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Spartan Scoop

Spartan Scoop

Spartan Scoop

The Spirit of Us

-Harper Jontow

Part One

The darkness was closing in around her. She couldn’t remember how she got there, or even where there was. She didn’t even know her own name, all she knew was pain and darkness. She held onto that pain for as long as she could because it was all that kept her grounded, but in the end even the pain faded and all that was left was the darkness around her.

She sat alone for minutes, hours, days, maybe even years. She had no sense of time, no sense of anything. After what felt like years, but was in reality only a day,  a figure stepped out of the impenetrable shadows. They were very humanoid, however they also seemed to be consumed by light, their face unrecognizable and when they spoke it sounded like an echo and yet it seemed as though no noise was made at all.

“Skia, welcome to the inbetween,” the mysterious figure said. 

“Skia… is that my name?” The girl asked, and yet she didn’t need a response. The name reverborated in her head reaching the farthest corners of her consciousness. It felt right, made her feel whole and she knew without a doubt that the name was her own. She was Skia.

The being ignored her question. “You must be sent on to the next life, but you are unfinished on this planet,” its volume seemed to rise the longer the being spoke. “You must resolve the unresolved and allow your soul to rest.”

“Allow my soul to rest? What does that mean, who are you?” Skia’s panic rose rapidly the more questions she thought of and she couldn’t stop a tremble from over taking her. “I just want to go home, please just let me leave!” Ignoring her pleas, the figure disappeared, yet Skia continued to cry for help. Even with her screams, the figure never returned, it was just another unknown among everything else.

Even as she spoke the pain returned and everything around her seemed to glow, as tendrils of inky blackness reached out to her. Her mind filled with memories of the terrors she had faced, she remembered him, the man that had tortured her and done his very best to control her. As much as she loathed to admit it, he had succeeded. James had been her everything, her greatest love and her worst nightmare. As she thought of him, she understood the agonizing pain she was in. He had killed her. She had gotten home from work late and he thought she had been with someone else, despite her protests. He yelled, she tried to argue but it was no use, and in a fit of anger, he threw the crystal vase her mother left to her. The vase hit her and shattered against her head, leaving her unconscious and bleeding. James continued to yell, despite the fact the Skia could no longer hear him. He probably didn’t even realize the vase had hit her at all. She died slowly. The bleeding from her head never stopped and when James realized how hurt she was, he assumed she was already dead and he buried her alive in the forest near their house. 

The memories of pain and fear swarmed Skia, then suddenly the world was flooded with light. As her eyes adjusted to the unexpected brightness, her surroundings became more and more familiar. Kingfield, Maine hadn’t been Skia’s home for long before she died. Her and James had moved there because he had thought the smaller community would make it easier to watch Skia, “to protect you,” he used to tell her as if that was his whole goal in life. The thought almost made her laugh, as it had become increasingly clear protecting her was not in any way his end goal. The air around her was cool, but Skia didn’t feel cold, the anger flowing through her veins held back the chill of the fall weather around her.

As Skia walked down the streets, her death finally clicked for her. Not only was she dead, but the man whom she had loved and she thought loved her, was the one who killed her. Beyond that, she now had to relive the pain by being trapped in the town he had forced her to come to, and she had to do it isolated and alone as none of the people walking past seemed to be able to see her. The longer that realization sat with her the more her anger grew until it felt as if that was all she would ever know. The anger wasn’t all directed toward James, however, she was also angry with herself. Why had she let him hurt her like he had for as long as he had? Why hadn’t she run as soon as he started to act like he owned her? She had ignored all of the red flags and she was dead because of it. Part of her knew she wasn’t to blame, that he had been the one in the wrong and yet she still felt at fault for her death. On top of her anger, she felt vengeful. How dare he take her life away from her? She was still young, only 25 and now there was no living she could do. He had stolen the most precious thing from her and she wanted him to pay. The world came back into focus around her and she was ripped from her anger, as she noticed exactly where she was. Her endless pacing around the town had led her straight to the door of James’ house. As she stared at the hideous yellow they had never gotten around to painting, she felt all the pain again. She wanted it to stop, needed it even, and at that moment Skia vowed that James would never have the chance to hurt someone like he had hurt her. She didn’t know how, she had absolutely no plan of action, but Skia knew one thing: James would die, but first he must suffer. 

