Chapter Twelve

The Shadowy Past

Gabby…There it was again, the voice in my head, calling my name. I always seem to hear it when I'm waking, but this time was different. I was in the middle of the street, staring hard at the billboard sign across from me. It advertised lingerie. I wondered how many children saw that billboard.

The funny thing was, the voice in my head was too faint and too weak to really bother me. I was aware of it, but I never worried about it. Instead, I wondered where I might be going. I had left before Austin could turn around and say hello to me. I left before I could say thank you for getting rid of Tyson. I felt horrible for doing such a thing, but my mission was more important.

Mission?

I forced myself to stop walking and to really look at my surroundings. I was in an empty alley now, my pink slippers soiled in the sewer garbage at my feet. There was a garbage can next to me, looking sagged and worn with the load of all the waste in this city. The bricks on the building to my right looked newer than the building on my left. The older building had grime stuck in the crevices wherever I looked. I didn't know where I was. I turned around and looked out the mouth of the alley, to the deserted street in front of me. There was no street name.

I began to back out, because I was admittedly scared. I knew that I shouldn't be wandering the streets of New York all by myself, because there was a chance that a bad man could find me-someone worse than Tyson—and I knew that Austin wasn't here this time. He wasn't superman. He wouldn't find me so suddenly. The bar was merely a coincidence.

As I walked out of the alley, my legs stopped me again. I turned back to look at the alley with a longing look I could only have dreamt up. There was something about this crook between buildings that drew me. Cautiously I turned back and entered the alley again. Other than the garbage, there was something familiar about this place.

That was when it happened. A force slammed into my chest and threw me back against a wall. My breath was gone; my mind spun. This alley; it was the same alley between what used to be my mother's house and my best friend's house. There was a throbbing pain in the back of my head, images of the glass flashed across my vision. I must have walked for a long time without realizing it, because I used to live far away from Travis's penthouse. The pain became too much for me to bear, and I had bore quite a bit of pain in my lifetime. I saw Lynn, standing in the alley with Christie, and for a time, they were the only people I saw. I didn't see the alley anymore, and I didn't see the street behind me. Everywhere I looked they were there, taunting me as I tried to get away.

Christie had seen Lynn before, I remembered. She had told me stories of an angel with long, black hair and bright, green eyes and milky, white skin. I felt tears sting my eyes because I knew why she had killed herself. I was too young to understand it, but now I know why. She wanted to be with the angel. Lynn had told her to kill herself.

I fell to the ground, my hands catching myself and holding me up. "Oh Christie!" I sobbed, wishing she were here. I wished she never killed herself just to be with that woman in white. I wished she were still here with me, enduring the pain with me. Better yet, never having had that pain at all. I wished I didn't see her now, staring at me with a slight twitch of her lips and her grass green eyes. Her hand was outstretched, willing me to take it and join her.

I almost did.

I almost stretched my hand towards her and wrapped my fingers around hers, had it not been for the slight gleam that had caught my eye. I glanced to my left, and saw a glass cup.

My heart stopped beating, it seemed. Christie seemed to fade away. All that mattered now was that cup. It was the same cup in my dream. It sat in the corner of the alley, old and broken, but it was the glass. The surface itself was covered in residew and grime, left over water from the last rainfall floated inside it, the water as well murky and grey.

Without realizing what I was doing, I reached out and grabbed at the glass. I fell forward when I couldn't reach it, and forced myself to scoot towards it. My hand touched the gritty surface.

Gabriella…no… Christie's voice was loud in my ear, but I ignored her. I wasn't going to leave Travis now. I wasn't going to take the same route Christie had taken. I had a life to live, and I'm sure she would have had one as well, had she not killed herself. I learned my lesson the first time, when Travis dived in after me to save my life. I learned that anyone could drop in and change your life forever. Christie didn't have a chance to know that.

My hand knocked the glass over, and I watched the water spill out onto the ground. Nothing happened, but inside, I felt better about myself. I decided I wasn't going to let the nightmares haunt my every step. Christie and Lynn were gone.

