Chapter 1: The Wanderer
Hope looked up at the midnight sky and sighed.
The city of Atlanta sprawled out beneath her from her position on the rooftop of the Bank of America building. The city, for the most part, was asleep. Faint cries of sirens in the distance were the only sound to hit her ears. Otherwise, silence.
By now, Hope was used to the sound of silence. She had been wandering the earth, by her estimation, for several centuries. Time, like most other things, felt different to the wandering than it did to the living. She hadn't cared about keeping track of time since well before she took her last breath as a human. This wandering is what she was destined to do until her soulmate was born.
Suddenly, Hope felt a rough jolt to her stomach. She was used to feeling the pull when there was a human nearby in need of immediate help. As a guardian, it was her duty to protect the living from the forces of evil at work in the universe, at least until she was united with her soulmate. Still, she wasn't sure she had ever felt a pull this strong. She knew there was no other option but to follow the direction of the pull until she found the human in need of help.
Hope took off running, picking up speed as she neared the end of the rooftop. Calm winds allowed her powerful wings to spread with ease and carry her in the direction of the pull. Her wings beat in frantic motion as she neared the source and her mind began to cloud in confusion. Hope searched her memory to recall a time when she was so urgently needed. So desperately needed. Every corner of her mind came up void of an experience quite like this.
Entering the hospital from a fourth story window, Hope was immediately on alert.She had dealt with the evil ones in hospitals before, usually when they were attempting to steal a body after it had been vacated. Taking possession of a human body, no matter what state it was in, could cause immeasurable damage to the living. The evil ones were always looking for a way to enter the realm of the living.
Hope's distress only increased when she realized that her pull was not coming from the morgue, but from the maternity ward. It was at that moment that her confusion began to lift.
"It can't be," Hope spoke quietly to herself.
Hope had spent immeasurable years searching for her one true love. Her soulmate. She was destined to this existence somewhere between living and dead until they were united. After coming up fruitless for so many years, Hope had given up the idea of ever finding the human who would allow her to find peace. She had resigned herself to this fate. After all, no other guardian she had encountered had needed to wait this long to find their soulmate.
Her footsteps stilled as she reached room number five at the end of the hall. Inside, there was silence.
For aching seconds, Hope listened in the doorway until she heard a soft cry coming from behind the curtain in the room. At the sound, her heart jumped. She couldn't contain her pace as she flew into the room. Opening the curtain, and peering down into the crib, Hope gasped. She was met with the soft, warm eyes of a newborn baby.
Hope's eyes flickered from the newborn down to the nameplate at the edge of the crib.
"Kelley O'Hara," Hope whispered.
Kelley O'Hara has a ghost.
Well, not a ghost exactly,at least she didn't think so. But ever since she can remember, she's never felt alone, even when there was physically no one around. Instead of feeling afraid because of the odd presence she always sensed, she always felt comforted. Like she was never far away from home. Even now, at sixteen, getting her heart broken for the first time didn't seem as bad is could have been.
Kelley was laying on her bed, face down into her pillow, when her phone started buzzing incessantly. Grumbling to herself, she hit the ignore button for the fifth time in the last twenty minutes. She knew that she would eventually need to accept the call and have a long, uncomfortable talk about feelings and betrayal, but that time wasn't now. No, that would be too much for tonight.
Kelley's phone started buzzing again. Reaching over, she grabbed her phone roughly with the intention of ignoring the call. Or throwing it against the wall. When she realized that it was her best friend Ashlyn, she changed her mind and hit accept instead.
"Kell, I just heard about what that asshole did to you. I can't believe that she would cheat on you, especially with her! I'm so, so sorry. I'm right down the street and I can be there in five if you need me." Ashlyn was fuming. They had been best friends since they were five and they were always there for each other. Tonight would be no exception.
"I'm okay, I think. I just need some time to be really pissed off right now. But shouldn't you be on your date with Ali? A one-year anniversary is a big deal for you guys. You know I'll be okay tonight. We can talk tomorrow at school," Kelley sighed into the phone. She knew that her best friend had good intentions but all she wanted to do was lay in bed and try not to think about her girlfriend, or ex-girlfriend, on top of another girl. Or under. Whatever.
"I know, Kell, but we're kindergarten buddies. And kindergarten buddies never leave the other behind. I don't want you to feel lonely tonight." Ashlyn didn't want to give up without a fight. Even if the fight was futile. Even if she was sitting at a fancy restaurant with her slightly irritated girlfriend who was trying not to listen.
"I know, Ash, but I'm not alone. At least I don't feel alone." Even before she said the words, she had sensed that uncanny presence hovering nearby. Close enough to be felt but far enough away to not seem threatening.
"Okay, as long as you're sure you won't be alone. You know I'll kick her ass for you when I see her tomorrow. I don't care what she says." After a short pause, Ashlyn asked, "Is your friend visiting tonight?" Ashlyn knew not to say anything about Kelley's ghost directly unless they were alone. Others weren't as willing to accept things that they couldn't see. Even people as amazing and wonderful as her girlfriend, Ali.
"Yup, I have company tonight. No need to worry about me, I promise. Now get back to your hot date, stud. You know better than to keep a pretty lady waiting."
"Okay, Kell, but you call me if you need me, alright? I don't care what time it is. I'll be there. Kindergarten buddies for life."
"Yup, Ash. Kindergarten buddies for life."
Kelley hung up the phone and took in a deep breath of relief. She knew her friend meant well but all she really wanted to do was sleep.The heartbreak could come later. The uncomfortable conversations could wait. Slowly, her breathing evened out and she began to snore gently.
If she had stayed awake for just a minute longer, Kelley would have felt the presence in her room slowly moving a bit closer. If she had been awake for just a few more moments, she might have felt the hint of pressure on her back and the faint feeling of two strong arms encircling her body. But even though she didn't feel the presence while she slept, Kelley's dreams were sweet, even though her heart was broken. The heartbreak could wait for another day.
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Hope kept guard over Kelley’s heart day and night, even though Kelley could never see her or hear her voice.
