Author's Note: Don't hate me for this, but this idea came to me while driving around today, and I knew I had to write it down. I do not own Degrassi, but would gladly accept Eli as a Christmas present! Also, Chapter One's title is a play on the AAR song, "One More Sad Song"
Tagline: "This cannot be happening. I cannot be standing here talking to a ghost!" "Oh, but you are – and might I add, a very sexy ghost indeed."
The Ghost of You
Chapter One: Tears Shed, He's Gone
Clare Diane Edwards stared down at the newspaper in her hand. Her jaw fell lax as she saw the picture printed in the obituaries section. She hardly ever paid attention to the obituaries. She was too young to know anyone that could possibly die. The obituaries section was always filled with pictures of old people, or old people when they were younger. But today had been different. Today, she decided to take a look. As she flipped to the back page of the Local section, she saw his picture.
It was the typical black and white newsprint picture – the ink was a bit blurry, as if someone didn't take the time to make sure that it had been scanned neatly. He was wearing what appeared to be a black t-shirt with a jacket and that clunky silver guitar-pick necklace. There was that I've-got-a-secret-but-you're-a-moron-if-you-think-I'm-sharing-it-with-you smirk plastered on his face.
Clare's jaw dropped as her eyes quickly descended to the text written beneath the picture:
Elijah Thomas Goldsworthy – February 21, 1994 – June 17, 2023. Elijah is survived by his father, Liam Goldsworthy (known also as Bullfrog Goldsworthy) and his mother, Cecelia Goldsworthy. Elijah was a teacher of English Language Arts and Theatrical Performance Arts at Degrassi High School. He also volunteered at the Degrassi Community Theater on Lakeshore. Eli was a dear son, and will be missed terribly. There will be a memorial service on Friday June 20, 2013. Please contact the Goldsworthy family for more information.
No, Clare quickly folded the newspaper shut and slid it across the table. There must have been some sort of mistake. Eli…Eli couldn't possibly be dead. Clare shook her head, knowing that it might have been some sort of crazed joke. Fitz was out of jail after serving time for arson (apparently after everything that had happened at Degrassi, he had started to enjoy lighting things on fire), maybe he had put the obituary in the paper as some form of sick joke. That's all this was. Some sort of sick joke.
"Hey, beautiful," her fiancé, James appeared in the dining room all dressed for work. He was adjusting his tie as he leaned over Clare's chair to kiss her. When she turned away, he realized something was wrong, "Clare…what's the matter, honey?"
"Uh…I think there's some sort of mistake with the paper."
"Why do you say that?" James reached over and grabbed the section of the paper Clare had been looking at.
"I-I think it's probably just some sort of cruel joke, you know. I mean…there's just no way…"
"Clare, who was this person?" James asked, looking at the faded black and white photos.
"Just a kid I used to know," Clare took the paper from his hands and placed it back on the table, "We uh…we used to go to school together. It's just weird. I mean…he can't be…"
"Clare, maybe you should try contacting his family, just to make sure. I'm really sorry, but usually papers don't make these kinds of mistakes, Clare. Look, I'm running late for work," James grabbed his brief case off the table, "so I should probably get going, but call me when you find out more, alright?" He kissed Clare on top of the head and headed out the front door.
"Bye," Clare called after him, the sound of the door slamming shut her only reply. Maybe he was right. Maybe she should call the family to see if there was some sort of mistake. But how would she even go about doing so? She hadn't spoken to Bullfrog or Cece in years. Maybe she could just remain anonymous. That's it. She wouldn't tell them who she was, she would just call and…inquire. Clare grabbed her cellphone from the kitchen and looked up the Goldsworthy's phone number in the phone book.
On the third ring, a woman answered, "Hello?"
"Hi, um…hi. I am just calling to uh…inquire about a…uh…an obituary I saw in the paper today…"
"Was there some sort of mistake?"
"I am afraid I don't know what you mean?"
"Is he…is he really dead?"
There was an intake of breath, and Clare wanted to run and hug her, "Who is this?"
"Uh…I just…I want to know."
A violent rush of blood flooded and pooled to Clare's cheeks, "Cece?"
"Oh baby girl," the woman let out a soft sob, "I…I am afraid there hasn't been any mistake. The obituary in the paper was correct. Eli…Eli died last night."
"No…no, that can't…that can't be right, Cece. Cece, that can't be right."
"Clare…I am afraid it's true. Last night…Eli…well…Eli…he was in a car crash."
"He had been…uh…well…Clare, he had a problem. He drank a lot. He kept it pretty under-wraps, but last night…I guess he had too much to drink…he was driving and swerved onto to…onto on-coming traffic. No one else was hurt…but him. He…he died instantly."
"Oh my god," Clare realized then that tears were pouring from her eyes as if a tap had been turned on, "Cece…"
"Clare, I am so sorry. I know that you loved him very much. Would you like to come to the memorial service on Saturday? We would love to have you there."
"I-I don't know," Clare's brow furrowed and she angrily wiped at the tears on her cheeks, "I don't know if I should…I mean…I just…"
"I understand, baby-doll. Look, I have to go; we have family in town, but you are welcome to call anytime. Maybe once you feel more um…up to it, you can stop by. I can fix us some tea and we could just…"
"Yeah, that'd be nice."
