"I am so not doing this Clare." Alli's voice spoke as they sat together in the cafeteria. It had been weeks since Clare had accused Eli of killing her in their past life, and they hadn't spoken since. But though they hadn't spoken, she still loved him all the more. She'd arrive to school each day only to find a single red rose taped to her locker, no note at all. But though the time had passed, she still couldn't seem to get her mind off of the boy who had captured her heart.
"Please Alli. It's all I can think of to work. I need to know if Eli still has feeling's for me and this is the only plan I can think of to work."
Of course it would work. It had worked for Alice and Abigail, it couldn't fail for them either.
"How do you even know he'd go for me?"
"You're gorgeous, of course he'd go for you. If there was anyone he would go for, it would be you."
"I'm really flattered Clare. But I still don't think it'll work."
"The least you could do is try… please? For me?"
Alli sighed and look at the cafeteria door. Clare had been neglecting her the entire time she'd been with Eli, but now here she was begging to use her to find out if Eli was still in love with her.
"Clare, I have my own problems to worry about. Problems of which you haven't even cared about for these past weeks. What about me?"
"Alright. I promise, if you at least do this for me I will owe you the rest of my life! Please? I'm begging you. I just have to know."
Alli sighed, realizing as she did that there was no way she was going to get out of this. She figured she might as well take Clare up on her friendship slave offer if she was going to have to do the task at hand anyways.
"Fine, but you owe me!"
"Thank you thank you thank you thank you!"
"Where is he?"
"Well, lunch is almost over so he's most likely at his locker."
Alli stood up with an aggravated sigh and nodded, "Guess I'll see you in a bit."
With that she made her way out of the cafeteria and down the hall, trying not to let the embarrassment of what she was about to do show in her walk. Alli was a confident girl, she always had been and she had no problem flirting with boys. Some would even call her a natural flirt but the fact that she was about to do so with her best friend's ex made her anything but confident. She let out an annoyed as she saw him from down the hall, standing by his locker just as Clare had said he would be. He was rummaging through it aimlessly and she swallowed hard as she made the last few steps to approach him.
"Hey there." She said, perking up instantly with a flirty smile on her face, her hand pressing up against the locker beside looked up, raising his face to look at her and his eyebrow raised along with it. He assessed the situation, looking Alli up and down and then smirked before returning to what he had been doing in his locker.
"Sooooo…" Alli began slowly, moving a tiny bit closer. A move to which Eli didn't seem to mind, "Word in the halls is that you're newly available, any truth to these rumors?"
Eli moved back, shutting the locker door and leaned against it, the smirk still prominent on his face, "Possibly. Depends on who's asking?"
"Oh you know, maybe someone who would be interested in changing said rumors…" the devious look on Alli's face was beyond flirting. From any innocent bystander's point of view it would seem as if she was in the middle of trying to seduce the boy before her, and in some aspects she was.
"Oh really?" he asked, eyebrow still raised in a curious way, "And how would your best friend feel about that?"
Alli's guard fell slightly and she almost stumbled with her words, but she caught herself quickly and flashed him a wide grin.
"What she doesn't know won't hurt her… Right?"
Eli's eyes narrowed for a moment, as if he was thinking and then without another word he stepped forward, closing the space between Alli and him. This act had really caught her off guard and she lifted her hands to place them between the to of them, resting them against his chest.
"You know…" he began, his low voice sent a chill down Alli's spine, "You're a really beautiful girl."
Somehow the smirk that played on his face had affected Alli's heart beat and she took in a sharp breath, letting her hands slide a bit.
"And any boy would be more than lucky to call you theirs," he bit the edge of his lip and Alli blushed. She was a naturally confident person but the intensity of the look in his eyes had her stuttering for any sort of reaction, "I would love to see what it is about you that has all the other guys in this school chasing after you."
She blinked, "You would?"
"Oh certainly, I mean why not? You're gorgeous and you seem like a fun girl. But…"
Alli tilted her head, "But?"
"But my heart belongs to someone else. It always has and it always will. You can tell Clare that too, and let her know that this little game…" his eyebrow twitched up, "Isn't going to work again. Though it was a nice try."With his words he smirked and took a step back nodding to her as he left her speechless in that spot as he turned and walked away.
