Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 127,792,023 Issue: 260 | 6th day of Collecting, Y8
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Not a Ghost: Part Three

by moonshadow711


I don't know how long Baelia and I stood there, forcing ourselves to keep eye contact with each other. At last Baelia looked away. She was quiet for a moment, her facial expression frustrated. Then she spoke in a forced sounding voice. "Look, Esci, there's no definite way out of this. Only one spell I sort of know, but I'm not sure it will work. It's old magic, and definitely not supposed to be used on ghosts. But if you're really desperate... I could try it..."

      She swallowed, and then kept speaking. "You see, back when I was in school, I often looked in the library at more advanced spells than I was supposed to perform. I know one that may help you..." She paused for a moment. "But I have no idea if it will work. The old spell books were written differently than the other ones, and I don't think the spells were ever meant to be used." She sighed. "Normally I would never attempt magic as complicated as this. But here..." She trailed off. "I don't really have much to lose..." She was quiet for a minute. "I think I could help you fix things; I think the spell would give you back time, but I'm not quite sure how it works. But there's a good chance it may not work. This is incredibly advanced magic, remember, and I don't know if these are the right circumstances to attempt it. And I'm not perfect at magic. No one is. It would be a big risk to try this, you realize."

      I thought about it. And I thought about it some more. And then a bit more. It was definitely dangerous. But I didn't really have that much to lose, did I? I didn't know what the consequences could be, and I didn't want to. But the chance to get back to my life... It was at that moment that a new thought struck me: hard, so that I stumbled back, and nearly fell. Baelia. She had been alone for years upon years, and finally someone had come who could keep her company, and now that person might be taken away from her. Could I really do that to her? I could bring myself to risk what was left of my own life, which wasn't much, but to leave Baelia all alone again...

      As if she had read my mind (which maybe she did), Baelia spoke. "Don't worry about me. I'll manage. I've managed for the past eight hundred years..." She was trying to sound casual, but I could tell she didn't feel at all that way. Right now, she might be regretting that she ever brought the spell up. I didn't want to think that I had made her feel that way, but...

      "I'll do it," I finally said. I didn't feel at all certain that it was the right choice, but I had to say something. I could tell Baelia was fighting to keep her face neutral, but her eyes told the real story.

      "All right," she finally said, as though she did not trust her voice to stay level. "If I read the spell correctly, all you have to do is, well, stop when the time is right. That's all I know, but I think you'll know what to do." She was silent for a moment. "If it doesn't work... I'm sorry." She struggled to keep eye contact with me, and failed: her eyes turned down to the floor, and I thought I could see the beginnings of tears forming in them.

      "Goodbye." That was all I managed to say, as my mind spun, hoping fervently that I had chosen correctly.

      "Goodbye." I heard her voice whisper, seemingly from miles away. Then she was gone.

       * * * * *

      Everything was darkness. Darkness everywhere, all around. I couldn't see anything. It was as if my eyes were closed and could not open, but I knew that even if they could, it would still be dark. I thought I was sleeping, but I was still aware of everything going on around me. The darkness was suffocating, but I could not do anything about it. I was trapped in this warm, dark place.

      I don't know how long I was in that place. It could have been months, years, centuries. Or it could have been a few days or hours. I had been locked up so long, I had lost my sense of time. I felt trapped inside of something else. Sometimes I could hardly tell who I was. I kept replaying the events that had led me here in my mind. It was the only thing that let me keep my sanity.

      After who knows how long, there was a change. I was shaken around, thrown upside down. I felt another consciousness arise. It seemed familiar, but far away, like this was someone I had known a long time ago.

      Suddenly there was cold. Just a little bit of cold, but cold nonetheless. And as the cold came in, light hit my eyes. No, not my eyes, my eyelids. My eyes did not want to open. They felt heavy, and I could not open them. The other consciousness seemed to be stronger, but it felt no need to lift its eyelids. I heard and felt a whimper come from my mouth that was not my doing. I felt curious and glad for the change. The other consciousness was pure terror.

      More cold flowed in. I was blinded by the brightness that filled my eyes. I felt myself begin to cry, which again was an action of the other consciousness. Noise rushed into my ears. It felt alien. I hadn't heard anything like it since Baelia had worked the spell. Then I was thrown out of the dark place, into blinding white, and something wet and cold. The cries came from me louder than ever.

      I felt something warm against my skin. I was lifted up into the air. I heard voices speaking. I knew the words, but to the other consciousness they were just sound. It sounded far away, and between the rushing that filled my ears and the other consciousness, I could not make it out, but I heard something about a poor little thing, the word girl, and something about a name. Then I heard my name. Esci. And I knew where I was. I had just experienced my own birth.

