursed, like it getting any better now. I curled into a ball and tried in vain to stop my crying and then I yelled to the air,
I had to take leave, my boss was quite annoyed since the holidays were coming and my regulars were coming more frequent than ever and I was the only one that they wanted. However I had to take leave, I was sick from the stupid rain and how I stupidly just fell asleep crying on the floor to wake up to find myself all solid and stiff and down with a running fever. My voice was gone and my head was burning with a bad headache, I wanted to fall asleep, but I just couldn't. The glass of water by the side of my bed was empty and I didn't even want to move to get a refill. My throat was parched dry and I wanted badly to just drop into dead sleep. I shouldn't have over reacted last night; it was definitely not getting better.
The intense gaze was no more there on me and I couldn't even feel her cold presence anyway in my house. I pulled my duvet higher to my nose and I breathed out a hot breath. My muscles were aching all over and my joints contorting in pain. I teared a few times due to the pained and I groaned and squirmed in bed. I wanted her to be here with me, looking after me like how she soothed me when she realised I couldn't rest or sleep. I wanted her! I felt a wisp of cold air come in from the open window. I had thought it was her, but I realised that it was the autumn breeze that was sweeping through the area. I shuddered and trembled…
I missed her.
My only neighbour came over to pass me some extra food that he had made; he apparently forgot that his son was allergic to prawns. It was simple fried rice with small prawns that was added as flavouring. I kindly accepted it and ate it for early lunch that day. My flu had long gone and I was living quietly now by myself in my apartment. Winter was here and I was hoping to see the first sight of snow. The weather man said that it was likely to snow, so I had my mind set that I had to do entrance duty despite my regular calls, let my boss complain, he would never fire a money cow like me. I stared at the rice and played with my spoon as I looked at the shelf that I knew she usually sat on to watch me when I was eating. She wasn't there; I knew it and I ignored it no matter how painful it was. I longed for her to come back. It seemed that my judgment of her was wrong…Then again, her face held the strong lie there that said she was stuck here until she found what was needed to make her whole. I silently knew I was right, but whatever that was happening now showed me I was deemed wrong.
Night came faster than usual and I was unable to get entrance duty, then there I was putting on lips gloss on the couch, waiting to entertain a new bunch of men that was recommended by one of my regulars. I could hear the chatter outside the room and I adjusted my dress that reached my knee, it was riding up practically twenty-four seven and it was getting irritating. I pulled on my mask as I heard the door knock open, then the first I saw was emerald eyes. I was shocked and my mask almost broke, luckily it didn't as I realised that the man that came in just had the same shade of my phantom. I gave out a small breath of disapproval as my mind started to drift of to think of her.
It was not good, as the men found me losing my focus when I was talking. Then suddenly I was saved by one of my colleagues that ran in breathing rapidly. Her eyes were gleaming in horror and terror and her face wet with cold sweat. Another hostess came into the room looking pale and she stood in front of us. My colleague rushed over to me and grabbed me by the wrist. Her voice full of dread,
'Shizuru, your apartment is on fire!'
My eyes widened and she continued like a bullet train,
'Your neighbour just called, saying that smoke is coming out from your room.'
I wanted to scream but I didn't. Instead I remained calm and composed in front of the men and my colleague, which explained why another hostess came in. I gave a low bow to the three men and sweetly said,
'I'm sorry for the inconvenience caused, but I have to rush off to do something personally.'
The men said there was nothing to worry and I gave one last bow as the other hostess took my place as I rushed out gracefully out of the room. My colleague followed behind me and helped fetched my jacket from the stand. I gave an apology to my boss that seemed worried about me and thanked my friend that she immediately informed me. However I stopped and asked her an odd question, also to my surprise,
'What did my neighbour sound like?'
She looked at me in confusion and shrugged her shoulders,
'Low and rough?'
By the time I heard that I had already climbed into a taxi and asked the driver to hit the accelerator fast. I thought about the sound of the voice…low and rough? That meant…No, I knew it couldn't be. It must have been my neighbour really calling; the smoke must make smothered him badly. I couldn't wait for the taxi to round the corner and I stopped, paid and ran to the flat. My mind infused with dread didn't bother to look at my window to see the situation, my nose was too busy breathing in clean air to notice there was not a single scent of smoke and when I reached my apartment, I saw not a single flame burning…
I felt foolish. I just fell right into a prank! I wanted to walk over to my neighbour's house to politely ask of why they or just the little boy pulled a prank on me. However a familiar intense gaze locked onto me and I shivered unknowingly…I turned slowly to find familiar looking emerald eyes looking straight into mine. I felt secure and whole all of a sudden…again. I wanted to run towards her and hold her even though I know I may not be able to, but she looked solid at the point. Yet, my irritance once again had gotten hold of me and I was pulled into a situation almost like that rainy night. I quickly told myself to calm down and control my emotions, it helped a bit, but I still sounded angry,
'You called didn't you?' I walked towards her tall figure standing in the living area, 'Did you know how anxious I was? Don't pull a prank on…'
Instead of letting me speak she had a solid finger lifting my chin and pulling me closer to her, I was trembling in excitement when a husky voice resonated in the quiet apartment,
'I know you wanted to get out of work.' She looked hard into my eyes, 'Don't deny it.'
I fought a rising blush as she leaned towards me and breathed,
'This time round… I will not deny.'
I reached out to grab the fabric of her shirt, it was good she was solid then and I pulled her flushed against my body. I breathed in the scent of coming rain and I was drowned by it. I shuddered violently against her as she ran a cold hand under by jacket to caress my bare back. I weakly whispered into her ear as my hands eased behind her cold neck, I felt so cold and yet so warm,
'I'm positively sure you won't.'
She grabbed a lock of my hair when I carried my bowl to the table, and I almost tripped over my step when I turned around to smack her on the hand. She grinned like a little girl and floated over to sit in her imaginary chair in front of me. She looked at my food when I reached over to grab the morning papers; she looked up and pointed as if something was missing,
'Don't you put mayonnaise as the topping?'
I gave out a rather loud sound of confusion when I sat down on my chair shaken but her question. Mayonnaise? I looked at loss and I gulped at the thought of the rich and thick sauce that tipped mashed eggs. It was saturated with fat…I felt sick just thinking of it. I grabbed onto my chopsticks and lifted my rice bowl and answered politely, my fear to such high cholesterol substances were just not to my particular liking,
'I'm afraid not Kruger.'
