It’s the prettiest window I’ve ever seen.
No different from the hundreds, maybe even thousands, I’ve already passed on my way here, but so beautiful nonetheless.
The window itself isn’t much to look at—four panes of glass, a thin coat of ice sticking to it, and a warm yellow glow coming from inside. I’ve been traveling the country all year to make it here, and it looks like I’m just in time for Christmas.
The freezing wind doesn’t make me shiver—it passes right through me.
Literally. But more on that later.
I raise my knuckles to tap on the glass, but hesitate.
Will she hear me?
The answer, I already know, is no, but I ask the question of myself anyways.
She won’t hear me. She can’t hear me—it’s not her fault, or mine. It’s just the way of the world.
A cruel way, but it’s not like I can change it. Especially in my current state.
I clench my eyes, take a deep breath of the cold mountain air, and gently tap the glass.
**One year earlier**
Those two words, and many more along the same lines, fought for the right to slip from my lips. Abigail turned to me in the golden light, a nervous glint in her eye. “Evan?”
“It’s getting dark out.”
I nodded in agreement. “It is.”
“It’s getting really dark.”
I glanced around the grassy clearing, surrounded by light trees and sprinkled with wildflowers. Perfect place to spend the day with Abigail and her hair that glistened like diamonds whenever the sunlight touched it.
Come to think of it, though, I could barely see the sun peeking out from behind the tree line.
“Shoot,” I muttered.
Abigail nodded. “That’s what I was thinking.”
What a way to end a four-hour picnic. Sprinting all the way to Abigail’s house—it wasn’t too long of a walk—to try and make the curfew that we probably already missed.
“We gotta go.” I shoved the picnic blanket into the empty basket, slammed it closed, and grabbed the handle.
Abigail and I took off down the beaten past we used to get here, feet pounding against the dirt in unison. I barely kept ahead of her, and a grin twitched at my lips despite the circumstances. I’d never met any girl more athletic—one of the many things I admired about her. She was too good for me, but somehow, here we were.
Sprinting through the forest, kicking up dust, anticipating a very long lecture. Living the dream.
Although, anything could count as living the dream with Abigail by my side.
We pulled onto the main road.
“I know a shortcut,” Abigail panted.
She pointed to an alley. Dark, probably dangerous, but not as dangerous as her father would be when we walked in late.
“Let’s go,” I breathed, and we took off again.
We didn’t make it very far.
A few steps into the alley, a stocky form appeared in front of me. I crashed into him and sprawled to the ground.
The figure didn’t even budge.
I scrambled to my feet, putting a protective arm in front of Abigail. This guy was not going to touch her.
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could make out two more figures in the shadows, both just as built as the first. I took an involuntary step back.
The leader laughed, a smirk on his face. “Where do you think you’re going, kid?”
“I’m taking my girl home,” I growled, although my voice sounded about as confident as I felt.
If these three decided to attack, Abigail and I didn’t have a chance.
The leader laughed again, lower this time. Threatening. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end and I fingered the knife at my belt.
There was still a chance to make it out alive. We could negotiate, or convince them that we weren’t a threat. We could—
The hopeful thoughts stopped when one of the men circled around the back, surrounding us.
I almost pulled out my knife, but Abigail was quicker.
She whipped out a dagger, stepped in front of me, and gripped it with shaking hands and white knuckles as she looked the leader in his eyes. “Leave us alone.”
Her voice trembled, but the amount of courage it took to just voice the statement was incredible.
I don’t know what else I was expecting. Abigail was incredible.
The leader casually reached into his pocket, feigned a yawn, and pulled out a pistol. He twirled it once before training it on Abigail. “Looks like someone brought a knife to a gun fight, eh, girlie?”
Abigail went stiff.
Time seemed to freeze. I could see the intention in the man’s eyes—neither Abigail nor I were going to leave this alley unharmed, not unless I did something.
So I did the only thing I could think of. I lunged at the nearest man.