      For so many years, I lived like this. I was in Esci's body, I saw through her eyes, heard through her ears. I felt her emotions, happiness, sadness, anger, pain. I experienced everything she did, listened to her mind consider this or that. But I was just a passenger, a stowaway, hidden from her view. She did not know I was there. And I had no control whatsoever over anything she did.

      It was awful, living through my whole life again. I experienced the good parts of my life and felt her joy. But I also had to watch her make mistakes all over again. Some were things I never should have done, things I could have avoided. Others were harmless mistakes, things that anyone could do. But every time one happened, I felt her pain, her embarrassment. Added to my own wishes that things had turned out differently, it was unbearable. And when she was asleep for so many hours every night, I was awake, aware of everything, waiting for her to wake.

      There were so many times I wanted to stop it. So many mistakes that I wished so hard to avoid. I had the power to. I could have fixed any of the wrongs in my life, made it so they never happened.

      But that was not what the spell was meant for. I had chosen; now I would stand by my choice.

      Finally, I saw my stop. A good place to get off and redo my life. To keep this whole thing from happening. I was afraid I might not be able to, that the spell hadn't worked. The spell, and Baelia... They seemed so far away now.

      I didn't have time to consider. I don't remember how I did it, but Baelia was right. I knew how. Finally the ride was over, and my life began again.

 * * * * *

      I was in my science class again. My teacher was trying to get control of the class. I looked at my desk, and saw my math homework under my textbook. For a few minutes I tried to concentrate on the problems. Soon I gave up. I let my mind wander, being careful to look at my textbook as though I was concentrating.

      When I got home, I went straight to my room to do my homework. I finished it pretty soon. Then I started to go read Eye-Sha. Then I stopped. I didn't feel like reading anymore. If I didn't finish the book, I'd just return it and take it out again some other time. If I did finish it, there wouldn't be anything left to return. Instead, I took Snowy for a walk. He gets extra hyper in the winter, and I had to pick him up and carry him several times. If he got lost in a snowdrift, it would literally take hours to find him.

      When I got home, my owner was already there. "Where were you?" she asked. "You're not supposed to go out until you finish your homework." She sounded annoyed, but I could tell she had been worried, and the funny thing was, I was sorry. In all those years I had lived with the spell, I had never really had a chance to see my owner. A life through another's eyes isn't a life at all.

      "I already did," I told her. She stared at me. "Really, I did!" I said.

      "If you say so," said my owner. I could tell she didn't believe me, but that was her problem, not mine. "By the way, I got a paint brush for your birthday." She waited for my response. This was it. The moment I had worked so hard to change. I had to make it sound believable, convince her.

      "That's great!" I said, trying hard to look happy and surprised. "But I don't really want to be painted. Not now, anyway. Right now, I'm happy just how I am." Her face changed from a tolerant smile to a startled expression. Oops. Maybe I missed the believable part. But that could wait until later. Right now, I had a life to get back to--one that I'd waited a lifetime for.


      A couple of weeks have passed since that happened. Since then, I have managed to get on with my life. Things are now basically back to normal. Nobody knows what happened on that day. After all, Baelia fixed it so that it never did happen.

      My owner eventually gave up on trying to get me painted. She put the paint brush on her desk and left it there. A few months later, on my school trip to Terror Mountain, I seized the chance to drop it in the ocean. I doubt anyone will find it there, and if they do, the paint should all be washed off. My owner naturally assumed that the Pant Devil stole it, so I'm not in trouble this time. However, she says that the next paint brush she gets will stay in her safety deposit box. I guess I'll just hope that the paint brush's magic is gone for good. I don't want it to fall into the wrong hands... but I have to protect myself, and my owner, too. I think I did the best I could do.

      I have often wondered what happened to Baelia. Probably nothing has happened there since. She's probably just sitting there bored, and lonely, and wondering if she'll ever be freed. Staring out the window, wondering who that figure is, hunched over in the cage. I couldn't make myself tell her... and I'm not sure she'd want to know. Being trapped in the afterworld, and also powerless in a cage? One is enough to bear.

      Nothing very strange has happened since. I've regained my skills at procrastination, and Snowy continues to annoy me in his unique way. I stayed up reading half the night and finished Eye-Sha. It disappeared in a puff of blue smoke and hasn't been seen since. I just told the librarian I finished it and she didn't bother me. I'm glad that worked out, anyway.

      And to this day, I don't know if it really was my birthday.

The End

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Other Episodes

» Not a Ghost: Part One
» Not a Ghost: Part Two

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