That was the thing about having a soulmate that was part of the human world, Hope thought to herself. She could do nothing but ease the girl’s pain with her gentle presence and provide comfort to her in days of solitude. There would be no first kiss, no first dance, no children to laugh and play with after a long day at work. Hope knew that although she could see Kelley, could know and love Kelley, her affection could never be returned in the same way. If she didn’t love Kelley so much, her pain would have broken her a long time ago. Such was the existence of a guardian.
Hope watched Kelley grow up under the fragrant Georgia pines, always keeping careful watch over her one true love. Since her soulmate had finally been born, she was no longer required to keep watch over any other human. Although she couldn’t interfere with the progression of the living world, she could provide a safe haven for Kelley, or shelter from the evil ones, should she ever require it. Hope had been there to provide comfort when Kelley’s first dog had died. She had been there to ease Kelley’s heartbreak after her first love had betrayed her. What other kind of love, other than its purest form, would give Hope the strength to wait for centuries only to see her soulmate endure such pain? Hope had the ability to hear and see everything, the good and bad, but was powerless to do anything about it.
Hope looked over at Kelley, who was driving to her college graduation and humming an incoherent tune, admiring the beautiful woman that she had become. She knew every part of Kelley, every sadness that she experienced and every dream she had entertained since she was born. When Kelley first arrived in the world, Hope had only felt a strong urge to protect and care for the newborn baby she had discovered in the hospital. As she grew into the woman that she was today, Hope couldn’t help but feel her desire to protect evolve into pure, shameless love down in her soul. Sometimes, it felt like Kelley could feel something, too.
After the night Hope had spent next to Kelley in her room after her first heartbreak, Kelley had begun speaking to Hope out loud. She mostly talked about things that had happened during her day. Although Hope saw everything that happened because she was always near, she could never get tired of hearing her voice. She listened to Kelley’s thoughts as a lover would. As if Kelley could see every emotion that flickered across Hope’s face. As though lifetimes had not separated them.
The sound of Kelley’s voice broke the silence. “I can’t believe I’m about to graduate from college,” she offered to the empty space beside her in the car. Hope’s attention was broken away from her thoughts and instead focused on the girl driving.
“I don’t have any idea about what I’m going to do with my degree. My college counselors all beat it in to my head that I had to go to college. I had to graduate from college. Now, I’m here and I’ve done what they told me and I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with all of this…education. I’ve achieved what I set out to do so why do I feel like I’m not ready to move on? What if this all means nothing? What if I just wasted four years of my life working towards something that won’t amount to anything?”
Hope had heard Kelley talk about her fears before. They were the subject of late night talks on the phone with Ashlyn, or now that they had become close, Ali. But she never spoke about them as freely as when she was talking to her ghost. Only her ghost knew the deepest parts of her heart.
“And Ash has Ali and I’m so grateful that my best friend found the girl of her dreams so early. I mean, who really finds their soulmate in high school? They’ll probably be off getting married and having babies in the next year. That’s what people our age do, right? They get married and have babies and all I’m doing over here is being confused about if I should take the freeway or the long way to my graduation ceremony. Mo’ education, mo’ problems, huh?”
Hope smiled at Kelley, giving her a light laugh in response. The girl quoted Notorious B.I.G. way too much to be allowed.
Kelley chuckled to herself and grinned, “I’m rambling again, aren’t I? I told you to cut me off the next time I did this. You don’t listen very well, do you?”
Hope loved this side of Kelley, the side that only she got to see. It’s not that she wasn’t open with her friends and family, but this was unfiltered Kelley. Pure Kelley. Hope couldn’t get enough of it. And it gave her so much distraction from the emptiness that often filled her during lonely hours of the night when the world slept. She kept watch, even then.
It distracted Hope so much that she didn’t notice Kelley pick up a little too much speed heading onto the freeway towards her school. If she were paying attention, Hope would have seen the little white car in Kelley’s blind spot as she began to merge. If she were paying attention, Hope might have moved heaven and earth before she let the love of her lifetimes be crushed by bending metal.
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Chapter 4: Awake
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For the first time in her life, Kelley couldn’t feel anything.
She was always someone who felt too much. Who cared more than she should about someone not sharing their toy on the playground. Who injured more than her knee when she tore her ACL after going in too hard during an intramural soccer game at her college. Kelley was someone who experienced life and its ups and downs to the fullest.
But the noise, oh God, the noise was overwhelming.
Kelley tried to open her eyes but realized that she couldn’t move. Is that why she couldn’t feel anything, she wondered? Had she been hurt? The last thing she remembered was getting on the freeway.
Oh, shit. The freeway.
Not much was clear after that realization. She remembered a loud noise and being disoriented, and why were there so many voices now? Why did she feel like she could hear every sound in the world? What good would it do if she could hear every sound in the world but not be able to hear her own thoughts? Kelley couldn’t make sense of anything. She just wanted the voices and the ringing and the chaos to go away for just a second so she could figure out what the hell was going on.
Why did it have to be so loud? And why didn’t she feel anything?
In some part of her mind, in an area where logic still ruled, she knew that she had been in an accident. She knew she was probably seriously injured. But she knew that the shock would wear off soon and she would start to hurt. She’d feel the pain so deep in her bones when she could finally feel again.
Maybe, not feeling was okay for now. Maybe, she didn’t want to have to feel pain again.
At that thought, the logical part of her brain started screaming. Of course, you want to feel pain, you dumbass, it said. If there isn’t any pain, then you aren’t alive. The absence of pain is death.
Oh, God, was she dead? Is that why she couldn’t feel her hands or open her eyes? Is that why it was so fucking loud?
No, no, no. She wasn’t dead. She couldn’t be. Everything was fine, she thought. I’ll wake up soon and realize that the accident wasn’t that bad and then all the noise will go away and the feeling will come back and it’ll all be okay. It had to be. No one dies on the way to their graduation ceremony. After they spent four years doing the right thing. No fucking way. Kelley wouldn’t allow it.
She could sort it all out if she just could get a minute to fucking think. Was that a siren? It sounded kind of like a siren but Kelley couldn’t be sure. If that was siren, then that meant she was really injured. She started to give up hope for getting to her graduation ceremony on time. She hadn’t skipped a class in her four years in college, and before that, in her entire high school career. Leave it to her to wait until her graduation day to finally miss something important like this.
