The whole thing was like a game, really. A vicious, blood-chilling game between two people, one of them having a powerful advantage over the other one: the fact that he was alive. He was breathing and talking and laughing as if nothing at all was wrong, while she was in the "in-between", as her brother called that strange place blending life and death together, her body slowly rotting away in a box in his basement.

She loved life and stood gazing at her future, which promised to be bright, with a heart full of hope and a head full of beautiful dreams. She was young, too. It would be wrong to say her death was more unfair than any other death, though; what kind of death is truly fair? What was unfair about the whole thing was the way her death had come to her: in the form of an old, dangerous monster, who had waited and planned everything for weeks while he gazed at her with beady eyes from behind his large glasses.

And then he had trapped her under the ground, where no one could help her, or hear her scream when he attacked her. Her eyes had shone brightly; all those pretty things! Painted dolls, porcelain animals, beautiful pictures, Coca-Cola: treasures that the monster had used as bait, for he knew she wouldn't have resisted those. But after a while the painted dolls and porcelain animals with strange, bopping heads seemed to stare at her with hollow, disturbing eyes; the Coca-Cola tasted off and bitter in her mouth. It was the color, the sound, the feeling, the taste of dread.

She had lunged for the latter, trying to get out of the underground cabin. She thought she had succeeded, and she ran as fast as she could in the foggy night. She found it strange that she did not feel the cold, for it was winter and, even with her big coat, the wind was icy. The young artist girl had stared at her with wide, shocked eyes as she screamed; she had sensed there was a soul in pain, if not a living thing, a ghost crying for help. Then it had been it; no one else had noticed her, and she had found the bathroom, and the mud, and the blood, and the monster in his bath. He was disgusting: mud on his skin, bits of dried blood on his greasy stomach and legs, a towel lying on his face; it was the most nauseating sight she had ever seen. She screamed and screamed until she could not make a sound anymore, and then she screamed some more, silently. It was a scream that tore her apart, from the core of her soul to the atoms of her body, shaking it all up, making it come apart, dividing it. And then she was there no more. She was fading away.

She found herself in the "in-between". A beautiful place; but it was not home, at least not yet, and she felt her heart belonged home. The monster that had taken her life was closer to her home than she! The monster lay crouched in that green house nearby, satisfied for the moment, but not forever. She feared for her family, for her mother, who had flown from home to escape the misery, for her father, who had almost got himself killed, for her sister, who ended up giving her family proof that the monster in the green house was guilty. But by then, he in turn had already flown, with the box from his basement, and his house was as empty as if no one had ever lived there. The police found no trace of him.

At that moment, she could have left the "in-between" for the great beyond; the gate was finally opening up for her, and the other victims of the monster had come with wide smiles to welcome her. It was big, and beautiful, and in a word glorious, and she knew that she would finally, finally be able to be at peace there, away from her attacker. But she still had one thing left to do.

It was a good thing the artist girl was there; without her, she never would have been able to accomplish that one last act, the one that would make her ready to cross over. The artist lent her body, for a brief moment, to the ghost; and Ray came. She had been waiting for Ray, waiting for such a long time, and just as she was going to have that first date with him, the chance had been stolen from her. But now Ray was there, and he kissed her; it was not quite like what she had heard from the books and the movies. She saw no fireworks behind her closed lids, but the kiss was that much better than simple fireworks because it was sweet, and it was short –like her own existence- and it was just so real; more real than anything she had ever felt when she was actually alive. She giggled at the irony of this, though some time ago it would've made her want to cry. And she was smiling at him, and he was smiling back at her. Even though she was dead, and the box containing her body was being thrown into a deep, secret hole where no one could ever find her again, the happiness in her and in Ray was so great, so powerful –like the biggest of suns, like the warmest of summers—their smiles so wide and content that she knew, at this instant, that they had won. It was a great, over powerful, undeniable truth; there could be no other way. They had won the "game", they had won and it didn't even matter that he was never going to get caught for this particular crime, and she barely cared about his death –which came soon after—because there she was, a ghost that would never belonged in the world of the living again, and happy. There was nothing left for her there anymore, and it didn't make her sad; her family had pulled through it, together, as a family should, and her lovely bones had formed something she could not yet see or imagine, something no one even knew about, but she knew it was something too wonderful for words, and she had to pay the price for it with her life. But she would not be forgotten.

She knew then she was ready. Ready to say goodbye, and move on. To cross over.

"I was here for a moment and then I was gone. I wish you all a long and happy life".