There is a place that separates the living from the dead. Some call it the veil. I call it “in between.” In the in between, the dead can sometimes walk alongside the living. Not everyone in the in between is dead, some are just lost, trying to fight their way back to their living self. Much like the dead can reach into the living world, certain people can cross into the in between.
Today was Valentine’s Day, but the spirits that lingered inside The Walker Ames House didn’t seem to notice. I only knew because Mollie, Pete’s wife had decorated the house for the ghost walk later. I sat alone in the oval room, surrounded by paper hearts and tiny cupids, wondering if I could remain hidden. I was in too sour a mood to listen to the grinding sound of the spirit boxes and beeping of the EMF readers that the paranormal enthusiasts always brought hoping to contact us.
I knew where I wanted to be, but I couldn’t, not today. Today was a day for lovers. For me, today was a reminder of what I could never have. I wanted to be with Ivy, but seeing her face would just remind me that we could never be together. Ivy said she didn’t care that I was a ghost and she is alive, but we both knew it wasn’t fair to her and could only end badly. I had to stay away from her. Anytime I got near her, our feelings betrayed us.
As we got closer to unraveling my past, I knew the time would come when I had to choose. Cross over, leaving Ivy behind with a broken heart, or remain stuck in the in between, forever haunting her until the day she died. We had no way to know what her afterlife held for her. More importantly, I wanted her to live a normal life, have a living, breathing man to love her the way I couldn’t.
I couldn’t bear it. I’d have to leave her alone. I decided to tell Ivy to forget about me. We were close to retrieving my memories, I could go it alone from now own. Yes, that would be best for her. Once I crossed over, I’d just be a memory that would fade away.
As the daylight dwindled, Pete readied the house for his tours. I told him that I was going to leave Ivy, and that I’d find a new place to linger until I could find a way to cross over. He agreed that it was for the best, even though he would miss me. I bid farewell to the rest of the ghosts in the house and traveled to Ivy’s.
Ivy was in her room asleep. Her golden red hair fanned out over her pillow like a halo of gold. I hated to disturb her sleep, so I sat down and rehearsed what I would say to her.
I’m not sure if ghosts sleep. At least, I don’t think we do, but time passes differently sometimes in the in-between. I’ve lost stretches of time, with no idea where it went. I imagined that’s when I would sleep if I did. I don’t know how long I sat by Ivy’s bed, but one moment I was going over how to say goodbye, and the next she was next to me, stroking my hair.
Stroking my hair? I had managed light physical touch with Ivy, but she couldn’t really feel me. When I kissed her, she said it was like electrical energy coursing through her, but she didn’t really feel my lips touching hers. I’d held her in my arms, but she thought because she knew I was touching her made her think she could feel me. Now I felt her fingers gliding through my hair as if she were here in the in-between with me.
“Ivy, what’s happened, are you-”
“Dead? No, but I’m in the in-between with you.” She said.
“I’m probably dreaming, but who cares, I can touch you!” She said and climbed into my lap.
I thought about stopping her, but lost all sense of right and wrong. I felt alive, and I didn’t want it to stop. Besides, this was probably some sort of dream.
“I’ll probably go straight to hell for this,” I said and pulled her close.
I stared deep into her emerald green eyes and brushed my fingers against her cheek that slowly turned crimson. I smiled at her before leaning in. I steadied my other hand that shook slightly. A voice in my head was repeating the same thing over and over “Don’t do this…don’t do this.” The sound of Ivy’s heart was beating so loudly, I no longer heard that voice.
Finally, my lips touched hers. The world around us slowly faded away, along with every worry and fear we had. Sparks flew with intensity, as her lips met mine. Our kiss started small, and I felt the warmth from her breath. Her lips moved in perfect sync with mine, so intimate and electrifying. My hands moved to her waist and I pulled her closer, the kiss was deeper now, more passionate. Ivy’s hands moved up to the back of my neck and dug her fingers into my hair. A smile grew on my face and finally, we pulled apart.
Ivy and I stayed wrapped in each other’s arms, switching from kissing to talking about the things we would do if I were alive until the morning light peeked through the window. I lost another bit of time and found myself once again sitting next to her bed watching her sleep.
The tiniest curve of her lips told me she was smiling. Her lashes twitched as she slowly opened her eyes.
“Morning Cass”, she mumbled in a sleepy whisper. “What are you doing here so early?”
I smiled and whispered “Happy Valentine’s day.”
“Uh, Cass, It’s November.”
I looked up, confusion spilling into my head as I remembered the Valentine decorations in the house. I knew then that our night together had all been one beautiful dream. Did my subconscious play out this amazing dream night because I was going to say goodbye to Ivy for good? I didn’t know, but I decided that whatever it was, I was going to listen to it. I was not saying Goodbye to Ivy today. I simply smiled and kept my mouth shut.
I had the most amazing dream last night.”
Me too Ivy, me too.”