That siren was getting so loud, Kelley thought. All she had wanted to do up until that point was drown out the noise, but now that she could finally concentrate on one thing, she almost preferred it the way it was before. At least the noise before wasn’t so completely earth shattering.
Somewhere, just under the scream of the siren, Kelley could almost make out a voice that was speaking in a hushed tone. Speak up, damnit, she pleaded in her head. I can’t hear you. I could hear you if you just spoke up.
Kelley tried with everything in her power to latch on to the sound of the voice. Thank God. The first responders are trying to get to her. She’ll be out of this mess soon.
Speak up, Kelley tried to say, but no words came out of her muted mouth. Please, let me be able to move so I can tell you that I can’t hear you. That I’m trying desperately to hear you but I can’t understand what you’re trying to tell me. Help me. I need help.
Slowly the sirens began to fade, and as they did, the voice grew louder. Can they hear me, Kelley said to herself? Is that why they’re speaking louder? I can almost hear what you’re saying to me. I can almost hear you, she screamed inside her head.
Again, the voice came through to her. This time, just loud enough.
“Kelley, open your eyes. Can you hear me? Can you hear what I’m saying to you. Open your eyes so I know you can hear me,” the voice pleaded.
At that moment, Kelley’s eyes fluttered open. Everything was bright. Way too bright. Almost as soon as she opened her eyes, they shut again.
“Kelley, look at me. Open your eyes and look at me,” the voice pleaded again, more desperately than before.
Consciousness hit Kelley quickly. She knew she had never heard that voice before, so why did it sound so familiar? Like the voice was calling her to a home she’d never been to but where she had always longed to go. Kelley opened her eyes again.
This time, the light wasn’t so bright. This time, she was met with the two most beautiful ice-blue eyes she had ever seen.
Chapter 5: In Between
Warning! This chapter gets a little graphic (not too much, though) at the end. Don't worry, though. This is not how it ends! There is hope (hehe) for the two of them yet! Promise.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Kelley, open your eyes. Can you hear me? Can you hear what I’m saying to you. Open your eyes so I know you can hear me.”
Hope was frantic. She knew that there was no way that Kelley wasn’t at least seriously injured by the amount of damage to the car. And she could do nothing but watch and wait and hope that Kelley opened her eyes. There was nothing that she could have done to protect her soulmate from physical harm. If she hadn’t already taken her last breath years before, the thought alone of so much harm coming to her love might have stolen the last air from her lungs.
Hope was frantic for another reason. She knew that if Kelley was so badly injured, there was a real possibility that she could die. And to die so suddenly meant that her soul would travel immediately from the human world into the beyond. If Kelley died, here and now in this way without passing through the in-between space between living and death where the guardians existed, Hope and Kelley would never be united. Guardians could not travel into the beyond without their soulmate. Hope would spend an eternity wandering and guarding, and Kelley would never know true love in this life or the next. Centuries and centuries of loneliness would pass until time ceased to exist. Hope’s soul ached at the thought.
Hope’s heart leaped when she thought Kelley’s eyes fluttered for a second. It was short lived, however, because as soon as she thought she saw them open they were closed again. Still, she couldn’t help but hope that there was a chance that Kelley was alive. If not wholly alive, at least able to hear her in the space that she existed. Hope would do anything; she would break into the space beyond if it meant that Kelley would be okay.
“Kelley, look at me. Open your eyes and look at me.”
Unfocused and hazy, Kelley’s brown eyes finally opened, searching. Finally able to focus her eyes on something, brown eyes locked on blue for the first time. For a second, Hope couldn’t believe that Kelley could actually see her. That they both now existed in the same time and space. That nothing separated them but a breath.
“Kelley, can you see me?” Hope’s voice was raspy with emotion.
“Are you…can you…can you hear me? I’ve been trying so hard to talk to you. I heard your voice when I was…when I was…,” Kelley’s voice trailed off in confusion as she sat up. “When I was dead?” Kelley questioned. “I think I was dead.”
“Kelley, you can see me?” Hope gasped. Although she knew that the freckled girl was speaking to her, everything still seemed so impossible. For years she had longed for the moment when they would meet for the first time. She never imagined it would happen like this. Nothing about this seemed real.
“Yeah, of course I can see you,” Kelley said, “why wouldn’t I be able to see you?”
Before Hope could answer Kelley’s question, Kelley’s eyes flickered from Hope’s face to the large, powerful wings that protruded from her back. “Holy shit, I am dead,” Kelley whispered. “I’m really dead.”
“No, Kelley, you’re not dead.”
“Then what...then who…and how am I? Where am I? What happened? I think I remember a car and school? Yeah, I’m definitely late for school. I should get going. I think they need me over at school now. Sorry, gotta go!”
Kelley stood up too quickly. Before Hope could prepare her for what she was about to see, Kelley’s eyes went from confused to horrified in the blink of an eye.
“What the fuck? Oh my God what is this? What is this?” Kelley shouted with incredulousness at the sight in front of her as Hope tried desperately to block her view.
Hope watched with dread as Kelley’s eyes took in the scene laid out in front of her. Twisted metal and broken glass and blood littered the pavement. And there was no stopping her from the worst part of it all. In the middle of the chaos was Kelley’s body.
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Chapter 6: Hope
Some questions are answered in this chapter! Also, it's a tad bit longer. :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Kelley had always loved to fly. Being 30,000 feet in the air and tearing through clouds was where she felt most alive. With her father and brother being pilots in the Navy, the need for elevation was in her blood.
Flying, to Kelley, also meant gaining a new perspective on life, friendships, relationships, or any other problem that was plaguing her at the time. It’s where she worked out what she wanted her college major to be (science instead of photography, even though she had enjoyed making art). It was the place where she decided that she wasn’t really in love with her college girlfriend (even though she made her happy, settling for anything less than true love wasn’t enough for her). It was the place where she decided to come out to her family (all at once, around the dinner table, on her first holiday home from school). It allowed her the opportunity to look at each problem objectively so that she could come to a satisfactory solution.
When she found herself a mile up in the air being transported to God-knows-where by a woman with wings, however, she found it tough to do anything but freak out.
