"Avery." I shouted with excitement in my voice as I burst through the attic door. "Avery where are you?" I looked around the dim lit and dusty space. Nothing but boxes and worn furniture filled the attic.
"You're home?" I turned quickly to see him standing nearby, smiling as he always did. He always had such a warn expression on his face. "you're much earlier today."
I settled my breathing, after having ran home and up to the attic floor of the huge Victorian house. "Yeah." I breathed, walking over and sitting on a wooden box. "I ran home as fast as I could."
"What for?" I could see the genuine curiosity in his eyes. It made me smile, the purity and innocence I saw in those eyes. He wasn't like anyone else, he was special, for many reasons.
I held up three fingers. "3 days." I said as he stared at my hand then up at me, the confusion in his brow so child-like yet elegant.
"What's in three days?" he asked, still not sure what I could possibly be talking about.
"The anniversary." I could see now he knew exactly what I meant. His eyes seemed to light up with disbelief and intrigue. "I finally found out the exact day. It's in exactly three days."
"Really? Only three days?" He turned away, holding a hand to his chest. "I can't believe it's almost been an entire year again." His expression softened and seemed to fade as he drifted into his own thoughts.
"Avery?" He came back, looking towards me. "Is there anything special you want to do?"
"Something special?" He blinked, his smile dropping into a frown. He seemed to become serious instantly.
I nodded. "Yeah, was there anything you really wanted to do when you were alive?" I asked, clarifying my question.
In three days was going to be the biggest day for Avery. The one day a year he could live his dream, literally. You see, Avery was a ghost. The day I met him was the biggest shock, yet happiest day in my life. Dad had found a great new job in another city, so mom and I packed up and moved along with him. They bought this huge, old Victorian house and it was somewhat secluded from neighbors. Quiet, peaceful and relaxing, just what my parents were looking for. I didn't mind so much, only that it was right when summer holidays began, so I would have to wait until school started to make new friends. But being bored all day in a huge house alone, I decided to explore, wondering if it was like those old houses in the movies. It wasn't until I made my way up to the attic that I finally found anything worth something in the house. I found Avery.
I stepped into the muggy, stale room, nothing but a thick layer of dust covered what was left of old furniture and stored junk. I thought maybe I could find some old books to read, but finding nothing, I decided to head back downstairs. But when I turned around, there he was. I nearly had a heart attack. I mean a real ghost, see-through and everything, was standing right in front of me. The weird thing was he seemed just as surprised as I was.
"Are you a real human boy?" He floated around me and I could feel that 'shiver' of sorts people say you get near ghosts.
"A-are you really a ghost?" I swallowed hard, still finding it hard to believe it was an actual ghost.
My entire body stiffened when he suddenly appeared before me, having passed through my body. I stared at him, a little creeped out. I wanted to run, terrified, but when I looked at him, there was a warm smile on his face. "You're very funny." He laughed and I could feel my shoulders relax. "I'm Avery."
I stared at him for a while. He wasn't going to hurt me. He was just an ordinary 15 year old like me, lonely, no friends and misunderstood. I could feel a smile and my entire body seemed to ease. "Nicholas." His smile broadened and I knew then he really was just like me.
Avery became my best friend. I spent every summer day with him, spending hours in the attic, talking about absolutely everything. When school finally started I didn't care anymore to make friends with actual kids my age, I just wanted to run home and be next to Avery. I felt comfortable and completely myself around him. I knew I could tell him anything, not because he had no one else to repeat what I said to, but I trusted him more than anyone else.
Then the day came Avery shared the biggest secret of his life. Well, from his life. He told me how he died. Apparently he grew up in this very house, a single child just like me, with both his parents who cared very much for him. His family was respected and well-off, but when Avery was young he became sick and wasn't aloud to leave the house. His parents kept him captive in his own room, never aloud to play with the other kids or go any further than the back porch, permitting the weather was good for his health. His parents grew tired of caring for him and hired a lady to look after him. He hated her because she was mean and cruel to him. But as much as he tried to cry out for his parents, they turned their backs. They became consumed in their lives so much, having an ill son was impossible for them, he just didn't exist anymore. He hated his life and wanted to run away, but he was restrained to his bed and room, unable to move freely throughout the house and would get smacked by the care-lady if he tried to do anything without her permission. She always beat him, squeezing his wrists, slapping him on the back, he nearly choked once when he refused to drink his medicine and she forced him, pouring half the bottle down his throat. He used to cry himself to sleep, but eventually he grew too weak. His body kept getting tired day by day, his face was so pale and he couldn't even sit up without help. Yet he always took his medicine and still grew gravely ill. It wasn't until a few days before his death his parents had caught her slipping rat poison into the medicine bottle. By then he was already at death's door. He remembered his parents crying next to his bed before his eyes finally closed. He wouldn't look at them, he hated them for turning away, for not loving him. After his death, he remained in the house, his spirit unable to leave, so he spent his days up in the attic, alone.