Part Two

Skia stood outside her old home, and the longer she looked, the more she hated it. It astonished her that a simple building could cause her so much pain, especially one that she had lived in for less than a year. In fact, if her math was correct, she had lived there for a grand total of nine months. James still lived there and she wondered if he would stay. Did he only move them so that it was easier to isolate her, or was it because he truly liked the small town? In truth she didn’t care much either way. 

As she thought back on their relationship, certain truths cemented themselves in her mind. When Skia had first met James, she truly believed him to be perfect. Now she knew the truth: his flaws did not make him perfect, they made him dangerous. Perfection in and of itself was a flawed idea and the thought of James being anything close to perfect made her want to laugh and cry all at once.  

Even as she thought of his mistakes, she still didn’t know how to get her revenge. There were many ideas floating around in her head and she didn’t know how to choose. She didn’t even really know how much power she could have, if any. As a ghost could she manipulate the things around her or would she simply… phase through them? Was she able to pick and choose or was it always one or the other. Could she be seen under certain circumstances, or was she permanently invisible to everyone?
At last, her plan came to light. First she would figure out what her limitations were, then she would torture him based on that. She didn’t really have a plan, but she had a starting point and that was something.

She considered going into the woods to practice, but the thought of going to the place she was buried felt like too much. She went back to floating around the town until she found a store that was closed. 

Step one: Could she get through the door? Yes. Inside the building was a little gift shop. There were stickers, and jewelry on the checkout counter. The shelves were full of souvenirs: little bobble heads of famous people who had been in Kingfield, hats with the town’s name, snow globes of the local mountain, small little knick knacks that would be easy to travel with. It would remind tourists of the trip and make them want to come back. 

Step two: Could she pick things up? She could feel the postcard against her fingertips, it felt like the wing of a butterfly brushing against her, but she couldn’t seem to grasp it. She kept trying, and slowly she made progress. At first she could grab it, but she couldn’t quite move it. Then she could shift it over, but she couldn’t hold onto it for longer than thirty seconds. Finally she could take the postcard and move it across the entire store without dropping it. She did the same thing with larger and heavier objects until she could move the entire card display case. It took her hours and by the time she got there, she didn’t want to do anything else, but there was one more thing she needed to do.

Step three: Could she make herself visible? Skia left the store and looked around. In the time she had been practicing, the sun had started to set and the streets around her were almost completely empty. She went toward the part of town where most of the restaurants and bars were and found the dinner crowd. Instead of immediately trying, she looked for someone who seemed to be out of it enough that no one would believe them if they said they had seen a ghost. Her patience paid off when hours later a person left one of the bars alone and stumbling. Skia approached them and almost laughed. Not only did she know the drunk individual, they were the town crazy. 

When Skia and James had moved to Kingfield one of the first things they were told was that Blair thought ghosts were real and that they thought they could catch them. Blair’s stories of their hunts across the country were crowd favorites, but no one ever truly believed them despite Blair insisting that what they said was true. Skia stared at them for a minute before deciding that she had to follow through. She followed Blair silently before slipping in front of them. 

If Skia was being honest with herself, she had absolutely no clue how to go about this. How do you make someone who can’t see you, see you? Skia looked intently at Blair and willed them to see her.
“Where the hell did you come from?” Blair’s speech was slightly slurred, but they were definitely talking to Skia. 

“You can see me? It worked!” Skia exclaimed in excitement. “Wait, can you hear me too?”

“What do you mean? Of course I can see you. I’m drunk, not blind.” They replied indignantly. Skia felt a sudden fear. She hadn’t expected it to work, and she had chosen to reveal herself to someone who claimed to be a ghost hunter regularly. Before she died Skia had thought the stories were just that – stories. She, like everyone else, had believed Blair had simply lost their mind at some point in time. The thing was, if ghosts were real, and they obviously were, then Blair may very well have been telling the truth.