Kelley’s mind was going a million miles a minute. She had no idea where she was, what in the world had happened to her, why she was here and who the woman with the beautiful, powerful wings was. She wasn’t sure if she wanted answers or if she just wanted to wake up from whatever insane place this was. This situation was really too ridiculous to be anything but a dream, wasn’t it? Kelley’s grip around the woman’s waist tightened. They wouldn’t start her college graduation ceremony without her would they?
Kelley was so lost deep in her thoughts that she didn’t realize they were descending until they were already on the ground. When she was finally able to pull herself out of the embrace of the strange, winged-woman, Kelley was able to study her more closely for the first time. What she saw nearly stopped her heart for the second time that day.
The woman was gorgeous, no doubt, that much was plain to see. Kelley’s gaze traveled from the woman’s almond-shaped ice-blue eyes to her chiseled jawline. They trailed down the curve of her face to her lips. From where she stood, Kelley could smell the women’s sweet, natural scent. It reminded her of Georgia Pine and summer lakes. It reminded her of home.
What really stopped her heart, though, Kelley concluded, was the way the woman’s stare was burning her with its intensity. To Kelley, the look on the woman’s face was a mixture between concern, devastation, kindness and complete adoration. She had never been looked at that way before in her entire life, especially from a woman with eyes like hers. It’s like the woman knew Kelley, really, really, knew Kelley down to the darkest corners of her soul. She didn’t know if she had ever felt more terrified or drawn to someone before.
Just as Kelley began to open her mouth to start asking questions (really, really good questions, she thought, like who are you, crazy lady, and what the hell is going on?), the woman reached out her hand and cupped Kelley’s face with it.
At that moment, every sensation she had known to be pleasurable in the past paled in comparison. Her first love’s touch on the first night they made love, a hug from her teammate after she scored the winning goal during her high school championship soccer game, her college girlfriend’s kiss after they exchanged “I love you’s” after finally admitting their true feelings to each other. Nothing measured up. Kelley’s entire body was burning.
As quickly as the pressure of the woman’s hand came, it was gone. Kelley had never longed for someone’s touch so much before. It set her soul on fire. Her heart ached for the woman to reach out and take her cheek in her hand once more. She could think of nothing else but a way to get the woman to touch her again, to be felt like that by another person. Kelley had spent her existence wishing for someone to touch her with so much feeling. She had been waiting for someone to set her existence on fire like the woman did with a single touch.
“Kelley,” the woman said gently, “tell me what’s going through your head right now. I’ll answer anything you ask, you just need to let me know how I can help you.”
Kelley took a few seconds to respond. “I honestly don’t know. Everything seems so crazy to me right now. Am I dead? I don’t feel dead but I could’ve sworn I saw my body on the pavement outside my car on the highway and I definitely didn’t look alive. Is this Heaven? I was just on my way to school and now I’m here. Who are you and why do you have wings? Are you an angel? Is that why you can fly? Where are we, and if I’m not dead, then why am I here?” Kelley couldn’t stop the questions from rolling off her tongue as soon as they started.
“Kelley, you’re rambling,” the woman offered softly.
“You know that’s funny,” Kelley said, “I used to tell someone I knew to stop me from rambling, but they never listened. You’re the first person to do it. Even my best friend, Ashlyn, never said anything to me once I started.”
At the mention of her best friend’s name, Kelley began to cry. At first, the cries were soft, filled with confusion and fear and frustration. She had so many questions to ask but wasn’t sure where to start. She wasn’t even sure if the woman standing next to her held the answers that she so desperately needed right now. Kelley began to sob uncontrollably.
The woman’s arms were immediately around her, and she was cooing gentle, soothing words in her ear. “Kelley I know nothing really makes sense right now, and I want to help you understand. I just need you to know that you’re safe here, with me, right now. Nothing will hurt you while I am with you. Just focus on the sound of my voice and come back to me. You’re safe, Kelley, you’re safe.”
After a few minutes, Kelley’s breathing finally began to even out to a normal pace. Hope took the opportunity to speak up again. “Kelley, I’m going to start answering your questions, now. Is that okay?” The woman took in a deep breath and looked directly into Kelley’s eyes. Kelley nodded in response.
“Okay. You aren’t dead, Kelley, despite what you saw. You were in a really bad accident on your way to your college graduation. A car was coming up quickly in your blind spot as you were merging onto the freeway. You were knocked out upon impact.”
The woman looked at Kelley for any sign of confusion before she continued. “You aren’t dead, but you aren’t exactly alive, either. Your body was really badly injured. As far as I can tell, your human form is in a coma.”
Kelley wasn’t sure she could process that information. If she wasn’t dead but she wasn’t alive, then how was she here?
The woman continued. “You’re in a place between the living and the beyond called the in-between. Souls are sent here for a few reasons. Most of the time, souls are sent here when they aren’t ready to enter the beyond, yet. They’re sent here because they have a good chance of being able to be returned to the human world.”
At those words, Kelley let out a breath that she didn’t know she was holding in. If she wasn’t dead yet, like, completely dead, then there was still a chance for her to return to her life, right? That’s what she wanted, right?
“As for who I am, that’s a complicated question. The simple answer is that I am Hope. I am not an angel, but many humans have called us that in the past. My kind are called guardians.”
Kelley looked at Hope in confusion. “What are guardians?”
“Guardians,” Hope replied, “were humans at one point. They are sent to this space because they aren’t ready to pass on to the beyond yet and can no longer enter the human realm. Once someone enters the beyond, they cannot go back to the human world. We, in this space, are left to wander and protect the living from the evil ones, who are trying to upset the balance of life in the human world.”
Kelley considered the information for a few seconds. “If guardians aren’t able to return to the human realm and aren’t able to enter the beyond, then how am I able to go back and why can’t you?”
“Guardians are humans whose living forms have ceased to exist. They exist in this space before permanent death and the living realm. Since your living form is still able to be revived, you can enter this space and leave again. I can only pass on to they beyond when it is my time. Since I cannot be at peace, I have been roaming the earth, protecting humans for centuries.”
