Her eyes flew open the second my alarm went off. Sighing, she stretched and sat up, swinging my legs over the side of my bed. 'I guess I'd better speed things up! Mother will kill me if I'm late again!' thought Gemma as she started her morning routine. She tried to go faster but her movements felt like slow and heavy. Everything around her appeared to be moving in slow motion, even as she tried to fight the clock of time.
She glanced down at her watch and groaned aloud, "Now I'm really going to be late!” Gemma ran down the stairs and out the door, barely remembering to lock the door behind her. As she jogged to the corner, she collided sharply into a tall young man. He turned her way briefly, shaking his head, he kept walking.
"I'm so sorry! I wasn't watching where..." apologized Gemma her nose crinkled in confusion when the young man continued on as though he hadn't heard or felt her.
Gemma raised her hand to summon one of the bright yellow taxis speeding past her. No one stopped, she stood there dumbfounded. What is going on? 'Do they not see me? It's kind of impossible to miss me in this bright purple jacket…' mused Gemma looking down at her clock again. 10 minutes late.
"I guess I'll just have to hoof it down to the office today."
Thirty minutes later, Gemma rushed into her mother’s office, panting. 'I don't think I have ever run that fast!’ Gemma walked up to the receptionist's desk and smiled at Janet.
"Hey Janet, is my mom available?" smiled Gemma leaning on the desk
Janet continued typing on her computer and answering phone calls. Her eyes didn't meet Gemma's nor did she indicate any signs of hearing her. Gemma waved her hands in the air in front of Janet's face. Nothing.
"Janet! Hello!" called Gemma loudly, "Did I do something to offend you? I'm right here!"
When Janet still didn't respond. Gemma screamed:
"Look at me! Answer me!"
Anger began to boil inside her veins. She didn't care anymore if Janet was ignoring her. Gemma stormed past Janet and headed straight to her mother’s office. Knocking sharply on the sold oak door, she waited for her mother to answer. 'Seriously?!'
She opened the door to find her mother sitting at her desk as usual. Her mother, Sarah, sat quietly looking down at something she held in her hands. Gemma walked up behind her and saw that it was a photograph of the two of them...taken last weekend.
"I love that photo of us mom." whispered Gemma softly placing her hands on her mother's shoulders
Her mother looked up quickly, her eyes scanning the room. Sarah seemed to look right through her daughter, tears quietly streamed down her pale cheeks. "Oh Gemma, please be safe!" she whispered
"Mom, I'm right here...behind you! Look at me." pleaded Gemma fear lacing her voice, "Please tell me you see me, that you hear me..."
Both mother and daughter turned to look at the door when they heard someone knocking.
"Come in." said Sarah her voice cracking
In walked a detective, Gemma felt alarm pulsating through her body. Her heart started to pound faster and faster, why was there a detective? Why was her mother looking at him with such fierce hope her eyes?
"Ma'am...we have some news as to your daughter’s disappearance." started the detective quietly, "We found that she had been returned back to her house last night and...I'm so sorry for your loss."
A heart wrenching cry ripped free of her mother's throat! Sarah's hands flew to her face. She couldn't move, how could someone do this to her child! Gemma felt the blood draining from her face, what did the detective mean she had been returned to her house last night...sorry for her mother's loss??
"Detective, what are you talking about? I'm still here!" cried Gemma rushing to his side
She grabbed onto his jack and tried to shake him. He moved slightly but he didn't seem to notice that she was there. Gemma bent down so that she was eye level, her eyes grew wide. 'It's like he's looking right through me! This is impossible'
She tried a theory, she took a deep breath and screamed as loud as she could in the detective's face. Nothing! She whirled around to see her mother's reaction. Her mother continued to sob.
"Mrs. Forrester, when you're ready...we can go to the house and if you feel up to it...you can identify her officially." said the detective quietly
Her mother stood up nodding and followed the lawman out of the office building. Gemma followed them out to his car; she went to slide into the car. However a force shoved her back out, she fell hard onto the side walk. Shock filled her! She stood and tried again. Once more she was forcefully expelled from the car! The car started to drive away from her. She chased after it, adrenaline pushed her faster and faster.
