There was a certain lonesomeness of no longer being bullied. After Agatha had wreaked havoc upon Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts, then was put to rest, it seemed no one noticed Norman any longer. It had always been what Norman had wanted, but when he finally got it, he found it a bit boring. Not that he didn't enjoy it of course. No one scribbled horrible things on his locker anymore, and Alvin had taken to acting like they had always been best friends. No one quiet believed him, though. At least he stopped bullying him.
It had been a full year and a half since what had happened, and Norman had taken to visiting Agatha's tree every so often. Even though the two had only talked for a few minutes before she crossed over, he felt like he was connected to her. That every time he walked up to her tree and tenderly placed a hand on the bark, he could feel her still there with him. Like she was watching; listening. It would always send tingles up his spine- sparks of electricity that gave him shivers.
"Hey, Agatha." He greeted, smiling up at the tree, leaves rustling in the gentle spring wind. "I know I haven't said hi in a long time, sorry about that. But I found a book I thought you might like at the library today, so I wanted to bring it to you. So, uh, here you go." He held the book up and looked at it. 'The Graveyard Book.'
As usual, there came no reply. The sun was warm on his skin, the dotted shade of the tree and cool grass came as a nice contrast to it as he sat down and slumped against the trunk. "I also brought a few wildflowers that looked cool. I guess they could be for a book mark if you wanted. They'll dry up eventually though, so maybe I should press them first."
He sighed, fingering the pages of the book with one hand, the other picking at the grass. He watched as a bright lady bug found its way onto his pants. "We only spoke once," he began sadly "but I miss talking to you. Um, face to face I mean." Then he laughed. "I wish you could talk back. Neil is my best friend, Aggie, but we can't relate to everything. You know what I mean?" Silence.
After a moment Norman yawned, standing up with the book in hand, the wildflowers clasped inside with the tops sticking out. The lady bug clung on until he gently forced it to fall off. Suddenly, Norman became very sad. He felt like he could cry, but didn't. "I'm sorry, I've got to go home. I can't read you the book today, but I might can tomorrow. I just wanted to tell you, at least." He took a few steps back, once again staring up into the expanse of limbs and green leaves. Electricity and shivers.
"Norman," came a soft voice. "thank you."
Startled, Norman almost dropped the book, gaping and glancing around. That was definitely Aggie, but he didn't see her. Could he communicate with those who crossed over? He hadn't done so before. "Agatha?" he called out, dumbfound.
Then, suddenly, a girl stepped out from behind the thick trunk of the tree. Not just a girl, though; it was Agatha Prenderghast, plain as day. She gave a sheepish smile, brushing away hair from her face.
"Aggie!" Called out Norman, who was happy to see his friend. He set the book down as gently as an excited 13 year old could be, and leap forward to throw his arms around the girl. She gave a squeak and laughed, hugging back enthusiastically. "I don't understand!"
"You always come to visit me, Norman, so I convinced them to let me visit you, just for a little while."
Norman let her go, blue eyes shining bright. "I'm so happy to see you! What's Heaven like?" He had many questions.
She twisted her dress with her hands. "It's real nice. My mama is there. Everything up there is so beautiful, Norman, and everyone is nice to me. Even the people who were bad down here are nice up there. They've all been forgiven."
"How long are you gonna stay down here?"
"I don't know. It's not up to me." She glanced up at the sky. "But I don't think I will be here very long." Norman frowned at that, but quickly replaced it with another smile. It was hard not to smile, after all, it had been a year and a half since Agatha had stood in front of him. The day she had finally been given hope after three hundred years of pain and sorrow; of hate and plotting. He wanted to make this last, with what little time they may have.
"Do you think we have enough time to go somewhere?"
Agatha shrugged. "Maybe, Norman."
He hesitated. "Do you," he paused "want to?"
She seemed torn, looking up at her tree. She hadn't actually moved from this spot before, not in a long time. Even when she had been messing up the town, she had only been striking out from the sky. It wasn't like she walked down the streets, sending spikes of lightening at buildings as she passed. After a moment she met his eyes then gave a small nod. "Okay. That sounds really nice."