Kelley wasn’t sure how to respond to the information that Hope had just offered. She wasn’t sure why, but her heart hurt so badly for the woman she had just met. “Hope, why wouldn’t you just pass on to the beyond, then, and be at peace? What’s stopping you?”
Kelley looked at Hope, who wore an expression of confliction. She saw Hope’s eyes flicker between the ground and Kelley, between Kelley and the sky. Kelley had no idea why the woman, who had answered all her questions with patience and honesty just a minute ago, was having such a difficult time answering this one.
After what seemed like an eternity, Hope’s eyes fixed back on Kelley’s.
“Kelley, the reason why I won’t enter the beyond, why I can’t enter the beyond, is because I have to do so with my soulmate.” Hope’s eyes never left Kelley’s.
“Okay,” Kelley replied, “I don’t understand. Weren’t you married while you were still alive? Where is your soulmate now?”
Hope’s lips quivered for just a second before answering. “Kelley, my soulmate is standing right in front of me. You’re my soulmate. I’ve been waiting centuries for you.”
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Hope prayed desperately for Kelley to say something, anything, to her. She would even settle for a nod of the head just to make sure that she had actually said those words out loud. That she had just told a woman who had just met her shortly before that they were destined to be together forever.
In all the years that Hope had spent waiting for her soulmate to be born, and every year since, she had always envisioned the way that this conversation would play out. After Kelley’s last breath as a human, Hope would be there to guard and guide her love to the beyond, explaining patiently about what was happening to calm her fears. She always thought that she would be able to gain the younger woman’s trust over a longer period of time. Never did she think that she would have to drop the proverbial bomb on her this quickly, after everything that had already happened that day.
The thing was, there was no time, Hope had concluded. Kelley’s soul was in limbo. Her body was left devastated in the human realm, but was still able to be revived, which meant that she could not pass into the beyond. Eventually, either Kelley’s human body would cease to exist and they would be able to pass into the beyond together or Kelley would have to return to the human world once she was healed. At any moment, Kelley could be taken away from her. Hope had waited centuries to be united with her love only to run out of time when it mattered.
Instead of giving Hope an answer, Kelley’s eyes rolled to the back of her head as she fell. Hope was immediately at her side, reaching the shorter girl just before she hit the ground. Was their time already up, she wondered, before she was able to give Kelley a proper explanation?
“Kelley, wake up,” Hope pleaded, “wake up! I can’t lose you now. You’re here right now and you can’t leave yet.” With a sigh of relief, Hope watched as Kelley’s eyes opened and locked on hers. Hope still clung to Kelley’s body as if it would fly away if she didn’t hold on tight enough.
“We’ve got to stop meeting like this,” Kelley groaned sarcastically.
“Kelley, that’s not funny! Do you remember where you are and how you got here? Do you remember anything about what we talked about earlier?”
“Yes, Hope, I remember you. I remember everything we talked about. I didn’t hit my head, did I?”
“No, Kelley, but I’m pretty sure you fainted. Pretty gracefully, actually. I’m glad you’re okay and your sense of humor is still intact,” Hope replied, gently releasing Kelley from her arms and sitting down next to her.
Hope studied the woman’s eyes for any hint of disorientation and, finding none, was satisfied. At least she could protect her physically while they were in the same realm, Hope thought.
Kelley’s voice broke through Hope’s inner monologue. “Hope, you said that you had been waiting for me for centuries. What did you mean by that?”
Hope was impressed by how well Kelley seemed to be reacting to the news. Well, except for briefly fainting in the middle of their conversation. She had always been awestruck by Kelley’s ability to stay calm, even in the most stressful situations.
“I know this might sound crazy to you right now. I know that if the situations were reversed, I don’t think that I’d be able to believe a word you said about anything. You have to know how much I appreciate you hearing me out.” Hope took a deep breath. This was going to require a lot of explaining from her and a lot of trust from Kelley. She only hoped that their undeniable connection since they had officially met would help Kelley to understand that what Hope was telling her nothing but the truth.
“I meant what I said earlier. I haven’t been able to pass into the beyond because I need to do so with my soulmate. I was married while I was in human form but he was not my soulmate. I didn’t discover that until I entered the in-between. He had long since passed into the beyond with his true love. It’s not that I didn’t feel anything for him, because I did, but I always knew in my heart that I hadn’t met the person I was destined to be with forever. I just didn’t know how long I’d have to wait until that happened.”
Kelley gave Hope a skeptical look. “I’m sorry that you had to go through that, but what makes you think that I’m your soulmate? I don’t mean to sound rude…you just have to understand how this all sounds to me.”
Hope nodded and sighed. “I know, Kelley, I know. When I first entered the beyond, I was met by my mentor, Brianna, and she explained to me, similarly what I’m doing with you, about everything that I needed to know. I had a lot of the same questions that you had.”
She continued, “Brianna explained to me that she had been waiting for her soulmate for years. When a human dies before they are united with their soulmate in the human world, they are sent here to the in-between until the time that their soulmate is born. Since you and I were not part of the human realm at the same time, I was sent here to wait for you.”
“Okay, but how do you know that we’re soulmates? Couldn’t you have gotten the wrong baby?” Kelley still wasn’t convinced.
“On the day that Brianna’s soulmate was born, she was pulled to a hospital. We feel a pull when a human somewhere near us is in need of desperate help. She told me she had never felt something that strong in all of her existence. She needed to be there. Since that day, she never felt a pull to help another human being. She existed solely to protect her soulmate.” Kelley was listening intently to her story, so Hope went on.
“Kelley, the day you were born was the day that I stopped feeling a pull to help other humans. My sole duty in this world was to care for you and to protect you. Even though I’ve never actually been able to interfere with the human realm, I’ve been standing guard over your heart since you were born. I’ve never left your side.”
Kelley’s eyes went wide with realization. “You…you’re…you’re my ghost. You’re my ghost? You’re real?”
Hope nodded. “What you thought was a ghost was actually me. You always felt me when I was close enough to you. Most of the time, I hovered at a distance and kept my space. But I was never far. I’ll never be far from you, ever, Kelley. I’m yours.”
Hope felt a jolt to her stomach when Kelley’s eyes dropped from hers down to her lips for a second and then back up. It took everything in her power not to close the distance between the two of them. Hope knew what she wanted, she just had to be sure that Kelley was on the same page. As little time as she felt that there was, she would wait another eternity to make sure that Kelley was ready.