I was a little girl, only six years old, when I met Christie. Christie didn't have the nightmares when I met her, but the more I played with her, the sooner the nightmares came. She dreamt of a glass, just as I had, but her dreams were tame compared to mine. She said she had seen the angel, Lynn, but only once. I had seen Lynn multiple times. She said she felt pains along her arms where teenagers would cut themselves, but she never had the cuts and blood to prove it. However tame they were, they had still depressed me. She had an odd fascination with fun houses, because it made her look different from her normal self. She hated her regular self. I began to hate looking in the mirrors.

I remembered the night clearly, when my mother came into my room and told me to run outside; my friend had killed herself. She was having an episode then. One of those dreary emotionally disturbed episodes that made me wish she wasn't my mother. She told me to run along and put myself in jail after I've soaked in the look of my best friend's dead body. I couldn't help myself. I ran to the window that looked down into the alley.

I only saw the curly hair and her sprawled body on the floor of the alley, blood surrounding her. I didn't know until later, after my father had drunkenly complained about losing a gun, where she had gotten the vial weapon to end her life with.

It was a week after she died when I started to get the faint nightmares. I didn't remember them well. I only knew they were like Christie's. They were tame before I attempted suicide. After Travis had heroically saved me, I realized they began to get worse. I stared at the tipped over glass, slowly pulling myself away from it. I forced myself onto wobbly feet and ran out into the night, my only destination in mind being the hospital Travis lay in.

I thought it was over, but I could hear Lynn's voice in my head, telling me to stop running and to come back. She warned that it would get worse, now that I have tried to tip the glass. I ignored the tug at my lungs and the burning of my slipper-less feet. I ignored Lynn's voice, whom I figured wasn't an angel. She was a ghost; a ghost of a girl who once was, as Christie's apparition had been. She was a ghost who's piercing green eyes shone brighter than her midnight hair or her creamy white skin. Christie's eyes had lit up like that as well.

I wondered if I was insane. I must be, if I could see the dead.

_break

Excruciating hospital lights paid no mercy to my eyes. I was so used to the darkness in the alley that I had to blink several times to keep the light from burning my vision. However much I hated the light at this moment, after being shrouded in darkness for so long, I knew I came for only one purpose. Travis.

I realize now that Travis's life would be replacing mine, considering I have chosen not to kill myself. Lynn's ghost was out for revenge. Despite Travis's remarkable statuses from the doctors, he was still susceptible to falling under and losing his life. I knew I couldn't let that happen.

It was still hard to think about being in a coma, but I had no choice. I tried to remember the dream I had. It didn't feel like a dream. It was more of a world; a taste of the afterlife, if you will. I've read about people who've had near death experiences. Some talk about blackness, others talk about golden cities filled with beauty. Electin was golden and monochromatic, almost glittering in sunshine. I must have seen heaven.

But why, then, had Lynn talked of a mission, and saving the realms "Levi and Hay"? I certainly didn't understand, and I hope not to, because I'd rather stay far away from all of this death business. I just wanted to save Travis.

I was greeted by reality when a nurse stopped me from getting on the elevator and punching in a floor number.

"Excuse me, but I believe you must sign in as a visitor." She coughed delicately, someone I immediately thought of as dainty and girly. The nurse herself was dressed in pink and brown scrubs with knotted brown hair and creamy white skin. She looked like a vase to me.

"Oh yes…" I backtracked and rounded the long counter. "My name is Cindy Peterson," I began uncertainly.

"Sign your name on the clipboard. You're here to see Travis I presume?"

"Yes, he's such a dear friend of mine." I knew I couldn't pull off the motherly look, so I went along with friend, hoping this nurse hadn't seen the real Cindy already.

"How sweet, he's on the fifth floor. Room 665."

"Thank you," I scurried away from the nurse, feeling as though she knew what my intentions were and that she was waiting for the perfect moment to call the police on me.

I let my guard down when the elevator dinged and opened onto the fifth floor. I decided that nurse was just a nice, dubious lady who was trying to make a living by doing her job. I decided to stop thinking about that and think about Travis, even though my nerves were on the edge. I felt like I might explode any minute, but I pulled myself together before I stepped off and avoided collision with a doctor and an IV rack.