Despite the fact that my girlfriend was more athletic than me, I managed to incapacitate him. I knew my anatomy, but mostly I just knew that the jaw was a foolproof knockout button. With the adrenaline coursing through my veins, I hit him hard enough to stun him for the time being.
Abigail took down the one behind us, and I jumped at the leader.
A decision I regretted the moment we made contact.
A sharp pain stabbed into my side and I gasped.
“Evan!” Abigail’s voice.
I stumbled back, hands pressed against the wound in my torso. My eye caught the knife in the man’s hands, now slick with blood.
All I knew was that I had to get this guy. I had to keep him from hurting Abigail.
A loud bang!
A pain ripping through my chest. I screamed as the force of the shot knocked me back a few steps, stumbling to my seat.
It was a gunshot.
And it went through the left side of my chest.
I gasped for air, but couldn’t seem to get any. It hurt.
The man fell at my feet, but I couldn’t process what was going on. Abigail knelt next to me, her bloody knife clattering to the floor.
“Evan,” she said quietly, frantic eyes darting from the wound in my side to the one in my chest. “Evan, stay with me. Stay awake. Please, stay awake.”
My eyelids began to droop, but I forced them open. “Abigail…” I managed.
I coughed, splattering my hand with drops of blood.
“Shh. It’s okay. Just stay awake. Stay with me.”
She got out her phone, dialed 911, but I was already fading. “Abigail,” I whispered again.
Her panicked eyes locked with mine. “No,” she murmured.
I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.
“No, no, no!” Abigail shook my shoulders. “Evan, please. Please! I love you, Evan.”
I didn’t respond. My consciousness was fading.
“Evan, I love you,” Abigail whispered, laying her head on my shoulder. “I love you.”
It was the last thing I heard before I died.
An interesting sentence, considering I’m still here to tell the tale one year later.
Well, not fully here. I can’t feel the chill of the wind, can’t enjoy a good meal or a glass of ice-cold soda. The only thing I can seem to do is remain invisible, wandering the earth with no purpose or destination. Nobody can see me or hear me, and I can’t do anything to make them.
When I first woke up back on earth after dying, I thought everything was back to normal. I didn’t know where I was, but I could tell it was a hospital room. Fitting, considering the situation. I ran to the nearest person, called out, but she ignored me. I even tapped her on the shoulder, but my hand went right through.
I yelped and yanked it back.
What was wrong with me?
It didn’t take long for me to realize that everyone gave me the same results. I could walk right through someone and they wouldn’t even notice.
She was my first thought as I stumbled out of the hospital.
Where was she?
Was she okay?
I traveled the entire country to find out, and now I’m here. Outside her window.
I know she won’t be able to hear me—my ghostly hand won’t even be able to make contact with the window—but I have to try. It’s not like I have anything better to do, anyways. After today, when my year-long search for Abigail finally comes to an end, I don’t know what I’m going to do.
I tap the glass again, but I know it’s useless.
I have no purpose, not anymore.
I’m a ghost, invisible to people, with a hole in my heart.
I turn to leave, but hear a noise before I can take a step.
The click of a latch.
I whirl around, trying and failing to suppress my hope.
She heard me.
It doesn’t matter how. “Abigail?”
A long pause as her eyes rest on me.
“Evan?” she finally whispers.
“You can see me?”
“I’m hallucinating. I have to be hallucinating.”
She turns away from the window.
“Wait! Abigail, wait!”
“It’s me! Please, I know it’s strange, but I can explain everything, I promise.”
“You died,” she says quietly. “I watched you die. I sat by your side for hours, trying to get you to come back.”
“But I did! I’m here now. I came back for you, Abigail.”
Maybe that’s why she can see me. Her pleas for me to come back, to stay with her, her whisper that she loved me.
Love can do a lot of things.
“How do I know it’s really you?” she asks.
“We were in the clearing. Having a picnic. And I was looking at your hair—it reminded me of diamonds, I remember—but we were past curfew, and we tried to take a shortcut, and—”
A smile tugs at Abigail’s lips. “I can’t believe it.”
“I’m back, Abigail. And even though I’m, you know…”
I make a vague gesture at my translucent body.