“I’m not sure where any of this leaves me, where it leaves us,” Kelley admitted. “As absolutely insane as this day has been, as absolutely crazy as I feel right now, I do know something for sure. Since the moment I saw you I’ve felt something undeniable. I can’t explain what it is, only that I can’t say that I’ve ever felt this before in my lifetime.”
“I can also say the same thing,” Hope offered. “I’ve never felt the way I feel about you in all of my existence, in your world and mine.”
Kelley met Hope’s soft gaze with warm eyes. Hope didn’t know what any of this meant for them, especially since Kelley was in limbo. All she knew was that she didn’t want this moment to end. She wanted to stay here forever.
Hope and Kelley were so lost in the moment that neither of them paid any attention to the small shadows that were slowly inching towards them until they were dangerously close. When Hope saw a slight movement out of the corner of her eyes, her heart filled with dread. She pulled Kelley to her feet immediately.
“Kelley, we have to go, NOW,” Hope yelled.
Kelley looked around confused. “What’s going on, Hope? What’s wrong?”
“They’re after you, Kelley. They’re after your body. We need to get you back into your body now.”
Hope didn’t waste another second. Before Kelley could reply, Hope had taken her in her strong arms and shot into the sky.
Thank you all, again, for the support that you've thrown my way. You're really, really the best and I <3 you all.
Just a heads up that this might be my last chapter for a day or two. I might have something up on Saturday!
Chapter 8: Bodies
So...I know that I said I probably wouldn't be able to update until tomorrow, but I had some unexpected free time. Or, really, this is just me putting off homework and general life responsibilities. Tomorrow is another day!
Some heavy Kelley thirst in this one.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
If Kelley was being honest, she had always wondered why she couldn’t give her heart, her entire heart, to another person. She had tried the first time when she was fifteen, with a girl from her second period English class, who ended up being her first girlfriend. When the girl cheated on her, she told Kelley that it was because Kelley never made her feel important. She’d never felt like she was a priority in her life. Kelley thought that answer was bullshit. Of course, she wasn’t really a priority. They were fifteen, for crying out loud.
Kelley had tried again with her college girlfriend. This time, she was a little more mature about it. They did things right, with coffee dates and late night conversations about their future. But in the end, Kelley just knew in her soul that the woman she was dating just wasn’t it for her. It hurt like hell when she ended things, of course, but to Kelley there just wasn’t any other way. The woman just didn’t hold her heart.
What Kelley didn’t realize until far later, until she was clinging onto Hope’s body for dear life as they flew, was that the reason she could never give her heart away before was because it already belonged to someone. Someone who she didn’t know she loved until that day. Someone who had always carefully watched over her heart and who had protected her.
Kelley knew that she was in love with Hope. She didn’t know how or what it meant. All she knew is that she felt it in her bones.
It wasn’t that Hope wasn’t beautiful, because good Lord that woman was gorgeous. But that’s not what drew Kelley to her (although she can’t say for certain that if they were in the same bar at the same time that she wouldn’t have tried to talk to her, because of course she would have). Kelley was drawn to her because for the first time in her entire life, she felt completely at peace.
People always told her that her heart would beat faster when she was around the person she was in love with. Kelley never subscribed to that idea. She felt like it was quite the opposite, actually. She believed that when she had truly found her soulmate, when she had truly found the woman she would be with for the rest of her life, her heart could finally rest. Her heart would not beat faster, but slower and stronger, now beating for two people instead of just one.
Kelley’s heart was beating in time with the rhythm of Hope’s outstretched wings. Now, finally at a safe distance away from whatever was chasing them, Hope and Kelley were travelling at an easier pace. Kelley relished in the nearness of their bodies.
Kelley’s appreciation of Hope’s attractiveness had been limited, until then, to her face. She had vaguely remembered the feeling of their bodies pressed together during their first flight, when Hope had taken her away from the scene of the crash and the carnage that surrounded it. But she had been so caught up in her confusion and fear that she didn’t really have time to process what was going on.
This time, and now that Kelley had some of her most important questions answered, she was in the state of mind to properly appreciate the way that Hope’s body felt against hers with the cold air rushing around them. Kelley tucked her head into the crook of Hope’s neck and breathed her fragrance in.
She wondered to herself if, when she was feeling particularly sad or lonely, she often smelled her most favorite scents because Hope was near. For the second time that day, Hope reminded her of home.
And now that she thought about it, Hope’s body felt like home to her, too. Kelley loved the way that every valley of Hope’s strong body seemed to make room for hers to fit in. Kelley hadn’t ever fit so perfectly in someone’s arms before. So perfectly in someone’s strong, muscular arms. Kelley tightened her grip on Hope’s body just a little bit more, pressing into her. Hope’s breath caught in her throat at the sensation.
Kelley could feel the way that Hope’s back flexed with the beat of her wings. Hope’s muscles relaxed and contracted against Kelley’s grip, straining to push their way through the air.
Kelley, instead of being lost in confusion, was lost in Hope’s physical presence, again missing their descent back onto land. The comfort that had come along with Hope’s body was gently removed. Instantly, Kelley’s body reacted negatively to the loss as her knees buckled.
Hope’s eyes, alight with concern for the smaller woman, searched Kelley’s for signs of distress. “Kelley, are you ok? What’s wrong?”
Kelley sheepishly looked at the ground. “It’s nothing,” she promised, “I’m just a little disoriented from the flight. Where are we?”
Hope looked at her with questioning eyes, but instead answered Kelley’s inquiry. “We’re outside the hospital where your human form was taken after the accident. Before we go in, I wanted to prepare you for what you’re about to see. It’s not something that anyone should have to see,” Hope said gently.
Kelley nodded in agreement. “I know,” she conceded, “but nothing you can say is going to fully prepare me for what I’m going to see. What were those things back there? And why do they want my body?”
“Those things that looked like shadows were the evil ones. As far back as time goes, guardians have been protecting humans from them. They are vile beings that only seek to destroy the human race and upset the balance between good and evil. It’s said that they once were guardians, and before that, were humans, who were never united properly with their soulmate. They became hungry, angry beings with an insatiable need to take and destroy the race that caused them so much hurt and pain.”