Rather than answer, Skia willed herself back out of sight and turned to run. As she turned around the corner, she heard Blair mutter a whisper “hell no.” At that moment Blair’s nightmares seemed to have come true, the ghosts had come back for them.

Part Three

Blair stumbled down the street. They knew they still looked drunk, but they felt more sober than they had been in years. Pure and debilitating terror could do that to a person. If they were being honest the stumbling had more to do with said terror than any of the alcohol they had ingested earlier in the night. 

Blair’s life had been strange to say the least. They had first seen a ghost when they were only five. No one believed them, saying that it was just their imaginary friend. As Blair got older, more ghosts appeared. For the first few years it seemed harmless, but on their eleventh birthday things took a turn. A new spirit appeared to them, but rather than befriend them, the ghost attacked them. Blair’s entire family was brutally killed, and Blair was adopted by an estranged aunt. 

After that the ghosts stopped coming, or they stopped showing themselves. Blair didn’t see another ghost until they were 19 and they started hunting them. They continued to do so for the next six years, until finally the memories became too much and they started blocking them out with alcohol. Now three years later, the ghosts had come back to finish what they started and kill Blair. 

Thoughts were rushing through their head. How would they hide this time? Was it just the one ghost? Did they still remember how to kill it? Were there more? Were there more? Where there More? The one questioned consumed them, and ,when they finally made it to their house, they opened the closet they kept locked at all times and they pulled out a safe. Blair stared at it for a long minute before they put in the combination that was permanently seared into their brian. 0727, the date their life seemed to end. The day they found everyone they loved dead.

Blair didn’t know what to feel as they stared at all of their hunting supplies. Guns, knives, daggers, holy water, all the necessities, everything they could even think to need. Memories that they had blocked out for the past three years rushed through them. How could they do it all again? They needed to escape. For the next week Blair made plans. First they state talking about a job they got in another state, New York, then rather than actually go there they planned on driving cross country , maybe another coastal state or perhaps a warmer place. The thought of leaving the United States entirely crossed their minds, but their parents had died on American soil and they wanted to have that connection. 

Finally the day to leave came. They had not encountered the ghost since that night, but going still felt like the only option. They were packing their car,  a yellow ‘65 Volkswagen Bug. When their phone started ringing. They picked it up and the question was all they  heard.

“You’re the psycho bitch who thinks they can find ghosts or whatever right?” Blair vaguely recognized the voice as the asshole who moved with his girlfriend. “Are you? Look I don’t have time for this just come to my house you know where I live right? My idiot ex girlfriend died, and now she won’t stop bugging me.” The line went dead, and Blair’s stomach dropped. It seemed they were being forced back into the hunting world after all.

Part Four

Skia’s plan had been almost perfect.  James was thoroughly terrified, and Skia was close to satisfied. The only problem: James still wasn’t leaving and he had called Blair. Skia didn’t know how to avoid being… whatever it was ghost hunters did to ghosts. Would she be killed? Was that possible despite her being dead already? She supposed that no matter what Blair did to her, she had for the most part completed her goal. Even knowing that, Skia wasn’t ready to give up. Tormenting James had given her a sense of accomplishment, she felt as though she had control over herself for the first time in years, and James was once again attempting to strip her of that freedom. She couldn’t allow it.

Skia stared at Blair as they slowly circled the rundown house. She could see James standing just outside the door, glaring.

“Could you hurry this up a bit? I have things to do, you know.” James spoke up, tension radiating from his every pore.

“I could if you would just answer my question. How did she die? That’s all I need to know, but you can’t seem to pull your head out of your ass long enough to answer.” Blair had been asking that same question for the entire two hours they’d been in the house, and Skia could tell their agitation was growing. 

Despite James wanting to keep his violence hidden, Blair had seen through it. They had approached Skia in the past to ask why she was with someone like James. Skia used to be weirded out by the concern, but she would ask herself that question continuously after their conversation and now, as she watched Blair fight the urge to turn and leave as James got progressively more tense, the reason seemed to hit her in the face. His tension now emulated that of his anxiety on their first date, and Skia understood finally the truth in her feelings toward him. She had found his nerves endearing, had wanted to show him she was a safe person to be near. As time had gone on he began to open up, and she liked feeling like she was helping someone, but as he opened up, he got violent. That was why she stayed, because he hadn’t always been so cruel and she thought she could help him get back to who he used to be, because that man was one she loved. 

