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Are Ghosts Impermanent?

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Infuriating.

Erica rubbed at her eyes and glared at the quickly rising sun. It began to blind her as she heaved off her blankets and sat wearily in bed. This was the third dream this week. Erica running in the factory, but going too slowly to stop Allison from being stabbed. Allison laying in Erica’s arms, covered in blood.

The truth was worse. Allison had died and Erica hadn’t been there. Erica, who was babysitting Malia, had got a simple text from Isaac.

Ally’s gone.

It shouldn’t have bothered her that much. Allison had tried to kill her and Boyd and had been her frenemy after that. But Erica couldn’t ignore the pang she felt in her chest now, or how she had thrown up that night under the watchful eye of Malia, who had begrudgingly held her hair back for her. They had become friends. Erica would wait with Malia and Lydia before the first bell, and watch her demanding presence take over the hallways. People moved for Allison, though she came off gentle. Someone who could balance that type of power should be admired and respected.

But that’s didn’t explain why Erica dreamt of Allison’s hair fanned out on the bed, or her smile curling up her face, or her perfume.

Erica sighed dramatically and blearily reached for her phone. Anything to keep the thoughts at bay.

3 texts and a missed call.

From: Tracy

U picking me up?

From: Hayden

Who’s getting me today?

From: Malia

I’m taking Hayden.

The missed call was from Tracy. She sloppily texted Malia to pick up Tracy too and rolled over in bed, huffing hair out of her face. At least Tracy and Hayden would be excited to see each other. Sapphics.

The word was guilty in her stomach so she pushed it aside. Erica knew the truth though. She was just as women loving as they were.

Except the girl she loved was dead.

She groaned into her pillow and weighed not going to class against seeing her friends. She knew someone would come looking for her, probably Isaac. Or Derek. Probably Derek. She sat up and reached for her hair brush. Derek would be so much more unforgiving than Isaac would be, and she didn’t want to deal with him.
~~~
She pulled into a parking spot and watched Tracy and Hayden awkwardly dance around each other, Tracy gently touching Hayden’s ponytail. Malia and Erica shared a look from across the lot that made Erica want to laugh, but she held it in and gave her a smirk that made Malia roll her eyes. The wind blew one side of Malia’s hair into her face, ruining her chances at being dignified.

“At least you shaved half your head,” Erica said, sauntering over to them. Malia grumbled something about smartasses as Isaac came up and slung an arm around Erica’s shoulders. She beamed at him and he let her have a tired smile that made her worried for him. Was he having confusing thoughts like her that kept him up at night?

Lydia and Stiles came hand in hand from his jeep, Scott a few steps behind, interrupting her thoughts. Lydia hip checked her on their way past and Erica yelled, “Martin, I swear to god…” but Lydia was already dragging a laughing Stiles away. Scott patted Isaac on the shoulder as he passed and Isaac looked pained. Erica knew about his crush on Scott, but that couldn’t be the reason for his uncharacteristic quiet.

“You good?” She whispered, though their company could hear them either way even though they were distracted. Hayden was telling Tracy about their science homework and Tracy was gazing at her like she was reciting poetry while Malia was trying to ignore them, face almost against her phone.

Isaac paled but he nodded and dropped his arm. The bell rang and Kira ran up to them, swearing about alarm clocks. Her face was red and her hair wasn’t brushed, but Erica found herself staring. Then she saw Allison’s brown eyes in front of her own and blinked it away.

~~~

“Are you a boy or a girl?” A nosy freshman asked Malia, who frowned at him. Everyone around them quieted and they were trying not to watch in case a fight ensued. Malia wasn’t a boy or a girl. She presented fairly androgynous and was non-binary, but this kid either didn’t know or didn’t care.

Malia shrugged and put a book in her locker. She had come a long way, Erica mused. Before she might have attacked the boy, lectured him, growled at him, but now she acted unaffected. “I’m fabulous, actually,” Malia retorted, causing Kira’s mouth to drop open and Lydia’s face to light up. She had obviously taught that to Malia and now was delighted to see it in action. Stiles looked murderously at the boy, who caught on and scurried away. Lydia patted Stiles’s arm and he visibly relaxed. Malia grinned at Lydia and Erica, who both gave her a thumbs up.

Kira recovered from her shock and wrapped Malia in a hug. Malia rested her chin on Kira’s head and closed her eyes. Erica thought about how she and Allison had never touched.

It ate at her, this inky hollow thing. Who realizes they have feelings for a dead girl? Who could she tell that wouldn’t be broken by it? Lydia was out of the question, Kira was…well, complicated, because her and Malia seemed to have something going on but Erica was attracted to both of them. Talking to them about her dead crush seemed impossible. Stiles and Scott, even Isaac, would be upset to talk about Allison. It was still so new, the raw ache of it all. She didn’t want step on toes.

That was it, she reasoned. She was talking to Derek.