Alli's eyes narrowed, the confusion of his words set in as she herself turned back and she hurried to the cafeteria where she had left Clare waiting eagerly for her return. The moment she reproached the table, Clare's face lit up as their eyes met.
"So?" She asked readily, "How did it go?"
Alli rolled her eyes as she let out a sigh and took the seat beside her again, "He didn't buy it."
Clare nodded, "I shouldn't have expected that he would. I should find someone he doesn't know… I wonder if I could-"
Alli cut her off, "What is this all about Clare? The boy is head over heals for you and that's completely obvious. What happened? I mean last week you guys were all happy butterflies and rainbows and now you're trying to get him to go out with someone else?"
Clare sighed, "That's not what I'm trying for, I'm trying to see if he would go for someone else. I just have to find someone he doesn't know is my best friend."
"You sound crazy. You know what else sounds crazy? The fact that he told me to tell you that this little game isn't going to work again." Alli mocked Eli's tone of voice and her face twisted in confusion as she looked back at her best friend, "If you've done this before and it failed then too, maybe you should just give up and realize the guy actually cares about you."
Clare's face fell and she tilted her head to the side. Alli was right. Eli wasn't going to fall for it now just like he hadn't fallen for it as William. He was smart. He'd always been smart and she knew that, even now. It was something she could never forget.
She parted ways with Alli then, thanking her again for helping her out and then promised she owed her big time, assuring her that her friendly slave offer was still valid. But as the rest of the day passed she wanted nothing more than to just get home. A headache attacked her mind and her thoughts raced and she was unable to get them to stop no matter how hard she tried. When she arrived home, she trudged through the evening as if nothing was wrong, trying to make her way through dinner with her parents without letting on that her head was pounding. It had gotten so bad that she had to politely excuse herself from the table and made her way quickly up to her room. The moment she finally made it up there she locked her door and then fell to her bed, letting her body relax back against her mattress with a heavy sigh. Her mind pounded in her temples as she closed her eyes and let the events of the past few months radiate through her head.
As she played the memories back, every detail, she began to think that the people around her weren't wrong when they'd labeled her as crazy. What she knew, or what she had been taught to know, was that she and Eli were the reincarnated souls of William and Alice. A young couple from the 1940's who had a forbidden love, seemingly more tragic to her than that of famous loves such as Romeo and Juliet. The visions she saw weren't even visions at all, but memories from the life she had once lived and she had been plagued with them from the moment she'd seen Eli in the park at such a young age. Was he really what had brought the memories upon her? Was Alice trying to warn her about the boy who had killed her in a previous life? Or was she trying to help her realize that this boy was the reincarnated version of the love of her life? At this point, she didn't know what to believe. But what she did know was that no matter what she learned, no matter what had happened, she couldn't seem to make herself not love Eli. She couldn't seem to make herself not trust him and even laying in her bed at that moment she longed to have him beside her. She clenched her fists, but kept her eyes closed as his face drifted into her mind. And then the face of William Pierce, a face she'd loved her entire life. The similarities between the two of them were impossible not to see.
But what did that mean, if William had in fact been the one to murder Alice? Was Eli now afraid that since he'd done her wrong in a past life that she would somehow take his life in their current one? Was he determined to take hers before she had a chance to take his own? But if that were the case, then why had he bothered to get close to her at all? To make her love him? She chuckled at that last thought, because he had never had to make her love him. She had loved him the moment their eyes had met. She thought back to what he had said in the library before.
"There's a natural pull between us. Like an invisible thread, braided from my body to yours. Admit it, even now with only a few feet in between us, you feel yourself being pulled towards me."
And it was completely true. She could feel it at that moment, that she was being tugged from the spot she laid in. Something, the invisible thread if it may be, was trying to draw her from there and she knew it would lead her to him. Part of her wanted to go with it, to follow the invisible pull to the spot where she knew he would be. It was like a constant, something that wouldn't stop and before she knew it she was standing from her bed and making her way from the room.
