"What's wrong emo boy? Out of smartass comments?" Fitz snarled. He reached out again and slammed me backwards, my back hitting the wall. I glanced down and saw him fingering the blade of the knife. Clare stood to the side. Terror etched into her face, her blue eyes glimmering with tears of desperation. She stepped forward but she didn't know what to do. She was so lost and it hurt to look at her.
"Please," I whispered, swallowing hard. I looked back up at Fitz, a tear dripping down my cheek, "Don't do this."
"Someone's gotta shut you up," Fitz sneered. His hand pulled back. The knife lunged at me.
"No!" I shouted. I heard Clare scream. Then I felt like I was dripping. I looked down to where the knife was shoved deep into my stomach. The silver blade glinted in the moonlit hallway; a drop of blood fell to the floor.
I slid down the wall, clutching my stomach. My eyesight was growing hazy. I closed my eyes. I heard Fitz stammering that he didn't mean it. I felt Clare rush to my side and kneel beside me.
"Eli! Eli!" she begged, "Please, don't leave me. Don't leave me..."
That was the last thing I heard before I was gone.
I opened my eyes. I was standing in park...a very familiar park. I scrambled backwards when I recognized where I was. This was the park Julia and I had spent a majority of our time. This was the place where I had kissed her while pushing her on the swing, where we had made love for the first time underneath stars, where she told me that she loved me and where I told her I loved her too. This was the park where Julia had left me and then died.
But wait? Why was I here? The last thing I remembered was Fitz...stabbing me. I looked down wildly, expecting to see the hilt of a knife protruding from my abdomen. There was no knife, no wound, just unblemished skin. So was the whole thing with Fitz a dream? Or was this a dream?
"This isn't a dream, Eli," a girl said. I spun around. She smiled at me, her auburn hair curling in soft ringlets around her face. Her green eyes, so remarkably like mine that people had once asked if we were related, sparkled at me.
"J-Julia?" I was dumbfounded. What the hell was going on?
"You're dead, Eli," Julia said. She gave me a sad smile.
"Fitz killed you."
I backed away from her. "You're lying!" I gasped.
Julia walked up to me and placed her hand on my arm. I could feel her solid as ever. She took my hand in hers and gently placed it over my chest.
"What are you doing?" I whispered as tears stung my eyes. This wasn't real, it couldn't be.
"What's missing?" Julia murmured. I suddenly realized I had no heartbeat.
I took a step back and then another. Then I fell to the ground, howling. My fingers ripped at my hair. I felt so sick, how was I dead? I had my whole life ahead of me; I had a girl I wanted to spend forever with. Why had forever suddenly become so short?
Julia knelt next to me on the grass. She was wearing jeans, and a flannel shirt that she used to say "was made in Heaven". Her face was clear of all make-up, something I had loved about Julia back in the day. She had always been so naturally beautiful, just like Clare.
Julia took my hand again and held it. She was quiet for a moment and then she spoke. "When I...died, it was horrible, for a really long time. I missed you and I regretted everything I had said before it happened. I still miss my mom and dad everyday." She let go of my hand and picked at the seam in her jeans. "I hated that I had died so young. I never got to get married or find a job or have a family. I never got to travel the world."
She turned and looked me in the eyes. A smile was on her lips as she continued, but her voice still rung with sadness. "Your heart stopped beating Eli, so you are technically dead. But, the doctors are working to save you. You still have a chance. Fate hasn't made up its mind about you yet."
She stood up and brushed the dirt off the seat of her jeans. She held out her hand, her delicate fingers dangling, waiting for me to grab them. I allowed her pull me up and she tugged me away from the park.
"Come on," she said, "There's a lot to show you, and not enough time."