The stars were mocking her. There they were, twinkling their brightness every night for people to stare in awe, when the truth is that they’ve been dead for ages. Not Vega though. That’s her name, Vega- like the star much larger than the sun. And like some stars, Vega is dead. And unlike them, unseen.
A ghost would be how living people call the likes of her. They were either seeking for revenge or just there to mess around. Scary or friendly- no scratch that, just scary. One would hope not to cross paths with them. As if they wouldn’t be someone in this state since death is an inevitability, Vega grumbled.
She was bitter, of course she was. Her life was taken away from her at such an early stage, and for what? For her to roam around as a spirit in an island full of life? For her to just watch how people who were once around her advance from being a student to someone successful, with a family of their own. She never got to do that.
Time passed. They died peaceful deaths and got to enter heaven, or something like that. She didn’t really know since nobody told her anything. Not an angel or a grim reaper, she wondered if they truly exist. If they do, why is she still here? Why is she on her own?
Vega’s death was of an injustice cause. That was enough suffering as a living girl, does she still deserve it as a dead one? No one could answer her question.
“Ghosts are mysteries of the living,” she once heard a person say. They were camping near the spot where she was buried. The dancing blaze of the campfire was the prettiest thing she’s seen that day. “We come up with explanations why they’re still here, at times we even dare ask them, but even they don’t know the answer to that.”
He’s not wrong there, Vega shrugged. Entertained, she continued listening to them. Even taking a sit beside a kid.
“Have you tried asking them, kuya?” a girl, about the age of ten, asked.
“Well,” the older boy didn’t get to complete his answer. Vega noticed how the wind blew with more force now. Branches were shaking and the fire was showing signs of its death. If she was alive, the wind probably would’ve brought chills down her spine. But she isn’t, and she feels nothing. Not the warmth of the fire before nor the cold air. Spirits are the wind.
Vega chuckled, she’s not alone. And they’re probably here to scare.
She saw a woman appear in front of the eldest. Face white, stomach daggered up with- one, two, three, four, five, six- six stab wounds, blood coming out of each. The boy saw her, too, and let out an ear-piercing scream that maybe scared the children more than the horror stories they’ve been telling throughout the night.
One blink and they were already gone.
“Why?” Vega asked the woman.
“He called to me,” she replied, looking ahead at the running group of children. “I couldn’t leave him alone.”
Vega sighed. “Do you think he has an answer?”
The woman didn’t speak. She smiled an uncertain smile before disappearing.
Vega understood. That’s why she already stopped fooling herself. It started with finding justice for her death. She watched how time passed and the killer wasn’t arrested for what he had done to her (he was in power and he was praised, it was ridiculous to watch). How time passed and the people who cared for her started living their own lives, forgetting her. Next thing she knows, she saw the fun in scaring people. But it soon got tiring. What now? What’s next? Why is she still here?
There were no answers. She tried connecting to the living. Unfortunately, they find ways to drive her away. But it brought back feelings to her. The pain felt wonderful, so she kept connecting just to feel.
Vega realized that the likes of her were meant to be alone. She started hating everything, cursed all that is on the sky. Most especially- the stars. They were the first thing she saw when she woke up, head bleeding an unending blood. They were there since the very beginning and they were still watching her suffer a cycle of loneliness.
It was a long time before she decided to leave her grave again. A change of sight, maybe? She didn’t know how to do that since she only lived in a rather small island. At least, that’s what she thought when she was alive. When one’s dead and alone, the view tend to change as the world gets bigger.
It was the shore that she desired to see. Oddly enough, looking at it calmed her even if the sky was much clearer there than her former place.
She stayed there the whole day, not caring if people could see her. “The bay is haunted AHHH,” is what they would probably say if they do.
It’s not like I was the only ghost here.
Night came and instead of emptying up, the bay got more crowded with the living and dead alike.
“Is there something going on here?” Vega asked a man with a shot on his back.
He turned to her and Vega took note of how he looked a bit younger than her. “Oh, are you a tourist? How did you die?”
That was a very rude question to ask. “No, I’m from this island, too. I’m just wondering what’s going on. I mean, I expected tourists coming but not at,” she glanced at a nearby clock. “Eleven-thirty."
“Did you just die recently?” It was a question equivalent to ‘have you been living under a rock?’ and it’s not making a good impression on her.
Vega groaned. “You know what? Let me just ask another-"
“No, wait!” the man stopped her. “I’m sorry. I was quite excited to talk to someone. I can’t just approach anyone here since ghosts were meant to be loners.”
Loners? Stupid choice of word he got there.
“Anyway, ghosts wait here for the cleansing.”
She laughed. “The cleansing? Do we have like a cult now?”