Foolish. It was the only word she could think of that could explain how she felt then as she tiptoed down the stairs. Her parents were nowhere to be seen, most likely in their room not worried at all about their daughter of whom they would never expect to sneak out and for that she was grateful. She hurried to the door and quietly slipped out, careful not to make a sound as she closed it behind her and made her way down the sidewalk. She had no idea where she was going, nor was she sure there was an exact location at all. No, instead she let the feeling of the pull that tugged her lead the way. She crossed her arms over her chest as she stared down at the dark concrete beneath her, not even paying attention to where she was going. But as she walked, pictures flashed before her mind. Memories she had remembered from Alice and William's life. The city around them, the smell of lemonade and warm grass as she laid in the yard watching William work. The feeling of his lips as they kissed her skin lightly. Or the way his hand fit so perfectly into her own. She felt her heart shake. They had been perfect, immaculate, and yet somehow she couldn't shake the thought that William had taken Alice's life. If not him, then who? The police had confirmed that it wasn't an accident and her memories had confirmed that it hadn't been Abigail, the girl that was Alice's best friend and wouldn't harm a hair on her head. Her parents had been away. She couldn't seem to think of anyone who would have wanted to hurt Alice. But then again she was sure there was more to Alice's life that she didn't know and hadn't seen.
She'd become so lost in her thoughts that she hadn't even noticed that her feet had brought her back to the city park. She looked up as she approached the gate and sighed. She had a feeling this was where she would end up and as she walked in, her eyes scanned the darkened area. Her heart beat began to speed up as she looked for any sign of life, one person in particular but as she approached the bench Eli had dubbed as theirs she felt slightly let down. No one else was there. She was completely alone. Again she sighed as she sat down on the bench and kicked her feet slowly above the ground.
For once she wanted to be able to not think. To not have all of these different thoughts rushing through her head and to not have the memories of someone else over powering those of her own. She closed her eyes and tried to think of a memory she had that didn't involve Alice or William but felt a crushing pain when she couldn't. Instead she saw the old fashioned buildings of Toronto in the 40's. She saw beautiful dresses and the old house that Alice had grown up in and the faces of Alice's parents. And with thinking of the memories she could feel herself beginning to get light headed and dizzy and she gasped as she opened her eyes, drawn out of her thoughts by the sound of earth crunching behind her and then suddenly someone's hands were over her eyes. Her immediate reaction was to feel scared, but for some reason she couldn't. Because she already knew who it was. His warm hands covered her eyes perfectly and she placed her hands over his, grabbing them and then swiftly pulled them away as she turned and looked up at the dark haired boy.
"How'd you know I was here?" She asked quietly as Eli walked around the bench and stood in front of her. His face was timid, and she could tell he was fearful that she would run away from him but he smiled nonetheless and tilted his head as if his answer was obvious.
"I think what the real question is, is why are you here? And at such a late hour. Don't you have a curfew?"
Clare lowered her head, "My parents don't know I left… and I don't really know why I'm here."
She bit her lip as her eyes moved back up to his and his smile made her heart flutter. It was timid yet caring and she couldn't help but feel the fighting urge to press her lips to his.
Both of them stayed silent for a few moments, their eye contact never faltering as they both fought the urge to lessen the space between them. The feeling became so intense that Clare had to look away, breaking their hold.
"Clare…" he began, taking a step forward, "I really miss you."
She sighed, nodding as she looked down at the dirt beneath them but she didn't speak a word.
"You don't understand, I've loved you way too long to go without you another day…"
Clare scoffed and again her eyes shot up in his direction, "Would you stop that?"
"Stop what?" Eli asked confused.
"Stop saying things like that!" her voice raised now and it caught Eli off guard, "This isn't… you haven't… I'm not Alice! I'm Clare. You haven't loved me for too long because that wasn't us. It may have been us but it's not us. I'm Clare and you're Eli and what's between us… it's us. It's not them, it's us. So just stop it."
"But they were us. That was us. I can't help it if I still feel that love for you, I can't stop the way I feel."
Clare pushed herself up from the bench and took a step towards him, erasing a bit of the space between them as a new found confidence took her over and she looked him deep in the eyes.
