Trish was waiting for Aaron a few yards into the woods, just out of sight of the lighthouse. He gave her a nod to indicate that he saw her and then continued walking without saying anything. Trish turned and began to quietly walk beside him. At least Aaron figured she was walking. He could see her legs move like she was walking, but she didn't make any sound or disturb anything in the woods.
After several minutes of walking in silence, Trish spoke. "So Madison reminds you of your sister?" she asked cautiously, as though she was afraid she may be crossing a line.
Aaron smiled a little at that before answering. "Yeah, she really does. She speaks her mind, no matter who is listening, and she is completely unshakeable. Even in the face of all this insanity, and for the second time, she's probably the calmest person in that lighthouse. Not that that says much."
Trish nodded. "She takes after dad. I don't think I ever saw him lose his cool in public." They again lapsed into an uneasy silence, and again it was Trish who broke it. "So what does Katelyn do for a living?" she asked.
"I don't know," Aaron said. "I haven't seen or spoken to her in close to ten years. We had a sort of falling out."
"Care to elaborate?" Trish asked when he didn't say anything else.
"It started about three years before that," Aaron said after a moment's pause. "Katelyn started dating this guy named Chris Young. He was a real asshole to everyone but her, but you couldn't convince her because she was so smitten and he only showed his darker side when she wasn't around. He was particularly bad to Andrea. I won't go into details, but he never had a nice thing to say in front of her."
"Katelyn's mom. I was adopted," he added when he saw the look of confusion on Trish's face. "Anyway, when Andrea died I made a point of saying that I didn't want Chris to come to the funeral. Katelyn agreed, but that morning, they both showed up at the cemetery, arm in arm.
"I told him he had to leave, that he was welcome to come to the reception, but he wasn't taking one step closer to her grave. Chris just smirked and pushed his way past me. And at that moment, all the anger and hate I'd kept buried inside me for the last three years came rushing to the surface. I grabbed his shoulder, spun him around, and punched him.
"That was when Katelyn lost it. After helping Chris up, she turned to me and said, 'What right do you have to decide who can come to this service? You're not even her son!' Then she turned and led Chris away. That was the last time I saw them. When I went by her place later to apologize, she and Chris were gone. I tried calling her, but she never answered her phone, and about a year after she left, it was disconnected. I don't know where she is, or how to find her. I guess I've more or less resigned myself to the fact that I'll never see her again."
"If I may offer some advice," Trish said, "don't give up. You have no idea what it's like to truly regret not saying something. If I had just five minutes with Shea, it would be more than enough. In fact, I want you to promise me something."
"Promise me that if you make it out of this—and I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that you do—promise me that you will find Katelyn and tell her what you need to tell her."
Aaron stopped walking and turned to face her. "Why do you care?" he asked. "Why am I so damn important to you? And don't give me some bullshit about helping you cross over. This is more than that."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Trish said as she continued walking.
"The hell you don't," Aaron called after her. "Why are you the one I keep seeing over and over again? First in my dreams, and now here on the island."
"Are we going to the Cannery or not?" Trish asked.
"Not until I get some answers," Aaron said defiantly.
Trish stopped and sighed. "Alright," she said as she turned to face him. "If you really want to know, I'll tell you. But I want you to really think about this, because it's going to change things."
Aaron was a little taken aback at this. "And if I agree to drop it?"
"Then I'll tell you before I cross over," Trish said. "And that is a promise."
Aaron thought about it for a moment before shaking his head. "No, I want to know now," he said.
"Ok," Trish said as she walked back to him. "The reason that I am the one who is always showing up to help you through this is that…you and I are soul mates."
Aaron rolled his eyes. "Fine," he said. "If you're not going to be serious, forget it. I don't need to know that badly." He started to walk past her, but she put her hand on his chest, stopping him.
"I am serious." Trish said, looking Aaron in the eye. "You and I are destined to be together. Or at least we were before Henry Dunn swept me off my feet by stabbing me through the heart."
"How can we be soul mates?" Aaron asked. "We're not even in the same social circle. Our paths have never crossed before now."
"That's true," Trish said. "But you started having the dreams a year ago, right?"
"Yeah, last summer. Why?"
"That was when we would have met, if I hadn't died. The dreams were the universe's way of attempting to correct what Henry ruined. And that's why you keep seeing me now. Because of this connection we have, it's easier for me to interact with you than it is for the others. That's why they can't appear for very long."
As Aaron looked her in the eyes, he could sense that Trish was telling the truth. He wasn't sure how he knew, but he did. "How do you know all this?" he asked.
Trish offered him an ironic smile. "With my death came quite a lot of clarity. And I don't mean to big universal questions, just to my life. Everything that was and, more importantly, everything that would never be was suddenly perfectly clear to me. I saw the life I would have lived had I survived the massacre. And you were right in the middle of it.
"And I wasn't the only one who saw it either," she added. "My dad saw it too. So did my step-mom. They both thought it was insane until you showed up here on the island," she added with a small chuckle.
Aaron's head was reeling. He turned and walked over to a fallen tree and sat down. Trish walked over and sat down next to him. "I realize that this is a lot to take in. It threw me for a loop, too. Of course, for me it was coupled with me finding out that the man I thought was my soul mate was a serial killer who was in love with someone else and our whole relationship had been a sham just to lure her back to Harper's Island, so all things considered, you're handling this whole thing very well."
"That really doesn't help," Aaron said.
"Yeah, I didn't think it would," Trish said with a small smile. "It was just all I had."
"How did we meet?" Aaron asked after a moment's hesitation.
"You tell me we're soul mates, that we had a life together. I'd kind of like to know details."
Trish nodded and smiled. "My family was out on our father's yacht when a freak wind and a bought of rough seas conspired to knock me overboard. You were nearby on your fishing boat and pulled me out of the water. It was pretty much love at first sight."
"Did we have any kids?" Aaron asked.
"I really don't feel comfortable talking about this," Trish said. "It's a life that never happened. Dwelling on it won't make it real."
"Alright," Aaron said, holding up his hands. "I'm sorry."
They sat in silence for a moment before Trish spoke up again. "We need to get moving if you're going to make the Cannery within the hour."
Aaron nodded and stood. Then he turned and offered Trish his hand. "You were wrong," he said as she took it.
"About what?" Trish asked.
"This doesn't change anything. I'm going to see this through. Even if it kills me."
"Don't joke about that," Trish said.
"I'm not joking," Aaron said, as he turned and walked away. Trish followed him and they walked the rest of the way to the Cannery in silence.
When they emerged from the woods in front of the Cannery, Trish turned to Aaron. "From here on in, you're on your own. I'll be around, but you won't be able to see me."
Aaron nodded and turned to face the Cannery. It didn't look terrible considering it hadn't been open in three years. Of course when you consider that three murders took place here during the last massacre, the place looked very threatening. When he finally turned back, Trish was gone.
After making sure that the pistol was loaded, Aaron took a deep breath and began to walk to the front door of the now abandoned bar.