"Be wise, Jason. Be wise."
And that was the last piece of advice I heard before the images of Belle disappeared before me.
There was a blinding flash of white light and soon enough, I found myself standing in a room.
I ran my hands through my hair in distress and froze.
Wait a minute. What the hell did I just say?
And then I saw it in the mirror. Hands. My hands. Legs. My legs. I frantically patted my body and…and it was all here! It was like a dream come true. It's funny how you still have dreams after you pass away. It's true!
You don't have to be living to have dreams. That is a pile of bull, if you ask me.
Tears welled up in my eyes and there was an overwhelming sense of joy and happiness surging through me. God, I had long forgotten how I look like. How long has it been? Ten years? I flexed my arms and ruffled my hair. Tousled curly hair, seems right. In between my tears and my laughter I shouted out with glee…
...But that was before I heard a girl scream.
Oh. Right. Shouting out with glee probably wasn't the best move to do when you're stuck in a sixteen-year-old girl's bedroom.
I turned around only to find myself face to face with an aghast looking girl. God, she was so beautiful. I gazed longingly into her round lily pad green eyes, taking in her appearance slowly.
She still looked the same. From her soft black locks, all the way down to her never ending legs.
And then I did something really stupid.
I pulled her face close to mine and kissed her, savouring the jolts of electrifying happiness that coursed through me. I guess I had been suppressing my urge to do that for such a long time that the intensity of my raging hormones were just so much I didn't even feel her struggling against my body. My body. It feels good to say that, think that, feel that, know that… Uh, yeah. You get the idea.
Perhaps it was a good thing I kissed her for her legs went limp and her screams were muffled and somehow… somehow she was kissing me back.
I stepped back and took a look at her, and then I grinned. Her cheeks were flushed pink and she looked up at me dreamily through her thick eyelashes in a daze.
"Who are you? Am I dreaming? Oh gosh, I must be."
She stood there in her adorable Bananas-in-Pajamas pajamas, mumbling to herself with a very lost look on her face, and then she started smirking at no one in particular.
"…Ah but if I am in factdreaming, I might as well take full use of this opportunity, right? Oh yes, yes, he is good looking. Oh my, my dreams are getting so awfully vivid nowadays. Hmm, so I guess it'd be okay if I…"
She turned around and locked her arms around my neck and kissed me again. Then she released herself from the kiss, and pinched herself. She looked pleased with herself after that.
"Ah, so this is a dream!"
I couldn't stop myself from breaking into laughter. So this is how her dreams are like. Why, she acts so differently in dreams than she does when she's awake! Which sounds ironic since she is awake at this very moment, but isn't aware of that fact.
She's so bold and brave and - since when did she start going around kissing people freely? I've always known her as the shy, timid type. I clucked my tongue.
She smiled coyly at me.
"So, mystery man in my dreams, what's your name? Not that it matters, since you probably won't be here in the morning, but just for courtesy sake, what is your name?"
I chuckled appreciatively; I've never seen this side of her before.
"Darling, you're going to find that you're very much awake now, and then you're going to start digging a hole to Neverland or start screaming like a banshee."
She squirmed. "What?"
I ignored her question, and chose to walk around her in circles as she looked at me quizzically, her brows furrowed with confusion.
"You're still the same…" I murmured softly, my voice barely above a whisper. I smiled at the sight of her, rubbing her eyes groggily.
She's still the same.
I took another glance around the dark and silent room, and collapsed to the ground right after, trying to absorb the fact that this is really happening.
This is really happening.
"Are you feeling okay?" She spoke out timidly from behind uncertainly. I grinned from ear to ear, no, I wasn't okay, I was more than okay.
I was back.
"I don't think we've had a proper introduction before this. Forgive me for my ill manners." I said, and stood up slowly as I brushed the invisible dust off my faded blue jeans. "Hello, my name is Jason. Jason Milan Alexanders." I did a dramatic bow, held my hand out and grinned boyishly at her.
She stared at me in confusion, then looked at my hand warily. I smirked as I saw her hands clasped tightly behind her back as she hastily took a small step away from me.
I raised an eyebrow and took a step closer to her. "You know," I drawled, "You are supposed to shake it and introduce yourself, too. Be polite, Belle."
She stared at my hand as if it was mutated, which kind of made me look at my hand too. Did the misters and missus up there give me the wrong hand or something? I glanced, nope, its right alright. Yes, they rarely make mistakes. Although, there was this once an old man was placed into a 10 year old container (body) when he came back and his wife failed to recognize him and…Well, it was a sad, tragic story. But let us just leave it at that and come back to the current situation.
Nervousness and panic crept back to her face.
