Not a Ghost: Part Three
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
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,
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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,
And to this day, I don't know if it really was