She glanced at me and leaned back and waved her hand in the air,
'You are really missing out the good stuff.'
I chewed my rice and swallowed it quickly to my surprise; it seemed that her statement had just caught me off guard,
'You like mayonnaise?'
'Of course!' She thumped her chest and I saw the dust particles through the sun ray rise from her fabric, 'I love it! I think I'll die if I don't have.'
I looked at her blankly, apparently that had just shocked me to the bottom. My phantom loves that fatty sauce…I felt queasy. Not good. I hurriedly bit into the chicken I had fried, hoping that it would be able to clear my thoughts of that milky white substance. However she continued despite my pale features,
'I use to eat it with everything, I'm sure that I ate it alone from time to time.'
I dropped my chopsticks and she jerked her head back down from her memories to stare worriedly at me. She leaned forward towards me and reached forward to take my hand, I felt the surge of cold once again run up my arm; I shivered,
'No wonder why you died so young.'
She blushed instantly and she snatched her hand back, crossing her arms she huffed out in annoyance. I held back a laugh and passed her smile, and then all my thoughts of feeling queasy were gone. Teasing seems to be the best medicine, I giggle at my own finding. She murmured under her breath and it easily caught my attention,
'There was 'no wonder' to why I died…'
I looked at her in puzzlement. My skin tingled under my thick sweater and the room suddenly went cold, her voice went so low and dark,
'In fact, no one even considered it a wonder.'
'I died in this apartment.'
I opened my eyes and I was greeted by the same darkness I saw just seconds ago. Suddenly all my weariness had disappeared from my body and apparently flew out of my window. I pushed myself up from the comforts of the mattress and glanced at the figure that sat at the edge of the bed, beside me. She was unusually relaxed especially with a morbid sentence previously coming from her. I shuddered and moved to pull the sheets closer to my waist, it creased and pooled around me. My eyes could barely make out her figure and guessed as much that she was in her lucent form. I leaned back against the headboard of the bed and turned to look at the direction I knew where she sat on the bed. The silence ensued and I trembled when the room temperature could be noticed immediately that it went a notch or two lower. In my sleeping attire, I shivered and reached out a hand in hope to find her solid. I wanted her to confide in me, no one ever said to let things be bottled up inside, it just made one more violent and sensitive. I was relieved that I felt her cold fingers willingly allow my warm ones to thread through them.
I saw a flash of emerald, and then her husky voice cut the still silence of the dying autumn. I could feel the livid rage within her voice, but her aura that she gave out was noticeably collected. I gave out a breath when I felt a cold wave rest beside me. I didn't really enjoy the cold, but I somehow snuggled closer to the pool of cold that hung around me and I heard her heave a loud breath,
'I was twenty three when I died…or was it twenty four?'
My body tensed when I felt a solid finger run down my cheek. I held still for a little while before I moved into her calm motion that was running along my face, making me lean into her slowly ever forming solid form. It was odd, I didn't know why I was the one being soothed when I thought she was the one that needed the attention after being dead for so long and speaking once again about her own death. Sometimes reminisce brings good memories, but she seemed to be spilling anger in her voice. Was she angry with her death…? Yet it was ironic as she was so calm like before a storm at the very moment. I felt awkwardly in the wrong place.
'Twenty four. I died on my birthday.'
I kept quiet and I felt a tear run down. I felt so cold as if my life was sucked out of my body and my eyes were getting hazed over with some uncomfortable miasma. My chest went hollow, my heart seemed to be missing and I went limp.
I saw nothing and heard only her story…
'You're on in five Kruger.'
'Not to forget, please don't spoil the night with the yakuza that you attract.'
Looking at the simple clock that hung on the backstage wall, she gave out a huff of breath and eased out a series of coughs before straightening her back and adjusting her black bow tie. Taking the deck of cards from her jacket, she gave it a neat shuffle and slipped it back into her jacket. Peeking out onto the stage, she stole a glance at the audience and she gritted in anger at the sight of a certain man that was seated in the corner. Quickly pulling herself back, she looked at the clock again and muttered,
'It's not my fault that they find me attractive.'
'Are you sure that you are alright? You went into a series of bad coughs in the performance… Are you…'
'I am fine Mai.' She passed her friend a meek smile that was crouched low to look at her pathetic form that was slouched against the back of the stage door, 'There's nothing to worry.'
'There's nothing to worry? You were almost ready to throw up your lungs on stage!'
She covered her mouth and heaved in a big breath before issuing a jerky cough that made her form tremble. Her orange haired friend watched her in pain and winced when the cough turned into haggard and rough coughs that failed to cease after a minute or so. Pushing her head back to the door and looked from her emerald eyes into light lavender that looked worried, giving into another rare smile, she heaved,
'That was nothing. I've been taking the prescribed medicine, so I'm sure to get better soon.'
Her friend sighed heavily and pulled herself up from the door and walked over to the drawing table. Through her emerald eyes, she saw her friend's face pull into further worry and pain,
'The soon you speak of better be soon'
All she could do was to give a fake smile and cough.
'I'm sorry. I really…I…I didn't…I…'
She waved her hand at the man that stood at her doorstep of her apartment. Silence engulfed them and then the high pitched voice of her neighbour broke the atmosphere. She eyed the man that had short and dark coloured hair; the side of his chin marked with a small scar. Dropping her head, she eased a sigh and she spoke in a joking manner,
'Takeda, you have to really get your sorry ass out of that particular group of yakuza.' She heard a small whimper and she cut into his sentence before he could even move his mouth, 'I don't want to get involved in this business of yours anymore… I hate dealing with it.'
Sighing once more, she rubbed her forehead with her fingers,
'My tricks are real.' Looking up to greet his quivering irises, she seethed, 'They are not just illusions.'
Moving her hand to grab his collar, she barked,
'Similarly, I don't make tons and tons of money just disappear and reappear for fun.'
She shook him on his toes and gritted her teeth,
'I am a magician, not for the thrill to get the different groups of yakuza after me, neither for the threats that they find joy in nor for the attention I don't have.'
She looked darkly into his trembling figure,
'Therefore, don't come and put the bloody hell blame on me when they find their stuff missing.'
'That's a lot of letters.'
Her friend looked at the stack of letters that were piled up like a garbage heap in the corner of her apartment. She questioned the girl with the aura of the midnight chill,
'Letters from the fans, I presume.'
'Your presumption is what I would prefer.'