As Skia watched James grow even more stressed, she realized that he wasn’t the person she thought he was. The tension he showed now was identical to that of their first date, but now she felt no sympathy for him. With her anger at him slowly rising once again, Skia knew without a doubt that she couldn’t allow Blair to exorcize her. With a new found determination, Skia waited. After another half an hour, James finally walked away. As soon as he disappeared around the corner, Skia allowed herself to be visible.

“Holy-” Blair cut themself off mid-yell then continued in a calmer tone. “Well that makes my job easier.” Skia knew it was true, purely because it meant Blair didn’t have to search for her, or attempt to trap her.

“I know you have no reason to trust me or even hear me out, but please, just listen to me for a minute.” Skia pleaded even as Blair began to shake their head.

“I don’t care what you have to say, I need to get this job done so I can leave town.” Blair was very direct in their refusal, but Skia had one more card up her sleeve.

“I can tell you how I died since he never will.”

“You actually remember? Most spirits don’t.”

“He killed me,” Skia tried to hide it, but the desperation and pain still seeped into her voice. “He killed me and I just want to make him feel as small as he made me feel.” The silence stretched between them for what felt like minutes, hours, days, until finally after almost a full sixty seconds Blair answered.

“How can I help?”

Part Five

Skia’s jaw went slack. That was not the answer she expected. Hoped for? Sure. Expected? Definitely not.

“Oh my God,”  Blair finally snapped, after Skia’s shocked silence lasted too long. “Either answer the question, or close your mouth and let me send you on.”

“I- well if you could not banish me, that would be a good first step to helping,” Skia responded. Blair barely choked back a laugh, but Skia could still see it and she smiled. 

“That’s a given. I’m gonna need more information if you want help,” Blair’s voice was strained. “Look, I get that you’ve been through a lot, but I can’t help you if I don’t know why I’m doing it.”

“I told you,” Skia felt her heart rising in throat, was Blair having second thoughts? Did they really change their mind that fast? “He killed me. Do you really need more than that?”

“Technically, no. The thing is, I need money and he’s paying me to get rid of you,” Blair shrugged halfheartedly. “I can’t just sacrifice everything, my agreeing was premature. I can’t help unless you tell me exactly what he did.”

“He killed me,” Skia’s voice cracks. Her face was hot with anger.“I don’t know what you want to say. Do you want to hear about how he moved us here so he could better ‘supervise’ me? How about the time I didn’t make his eggs right so he threw the pan at me? Or maybe the numerous times he just had a shitty day and decided to take it out on me? Is that enough information for you to help me? Do you still want his money?” Her voice was a choked yell, but she couldn’t handle it anymore. She was tired of letting everyone control her and walk all over her.

“Fine. You’re right, forget his money,” Blair’s voice was on the edge of placating, but it was laced with anger and slight regret. “I need to convince him I’m still working for him so he doesn’t kick me out.” Blair turned and left without another word, but Skia’s relief was palpable. She still had a chance for revenge, and now she had help. 

Days passed with Blair coming by regularly to “hunt,” but in reality they just planned how to hurt James. They spent hours talking, both about their plans for revenge, and just their lives. Skia learned that Blair loved vanilla ice cream more than any other flavor and they thought chocolate tasted like plastic. It was the small things like that that stood out the most to Skia. She thought Blair’s hunting stories were interesting, but they weren’t who Blair was. Blair seemed haunted by something, but, whatever it was, they weren’t sharing. Perhaps it was something to do with the years of hunting, but Skia thought it could be something more. The cause wasn’t too important, she just wanted to make it go away, and she didn’t know why.

As the days turned into weeks, Blair and Skia made James’ life a nightmare. They broke property, followed him to work, kept him up all hours of the night with strange noises, and all the while Blair continued to convince him it was all part of the process. But despite the strange conditions of their meeting, Blair and Skia learned from each other, and about each other. They continued to get closer and bond; James’ suffering made it all the sweeter to Skia and Blair enjoyed having a goal again, instead of just wandering from place to place in varying states of drunkenness. For the first time in years, both of them felt like they had a place to belong, and a person who had their backs.