“No. But legends say that ghost ships appear here from time to time. The said ships were headed to a city of Engkantos.”
Where on earth he got the information, she didn’t know. It didn’t make any sense. Engkantos? They are enchanted and powerful. They are beautiful guardians of nature and they were never dead. What has that got to do with once dead humans?
As if he heard her thoughts, he continued. “They said that if they invited you to their ship, you will find peace. You will be with them and become a guardian, yourself. No more pains from the past, no dirty blood, no ragged clothes. The living are here because they can see the boat physically. They could even record it on their phones."
“Phones?” Vega repeated in confusion. He started talking about phones but she tuned him out. She stared at the sea for hope. It’s been long since she felt that fluttery feeling inside her.
The stars twinkled and it’s already forty minutes past midnight. The crowd had the same energy. Stores were open to provide the living some snacks and coffee. Vega sighed, knowing how envious she was becoming once again. Food was one of the things she missed.
“There!” a living suddenly yelled. Heads turned towards the sea, and everyone saw the moving lights that came from nowhere. They were like small, lit-up building blocks from afar. Vega made her way towards the front of the crowd, even passing through some of the livings, to have a closer look.
Ghost ship, she whispered to herself. She couldn’t see it. It looked like lights of any regular ships to her. How is this one considered as a ghost ship?
“They said that after some time, it will suddenly vanish as if it never existed,” a living said to his companion.
Vanish? She watched it move, fast and steady. Ghost ship or no ghost ship, Vega was desperate. And maybe someday, she’ll hate herself for believing ridiculous rumors. But at that moment, logical thoughts were behind her. Or…who was she even kidding? Logical thoughts had been left behind from the day she found out that she'd been separated from her body. What is there to lose?
Vega ran. The bay wasn’t enough. The sight wasn’t what she was chasing. She followed the coastline, beyond the sea were the bright stars. They were still watching her, maybe asking themselves how desperate can a star like Vega be? Can’t she understand that she can’t be seen? And maybe, just maybe, she’ll prove them wrong.
She couldn’t physically feel exhaustion yet her breaths were heavy. The waves coursing against the land and through her feet, shouldn’t feel tingly yet it did. She wasn’t supposed to feel the wind yet her hair was being pulled back as she ran. This little details excited her.
It also made her miss the ship.
They were right. The disappearance was sudden. The lights were there, next thing they weren’t. Was she too slow? Did she focus too much on herself to lose track of what she was aiming for? Was she going to return to being a prisoner of her own death?
It was becoming too heavy for her. Vega cried. Tears were normal for ghosts. Besides the blood, it is what reminded them of the heavy burden they’re carrying by themselves. Most ghosts never show real tears. It was a sign of weakness, blood was strength. Both were nonphysical scars that would forever remain.
Vega promised herself to not show any sign of weaknesses. She had been sad, she had been mad, and she had been thinking a lot. That’s the limit there. She could think all the what-ifs just so she could avoid thinking of her death. Just so she could avoid remembering the lustful look, the wood bashed against her head. The skins touched, the hole she was left to rot. It was too much.
She wanted to scream.
“There, there, child.”
An enchanting voice filled the air. Vega looked up to see a tall woman with long flowing black hair. She was dressed in a simplest way one could describe an elegant white dress. Her eyes were of golden shade and lips were pink.
“You…you can see me? You’re-“
“Loralai. An engkanto, yes.”
Vega scrunched her nose. “That doesn’t sound like a very Engkanto-like name.”
The enchantress laughed softly. “It doesn’t, I guess. But how about you, why are you crying?”
“I don’t know. I just- there were so much burden. It felt heavy, it shouldn’t be like this. It all came back to me and I was so scared that there was no way out,” tears once again started streaming down her cheeks, her breath heaving. “I was alone. I’ll always be alone and I don’t want that.”
Loralai pulled her into an embrace. Vega noticed how nice she smelled. “There, there. We’re sorry that we’re late. We’re sorry that we couldn’t remove this pain from you a little earlier. You were meant to be so much more. And,” the enchantress pulled away, letting her eyes meet Vega’s, “None of what happened is your fault. Some humans have taints in their hearts, and when time comes- it will consume them. Whatever they deserve, they will get. You’re safe now.”
You’re safe now, her mind repeated.
“Thank you. Thank you,” she cried. She said it again. She bet she’ll never stop saying it.
The Enchantress smiled. “The ship is docked. You can come with us, along with the others at the port," she paused. "And little star, if you want me to tell you the story of how he drowned, just ask."
Vega nodded. She looked back at the stars, the only witness of her demise and birth. They glimmered proudly on the night sky. She would never know what they might be thinking. But maybe, just maybe, it’s along the lines of, “Finally. Finally she’ll be happy again.”