Thirty minutes later, Gemma stood in front of her house. As she looked around her, she really took in the scene that was unfolding in front of her. There were three police cars and an ambulance, emergency workers milled around her property; entering and exiting her house of their own accord.
"Hey! You can't just walk into my house! I didn't give you permission." shrieked Gemma running from person to person
She threw her weight into pushing anyone who walked past her. Gemma tried to get a reaction, a flinch, anything. Realization opened her mind, when she pushed someone, it simply looked as though they had tripped over an invisible object.
She stood by her front door and saw the crime scene tape, Gemma watched her mother, who had an iron grip on the detective's arm. Solemnly, Gemma followed them inside her house. The atmosphere had changed; this morning it felt like it always did: peaceful and bright...now it felt cold and filled with death.
They walked up the stairs slowly, Gemma looked closely at each person’s face as they walked past her. She had never seen so many people pale and upset. Glancing down at her hands, she gasped when she saw her hands were slightly translucent.
"I don't understand..." gasped Gemma, "What's happening to me?"
The closer they got to her bedroom, the more reluctant and scared she felt. 'I don't think I want to see what's got everyone so upset.' Yet she couldn't seem to stop moving forward.
They now stood in front of her bedroom door. The detective opened the door a little and mumbled something, Gemma couldn't quite hear him. Gemma grasped her mother’s hand as she always did when she was scared; this time it was different. Instead of feeling the safe warmth of her mother’s hand, Gemma felt cold air. Her hand floated through her mother's. Tears pushed their way out of her eyes, now she was terrified! 'I need my mother!' choked Gemma trying to contain her sobs of fear
The white door finally opened slowly, the three of them haltingly stepped into her bedroom. There was no way Gemma could have prepared herself for what she saw.
The paramedics and police officers reverently stepped back from her bed. The detective caught her mother before Sarah could hit the floor. A gasp flew from Gemma's lips, her eyes grew wide with horror.
There on her bed, was...herself! Only she didn't look like herself, she was bruised and bloodied. If it wasn't for the injuries, Gemma would have thought she was sleeping. She stepped closer to her body.
She looked at the body in the bed and down at herself. Gemma was fading gradually, she looked back at her mother. Sarah sat down beside her daughter's body and picked up Gemma's hand, placing a soft kiss on the icy, white skin.
"What happened?" sobbed Sarah, "I demand to know what happened to my baby!"
"Your suspicions were right Ma'am, she was kidnapped Monday night...whoever it was must have returned her here last night." gulped the detective, "As far as we can tell...your daughter's death was quick. We will find the monster who did this to her!"
"Do you think she was in pain?" whispered Sarah
"I don't know...I pray she wasn't."
"Thank you detective...please keep me informed of..." stammered Sarah
"We'll give you some time alone." said the detective
As soon as the door closed and it was just Sarah and Gemma; her mother leaned down until her head rested on Gemma's blanket covered chest.
Gemma knelt down beside her mother and placed her hand on her arm. Without warning, horrid memories flooded her mind; her kidnapping, her fear, her pain and desperate need for survival and then finally her murder. The taunts of her murderer filled her head, she could hear his laughter as she begged for mercy, to be released.
She looked up at her mother and now realized that the young man she bumped into and Janet couldn't see nor hear her. Her own mother couldn't even see her. Gemma placed her head on her mother’s lap for a few moments.
Looking back up, she strangely felt calm...more at peace. Gemma wrapped her mother in a tight embrace and whispered in her ear:
"I'm still here mother! I will never leave you...I love you always and forever!"
With those words, Gemma faded away completely; her spirit going to a beautiful place filled with peace where she wouldn't no longer be able to feel fear and pain. A place where she would be able to watch over her mother until they were reunited.