Part Six

The more time they spent together, the closer Blair and Skia got. The idea of torturing James felt less appealing. The two of them spent every waking moment together, and Skia had never felt more at peace. 

After weeks of Blair not even bothering to pretend to banish Skia, and Skia barely doing anything to deserve James, the two of them decide to quit the charade.

“Hey,” Blair greets James the next day they see him. “I believe I succeeded in getting rid of the spirit, I’m going to do one more sweep then I’ll be out of your hair permanently.”

“Finally. That took way too long. I have no clue why anyone paid you to do that.” James rolled his eyes as he spoke, and immediately turned away.

“Wait!” Blair yelled after him. 

James turned toward them slowly, “What?”

“Are you saying you aren’t going to give me the money you owe me?” They’re voice was accusatory.

“That’s exactly what I’m saying. Do your final sweep and get out of my house.” With those parting words, James left and Blair stood there speechless for a brief moment in silence.

“He’s such an asshole.” Skia says materializing out of nowhere. 

Blair jumps before saying, “Yeah he really is. Why’d you date him again?” Their tone was teasing, but Skia still couldn’t help but flinch. “I’m sorry, was that a bad joke? I didn’t mean anything by it.” Blair rushed to apologize.

Skia shakes her head, “Don’t be sorry, I’ve asked myself that a million times. I’ll probably ask it a million more.”

Blair laugh’s. “Maybe, just this once, we should listen to him. Let’s get out of here.” They say.

Skia smiles and allows her hand to brush against Blair’s. Both of them knew that Skia needed to allow herself to become solid in order to do so, but neither of them acknowledged that fact. A smile ghosted across Blair’s face as the two walked away, hands still touching. 

Skia kept herself solid for as long as she could so she could feel the heat of Blair’s body at her side and know that they felt it too. Eventually, Skia had to let herself fade as she ran out of strength. The two of them spent as much time together as possible. Skia had completely given up on torturing James, in favor of being with Blair. The more time they spent together, the closer they got. By the end of the month, Skia was head over heels in love with Blair, or at least as in love as you can be after a month. She felt safer with Blair than she had with anyone else, and it was the best feeling imaginable. Skia couldn’t imagine being with anyone else, and she almost didn’t mind the fact that she was dead, because it meant that they got to be together. 

Part Seven

Skia and Blair watched the sun rise over their small town in silence. Skia felt so at peace around Blair, and the fact that she had gone so long without this astonished her. How had she ever thought that what she had with James was love? The idea seemed so ridiculous now; it was so clear that what they had been was the farthest thing from love someone could get, but she had still settled for it. She knew better now. Perhaps dying had been good for her. If Skia were still alive, she would still be suffering at James’s hand, and she would have never had this moment, or any of the ones prior to it, with Blair. Skia lightly shook her head. That was only partially true. Maybe if she were alive she wouldn’t be here with Blair, but she didn’t deserve to die. She refused to give James any thanks, even in the privacy of her own thoughts.

“There’s a carnival in town,” Blair’s words come out of nowhere and Skia looks at them in confusion.  “It opens today. I thought maybe we could go.” Their voice turned nervous as they finished their sentence. Skia smiled but she simply gestured at herself awkwardly.

“I don’t really know if me going to a carnival would work very well. The whole being dead thing kind of puts a damper on things.” She said it mostly as a joke, but there was still a sadness to her words. Skia may have given up on torturing James, but she was still angry about all the opportunities he had stolen from her. Even more proof that she shouldn’t think of him in a positive light; she couldn’t let herself.

“I know. It was a dumb idea,” Blair answered. They tried to infuse a chipperness into their voice, but the disappointment they felt was still as clear as day.

“No it wasn’t,” Skia rushed to comfort Blair. She hated seeing them sad, and to know that she caused that, even unintentionally, was devastating. “Maybe I could make it work, but we wouldn’t be able to stay for too long. I don’t know if I can stay visible and still be able to interact with things for an entire day.” Even before the words were out of her mouth, Skia saw Blair’s entire demeanor change. Their face lit up and the joy there made Skia believe that any amount of strain she might feel was entirely worth it. Anything was worth that look on Blair’s face. 

