This story is by Abigail Rose and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
On Rio Vista Road and Sunny Lane, a young woman laid, unconscious in the darkness. As she started to twitch, she slowly touched her head. Like a newborn fawn, she stood and tried to regain her balance. It was then that she saw her surroundings. She whispered, “Where am I? Wait…No…Yes, I know this place. This is the road to school: Sunny Lane! But what am I doing here, in the dead of night?” She let out a cry of pain as she clenched her head once again. “I must have been sleepwalking, fell, and hit my head. I need to get to a doctor; I feel awful.” As she stumbled east, towards the nearest hospital, the sun greeted her halfway there.
Even at 8 am, the parking lot was half empty. Walking up to the doors, she ran into the glass. “Ow! Why won’t they open?” She tried again with the same conclusion. She yelled to see if anyone was there, but there was no answer. Turning to look for help, she saw a nurse walking up. She stepped out of her path and asked, “Ma’am, the doors won’t open. Do you know what’s wrong?” The woman didn’t reply. “Excuse me? Can’t you hear me? The doors won’t open.” She said louder. The nurse acted like she wasn’t there, as she headed toward the doors. They opened without hesitation, so she followed the nurse in. Amazed by the doors, she was surprised to see the hospital full of patients and staff. She went up to the counter and said, “Hello, I need to see a doctor. I hit my head! My name is Cassiel, Cassiel Anastasia Tien.” The woman completely ignored her, so she tried again. The same thing happened. She had never felt so alone.
As she backed away from the counter, she shivered. Her eyes moved towards the floor; then, she saw a hand in the middle of her stomach. She looked back and saw who the hand belonged to. “What? That’s not possible. How could she go through me?” When she calmed down, she thought about how this was possible and how it was happening. Then she got an idea, “They are acting like I’m invisible, but I’m not. I don’t understand how they are walking through me yet, but I’m guessing I’ m… I’m…Out…Of Phase? I need to get home. Mom will know something.” Cassiel left with a nurse through the doors, then headed east on Brooke Road, towards home.
Ten blocks in, around 20 people walked right through her. She was finding out it did not get better. Each time, chills would run through her body. She stopped in front of a store window in the town square. The tv was on the local news, with reporter Sasha Ryanmans paying tribute to the casualties of a five-car crash. She paid tribute to those who died: Emily Katherines, 25; Ashlee and Katie Lords, 19; Leía, John, Lorie, and Raya Simons, 39,41,7,4; Avery Richards and Peter James, 19 and 20; Cassiel Tien, 19. “What? That’s wrong; I’m not dead; I’m just not here, it seems.” She said. “Mom never misses the news, she’ll think I’m dead,” she realized. “I have to get home: now.” The rest of the way, she ran as fast as she could.
Arriving at her blue and white house, she went through the white picket fence and ran up the steps, walking through the door to her childhood home. After living on campus for a month, it felt good to be home.
There were a lot of people there, all family and friends. Some she had not seen in years. To prevent people from walking through her, she walked cautiously around the house. She found her mom and aunt in the kitchen, weeping.
“Here you go, Lea.” My Aunt Stacy said, handing my mother a tissue while holding her.
“Anytime. I know how hard it is.”
“How hard is what, auntie?” Cassiel asked, even though she knew no one could hear her.
“Does it get better?” My mom asked her older sister.
“Honestly, yes and no. The pain will weaken over time, but it will always be there. Losing a child is one of the hardest things in the world.”
“Losing a child? No, I’m right here; alive.” Cassiel said.
“Ellie is only…was… only 19.” My mother said in a dreadful tone.
“I know, and I am so sorry, Lea. How is Nirvana handling it?”
“Not well! She ran up to their room right after we heard, and she has not been down since. It is awful to lose a daughter, but to lose a twin and best friend? I can’t even imagine if I lost you.” As soon as Cassiel heard this, she ran upstairs to her sister.
The 2nd floor was eerily quiet. When Cassiel walked through their open bedroom door, she found her sister on Cassiel’s bed, with her headphones in her ears.
“Music was always your coping method, Van. I know you can’t hear me, but I’m right here: alive…I think.”
As Cassiel said this, she walked around the bed and sat in the chair so she could see her sister’s face. When she sat down, she met her sister’s purple eyes.
“Your eyes are as unique as you, Van. I wish you could hear me, so I could tell you that I can not be heard or seen.”
Nirvana sat up, took out her headphones, and said, “It’s because you are El.”
Cassiel, shocked at what she said, asked in hope, “Can you hear me?”
“Yes, Cassiel..and see you. I’m one of the very few who can.”
“I learned a couple of years ago that I’m one of ten mortal angels. I have the gift to see people who have died. I send them to their next destination. I’m sorry, I wanted to tell you, but I couldn’t. I have been waiting for you,” She said sadly, but with a smile.
“What? But I am alive, aren’t I?”
“You don’t remember?”
Cassiel shook her head.
“You died in a car accident two days ago. You are just a presence until I send you to your destination.”
“Your choice. Hell, Heaven, staying here, or becoming a guardian angel.”
“What do you recommend?”
“Guardian Angel. It is a nice life. You would learn the ropes for ten years, and then you would return to guide people. It is one of the main reasons you chose to study psychology: to help people. I think you would love it. Plus, we would see each other often.”
“That sounds nice… Are you okay? You seem to be taking my death well, but I know you like to hide your feelings.”
“It’s hard, but I’m okay. I knew I would see you again.”
“How are you? You just found out you died; your twin has the power to see dead people.”
“Freaky, to say the least, but I have had worse.”
“I know, I remember Clara too.”
The two sisters talked for about an hour.
“Nirvana, start getting ready. We are starting the service in an hour.”
“I guess it is time,” Cassiel said after their mom left.
“Don’t you want to stay? Very few people get to be at their own memorial.”
“Okay. I will stay.” Hurriedly, the girls rushed into the living room.
As they saw everyone gathered for the memorial service, she saw familiar and unfamiliar faces.
“Cassiel Anastasia Tien was an amazing young woman who left us way too soon. At a young age, she knew what the adults were saying and would chime in, sometimes even to correct them. Cassiel was a natural-born genius, especially with a Dr. of Science mother who homeschooled us,” her brother Max said. “My little sister was the 4th of 6, but she was the brightest. Not just in IQ, but in attitude. If someone were down: she would cheer them up; If a room were gloomy: she would be the light. She was the protector of us all. If someone were in trouble, she would help us out. If someone just met her and mentioned her five siblings, they would think she was the oldest, not me. I remember when my hamster died last year, she said, “Don’t be sad, Maxi. You will see Handy again. Just how we will see Pepper,’ her dog ‘again.’ I know we will see her again.”
Through her tears, Cassiel said, “I didn’t know he felt like that.”
“He loves you, El. He just has a hard time showing it.” Van replied.
“I heard everything I needed to; I’m ready if you are.”
“I am El.”
“How do we do this?”
“We first touch each other, then think of where you want to go.”
“Okay. Sounds easy enough.” They hugged, and Cassiel disappeared, finding her happiness.
The end of one adventure, the beginning of another…