Another room down and I swore I might have had a heart attack. Room 665 was dark inside, but I opened it anyway to see my beloved Travis lying in the hospital bed unmoving. I told myself I wouldn't cry upon seeing his inanimate body, but the tears leaked out anyway. I flipped on the light and rushed to his side, hoping the aid of the light would ward off any shadows that may lurk around him. I was being silly, of course, but I felt better.

I pulled a chair up next to the bed and seated myself before taking one of Travis's hands in both of mine. I wiped away the tears on the shoulder of my shirt and leaned towards Travis. "Travis…?" I whispered to him. "It's me, Gabby. You know who I am." I felt the tug of sorrow at my heart. I heard the pounding of my own frantic heart. I could taste the salt from my tears as they trailed down my cheeks and gathered at the corners of my mouth. "I just wanted to talk to you. You won't believe what I had gone through to get here." I looked away from his calm face for a moment, just to check my emotions before I carried on. He had to be able to hear my voice, rather than the choked thickness of my tears. "I don't know if you've seen it yet, or if it was just me, but I saw heaven. I didn't know I did, actually, until just recently." I paused so I could catch my breath, "Travis? Won't you wake up? For me?"

I clamped my hands tightly around his, "I think something bad is happening. I don't think it's good that I saw heaven. I think…that maybe I'm being haunted. It's a silly idea, I know…" I stared at his blank face, feeling more choking tears rise up, "Oh but Travis, Lynn. She's the angel that visited me before the car accident. She was in my dreams. I don't think she's an angel now. I think she may be a ghost of a girl who once lived on this earth.

"I'm not completely sure, but Travis, I think she wants to kill you so she can have me." At that, the tears finally burst through my carefully held defenses. I heard a moan rise up in my throat and I couldn't see his face anymore through my blurred vision. "You can't let her do that!" I nearly wailed, putting my forehead against his side so he could understand that I wept for him. He may not hear me, and he may not understand, but I hoped, if he was in Electin now, that he would hear the angels above him weeping, because I wanted him to hear me.

"Oh dear," The voice of the nurse from the desk downstairs had appeared behind me, and I suddenly launched upwards from my weak position and watched the chair tip over backwards and land on the floor with a cash. "Oh I'm so sorry to have startled you!" The nurse gasped, rushing forward to calm me down.

"Oh Gabriella. I'm so glad you're okay!" Cindy cried out from behind the nurse.

"Oh…" Was all I could say.

"I don't think it was very lady-like of you to have tricked me into believing you were Cindy Peterson." The nurse went on, her brow furrowing when she looked at Travis's stationary body.

I let out a tense breath, "I just want to be alone."

"You need to stop crying over Travis, Gabby." Cindy scolded, reaching forward to grab my wrist.

"NO!" I yelled at her suddenly, making both women freeze where they were, "Travis NEEDS to hear MY voice!" I spun around and around, grabbing at my hair. "You don't understand how hard it is!"

"I understand," Cindy began uncertainly.

"No. You don't. Not what I'm going through. All that I care about is lying in a hospital bed on the verge of death. Don't TELL me you understand." I gritted my teeth, wanting so badly to throw the chair at Cindy and the nurse, to barricade Travis's room and lock myself in it with him.

The nurse's fearful gaze struck me then. I realized what a monster I had become. I looked at Cindy, and saw that monstrous image reflected back to me in her own eyes. "Oh." I gasped, falling to the ground. I hadn't realized it, but I began to dig my fingers into my left wrist, scratching and scratching at the scabs and scars until I could feel blood again, and the delightful pain that distracted me from my own emotional pain…

"Gabriella! Don't you dare do that!" Cindy suddenly snapped, yanking me up by the arm and shoving me towards the door. I grew silent, watching the descent of the elevator in my old, detached way. I watched the fifth floor disappear from my sight. I watched the nurse pull out a cloth and dab at my bleeding arm, all the while saying nothing. I had said what I wanted to say. I felt a little bit better, but not completely and wholly better. Travis was still missing in my heart.