Her friend rose an eyebrow and set her cup of water onto the table,
'Then who are they from?'
'A big bunch of idiots.'
She thanked her friend once again and wiped the blood off that trickled down her mouth. With the soft handkerchief pressed against the side of her mouth, she wondered if the blood would stop from coming out. Was there a big hole in her body somewhere that caused her to cough out blood? She closed her eyes and felt an assuring hand rest upon her shoulder,
'You should really go to the hospital to give it a proper check.'
'The doctor said it would be fine.'
'The doctor you went to isn't even a proper qualified doctor! He's been giving you pills to stop the cough, but you're coughs are getting worse every day!'
She looked up at her friend and she received a stare that made her somehow shiver,
'Look at you now, you're coughing up blood!'
She kept quiet at the comment and took the handkerchief away from her mouth,
'I'll be fine.'
'Not today Nao.'
'Come on magic-dog! Just one swig!'
'Not today Nao, I'm not feeling any better.'
The thin girl that she stood next to on the train looked at her quizzically and she gave out a breath,
'Nao, some other day would definitely be better.'
'Come on. Today, the whole audience was roaring in applause! A demand for an encore from a standing ovation! Isn't it something to celebrate?'
The thin girl nudged her in the arm and she rocked violently with the train that ran pass the other. The train was crowded even in the late evening, she felt a wave a nausea creeping over her and she placed a hand at her chest. Looking into the green eyes just a little lighter than hers, she sighed,
She heard a long moan and groan and a breath of frustration from the girl beside her. Feeling the scratching in her throat, she whispered to no one in particular,
'Another day would be much better.'
'I'm sick of this Takeda.'
She looked from at him from the table and the cup of hot coffee was settled in her grasp. Her dog kept quiet from the base of her foot and she heaved a big breath,
'I had a yakuza boy coming up to me to pay me a cash load of money, and in the next street, I had three yakuza men holding clubs waiting for a beating.'
He gulped and a drop of sweat trickled down his temple, he gulped,
'Ah, about that…'
'Don't say you're sorry.'
He shut his mouth and dropped his gaze to the floor. She rested her chin onto her hand and she scrutinised him,
'You're lucky Mai and Yuuichi spotted to me or else I would have my body floating down some canal.'
She rubbed her head and clenched her teeth,
'Why do I even put up with your ridiculous acts?' She glared hard at him and watched him shake, 'Why are you throwing your shit on me!?'
'That was another wonderful trick for tonight. I always wondered how you were able to do that.'
She grimaced and she coughed a harsh one into her palm,
'I made a pact with the devil.' She spluttered through the coughs and held up her hands at her friend, 'I use black magic'
'And I'm terrified.'
After her friend's dry remark she grinned and said her goodbyes. Walking down the lone alley to her apartment, she made a stop to cough into her hands; the hot atmosphere of the summer was catching up with her weak body. Watching her vision haze from the strain she was giving to her chest, she had thought she had seen a huge figure approaching her.
'Having problems with that cough, Kruger?'
She lifted her head up with her hand still to her mouth; she felt something was waiting to be lurched up from her stomach. She eyed the figure that loomed in front of her and she felt a harsh knock fall on her head. She met darkness in an instant and an eerie voice echoed through the shadows,
'I'll take care of that for you.'
She looking at the thin girl that had entered through her apartment door and then over to her orange haired friend that walked quickly over to her. Once beside her bed, she gave a lopsided grin,
'Looks like my fans really adore me.'
The thin girl cocked her head to the side after the comment and frowned,
'No crazy girl or boy will go the extent of bruising you until you're black and blue.'
'Not to mention red too.'
She growled at her two companions that stood by the bed. She heaved a breath and she started coughing once again, this time the object that had been stuck in her chest finally came out. Her eyes widened and her two companions screamed,
'Why the hell is she throwing up blood!?'
'Oh. My. Go…I'm taking you to the hospital this instance!'
'This is something from the boss.'
She stared at the basket of fruits that was placed on the ward drawer near her bed, and then she looked back to the man that stood guiltily in front of the hospital bed. She twitched underneath the covers and she calmly replied,
'Takeda. That is something from you.' She saw the surprise ride across his face and she continued, 'Stop your habit of lying. It's getting to every fibre of your body.'
He gave into a weak nod and she looked away out of the window,
'I have no idea why you checked out!?'
'I had no idea either.'
She received a smack on the head from her friend and she looked at the dog bowl that was placed in the kitchen. How long has her dog been missing? She shook her head and moved over to the sink. Her friend opened the windows of her apartment and looked at the setting sun of the summer. Looking at the huge sun, her emerald eyes caught onto the calendar she had set up on the table. She looked on quietly until her friend opened the front door.
'You'll be alright?'
She gave into a curt nod and raised the packets of medicine.
'The ace of hearts it is.'
She looked at the thin girl across the table and lifted up her hands and her jacket,
'I am no cheat.'
'Well, you're a magician! That makes you one!'
She looked at the girl again and grinned,
'You knew very well you were playing against one.'
The girl grumbled and mumbled. Taking the chips from the girl, emerald eyes looked at the clock and back to the girl,
'Time for you to get going.'
She pushed herself away from the table and walked towards the door and opened it for the young girl to leave. Reluctantly as always, the thin girl grabbed her jacket and made it for the door. Muttering curses as she left, the emerald gaze looked at the calendar once again; under the summer heat she heaved a breath,
'Yes. Very soon.'
'This is from Mai.'
Her emerald gaze looked at the metallic coloured looking small tablets in the transparent packet and she looked back at him. She questioned,
'Is this medicine?'
She gave a nod and looked at him from the bed. His face was much more expressionless than usual and she was getting quite worried why. So she asked,
'Got your ass out of there yet?'
There was silence for a little while and then he gave a nod.
'You look pale.'
'Aren't I always pale?'
Her friend passed her a cup of water and worried,
'Aren't you drinking too much water? That's your twentieth cup and it has not only been ten minutes.'
She looked at her orange haired companion,
'Thirsty. That's all. It's…'
Her friend looked oddly at her and then allowed her to continue,
Emerald eyes widened at her hoarse voice and her friends answer her own probing question,
'Are you getting a sore throat now?'
She shook her head and held her stomach,
'Just a little queasy.'
Taking a swig of water, she lay back onto her bed and stared out at the calendar. Her friend's voice caught her attention and she looked back in awe,
'You've been sweating a lot lately.'