“So,” Kelley questioned, “would you have turned into an evil one if we had not been united?”
Hope took a breath and responded quietly to her question. “I don’t know,” she admitted, “no guardian I have ever encountered has ever been turned that I am aware of. To my knowledge, no guardian has turned in a very, very long time.”
“And what would they want with my body, anyway?”
“The evil ones are constantly looking for ways to enter the human realm. Since they, just like guardians, cannot interfere with the living directly, they seek to take possession of a human body that they can control. From there, any type of interference would be possible.”
Kelley’s heart quickened at the thought. What would happen to her family and friends, to the entire human race, if an evil one were able to take possession of her body? What horror would befall the living realm?
“Your body is more attractive to them than others because your soul is here in the in-between. The longer you are here in this space with me, the weaker your pull to your body is. They know that since you have been united with me, your soul is less willing to return to your human form. And since your human body is still able to revived, there is much less work to be done to possess it. We need to get your soul reunited with your body as quickly as possible. The implications of them being able to possess your body are too great.” Kelley heard the urgency in Hope’s voice.
“Okay, I get it,” Kelley said, “but how do we even…what am I supposed to do? Just leap back in? I don’t understand how this works.”
“It’s not quite like that,” Hope replied. “Your body has to be in a good enough physical condition to be able to sustain your living soul. The state your human form was in when you first entered the in-between could not sustain you. Once your body is in a better condition, the process is actually very simple. All you have to do is put your hands on your living form and it will absorb your soul.”
“So what do I have to prepare myself for when I go in there?” Kelley knew what she needed to do but was afraid of what she would see when she did.
“Kelley, your body was very badly injured. I don’t know the extent of your physical injuries, but I do know that you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t in a coma of some sort. You need to be prepared to see your body in an extremely weakened state. You also have to prepare yourself to see your family and friends. They’ll all most likely be there, too.”
“Hope,” Kelley said, “I don’t think I’ll ever be completely ready to see myself and everyone else like this, But I need to know what’s wrong with me. Let’s go.” Kelley took Hope’s hand in hers and, ignoring the tightness in her chest, lead her in the direction of the hospital.
Hope (hehe) you're still enjoying this. Do you have any feedback for me? You want to see more/less of anything? Again, thank you for sticking with this!
Hope couldn’t get the memory of the first time Kelley was injured out of her mind, no matter how hard she tried. She remembered hovering just above the field, proudly watching Kelley play after getting her first high school varsity start. She couldn’t wait to see how much the extra practice Kelley had been putting in would pay off once she was finally allowed to shine. There were too many times, in Hope’s opinion, where Kelley’s light was dimmed because of people who couldn’t fully appreciate her skill and intelligence on the field. Hope knew better than to underestimate her soulmate, on or off the field.
So when Kelley went in fast and hard toward the goal, deftly outmaneuvering the other team’s defense, Hope couldn’t help but to be overjoyed at the level of skill and talent that her soulmate possessed. The coach had obviously wasted precious time not starting her in the first place. Hope couldn’t help but to smile with such pride and admiration.
Then, the world came crashing down on her in an instant. An outsmarted defender, desperately trying to stop Kelley before she got a shot off at such a close range, slammed into Kelley’s body from the back, twisting her ankle in an unnatural position. Hope swore that they would be able to hear the loud snap that ensued from the beyond. Hope was simultaneously livid and desperately concerned for Kelley’s safety. When she heard the young woman’s cry of absolute pain, she wanted nothing more than to shed her guardian form and offer the clumsy defender a lot more than just a few choice words of disapproval. She wanted the girl’s head. Instead, all she was able to offer her soulmate was the calming nature of her presence. That night, Hope was frustrated beyond belief.
Now that Hope had the opportunity to comfort Kelley in a real, physical way, she was anxious to do so. She knew that Kelley wanted to see her body, even in the damaged state it was in, so that they could try to understand what needed to be done as quickly as possible. But she knew that what Kelley would find would most likely not bring her peace. In fact, Hope didn’t think it would bring anything but pain and sorrow. Still, she knew that this was a necessary part of the process, so she followed Kelley willingly into the hospital. She would follow Kelley down to the hot fires of Hades if Kelley just asked.
Hope tried to take her mind off of the way that Kelley’s touch burned into her skin, like she was being branded as hers. She tried to ignore the way that almost all she could think about in that moment was not trying to return her soulmate to her human form, but to tug on Kelley’s hand, spin her around and pull her closely into her body. She tried to ignore the way that she missed the smaller girl’s body against hers when they were airbone, because at that moment Kelley didn’t need a lover, she needed someone to protect her. And since Hope could finally do what she’d wanted to do for so long, to tend to whatever Kelley needed, she pushed her own personal desires down so that they could concentrate on the task at hand.
But that didn’t mean that she didn’t feel it.
That didn’t mean she didn’t notice when Kelley had gripped her body tighter in the mid-flight, her nose tickling Hope’s neck as she nuzzled closer. That didn’t mean that the closeness, the nearness of her soulmate, didn’t drive her body in to absolute overdrive. If the situation was different, if they weren’t being pursued by the evil ones, even at this very second, Hope would have done things a little differently. She would have searched Kelley’s eyes for confirmation that what she was feeling, what they shared, was okay with the younger girl. And they she wouldn’t have hesitated when she pulled Kelley’s body closer, tilted her chin up and united their mouths together finally. It was a moment that Hope had longed for: her soulmate’s kiss.
But she knew that now was not the time to be thinking about how soft Kelley’s lips looked. How her soulmate’s eyes had flickered down from her eyes to her lips, then back up earlier that day. How Kelley seemed to breathe Hope’s scent in when she was tucked in close to her. Now was the time to worry about the state of Kelley’s body. Now was the time to worry about when the evil ones showed up, attempting to possess Kelley’s body to enter the human world. Now was the time to fight for Kelley.
Hope lead Kelley up the stairs to the fifth floor of the hospital, where her human form was resting in a room down the hall. Hope looked at Kelley’s face, trying to spot any hesitation, before she stopped Kelley outside of a room.