But every year, on the anniversary of his death, Avery becomes human again and can feel, breathe, eat, touch, do everything someone living could do. When I found out the day of his anniversary was in three days, I wanted to do something very special for him. Something to make that one day unforgettable.
"So?" I asked waiting for his response. "Tell me what you want and I'll do it for you." I smiled, hoping he'd ask for something really exciting.
"Anything?" I nodded. He looked away and I knew he was thinking, so waited patiently for him to answer. "Well, there's one thing I'd really like."
"Name it and it's yours." I sat tall, proud I was going to make his one day worth something.
He stared at me for a few seconds before turning away. "a kiss."
My eyes nearly popped out of my head. I almost thought I heard him incorrectly. "A what?" I asked, hoping I misheard what he said.
"More than anything, I want a kiss." He didn't look at me, but my eyes stayed glued to him in complete shock.
"Are you sure?" I asked.
He nodded. "I've never been kissed before." I could feel my expression change from utter surprise to a little sympathetic. "I've spent years watching people share kisses of affection, but I was never able to share that with someone." He finally looked at me. "All I want is to feel what it's like to be kissed, just once." His smile was so soft and genuine it broke my heart.
I sighed heavily. "If that's what you want." I found a smile to return. "Then I promise to kiss you that day."
"Promise?" He twisted toward me more, his eyes sparkling with joy.
I nodded. "Yeah, I promise." I felt a little easier about it now. I mean sure he was my best friend and a guy, but it was just a simple little kiss, plus it would mean a lot to him. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to see so many people experience such great joys in life, yet never being able to do so yourself. It must have been depressing.
I spent the next two days thinking about how Avery must have felt all these years. This kiss was surely going to mean something very important to him. As a ghost he just passed through solid objects, so could never feel someone's lips against his own. I sighed, staring up at the clock on the classroom wall. School dragged on forever that day. My mind kept drifting off to thoughts of tomorrow and the kiss. The more I tried to think about Avery and making him happy, or how maybe we might actually kiss, I couldn't help but feel a slight tug at my heart.
Did I care for Avery more than I thought?
I couldn't, he was a ghost and my best friend. The kiss was meaningless in feelings to one another. But the thought crossed my mind several times. And what if this kiss did mean something to Avery because it was me? If Avery cared for me he would have told me, right?
I frowned, looking up at the clock again. Only five minutes had passed. All I wanted to do was go home and see him.
I blinked. Oh no. Am I in love with Avery? there was no way. I mean, it was perfectly normal to want to spend every waking moment with your friend, ghost or not. Sure, I thought about him all day, wondering what he was doing, thinking of things we could talk about. But now I was even thinking about how we would kiss. Was I actually excited to kiss him? Maybe I did love Avery. I could always feel that flutter in my chest every time my thoughts drifted to him.
The bell rang, snapping me out of my daydream. I walked slowly today. I needed time to think now. All I wanted to do all day was get home and be with Avery, but now I needed to know if what I thought, or felt, was true. Was I really in love with Avery?
"Nicholas." I looked up in surprise as I stepped into the attic. "I'm so happy you're home." He smiled so brightly it made me blush a little. I smiled and walked over to a box and sat down. "I thought all day about tomorrow. I can't wait to spend the entire day with you, just like a normal living boy."
I couldn't help but smile, despite all my worrying of what was to come tomorrow. "I'm glad. I really want to make this day special." I had planned to pretend I was sick and stay home all day with Avery, since mom and dad would be at work and we could go anywhere in the house instead of staying in the attic.
"Thank you Nicholas." He smiled. "For being my friend."
I could feel myself blush slightly. I looked away, the attic falling silent. I wasn't sure what I should say or how I felt about what he said. I was still trying to figure out how I actually felt about Avery. "Nicholas, dinner." I heard my mom shout from downstairs.
"Coming." I shouted back, then turned to Avery. "I'll be back after I eat." I stood up and left, trying to ignore his displeased expression.
I tried to avoid talking about anything that reminded me of my mixed feelings. I didn't want him to notice me feeling nervous or flustered and question me. After dinner I tried to plan out little things we could do tomorrow, anything that avoided sentimental feelings, and especially the kiss.
"Good morning." I cracked open one eye, finding a face staring brightly at me. I rolled over miserably wanting more sleep. "Nicholas, wake up." The weight of his body made me bounce when he jumped on my bed.