'Mai, its summer. We all sweat a lot in summer.'
Until her shirt was soaked to the bottom.
'Need a bag?'
'A toilet would be so much better.'
Before she could even make it to the bathroom, she spewed out a load of vomit that washed the flooring of her apartment. Upon looking at how thick her vomit was, she coughed a hard one. Her friend handed her a napkin and rushed to get the mop and pail. Wiping her mouth with the white napkin, her eyes caught onto a little bit of red and she grimaced. Not again. Then suddenly, she collapsed
'Takeda. What have you been doing lately?'
Silence was caught between them, it was late at night and she could barely sleep. In a few days time, a special day was coming and she couldn't wait. That was not only the reason why she was kept awake at night. She became restless at night due to the vomiting and the waves of nausea that struck her irregularly. Her stomach has been given her problems and she'd been feeling very lightheaded recently. Trying her best to push herself up from the bed, she caught a faint gleam in the man's eyes and then the same expressionless face. Her voice was now very hoarse and she tried her best to speak finely,
'I heard from Mai that you're working at the nearby Pachinko.'
He gave a nod. She smiled,
'At least you have your ass out of trouble now.'
He lowered his head and she passed a weak laugh,
'I can't wait for my next performance.'
'When is it?'
She looked at the calendar and back at him,
'On the day of my birthday.'
Her orange haired friend gave her a confused look and she gave back an equally confused look. Through her hoarse voice, she slurred,
'That day, the medicine you had asked Takeda to pass to me…'
Her companion looked quizzically at her and parted her mouth to speak,
'Mai! I need your help here! Your cat is going to blow the whole kitchen apart!'
At that, light lavender eyes gave a gleam of worry and pulled away from the bed. She looked at the retreating figure of her friend and looked at the ceiling, the summer heat was getting hotter these few days, she hoped for the summer rain to wash in earlier this month. Maybe, it'll rain on her birthday. Easing a cough, she looked at her commotion in her apartment kitchen and frowned,
'Thank you eh?'
'You have to get out of that shirt! You're going to get a fever sleeping in a wet shirt!'
The thin girl standing a foot away from her bed laughed and her orange haired friend attempted to pull the sheets off her form. Coughing harshly at that moment, her friends stopped their actions and looked anxiously at her. Closing her eyes, she heard her company's distraught note,
'Are you sure you can perform tomorrow?'
There was silence for a long while and she peeked through her heavy eye lids at the tight faces of her friends. She eased a lopsided grin onto her face,
'It's my birthday tomorrow.'
'What about it.'
She turned to look at the thin girl and she smiled,
'It will definitely be a splendid day.'
She closed her eyes to darkness and heaved a breath,
'It will be.'
'Please forgive me.'
She looked at the man that sat on the stool next to her bed,
'Takeda. I have forgiven you the time you had gotten your ass out of trouble.'
His face remained solemn and she started into a series of cough. Placing a hand onto his, she grinned,
'I hope you can make it to my performance tomorrow.'
There was a long uncomfortable silence and then his tired voice cut it clean,
She knew that something else was to be said from him, but she kept it to herself. She'll ask him the day after tomorrow. Staring onto the dark clouds that threatened to pour in during the evening, she exhaled noisily,
'I'll see you soon Takeda.'
She looked on quietly,
She grabbed her chest and she writhed in pain among her bed sheets.
She could feel her saliva dripping from her mouth, she had started to foam. Her stomach rocked like the seven seas and she screwed her eyes shut to try to think of something else. She could feel her head spin like top and her body contort in agony. She let out a weak hoarse scream and reached over to the cup of water that stood by her bed drawer. Her hand slipped and she sent it crashing to the ground. Her eyes watered in pain,
Her eyes fixed onto the clock and the calendar. Soon it will be her special day, it had yet to strike midnight and she wanted to live to see it. She felt choked all of a sudden and she coughed badly. Blood spluttered across her hand and she widened her eyes in horror. She felt her body drop to the ground,
'No. Not yet! Someone!'
She squirmed like a fish on the parquet of her apartment, her chest constricting in utmost pain. Her coughs started and she felt her lungs wanting to die on the strain that she was applying. There was something stuck in there, there was something wanting to get out. She gagged at her last cough and more spots of blood followed out. She gave off a silent yell and she failed on the ground,
'No! No! Not yet!'
Her eyes were losing their sight and her body losing the feeling of touch. She reached out her arms into the air, gasping for breath,
'I want to see the summer rain!'
She felt her nose burn and her throat turn dry,
'I still want to perform!'
Her fingers twitched violently and her body shook like a man on the electric chair. Her blood lolled off her mouth and she smeared like a corpse on the ground,
'I want to…'
Her hazed eyes settled onto the calendar and the ticking clock. Her ears heard the fading sing song voices of her friends,
Then the rain came and the clock struck midnight. Her eyes stayed open and the blood that dripped stopped…
Happy birthday Natsuki.
'Enough! Enough! Enough! Enough…'
I screamed into her chest. I grabbed her tightly and hugged her as if she was alive and living here. Her body had gone rigid and cold, her emerald eyes had lost their gleam and the room was colder than a winter could ever get. I felt my face flushing with tears; my nose was running and my body trembling. I gripped her tighter when I felt a hand ghost over my arm. Her low and rough voice echoed in the apartment,
I cried even harder and she held me closer. She died; she died, alone in this apartment. She died a terrible death. She died at such a tender young age. She could have still lived of she wasn't poisoned slowly by the fake medicine she was given. She could have lived to see the coming summer rain, she could have seen her friends run up to her and congratulate her on her twenty fourth birthday. She could still live to see the standing ovation, the audience with shock and surprise written all over their face. She could! I sagged against her solid form and sobbed ungracefully. I couldn't control the tears anymore.
Her hand ghosted over my form and I snuggled closer into her frozen form. It had started to snow outside and my window was left ajar, I could feel nothing. I was embraced with her coldness, so none of it mattered. I rubbed my face on her shirt and she held me a bit tighter. I felt safe, I felt secure, but I felt all of this from a phantom. How was this even possible? After minutes of my continuous cries, I eventually stopped and drifted in and out of sleep. She was still there holding me, my warmth had gradually taken over the cold and I realised how warm she could actually turn. How human she could feel even though she was still ghost.