"I want to live my own life Eli. I'm so tired of all of this. I want to be me! I can't keep living in the past. Alice was my past. William was your past too and it just… really sucks that everything about my current life has been taken over by the one I lived before. Is being Clare not good enough?"
Eli's face fell and his lips turned to a frown as he examined the brilliant blue eyes of the girl he loved.
"Of course you're enough. You've always been enough."
"Then stop comparing me to her. Stop comparing us to them. Whatever happened between William and Alice… that was them. If he killed her-"
Eli cut her off, "I didn't kill you."
But Clare lowered her face.
"What I mean is… William didn't kill Alice."
She sighed, "You seem so sure, but how can you know completely? My memories of that life throw me in so many different directions I never know what to think."
And then Eli himself sighed and he looked away briefly as he spoke. "Because I remember everything."
Clare looked back at him confused, her arms crossed over her chest, "What?"
"I remember almost every single detail of William's life, as if it's same one I'm living right now. Some of the moments, I can remember them as if they happened just yesterday. I guess that's why it's harder for me sometimes to decipher what happened between them and my real life now, because to me there was never really any dividing moment."
Clare didn't reply, but looked at him in silence, studying his face as her arms fell from her chest.
"I know that William didn't kill Alice because I remember how heart broken he had been. I remember the feeling of sadness he felt when he'd heard the news. I remember the way it felt when his heart broke and how heavily the depression of losing Alice took over him like a thick dark blanket that made it hard to breathe… and I remember how painful it felt when he took his own life."
Clare's breath caught in her throat and almost instantly a knot formed in it. She had to swallow hard a few times to get it down to find the ability to speak. "When what?"
"William killed himself Clare, only days after Alice had died in the fire. He shot himself with a shotgun in her family's shed. The cops had brought up the accusation that he had been the one to start the fire. Who else seemed more likely than the guy who lived on the farm with them? He couldn't handle it, for people to think he killed the one person he loved more than anything else in the world. And other than that he couldn't get past the fact that the girl he'd loved a million lifetimes before, was dead."
"A million lifetimes before…?" Clare asked confused.
Eli took another step forward, completely erasing the space between them and she could feel her heard pounding rapidly in her chest like the rampant wings of a hummingbird, "I told you Clare, I've loved you for too long… I've sort of loved you forever."
Silence filled the air for a few short moments.
"…how many times?" she asked, feeling the ability to breathe leave her chest.
"From what I can remember… at least five."
Five. They had lived three other lives together previous to the ones she could remember.
"How come you can remember them and I can't?" she asked, looking back up at him as he continued to look timidly back at her.
"I'm not sure. I honestly couldn't tell you. But I remember them all almost perfectly, but none as clear as the one before. They're like a really vivid dream that I've had, bits a pieces fade over time but I can still remember. You know déjà vu? I think that every time you feel it, it's basically you remembering one of your previous lives. Whether it's just something reminding you of a feeling, a moment, a smell. But… our love, how we are… it's nothing new to me. But the only time I ever lost you, was as William and Alice."
The faces of the couple she'd known her whole life flashed before her eyes once again that night and suddenly she felt light. The spinning dizzy feeling filled her mind and the earth beneath her began to spin in the old familiar way.
"I need to sit down." she said breathlessly and Eli's face filled with panic.
"No Clare, please." he began as he placed his hands softly to her cheeks, "Don't faint, not now. Don't fall into it. I need you here in the present time with me."
But his hands on her cheeks only furthered the feeling and her knees quivered. She knew it was only a matter of time until the darkness won her over and she was flooded with a memory from years before.
"Stay with me, please." Eli whispered, looking deep into her eyes and before either of the could say another word he pulled her face to his.
Suddenly, everything felt clear to her. The dizzy feeling left her head as their lips touched and a vibrating jolt fell over her body. The moment their lips pressed together, Clare was with him. She felt her heart flutter in her chest as she regained her strength and reached her hands up to his neck. His own hands found their way to her waist and he pulled her body close to his, their chest pressed tightly together as their hearts pounded feverishly. And as the kiss deepend, to Clare, nothing else mattered. Not their past lives, not the fact that Alice had been murdered or the silly memories that tormented her brain. All that mattered was that then and there, in her arms she held the boy she would always love, and would never love anything more.