As the sun finally cleared the tree line completely and the day fully began, Skia and Blair stood and began to walk back into town. Skia let her hand graze Blair’s before she finally built up the courage to hold it. She could feel Blair jerk slightly in surprise, but then their hand tightened and Skia saw them smile out of the corner of her eye.

Hours later, the sun was high in the sky, and the carnival was in full swing. Skia forced herself into visibility, and the closest thing to solid she could be. Walking through the maze of rides with Blair at her side, Skia felt something bubbling in her chest. The two of them wandered, stopping every once in a while so Blair could show off their “prowess” at the obviously rigged games. Skia felt herself laughing more than she had in years, and she couldn’t seem to keep the smile off her face. 

She managed to remain solid long enough to watch the sunset. Blair dragged her to the ferris wheel, and despite Skia’s half-hearted protests about her fear of heights, she found herself sitting in one of the cars, Blair pressed to her side. Blair’s body heat warmed Skia in a way she didn’t know was possible in her current state. As the wheel began to turn, Skia made a slight sound of fear, and Blair turned to her.

“You were serious about being afraid of heights?” They asked.

“Yes! Why else would I have said it?” Skia’s voice was tense.

“Don’t worry, I won’t let you fall.” Blair wrapped their arm around Skia as they spoke, and gripped her shoulder tightly. Their hand ended up almost inside of Skia’s half solid form, but there was still an unexpected comfort in it.

After what seemed like hours, their car reached the top, and then it stopped. Skia stared at the sky. She could see for miles, and the sun seemed to glow brighter than she had ever seen it.

“Skia?” Blair’s voice seemed hesitant, but they continued anyway. “I’ve never felt safer than when I’m with you, I want you to know that.”

Skia smiled, “I feel the same about you, Blair.”

“I- well, I just wanted to tell you,” Blair took a deep breath, stealing their nerves. “I just wanted to tell you that I love you.” Skia jerked a little, but then a smile overtook her face.

“I love you too.” Her response was rushed. Even as she was saying it, she was leaning towards Blair. She stopped just shy of their lips. 

“I love you so much,” Blair whispered as they closed the gap between them. As soon as Blair’s lips touched Skia’s, she felt a lightness, as if Blair had lifted a weight off of Skia’s chest that she hadn’t even known was there. She was whole again. For years she had allowed herself to slowly fade away; she had died long before her last breath, but Blair seemed to fill her with life once more. As they pulled apart, Skia felt her energy begin to fade, and she knew it was for the last time. She hadn’t been able to move on, because she hadn’t known true love. She did now, and her time on Earth was coming to an end.

“Blair,” she spoke with an urgency she knew they wouldn’t understand,

“What is it?” Blair responded.

“I need you to promise me something. Promise me you’ll live your life. Promise me you’ll let yourself be happy.” Skia felt the tears forming in her eyes, but she didn’t brush them away.

“Skia, what is it? What’s happening?” Blair’s voice was growing panicked, but Skia didn’t have time to assuage their worries.

“Please just promise me.”

“I promise you, Skia. Of course I do. I’d do anything for you,” but before they could finish their sentence, Skia was gone. Blair was alone again.

Part Eight

Skia stood in the darkness, much like she had all those months ago, but this time there was no pain; no fear or confusion. This time all Skia felt was a bone-deep sadness. She had been truly happy with Blair, and despite the fact that she had known it couldn’t last – she was dead while Blair was as alive as ever – the loss of that safety and comfort left her feeling worse than she thought possible.

Skia sat in the darkness crying for what, to her, felt like years, but she knew it was probably only a few hours, and she thought of Blair.

Blair thought of her too. For months, Skia was the only thing on their mind. She appeared in their dreams; they imagined seeing her walking down the street. The feeling of Skia’s hand in theirs haunted Blair’s memory. They finally broke. They had been sober since Skia came into their life. Her presence had given Blair the strength to ignore the craving. But now, after two months without Skia, Blair broke. They picked up their half empty bottle of Sapphire that had been left, forgotten below their sink for almost six months. The familiar swishing of the aquamarine liquid in the bottle brought Blair a slight comfort before they even took a single sip.