I moved on her chest and she stopped her stroking motion on my forearm. I heard her issue a small breath of content and I felt the unexpected. She placed a gentle kiss onto my forehead and slowly moved over to lay my body back onto the comforts of my bed. I could still feel the soft and yet firm grip of her hand on my mine and then it disappeared like a wisp of breath. I kept my eyes closed throughout and her intense gaze never left me. Her presence was still with me on the bed and I felt a tear leak from my eyes,
She gave me a long look in her lucent form and drifted away from her perch on the shelf. Her hand held onto a old camera and the other holding onto the stand. She drifted down to me at the table and stood in my view and handed the camera over to me,
'I never used it.'
I passed a long look at her this time and finally smiled. I looked at the old camera in my hands and found out that it was in usable condition, and there was still film inside this old camera. I looked on happily at her and asked her simply,
'Can you turn solid for a moment?'
She shot me a confused look and turned into her solid form and walked over to me. I took hold of the camera stand from her and skipped a few steps away from her. Gasping from my action, she let her shoulders drop in defeat from asking what I was doing. I adjusted the camera on its stand, and looked through the lenses to over where she stood languidly. Her eyes were trained on me and noticed that she had a frown on her face, and then all of a sudden she turned transparent. I looked up exasperated,
'Natsuki! Come on!'
I heard a growl from the spot she stood and I saw her emerald eyes form and then her face. In her low voice, she barked,
'No. Never will I take a photo!'
I danced to her and pulled her face into my hands. She blushed into a new found red in an instant and gave out a forced cough and darted her eyes away from me. I chuckled and she appeared in front of me fully in solid colours. I placed a quick kiss on the tip of her nose and she jerked back in shock. Her face turned into a deeper red and she gagged. I laughed behind my hand and pulled her closer to the camera. She unexpectedly gave in and I smiled at her. She scratched her chin and looked at the window. Taking this opportunity, I ran to the camera and pressed the shutter button. There was a flash and I saw her jump at the sudden brightness. Her face was wet with fright, and her eyes spinning with shock. She composed herself quickly and growled,
'Why you! You took…!'
She ran at me and I gave out a small yelp and ran out of my apartment. She sprinted after me and I ran to my neighbours door step, I knocked in a series of fast taps and the ever so enthusiastic little white haired boy appeared at the doorway with a mischievous gleam sparking in his eyes. His father came back behind him quickly and then, at that exact moment I felt a pair of cold arms round my torso; I smiled politely at them. With my sweetest voice, I smiled adorably at my neighbour,
'Mister Kanzaki, could you do me a favour? I promise it won't take long.'
The man with charcoal hair and corn-coloured eyes raised his eye brows and tucked his snickering child behind him. He eyed me and leaned forward out of his doorway, his voice carried a tinge of curiosity,
'Ah, Miss Viola…That wouldn't be a problem. However…'
He gulped and passed me a forced smile. Fingering the solid cold arms around my torso, he stared intensely at it and said,
'Whose arms do those belong too?'
I blinked hard at him and gave out a giggled. The arms around my torso tensed at his words and at my laugh, I ran a caressing hand on the arms and slyly spoke,
'Ah, these arms belong to…'
'Kruger. Natsuki Kruger.'
I was shocked that she came out from behind me in solid colours and straightened up to look right into my neighbour's eyes. He moved back at the sight of my phantom and looked in awe at the midnight blue magician. They exchanged bows and handshakes, his voice was calm and he questioned,
'You must be one of Miss Viola's friends.'
She looked at him for a little while and then down to the little boy that suddenly lost the mischievous gleam. Her emerald eyes met mine in a brief glance and she grinned,
'Yes. I am.'
'Ah. Then Miss Viola, what is this favour you would want me to do.'
Then I gave both of them a devious smile.
She sulked in the chair while I thanked Mister Kanzaki from the door. I closed the door after I watched him enter his own apartment. Spinning around I found her holding the camera with her lucent hands. Then as I saw her slowly turn transparent, the camera went along with her. I screamed at the moment and I swiftly ran towards her disappearing form,
'Natsuki! You can't do that.'
Her voice as low as ever, she scoffed,
'Why can't I?'
I huffed and stepped hard onto the parquet,
'I can't develop the photo if you make it disappear!'
She turned into space the moment I said that and all I heard from her that evening was a low chuckle. I should have never left the camera unattended, that photo taken was the only one I smile ever so brightly.
She kissed me in the bathroom and I chased her out the moment I felt her lips descend on mine. She kissed me again in the living room while I brought out my supper from the kitchen; I had her up on the shelf after forcing my elbow into her stomach. The last she ever tried to kiss me was before I went over to switch off the lights, ready to hit bed. She sulked from her perch on the shelf and huffed along breath at my retreating figure to my bed. Under the cover of darkness, then did I allow the blush I was holding to spread like a wave across my face. I shivered and trembled in pleasure just at the thought and I wondered why I didn't ever kiss her back when I had all this passion for this ghost inside my body, waiting to explode. I quickly went under the sheets when I felt her intense gaze fall onto my body. In the comforts of my bed, I traced my lips and wished that I wasn't so foolish to have pushed her away.
Well… I was foolish then.
I squirm in delight when I thought about her cold lips against mine. I sighed in utter content and then I jumped slightly when I felt something cold press against my neck. I turned in fright and suddenly I was pinned down on my bed. I looked up in the darkness to find her in her solid figure. Her lean muscular figure loomed over me and I then realised how heavily I was breathing. I felt a delightful sensation run down my body and swirl around like Koi in my chest. Suddenly, taking me by surprise, she kissed me once again, full on the lips.
I melted in an instance and I allowed my body to relax under her touch. I had never felt so at bliss.
I looked at her well-toned muscles from her bare back and ran a smooth hand down her solid form. Ever since she had told me her death, she had been open. She now stayed solid for long periods of time when I was in the apartment. She would join me in bed and hold me until I fell into deep slumber after a exhausting night's work. I would wake to find her gone, but I knew she was still there watching me. Her intense gaze would never leave me like before. I had caught her watching me undress when I was getting into the shower, I had never seen a ghost turn into a thousand colours of red.
I felt her muscles ripple and she relaxed under my caress. Giving out a breath of content, she sat there on my bed and allowed the cold winter atmosphere to dissipate from the room. I didn't know how I could affect her so much. I held my actions for a second and she hastily pulled her shirt up and hid her actions of buttoning. I looked at her questioningly and she turned around quickly and growled,
'You're teasing me.'
