Several months had passed; spring had come, and the countryside of Peaceful Pines was in full bloom. Schoolgirls cheerily walked together to Miss Shannon's, giggling as boys rode their bikes past them on the way to St. Christopher's.
One boy, late for school, pedaled his bike as fast as he could past the graveyard; without warning, he suddenly began to go faster, the bike moving so fast that he literally couldn't keep his legs going around as quickly.
"Whoa!" he screamed, clearly terrified, but he made it to school on time.
From the grassy hill above the graveyard, Beetlejuice smirked and blew on his fingertip as though it were a smoking gun. It had been a long time since he'd felt up to pulling pranks.
You woulda loved that, Babes. I wish I'd had that idea back when you were…back when you rode your bike.
He wasn't expecting an answer to his inner thoughts, but he looked at the tombstone below him regardless.
Lydia's grave was buried at the top of the hill underneath her favorite tree Spooky. It was a peaceful place; not many people visited the graveyard on a sunny spring morning. Her friends had planted daffodils, chrysanthemums, and marigolds around her tombstone a few weeks after the funeral, and they had sprung into bloom. Beetlejuice couldn't smell them, but for some reason, the bright colors comforted him. Lydia wouldn't have wanted people to be sad at her grave, especially not here by the tree where she'd had so much fun.
He wasn't quite sure when this spot had become a popular haunt for him; the first time he'd visited had been at Charles' insistence. The poor guy hadn't quite figured out haunting and wanted to know what his daughter's grave looked like, so Beetlejuice had been persuaded to go in his place. After the first visit, he'd returned for a second, and several months later, he found himself spending many afternoons there; something about the place soothed him.
He was not usually alone on these visits. Delia came by frequently to water the flowers and make sure the tombstone was clean. Her visits used to be sad, but now she hummed during her gardening; she was doing remarkably well for a woman who'd lost both husband and daughter in the past year. Beetlejuice was almost envious.
Bertha and Prudence visited regularly, sometimes together, sometimes separately. Tony used to come too, but one visit, he'd brought a young woman with him who was wearing a shiny engagement ring; he didn't come back after that. Beetlejuice was not sorry to see him go.
Beetlejuice leaned back, still hovering in midair, and looked up at the sky. It had been months, but Lydia was still conspicuously absent in the afterlife. He'd searched long and hard for her in the Neitherworld, but she wasn't there; at this point, she could be anywhere. For now, the closest place he had to her was here at her grave. He never talked there, though; he knew death, and dead people never hung around at their own graves.
Footsteps broke him out of his musings, and he turned over to see Delia and another man coming up the hill. Curious, he made himself comfortable on his stomach and watched.
The man spoke first. "So, this is where…"
"Yes," Delia said softly.
The man continued forward alone, leaving Delia at the bottom of the hill. As he reached the grave, he reached into his satchel and pulled out a large book.
"Hi, Lydia," he said slowly. "I don't know you, but…you knew me."
Who is this weirdo? Beetlejuice thought before the man removed his sunglasses and he recognized Gerald.
"Anyway, um," Gerald nervously cleared his throat, "after you, uh…after you died, your mother showed me some of your photography." He pulled at his collar. "Actually, I do remember meeting you once, while you were showing your work at The City? I don't remember after that, but, well…
"You got published. Not just in The City, either. It was a really popular article, and there were several requests for an exhibition. Your photography's on display in one of the top art galleries in Manhattan. I've only been once; the tickets sell out so fast, but I…well, my partner and I just published a book about you. About your work. So…"
He put the book down at the grave. "I don't remember Central Park, and I barely remember you, but…I'm glad you were able to get your art out there. I'm glad I was able to help." He smiled. "You're famous now."
After a moment for silence, he walked away and met Delia at the bottom of the hill.
Beetlejuice waited until he was gone before picking up the book and flipping through. Lydia's photography filled every page: some in color, some black and white; some macabre, some joyful. Lydia was famous. It was something she'd always wanted, something he'd always wanted for her, and now it was reality. Beetlejuice hoped that wherever Lydia was, she knew just how many of her dreams had come true.
He turned to the page featuring the picture he'd taken the day before she died when she'd smiled so wholeheartedly. It almost broke his heart to see her face again. He traced her smile with his finger; if he only had one more chance to make her smile again…
"It wasn't very nice of you to trick me for that."
Beetlejuice looked up. Lydia smiled back at him from where she stood behind her tombstone.
"May I see it?" she said, reaching for the book.
Beetlejuice couldn't have handed it to her if he tried; it fell out of his shaking hands as he ran forward and swept her up in a tight embrace.
"Lydia!" He couldn't say anything else, or his voice would crack and give him away.
"Oh, Beetlejuice, I missed you so much!" Lydia said, hugging him just as tight. "I wanted to go to the Neitherworld, I wanted to see you, but I couldn't. Something was holding me back, keeping me from moving on." She pulled away. "But not anymore. My business in this world is finished."
"Ya mean you were just waiting to get famous?"
"Not exactly," Lydia said, laughing, "but it doesn't hurt. I guess I just wanted to be published."
Beetlejuice froze. "What now, Lyds? What are you gonna do now?"
"Well, to start, I'm going to stop hiding my feelings and be completely honest." She took his hand. "I want to go home. Home to the Neitherworld. With you."
"Babes…" Beetlejuice struggled to get the words out. "You really wanna spend your afterlife with me? I mean, I…"
"It's OK; we're together now, and that's what matters. I…I love you, Beetlejuice." And then she leaned forward and, just like when she was alive, gently pressed her lips to his.
They both pulled away red-faced. Beetlejuice could barely keep his body held together; his head felt as though it was about to shoot off like a rocket.
"I…I lo…" He stumbled over the words. "I love…"
"It's OK, BJ. I know. And now that I'm dead, we don't have to pretend anymore. We're free to be together."
"Yeah," Beetlejuice said as he grabbed her hand. "We're dead; we've got forever, Babes. All the time in the world."
Lydia threw back her head and laughed. "All the time in the Neitherworld!"
He laughed with her, falling down to the ground and pulling her down with him as they both collapsed under giggles and guffaws. With each peal, the years melted away, and it was like they were never apart.
"Let's go home."
Author's Notes: And that's all, folks (although I might have something in mind for an epilogue/sequel)! Hope you all enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it!