I was irritated at first, until it clued in and I shot up in a panic. "Avery." He sat at the edge of my bed smiling. I reached out and he grabbed my hand, lacing our fingers. "Oh my god. You're…"
"Alive." He pulled my hand to his face, making my fingers brush his cheek.
I blushed instantly and pulled my hand away. "Uh, do you want to have breakfast?" I avoided his eyes. Seeing him in the flesh was making it hard to forget about any feelings I had, but the moment I felt his skin my heart pounding only made me want to hold him more.
"Nicholas." I could feel his eyes on me as I pulled the covers off and walked over to the door.
"How about pancakes?" I glanced back, finding sad eyes staring back at me. That tug at my heart made me turn quickly and head downstairs.
"Nicholas." Avery walked into the kitchen as I went through the cupboards looking for pancake mix. I was horrible at cooking, so never attempted to make anything from scratch.
I kept my back to him, trying to avoid his eyes still. "Do you want blueberries?" My voice sounded uneven.
"Nicholas, are you going to answer me?" I licked my lips, desperately trying to think of anything to say. "Nic-"
"I heard you." I snapped. I slapped a hand to my mouth and spun around. "I'm so sorry, Avery."
"Is there something bothering you?" He looked at me with worry and confusion.
God I loved how he twisted so many emotions into one expression. "Nothing." I shook my head. "I'm just grumpy in the morning." I flashed a fake smile and turned around. My mind was screaming, I couldn't talk to him or look at him. I just fully out admitted to myself I was in love with Avery. I love him, I am truly in love with Avery.
I finished the pancakes and sat down to eat with him. "Wow, these are really good." His eyes lit up when he took a bite.
"Have you never had pancakes before?" I took a bite, nearly missing my mouth, unable to take my eyes off of him.
"No." He took an extra large bite, a huge smile smearing his face as his cheeks puffed out, a drip of syrup hanging on his lip.
My eyes fell to that drip. Sitting there, begging to be licked off. The sweet, maple flavour waiting to be tasted, but Avery was unaware of it's existence.
I reached over the table and gently wiped my finger across his lip. He froze, staring at me is surprise. Our eyes locked and the room fell silent. My face began to heat up. "S-syrup." I stuttered, unsure what I had just done. I grabbed my fork and began shovelling food into my mouth. I couldn't look at him for the rest of breakfast and he didn't say a word to me.
Afterwards we left the dishes in the sink and looked for more new things Avery could try. It had been 200 years since he was alive, so there were many things around the house he's never experienced before and thankfully they all distracted him from what happened at breakfast. Unfortunately my eyes kept watching him. My heart kept pounding the more I was near him.
"Nicholas." He set down the television remote, snapping me out of whatever world my mind was in.
I realized then the room had become quiet, the movie we had been watching paused at some blurred scene. I couldn't even guess what point the movie was at, having lost my focus near the beginning. All I did was stare at Avery, watching his amazement and studying everything about him. But I didn't realize how much I had been staring at him, until now.
"You've been watching me all day." He twisted more towards me on the couch.
My hands began to feel sweaty and I rubbed them together, licking my lips as a distraction. "Oh." I mumbled.
"Nicholas." I bit down on my lip, trying hard not to look at him. But his voice was making my heart pound more than ever. "Look at me."
I followed his command, unable to think for myself. My breathing faltered when he leaned closer. "Avery." I swallowed hard.
His hand brushed my cheek, making my heart want to tear out of my chest. "Do you remember your promise?" He inched closer.
"Uh huh." I breathed quickly. My entire body was heating up, every nerve tingling as he moved closer.
His thumb traced my bottom lip. I closed my eyes, loving the feel of his touch. My heart was about to stop beating as the anticipation grew. "Avery." I licked my lips again as his other hand smoothed around my waist.
"Shh." His voice was soothing, just as his hand was, now combing through my hair. I couldn't open my eyes, afraid I would rush the kiss and ruin everything. He had it under control. His timing was long but perfect, every motion making my nerves quiver with delight.
I could feel his lips lingering against my own. Just the slightest touch teasing me. I wanted to feel his lips so badly, to feel his skin against my own. I wanted to love him and be loved by him. The moment he pressed his lips against mine, I lost any doubts about my love for him.
I wrapped my arms around him and pressed harder into the kiss. All my passion went into this kiss.
My body leaned back and Avery was pulled with my weight. He broke away and I opened my eyes. His skin was flawless, his lips full and red from kissing. His eyes stared into mine and I lost myself in his. "I love you."
The shock in his entire face snapped me out of my thoughts. Had I really just spoken those words. The three words that committed the deepest feelings in your heart. I knew I loved him, but did he love me?
"No." I felt like someone just slapped me across the face with a leather belt. "No, Nicholas." his voice sounded desperate and near crying.