I pouted, was I really teasing her? She blushed a shade and she muttered something under her breath and drew away from the bed. I leaned back and chuckled quietly. She floated over to the table and pulled the chair out to sit. Folding her arms she stared at me. I cocked my head at her and smiled coyly. Then she growled like a dog and sneered,
I raised my hands up innocently to tell her I wasn't doing anything to provoke her. She, instead, was provoking herself for no rhyme or reason. She looked away to the floor and huffed out a breath. Suddenly, I didn't know what I was doing as I slowly pulled myself from the bed and walked over to stand in front of my phantom. She looked up at me and looked quite afraid of what I was going to do to her. My mind was blank at that time and I didn't know on what impulse made me saunter around her while my fingers ran round her shoulders. Her smooth hair ran through my fingers while I stopped back in front of her. When I looked back down at her, her eyes were hazed and glazed with desire; I felt my body shiver in delight. I had always loved her eyes for they watched over with so much care and concern.
With that done, I had my hands round her neck and I had pulled myself firmly on her lap. Flushed tightly against her, I could feel my own heaving chest against hers. I was breathing rapidly then, the adrenaline rush had already long gotten to me. I started to lean into her body, hoping that she would stay solid throughout this winter night. Then out of no notion, I kissed her. I kissed her hard that I thought my lips would bruise on the impact I was putting on her. I eased a long moan when I felt something wet and hit my lips and traced my outline. Her colds hands went round my waist and pulled at my clothes. A long growl escaped her lips and I gasped when her hands reached for my breast.
Then and there, she snuck her tongue ever so fast into my mouth and explored every corner. I heaved a big breath and held tight onto her solid form that she was so willingly to put up for me. Her hands under my breast massaged the flesh that yearned for her touches by every second. I let out an uncontrollably moan when she pulled me in closer to her chilled figure. Feeling the bristle of clothes between us; both of us pulled back and averted our gazes to the floor.
I had no idea what had taken over the both of us.
I hesitantly looked back to her face and I saw the reddest cheeks I had ever seen. She had her lips pursed and her beautiful emerald eyes looking at the parquet. Her hands now on my hips were still firm and her body still flushed against. She coughed awkwardly and I felt a blush creep up my own face. Biting her lip, she jerkily looked up at me again and with a blush adorning her face, she muttered,
'You're…teasing me…' she dropped her gaze, 'as always.'
I gave her an incredulous look and raised my hand to stroke her fine hair. She leaned into my touch and I smiled at her action. Leaning forward into her embrace, I placed a kiss on her forehead and ran my hands down her neck to her shoulder; she trembled slightly under my hands. Resting my head on hers, I could feel the coldness of my phantom surge into me. My skin prickled slightly and I blew a soft breath over her head. She held me a bit tighter and pushed me body up into a better comfortable position on her lap. After the adjustment, the same sensation took over my body and I tugged at her shirt.
Sliding my hands to her collar, I pulled at the buttons of her cotton shirt. She looked shocked at my actions and then suddenly she held my shaking hands. Bringing her gaze to meet mine, she asked,
'What are you doing?'
I didn't answer her question, instead I grinded my body against her and then I saw the most astonishing sight of my life. Her eyes widened, face turning even redder, she suddenly became quiet lucent but still being able to maintain her solid figure. I took in a sharp breath and stopped my actions, I had never her seen her do such a thing. Was this how strong her feelings was for me and how I affected her so? She blinked hard and then grabbed my body, shaking me with her hands on my arms, she barked,
'Don't…Don't ever do…that!
She flushed her face red again and she released her grip around me immediately. I smiled evilly at her while she bared her teeth at me. I ran a smooth finger down her neck and she trembled slightly. I purred,
'I could tell that you enjoyed it…' I grinded my body against her again and she trembled violently under me, her body turning lucent and staying solid at the same time, 'very much.'
With her face flushed with a tidal of red, I placed a kiss on her nose and gave her an innocent smile. Then, suddenly, she held onto my legs and moved up to kiss me, mumbling through the kiss, I heard her growl,
'Enough with the teasing.'
I groaned loudly when she pulled away, however I jumped slightly in her hold when I felt her cold hands slip up my blouse. Her voice ever so low and enticing,
'It won't get you anywhere.'
I fell right onto the floor and soon heard the sound of my fall. I winced in pain when my face hit the ground and my body fall with her white shirt. I groaned softly as I looked up to find her shocked and pulling down to help me up. Her emerald eyes were shining in worry, her lips pulled into a constant frown. I felt her arm round my waist and hoist me up in a second. I held her shirt along with the pull upwards onto my feet, and I rubbed my sore cheek. Feeling her intense gaze land onto me, I shot my head up and stared hard into her eyes. I saw her gulp and she scratched her chin guilty,
'I'm sorry about…that.'
I huffed out an angry breath at her and hit her lightly with her shirt. She caught her shirt easily and wore it quickly on her figure, placing her hand on top of mine that was trying to ease the pain off my cheek; she forced a lopsided grin for me,
'You are well aware of how I react to you.' She used her other hand to run it through my hair, 'You too know how lucent I turn when I react.'
I eyed her form and realised that her legs were already transparent, I avoided her gaze slowly; hearing her stammer,
'I can't hold my solid form for long if you keep up the…' she blushed heavily, 'intimacy.'
She pulled me close and whispered into my hair,
'It's not that I don't like it, I would die again for it.' I smiled at her words, 'However, somehow, it's taking a strain on me.'
I had wound my hands around her and I tightened my embrace. I then realised how easily she couldn't hold her solid form for long when I touched her and kissed her. Furthermore just recently, when I had just gotten her out of her shirt, and was in the midst of kissing her, she just suddenly turned hollow and allowed me to fall right through her. I heard her sigh and felt her return the embrace. I looked over her shoulder and watched the snow fall…
What was happening to her now when everything was just getting better?
I was moaning,
I squirmed on top of the sheets while I tried my best to hold tight onto her strong shoulders that loomed over me. I was sweating despite being infused with the coldness of her fingers deep within me. Her eyes were looking down at me and I watched how much strain was on her, she was trying her best to stay solid with all these contact that was happening at the moment. Her legs were already starting to lose it colour and the ends of her hair starting to go transparent.