Blair brought the bottle to their lips, allowing themself to imagine the warmth seeping through their bones was from Skia’s lips and touch rather than some old Gin. The fantasy only lasted a moment before Blair felt that slight warmth turn to a burn, but they didn’t take the bottle from their lips. That burn was what they craved more than anything. If they couldn’t have Skia, they didn’t see the point in anything else. That thought made Blair falter. It was true, yes, but they couldn’t help but think of the promis they had made to SKia.

Blair stopped drinking. They set the bottle down on their counter and stared. Six months of sobriety down the drain and a prommis to the most important person to ever enter Blair’s world, broken. They should caee. Blair knew they should care, but they couldn’t bring themselves to. They just wanted to numb that ache in the chest, even if only for a moment. Blair picked the bottle up again; brought it back to their lips and allowed themself to succumb to their urges. 

Blair drank like they never had before, determined to make up for the six months they had lost.They got reckless; staying out all night, driving drunk. They had almost forgotten about their promise to try to find joy in life, but the memory was still there no matter how long Blair pretended it wasn’t. Thinking of it only made the pain worse, and Blair was so tired of hurting.

They held up a bottle of cheap tequila, hating the taste in their mouth, which only made it that much better. They swallowed the liquid in their mouth and went to take another sip, only to find the bottle empty. Blair groaned, stumbling to their feet. They grabbed their keys off the table, lacking the energy to walk to the gas station to buy more.

Blair sat behind the wheel of their car. There was a voice in the back of their head telling them that driving right now would be a horrible idea. It sounded just  a little bit like Skia. Blair pushed the voice away and started the car. They began to drive,trying to differentiate between the four yellow lines in front of them. Which ones were real? Blair had no clue, but they did their best to stay in their lane. It didn’t work. The headlights seemed to appear out of nowhere. Blair couldn’t tell if there was one car, or two. They couldn’t tell where the cars were. Everything was a blur to them, but as they watched the identical SUV’s barreling towards them, Blair felt almost at peace. Maybe they would get to see Skia again.

The headlights grew brighter, until they were all Blair could see. Distantly Blair heard a noise, but it took their alcohol addled brain a moment to process. It wasn’t a single sound, but rather two blended together. The car in front of them blaring its horn, and Blair’s own crying. They listened to the merging sounds, staring as the lights got closer, bigger, brighter until that was all there was.. The bright light an echoing crash of metal on metal, pain echoing through their body. And then nothing. Silence fell back across the night. The smell of smoke filled the air.

The same humanoid glowing figure from Sia’s first time in the dark room appeared. 

“You did it.” The feminine voice echoed around Skiea’s skull. “You now know what it is to love, and to be loved in return. Now let me take you to your next step.”

“Why?” Skia snapped back through her sobs. “Why did you give me a glimpse of what true happiness could feel like only to rip it easy as soon as I finally felt safe?”

“Do not be angry,” the creature responded. “Just come with me. We can help you to forget your pain. Your business in the living world is complete. Let us take you home.” The spirit held out its hand, and after a moment, Skia took it.  Forgetting all of her pain didn’t sound all that bad in that moment, even if it meant forgetting Blair. She was so tired of hurting. She allowed herself to be guided toward a door that she could have sworn wasn’t there before. Just as she reached the threshold, a voice called out.

“I’m sorry,” Skia recognized Blair’s voice Instantly, but she didn’t believe it. She whipped around to see that they really were standing there in the room of shadows. Blair spoke again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t keep my promise. I tried for as long as I could, but I didn’t know how to do it anymore. Everything felt impossible without you.” Tears dripped from their eyes, but Vlair still offered a weak smile.

“Blair,” Skiia’s voice came out in an awed whisper. She cleared her throat then in a louder voice she said, “Blair. It’s ok. I don’t care about any of that. You’re here now You’re with me again and that’s all that matters.” As if the words were a cue, Blair rushed forward and the two embraced. 

They were together; they were complete once again. This time it was forever.