Shooting Star

By Laura Schiller

Based on: Wish

Copyright: Alexandra Bullen

Getting Olivia to banish her is the hardest thing Violet has ever done. As her twin sister collapses on a bench next to her, sobbing her heart out over the disaster that is Soren and Calla, satin and tears shining underneath the golden streetlight, all Violet wants is to comfort her. Put an arm around her shoulders, crack a joke or two until she's smiling again, and remind her that she'll never be alone. That her own personal life coach-slash-fashion consultant will always be there for her. Always.

However, if there is one thing dying has taught Violet, it's that the world does not revolve around what she wants. She remembers the baked ziti she could not eat, the way her father's eyes pass through her, the strain in Olivia's face as she tries to ignore her sister's ghost in public. The dead do not belong in the world of the living. Olivia needs to face that.

So Violet pulls out her most obnoxious devil-may-care attitude, praying that Olivia will not notice how her voice is trembling: "Sometimes being alive means taking risks, and sometimes things can get messy, but – "

"You want me to take risks?" Olivia snaps, red flags of fury blazing on her cheeks. "Like the risks you took? Like the reason you're dead?"

Always so cautious, Olivia. Nothing she hates more than seeing her loved ones put themselves in danger, ever since they were six and she ordered Violet to climb down from that tree. She doesn't know, she can't know, how many times Violet used to kick herself for such a reckless cause of death – why did she have to swim so far out? Why couldn't she have listened to Olivia? But now she knows why, she understands that a life of climbing trees, spattering rainbows of paint over her room, piercing her nose in defiance of her mother, and kissing boys just to find out how it felt, was the life that led her to that moment. And it's a life of joy, excitement, challenge – a life she does not regret.

"At least I lived first."

As she predicted, this sends Olivia completely over the edge. Fists clenched, voice choked with sobs, trembling from head to toe, she jumps up from the bench and whirls to face her sister.

"You're impossible! I wish you'd just leave me alone!"

With a toss of her hair and a rustle of her enchanted dress, she marches off into the night.

Alone, Violet bows her head and waits. The human part of her is crying, just as inconsolable as Olivia, wanting to run after her twin and beg for her forgiveness. This is not how it should end, in bitterness and anger. She should have found another way.

But what other way is there? her other side asks, the side that has learned more from the world beyond death than ever before during her short fifteen years. Would she have really let me go, if not for this?

She is wise enough to admit what she does not know, and so when Posey's tiny glowing butterfly lands in her cupped palms, she accepts it with a quiet grace.

Olivia is strong, stronger than she knows. She has the intelligence to learn from her mistakes and the will to succeed in whatever she puts her mind to. She has friends who will support her, a boyfriend who will love and cherish her, and parents to share the burden of her grief.

She does not need a ghost to guide her anymore. She is ready to stand on her own.

"Goodbye, Olivia," Violet whispers, flying freely across the night sky in a rain of silver light. "I wish you could hear me."