I shuddered violently when she pressed against one of my soft spots, my bare chest rubbed against her and she growled lowly. I pulled my tired self up to flush hard against her and bucked my hips to help her with the strain, but then again, I realised that all of this was putting strain on her. Her other hand not working hard between my legs was eased up at my chest, slowly sliding through the valley. I clenched my teeth hard and let out a loud gasp when her fingers tickled my nipples. I was surged with a sensation so innocent and pleasurable that I shivered and trembled in ecstasy. I found her mouth and I kissed her hard, trying in vain to distract myself, I probed her mouth open with my tongue and fought against hers.
Suddenly the hand at my breast went terribly cold and I looked down at how lucent it had become. I wanted her to stop right now for she was putting too much strain on herself. Her eyes were closed tight and her muscles rippling in strain. I could see drops of small semi-lucid perspiration roll down the sides of her face and body. My bed was already wet with mine and it felt it was getting wetter with hers. I could not have her torture herself just to please me. Yet, I thought again, wasn't this also she wanted? However, she need not to go this far. She already knows how much I adore her and love her. She cannot break the boundaries set for a phantom just for a human.
It was too much.
As much as I wanted to stop, my body did not want to listen. My hips bucked uncontrollably as she pushed her fingers deeper into the core of the pleasure. I moaned loudly and she bit softly onto my ear. I held her tighter and grinded my body against her. Then I realised I shouldn't have done that.
In a blink of an eye, her whole figure went hollow and I flopped down onto the bed like a puppet. The pleasure that she had built up within me died like a wasted battery and I felt so sore all of a sudden. My eyes no longer saw the smooth face I was seeing above me, all I saw now was the plain ceiling of my apartment. I panicked,
'Do not worry.'
Immediately, I felt a cold embrace engulf me and I felt her hollow form press against mine. I shivered in her hold and I felt the tears of dread wash my face. I looked up hoping to find emerald eyes watching me but I looked up to find nothing but space. Tears poured out ten fold; I was literally being hugged and am hugging space. I felt the pressure of her hand land on top of my head and run down to my face. I could feel her cold fingers wipe away the tears, but I could not see any sight of the solid colours I saw previously. I threw my arms around her, hoping that I had gotten them properly around her neck. I buried my face on her shoulder and tried my luck, kissing her softly there, the space that hugged me shivered…She was still there. In the cold atmosphere of my room, her voice lifted my spirits,
'I'm still here.'
I tighten my arms and I cried even more at her words. I could no longer see her despite how much I wanted to see her mesmerising eyes that enthralled me from the very beginning. I wanted to know that what I was holding was her strong arms and her muscular figure. I wanted to see the midnight hair run through my fingers. I wanted to see the blush that would spread across her face at the sight of me… I wanted to see her!
I sputtered ungracefully between sobs of how I wanted to see her in solid colours, but she silenced me when I felt something slip through my legs.
My legs were forced apart and I felt something cold run down my legs and back up again, then I felt the plunge. I screamed and bucked my hips, trashing in pleasure on my bed, I tried to steady my heavy breathing. I could sense her presence getting stronger and stronger, but through my hazed vision, I could see nothing by darkness and space. I shut my eyes closed and brought back the memories of her face into my mind. I would see her in a different way. My legs were suddenly brought up and guided to be wrapped around what seemingly was her waist. However then, I realised that it wasn't. I jerked shakily when I realised that she had her tongue licking the entrance of my vagina, her fingers teasing the side. I could feel the soft sensation of her smooth hair run down my legs, I reached below and I held her head in place. I wanted more, I needed more.
I pushed down into her probing tongue and she on the other hand pulled back. I gave out a groan of frustration; holding my legs, she pulled me closer and then this time I was well aware that her fingers were inside me this time. I choked out a strangled sigh when she started her rhythm; I was already so sensitive from nearing the climax previously that I was sure she was able to bring me there faster this time. I failed my hands around, hoping that she would guide me in some way, and she did. I arms were guided by one of her cold hands to the shoulders and then and there I clung onto her as if my life depended on this phantom.
I bucked my hips again and again. I moved fast with her and when I least expected it; she brought me to seventh heaven. I screamed into space which was her mouth and I violently shuddered against her cold hollow figure. I went into a series of spasmodic movement and she steered me down slowly from the zenith of my pleasurably journey. Her fingers inside me moved slowly in beat and I didn't realise she had pull them out until I realised how empty I felt seconds later. Her body was above me and I felt her midnight chill envelope me. My cheek prickled slightly when I felt her hollow hand cup my face, I felt a chaste kiss place upon my lips and I opened my eyes with much hope I would be able to see her.
I wanted to.
'I'm sorry Shizuru.'
I never felt her presence after that night. I never saw her from then on. I wasn't able to feel her intense gaze… and the icy chill of her figure could no longer be felt.
She was fulfilled.
I still remembered how I didn't want to sleep that night, afraid that she would disappear from then on. However, her husky voice lulled me to sleep and her cold soothing touches eased my worries. Now…everything I had dread has come back.
She was never coming back.
Haruka, my dearest rival, arrived at my doorstep one fine hot summer day. How long has it been since I last wrote in this book? Years I presume from that very night. I deviate. She handed me a package that was from my mother, insisting that I should return to my family house once in while just to say hello. She bellowed at me at how a good daughter should do that. I stayed quiet when she dragged on and one, smiling at her while she did so. However, behind that mask of mine, I told myself that I wouldn't. For I still hoped dearly that the phantom of mine would come back to my apartment. She took me out for dinner with another friend, Yukino, who was apparently to be wedded to her. I congratulated them, seemingly disappointed with myself that I had fallen in love with a ghost and not someone living. I kept my mouth shut about that, I couldn't let anyone know why I had closed my heart to everyone else. No one could have ever loved me that way my phantom did. No one could have the same emerald eyes that watched me from day to night, vice versa. No one could have protected and allowed me to feel secure like she did.
I was brought to a fine up-class restaurant situated near the new host club I was working for in the city. Haruka had wanted to take the car but I insisted that the train would be less likely to get us caught in the traffic jam during the peak hour after working time. After much squabble, all of us agreed on the train, much to Haruka's dislike. We entered the restaurant and to our surprise, we were lucky to have a table for we found out that there was a celebration being held for a well loved magician that preformed here regularly years ago. Our dinner was served with fine service and the food was mouth-watering. I had never had such a good dinner for such a long time. The restaurant was packed and I realised how a lot of the people looked forward to the celebration. This magician must have been very famous. I asked Yukino whether she knew about this magician that had preformed here years ago. She considered in amount of information little but that little rendered me to shock,
'She was very well known for her card tricks and her ability to make thing disappear and reappear.'