They exchanged looks of bliss as she stepped forward and took his hand, her hair being blown gently by the breeze. "What about the book?" asked Agatha.
"The book?" he seemed confused a moment, having forgot he dropped it. He waved it off with his free hand as they began to walk."Leave it, I can just come back later."
There was something about Aggie that calmed him. Something in her voice. She had been so sad before she found peace, but now she was like a normal girl again. He wished she could have been alive, that she could have been born in a better situation along with him. As a friend, a family member, or whatever else life could have tossed her in. Just anything better than what she had gone through, and something close to his life span.
He took her to the park; away from the death of the graveyard, or the calm of the forest, or the lively streets. Just a park with a playground and a few children, hardly being watched by their ignorant parents. It was here they would simply hang out and talk. Norman had forgotten all about having been told to come straight home by now. Even if he did remember, he wouldn't care. This was more important.
The two sat side by side on a swing set, where Norman lightly kicked dirt clods with a foot. Agatha had taken to looking around from where she sat, wide eyed, as if she had been taken to an alien planet. In all the short time she had before looking down at the little town, it was nothing compared to actually being in the middle of it, even if she was just in a park.
"This is so different!" she commented, voice mixed with joy and detest all at once. In her time everything was based around religion, and it looked like everything in modern times went against it. Then again, it was religion that had condemned her. Who was she to judge?
"Yeah," Norman looked up, smiling as he watched her explore the world with her eyes. "It's been a long time since you seen- like actually seen- your village."
Agatha nodded, turning her head to face him. "It's not much of my village any more, it's yours. It's so much bigger. And louder. And. . it's so different!" She paused. "Oh wait, I already said that."
Norman gave a little laugh at her enthusiasm. He kicked off a little to make his swing rock gently, hands wrung around the chains they were attached to. "Did you have swing sets back then?"
"I don't think so." She looked up at the metal bar above them, examining the way the chains were kept from simply snapping. "I think I rather like swing sets." She pushed herself all the way back, then let herself go. The swing began to move to and fro, and with a bit of cleverness, she used her legs to force it higher. There was a big smile plastered on her face; this was a new experience.
Norman followed her lead, swinging higher with more effort. He never really played on swing sets anymore, but he still loved them. Through giggling and wind Agatha tried to talk. "I bet- I can swing- higher than- you!" She challenged, trying to follow Norman with her eyes. Her laughter was contagious, warm and innocent.
"Oh yeah?" They began to have a contest, with both vigorously trying to use their weights to beat the other. "Hey!" Norman called out.
"What?" She replied, running out of breath, face beginning to hurt from smiling so much.
"Watch this!" He took a few more swings before letting go at the peak of an arch, leaping off and nearly losing balance as he came down. His feet planted firmly on the ground, lifting a small dust cloud from the force. He straightened his back, laughing and grinning. Certainly she had never seen such a trick, since she didn't even know what a swing set was before today!
"Pretty cool, huh? He asked triumphantly, turning around to give her a smug look. The life from his face drained. Agatha was gone. He stood there watching the two empty swings slow, creaking and screeching from so many years of use. It felt like hours before he finally took his eyes away, and solemnly at a snail pace began to walk home. "Bye." He whispered, mostly to himself.
In his jacket pocket he felt a vibration, reaching in and taking out his phone as left the park. He had a text message from his sister, Courtney. He flipped it open and the phone instantly brought the message up.
"where r u? mom thinks u were murdered or somethin n dad is talking about goin 2 look 4 u"
Norman rolled his eyes. He didn't understand why she had to type like that. He stuck one hand in his pocket and used the other to reply."No where. I was just hanging out with a friend."
As he walked down the sidewalk, passing by ghosts and living people alike, he couldn't help but feel those tingles up his spine- those sparks of electricity that gave him shivers.
Short, done in about two days, pacing may be a little quick but I found this really fun. If I messed up anywhere feel free to tell me so I can correct it!