After saying goodbye, Clare hung up her phone and retreated back to dining room. She couldn't believe that it had been true. Eli Goldsworthy was dead. She felt like something had shifted; like the world had somehow drastically been changed. It had changed – Eli was no longer in it. Clare glanced up at the window and saw two mocking jays sitting on the porch table. They were singing something obnoxious and squawking, but it was just like every other day. The birds didn't feel any difference. Didn't they know? If they only knew, they wouldn't be singing such an obnoxiously joyful tune. Didn't they know that Eli had been taken?
Clare dabbed at her eyes just as her phone began to ring. She looked at the number, puzzled. It took her a moment to remember what to do in order to answer a ringing phone, and said, "Hello."
"Clare? Is this Clare Edwards?"
"Yeah…who is this?"
"Are you okay?"
"Who is this?" Clare repeated, growing annoyed.
"Sorry…this is Adam. Adam…Tor…"
"I remember you Adam," Clare rolled her eyes, only causing more tears to spill out, "Are you okay?"
"No. I just…I knew I had to call you. I guess you saw the papers this morning."
"Yeah," Clare winced, "I did. Adam, were you and Eli still…"
"Yeah. We hung out almost every night. I would come over to distract him with Ninja Warrior Wrestling so he wouldn't drink. I just…I was busy last night. I was with this girl and…well…"
"Adam, it's not your fault. It's not your fault Eli drank."
"I know. Everyone's been telling me that, but…I just can't help but feel like it is. Are you going to the memorial service?"
"No…I don't think it'd be appropriate. I don't know."
"I get it. I'll be there, and I'll miss you, but I get it. Uh…call me sometime, okay?"
"Okay. Adam…you can call me sometime too, alright?"
"Alright. Just…you know…if you want to talk."
"Thanks, Adam. I really appreciate that. Maybe sometime soon we can uh…do dinner or something. I'd…I'd love to see you again."
They said their goodbyes, and Clare put the phone down. She didn't feel like talking to anyone else. Eli was dead, and already she had spoken to two ghosts. She hadn't even seen Cece or Adam in ages; much less spoken to them. Of course, they crossed her mind almost every day.
Clare's heart ached for them. They had lost someone so special…they all had. Eli was gone, and Clare didn't exactly know what to do with herself. She was crying, so she must have felt sad. But there was an overwhelming sense of numbness about her. It was as if someone had pressed pause, and she was the only one still moving about. She felt as though she had to tell herself what to do.
Dishes. I need to do the dishes. Take dishes off of table. Take dishes to kitchen. Run hot water in tap. Soap up dishes. Scrub dishes with sponge. Rinse dishes in hot water. Place dishes in washer. Repeat.
It was as if her brain didn't want to function properly. It was as if the only thing it was telling her was: Eli is dead. Eli is dead. Eli is dead. Eli is dead. Eli is dead.
She pushed herself up from the dining room table and grabbed the dishes from the table. As she headed to the kitchen, she walked herself through the steps of what to do. Why couldn't she just function? Because Eli was dead. Eli was dead. Eli was dead.
Shut up! Clare yelled at her brain. She refused to sit there and listen to the broken record repeat itself. She had to do the dishes. She had to wash the dishes. The food would harden if she didn't do the dishes. As Clare neared the sink, a plate slipped from her hands and crashed to the floor. She let out a gasp as the porcelain scattered across the tiling.
Damn it, Clare stood there and surveyed the mess. She knew she had to clean it up before she, or Midas stepped on it. But she just couldn't. Instead, she sunk down to the floor, leaned up against one of the wooden cabinets, and cried.
Midas, as if curious to see who had dared interrupt his sleep by throwing plates, stumbled into the kitchen. We he saw Clare, he loped over to her, and placed his chin on her knee. Clare looked up at the dog, and scratched behind his ears.
"Midas, Eli is dead. Eli is dead."
Midas wheezed. Clare sighed, "And you don't care. Why should you? You never met him. So why should you, or those blasted mocking jays even care if he's dead or alive?"
Midas sneezed. Clare kissed him on top of the head, "Well, if you had known him, things would be different. If you had known him, you'd be crying too."
When James got home from work, he found Clare still sitting on the kitchen floor, and Midas with his head in her lap. He dropped his brief case and ran over to her.
"Clare…Clare…honey! Are you alright?"
"He's dead, James."
"Oh Clare, I knew he was. Papers don't just screw up that sort of thing. Have you…have you been sitting here all day? And why…is that…why is there a broken plate all over the floor?"
"I dropped it," Clare's voice was monotone, "I dropped the plate, James."
"It's okay, Clare. It's just a plate. We have twelve others. It's fine. Come on, let's get you off the floor. What do you want to make us for dinner?"
"Dinner? Eli is dead and you're thinking about your dinner?"
"Clare, people die. It's just how life works. I am sorry your friend died, I really am. But you haven't even mentioned him to me before. Obviously he wasn't that big of a deal to you…"
"Don't say that," Clare's voice cracked, and more tears swelled in her eyes.
"Well, I mean…if he was important to you, don't you think I would have heard more about him? Who was he, Clare?"
"Oh," James raised an eyebrow, "A boy, huh? Well that is specific. Come on, let's get you to the couch. I can order us takeout if you aren't up for cooking. Is Chinese good with you?"
Author's Note: Don't hate me for this. And don't worry. You'll like what I have in-store for this! It'll be humorous, I promise. So stick in there with me. This was just a rough chapter, but the next chapters, I think you all will greatly enjoy! So hang in there, please.