I watched Haruka turn to get the dessert menu from the waiter and I heard Yukino continued,
'Since the very first owner of this restaurant was her good friend, she was allowed to perform weekly.'
I nodded casually after I settled down on ordering tea after Haruka interrupted us. After Yukino adjusted her spectacles, she moved on,
'As her performances became more enchanting and spectacular, she had many attracted fans. Sadly, she too attracted the wrong group of people.' Yukino coughed, 'The Yakuza.'
Haruka leaned back in her chair and added a non-reviewing remark and Yukino smiled meekly at her comment, she hurried on,
'Since she was famous for making things disappear and reappear, the different groups of Yakuza blamed happenings that were happening among them on her. She had bad things coming after her, but it seemed that she didn't give in to them.'
As Yukino continued on, it sounded as if I had heard this story with my very own ears before, something was drumming behind my mind.
'Things were going smoothly until she contracted tubersclerosis.'
I held a gasp while Haruka was getting impatient with the desserts.
'Treatment was available and I was told that everyone then was eagerly waiting for her to get better to perform once more.'
There was silence on our table, despite the chatter all around us, it still sounded so quiet. Yukino finally broke the still atmosphere,
'However, the last that was heard from her was that she died.'
Something pierced right through my chest at that moment and I clutched my dress, I stammered when I realised that things were starting to get clear who this magician really was. I reached out to get Yukino's attention,
'How did she die?'
'The police said it was suicide. They said that she poisoned herself.'
Yukino looked shocked when I asked her what poison the magician had used, and she hastily replied,
'Arsenic, through small doses that were in forms of tablets.'
'She died on her birthday date if you wanted to know. Now let's eat.'
I looked across the table and realised that the desserts and fruits were already laid upon the table top. The coffee that I had ordered was already steaming in front of me. Suddenly the lights dimmed and the stage that was situated in front was brightly lit up with a spot light, my crimson eyes caught onto this young little boy with ochre coloured hair that ran up onto the stage with a microphone. Everyone around me cheered as I touched my lips,
My neighbour walked away to his door as I stood at the doorway to wave to him goodbye. His son skipped along and then stopped and looked down the corridor. I wondered what he had seen that made him stop. Suddenly he burst into a happy chirp and tugged his father by the shirt,
'The postman is here!'
I looked out of my doorway and indeed I saw the flat cap of the postman bobbing up the stairs to the second level. My neighbour took his letters from the postman and I made my way to close the door, I never received letter unless my boss readily told me she was sending my pay. My family rarely sent letters to me either; they usually called, well that only happened when an emergency occurred. Nonetheless, a knock was heard at my door, and I was terribly surprised. I opened the door and the postman greeted me with a smile,
'Are you the owner of the apartment?'
I nodded my head and he held out a plain white letter,
'This is for you.'
I thanked him while I gave a bow and went on his jolly way down the stairs. I looked at the letter within my grasp and realised that something thin and hard was inside. I looked at the front again and realised that it had only my apartment address. Was this really for me? I pulled over to the table and opened the letter carefully. I slipped my fingers inside and I felt something cold touch my skin. What could be so cold in a hot summer day like this? I slid the thin object out, flipping it; I cried the moment I set sight onto it.
There in my hold was the photograph I had her taken with me. The moment that was captured by her camera with the help of my neighbour, the moment I had realised that I had really given my love to a ghost. I looked at the photograph and I traced a finger over her face, how long did I want to see her face. Those mesmerising eyes that shone with a beautiful gleam. The lopsided grin that she gave after much pleading from me and the way she allowed me to hold her as lovers would do. I watched my tears fall onto the gleaming surface and I sobbed uncontrollably.
How did this photograph get developed? She had made the camera disappear with her. How was it even possible to get it back when she had long gone from this apartment? I held it to my chest and then I realised that something else had slipped out with the photograph. A small note. Picking it up, I noticed her very messy hand writing. It just brought me even more tears, it read:
'When time graces us once again, let us fall in love over again.'
Below the short sentence, she signed off,
'With endless love, your beloved phantom magician,' I had held my breath all the while, 'Natsuki Kruger.'
I fell to my knees and it was as if I could really feel her cold embrace around me. It felt…
Like a reunion.
Falling to her knees, Shizuru looked at the all photograph that was slotted with the page she had just read. The very last entry. She looked mystified at the very face that mirrored her and her partner. The lady inside the photograph with the deep crimson eyes and wonderful lustrous brown hair looked exactly like her, while the tall lean lady with dark midnight blue hair, endearing emerald eyes and a lopsided grin matched her very own partner. Baffled at her findings she then realised how she too shared the very same name of this lady…Shizuru and… Natsuki. Was it just a coincidence? It couldn't be! Fingering the note that was too left behind with the photograph, Fujino Shizuru took a second look at it.
'Shizuru! Are you alright?'
She turned around quickly and her eyes met with the emerald she remembered being instinctively attracted to it. It couldn't be just a coincidence. Were this magician and this hostess their very spiritual ancestor? Her partner ran up to her kneeling figure and placed her hands onto her shoulders,
'Shizuru, what's wrong? Is it the apartment? I…'
Not caring about her partner's babbling, she threw herself onto her partner and hugged her tight. Let people see it as a coincidence, she rather believe in this Viola and Kruger that lived a life in the supernatural field. It was a fantasy she fell fall. She would rather believe the note that was still intact and the very photograph that had captured the very essence of love. She pulled back from her confused partner and kissed her hard. Whispering into the person that held her ever so tightly, Shizuru trembled and whispered into her beloved ear,
'When time graced us…'
She heard a soft echo in the apartment,
'We fell in love again.'
A/N: I hope all has enjoyed. I send my season greetings and I will upload once again when I return from my competition overseas. Get ready for 'And I was concierge' the story that had received the most votes! I'll be setting up a new poll to see which one-shot you actually like from my Mai-Hime one-shot series!
For the Info: Nastuki Kruger dies of arsenic poisoning, not suicidal but planned by the Yakuza that Takeda works for. Once a yakuza, always a yakuza. Therefore, poor Takeda has to kill his good friend that doesn't notice anything that was happening. The present Fujino Shizuru's partner is none other than our loved Natsuki! (That should be known). Well, if there is anything missing from my info paragraph, be happy to just pop a message and I'll try to answer it the best as I can, as always.