"Avery." He sat up and I jumped up after him. "I really love you." He couldn't do this to me. I needed him to feel the same way. I wanted to be with him, forever.
"I'm sorry. This is my fault." He shook his head avoiding looking at me. "Please don't say you love me."
"Avery." I may have sounded a little angry, but who wouldn't be. I grabbed him and pressed our lips together with more passion than the first. I broke away, holding him close. "I am in love with you. I can't change how I feel."
"But, we can't…" He stared at me a little dazed.
"You don't love me." I cut him off before he could finish and sunk back. After all this worrying about how I felt, in the end it didn't matter because he didn't return the feeling. It really was just a kiss to him. I turned and stared at my knees.
"Nicholas." His hand touched my shoulder.
I looked at him, tears stinging my eyes. I waited for him to say something, wanting him to say what I needed to hear. Instead, he pushed me back and threw himself on top, locking our lips again.
I was about to push him off, knowing it was wrong if he didn't love me, but then why would he do this. His hand slid up my shirt and I grabbed his wrist. Just as I was ready to stop him, he forced his tongue into my mouth. My back arched and he leaned in closer to my body, his tongue playing with my own.
I squeezed my eyes, but I could feel the tears soaking my eyelashes still. I wanted to cry, I wanted anything but this. I loved him and he broke my heart, yet now he was playing with me. I gripped his shirt, my hands shaking.
He pulled away, but I couldn't open my eyes, afraid of the tears. But my entire body was shaking and I cried anyways. His finger caught a stray tear and I opened my eyes to look at him. "Avery, don't touch me, please."
"Nicholas." His eyes looked pained. "I love you."
"Then why didn't you say that." I breathed heavily, still holding his shirt tightly.
"Because, we can't be together." He seemed ready to cry as he wiped away another tear running down my cheek. "Nicholas, I'm dead."
"I know, but I still love you." I turned my head away, his forehead pressed to my cheek.
"But tomorrow we can't be like this." He shifted, wrapping his arms around me, burying his head between my neck and shoulder.
"Then be with me now." I slid my arms around him. He felt so right in my arms, I wanted to feel this everyday. I never wanted to let him go, but he was right, tomorrow he would be a ghost again. "I'll wait."
He pulled away and we locked eyes. "what?"
"I'll wait." I repeated. "every year."
"Nicholas, I can't let you do that." He stared at me in disbelief.
I touched two fingers to his lips, keeping our eyes locked. "It doesn't matter now. I'm in love with you. I'd rather wait a entire year to have you just for one day, than live without ever holding you again."
I could feel his lips quivering at my fingertips. He gently pulled my hand away, leaning down to kiss me. It was short and soft, his lips still shaking from crying. He leaned close to my ear, his breath soothing. "Nicholas." His voice made my heart flutter. "I need you to promise me something."
"mmhm." I hummed, unable to find the energy to speak, his touch and voice completely paralyzing my body.
"If I stay with you today." His lips moved closer to my ear, his body weighing down on my body more. "I need you to stay with me forever."
My eyes shot open. "A-Avery." My heart began racing, I could barely breath properly. "What are you saying?"
I tried to sit up, but his body weight was preventing me from moving, his arms wrapping tightly around me. "Nicholas. I need you to be mine, for eternity. It's the only way I can be with you."
"Are you asking me to kill myself?" I screamed. I loved Avery, but I wasn't sure I was ready to commit myself that much. Death wasn't something you could undo with the signing of a paper. It was permanent.
"You won't completely die." He kept holding me tighter, as though he was afraid I would run off any second and never come back. "You'll just give half your soul to me."
"What?" I breathed, a little confused by all of this.
"If you swear yourself to me, I'll share your soul." He finally pulled away and looked at me. "You'll be mine forever and I'll be yours." He smiled.
"But I don't understand. I won't die?" I stared at him trying to figure out what he was telling me.
"Your expected life will be cut in half." His brow furrowed, noticing my hesitation to agree.
"And the other half?" None of this was making sense still.
"Will be given to me." My eyes locked with his. My heart nearly leaping out of my chest.
"You'll be…" My eyes widened, unable to believe what I thought he was saying. He nodded and smiled. I swallowed, thinking hard. I could actually have Avery with me everyday, but at the cost of half my life. He was silent as I stared up at the ceiling, clearing my head so I could think straight. "Avery."
I could feel him flinch. "Yes?" He had a spark of excitement in his voice.
"I'm just wondering." I looked at him and he had that beautiful look of innocence and confusion rolled into one. He was so handsome, it felt like looking at a dream, but he was real. And I could actually make him real forever and mine. His eyes continued to watch me as I brushed some hair behind his ear. "How am I going to explain you to my parents." I smiled and his eyes lit up. He lowered his lips to mine, smiling before they touched.