Oh crap. It wasn't supposed to happen this way.
"How in heavens name do you know my name? And what are you doing in my room?"
She shifted her weight from one leg to the other and her eyes darted quickly around the room. She bit her lip and closed her eyes. This is how I know she was weighing her options.
Option one: Distract me and run away?
Or option two: Distract me and run away.
Wait. They're the same thing.
Well, I'm sorry. I don't know how a sixteen year old girl thinks. But I don't blame her, what was meant as a joke sure as hell came out making me sound like some crazy stalker rapist fellow.
Which I didn't realize until… until seconds ago. Dang.
On the bright side, she seems to be aware that she's awake now. All by her own without any of my assistance, and here I thought I would have trouble convincing her. Though her in dream state sure would be helpful now. Another kiss sure would be nice.
Oh, dirty, dirty thoughts.
"Okay Belle… Belle?" She refused to look up at me but stopped shifting her weight and stood there, very still.
"Belle. I am not here to harm you."
She remained silent.
I heaved a deep sigh and stared bluntly at her.
"Okay, I'm going to put this very simply to you. I'm going to be horribly straight forward and I am positive you're going to freak out. I hope you won't but…"
She was still biting her lower lip. I knew I had to rid of that rapist killer stalker image from her mind quick before she did something. Dead guy would rate high in her charts compared to rapist, I'm sure. I snorted in my head.
Ah well, worth a shot. But how do you break it to someone that you're dead?
"I have been watching you for 10 years now. I passed away in the year 1997 when I was nineteen."
She let out a gasp and opened her eyes to look at me. Her face paled, but she nodded, as if giving me the green light to go on.
"This was my room and so my soul lingered around here. I don't know where all people go after they die. But for me, well I was stuck here- on earth, and I was unwilling to move from my room because it was the only thing that connected me to this place, it was the place which all my memories were kept. I felt that if I left, I wouldn't remember how my life was anymore, and not remembering. I've seen cases like that and I didn't want it to happen to me."
Belle was taking slow, deep breaths.
I ignored her panic-stricken face, and continued on with my story.
With my explanation.
But the whole thing felt so absurd, I felt as though I was trying to explain the story more to myself than to Belle.
"And then your family moved into my home and you into my room. And since then I've been watching. I was nothing but air. Less than dust, less than particles. I was somehow here but not. I know this doesn't make any sense to you, as it makes little sense to me too. But it is all true. I have been here, all these time."
I held my breath, waiting for a response. And when I saw that there wasn't going to be any, I went on with my explanation.
"I know you, Belle. I know who you are, I know what you like, I know who your friends are, I know who aren't. I know your parents' name, I know what your parents want you to be. I know the way you react towards things, I know how your hands are feeling clammy right now behind your back, and I know your lips are trembling because you're feeling afraid and shocked." I told her softly, and started walking towards her slowly. She took another step back. "I'm here to help, Belle. Please trust me."
She gaped at me in silence, filling the room with nothing but awkward tension and a mist of unanswered questions.
Then, she took a step closer to me, and reached her hand out slowly, reproachfully. I squeezed my eyes shut, waiting anxiously for the contact.
"Can… Can I?" She asked, her voice small. I nodded my head.
She touched my shoulder. I felt a tingle of indescribable sensation passing through my body. It was different when I kissed her, that was on impulse and sure, it was great. But this, this was a whole different thing.
It was her feeling me for the first time.
Me, the dead guy.
Me, as who I am.
Me, Jason Milan Alexanders.
My hand felt for the wall behind me to steady myself. It was the only thing I could do to prevent myself from falling under her soft caress.
Her hands felt for me shyly. From my tousled dark hair, to my eyelids, to my nose, to my lips. Her hands traced my features slowly, and she stopped.
"It's okay." I assured her, squeezing my eyes even tighter than before.
Her hands reached out hesitantly to my chest, the part of my body that was protecting my heart. I heard her gasp as her hand went through me.
"Your heart…" She whispered softly, her eyes widening in fear. "Why can't I feel the beating of your heart?"
My breath hitched.
"Belle… I'm dead. We don't get hearts." I explained painfully, then forcing a smile on my face as I shook my unhappy thoughts away. "But let me help you, Belle. Help me help you."
"But why…" She trailed off, but then stopped herself. She looked away from me for a few seconds, a few seconds turned into minutes, to what seemed like hours. When she looked up, her eyes were glistening with tears. "Why me?"
This time, I smiled genuinely.
''Because even though we're not given hearts, we still can love. Because Belle," I told her tenderly. "I love you."
And that was all she could take.
My smile faltered as I saw her running out of the room.
Running away from me.