Kelley seemed to sense that her human form was near. “I’m in there, aren’t I?”
Hope nodded in confirmation. “And my family, they’re in there, too?”
“Yes, Kelley, they are,” Hope said gently. She wanted nothing more than to take her soulmate’s fear and anxiousness away. What Hope wouldn’t give to have the situations reversed, to be the one in danger instead, so that her soulmate would remain protected. What Hope wouldn’t give to take Kelley away from all of this.
“Okay.” Kelley took in a deep breath, steeling herself for the scene she was about to take in. “I think I’m ready to go in. Well, as ready as I can ever hope to be.” Kelley gave a weak laugh at herself at using Hope’s name in a sentence.
Hope tried, but failed, to mask her pain behind a small chuckle at Kelley. Once again, she looked at her soulmate in admiration for her ability to stay so calm in such a difficult situation. Kelley picked up on Hope’s unease in an instant, reaching out and touching Hope’s face gently.
“Hey,” Kelley said stroking her thumb over Hope’s cheek, “I know this isn’t easy, Hope. But I’m trying to understand everything right now. And I can’t do that unless I know what’s wrong with me. I can’t figure anything out until I’m in there. I know that nothing can prepare me fully for what I’m about to see, but I feel so much better because I know that you’re with me. I trust you.”
Hope’s heart swelled with love for Kelley. There was no doubt that she was hopelessly, irrevocably in love with the freckled-face girl standing in front of her.
Hope nodded at Kelley to show her that she understood, unable to form a coherent sentence because at that moment, at that very moment, Kelley was touching her in a way that she had always reserved for her closest friends and family members. Kelley never touched anyone with so much tenderness unless they were important to her. Hope could do nothing to respond to her. Instead, she took the steel handle of the door knob and turned it. She paused for a second, and then led Kelley across the threshold.
Kelley had always hated hospital rooms. Being in one almost never signified anything good. Aside from the birth of her niece, hospital rooms held all of her worst pain. The damaged part of her soul was housed here, in a room just like the one she was standing in, in the deepest part of her. She wasn’t prepared to be here.
Standing in the doorway, unable to move any closer to the body lying motionless, save for assisted breaths that were allowing the body to breathe, Kelley remained frozen. If it weren’t for Hope’s hand, holding her firmly in place, Kelley would have turned on her heel and sprinted out the door without a glance over her shoulder.
Hope’s presence next to her calmed her. It made her feel strong, finding previously undiscovered and untapped reserves of strength. Kelley wasn’t sure if the strength came from herself, or in the feeling of her hand in Hope’s. If it weren’t for her shell of a body lying in the bed at the end of the room, Kelley would have felt indestructible.
“Kelley?” Hope’s low voice broke into the thoughts running through Kelley’s mind. Her feet still firmly planted in the doorway, Kelley’s head turned slightly, a sign to acknowledged that she knew that Hope had spoken. Her eyes still remained locked on the figure in the bed.
Just then, an older woman in a white coat came striding in through the door where they stood, effectively breaking Kelley’s trance. Kelley took in the scene around the room for the first time. Instantly, she found her father’s soft eyes, who were looking intently at the doctor. His eyes, usually warm and friendly, were red and puffy from trying to hold back tears. Her mother stood next to her father. With the exception of the tear marks streaming down her face, their expressions were the same.
“Mr. and Mrs. O’Hara, my name is Dr. Ellis. I administered care to your daughter when she first arrived here at the hospital. She’s a fighter.” Dr. Ellis paused for a second in order to allow her patient’s parents to absorb the information before continuing.
“Your daughter sustained a number of life-threatening injuries and she lost a lot of blood. We performed multiple surgeries in order to repair what we could at this time. The left side of her body sustained most of her injuries. Those include a shattered femur, a broken tibia and various fractures in her arm. All of the ribs on her left side were also broken. From the impact, she also sustained a few internal injuries. We were able to clear most of the bleeding from her traumatic brain injury. Your daughter is currently in a medically induced coma to allow the swelling in her brain to come down. We won’t know the extent of her brain injuries until she is able to wake up. Right now, we expect her to keep her in this state for the next 48 hours and then re-evaluate. Do you have any questions for me at the moment?”
Kelley could see that her parents were still in shock. They couldn’t really wrap their mind around what had happened to their daughter. Seeing they were unable to form any type of sentence, Dr. Ellis continued. “Okay, I’ll be in to check on your daughter in a few hours. You are welcome to ask me any questions at that time. Your daughter is doing very well for the state she was brought in and I hope that she will continue on a good path to recovery.”
With that, Dr. Ellis turned and swiftly walked out of the room. As soon as the door clicked shut and the sound of the doctor’s boots faded down the hallway, Kelley’s father broke down and cried.
Questions? Comments? Things you'd like to see?
Chapter 10: Heartbeats
Kelley doesn't think that she's ever really seen her father cry before. Sure, there had been times when she thought that she might have seen a little moisture around his eyes, especially when sad dog commercials were on television. But full-out bawling, tears streaming down his face? Nope. Not even when he held her for the first time, according to Kelley's mother. The man just didn't express his emotions that way.
Seeing her father on his knees, sobbing uncontrollably next to her bed with her mother right next to him was too much for Kelley to take. So, she did the only thing that she could do and walked up to stand right beside him, hoping to provide comfort just like Hope had done for her so many times in the past. She hoped so badly that he could feel her there, that her presence alone could calm him.
Hope looked at her soulmate sadly, knowing how frustrating it could be to not be able to do anything other than provide comfort. "He can feel you there, Kelley." There were no words to describe the amount of pain that was held within the four walls of the hospital room.
All Kelley could do was nod in response. She knew that there was so much more to say, so much more to do until everything was back to normal. She didn't know if she could return to her normal, after everything that had happened that day. After she had met Hope.
Unable to take anymore, Kelley slowly walked back over to where Hope was standing. "I need to leave. I can't be in here anymore." Kelley's voice was pained. "Can we go outside?"
Hope took Kelley's hand in hers and led them out into the hall, where they couldn't hear the sobs coming from the room. Kelley took in a deep breath, holding back tears herself. Seeing her strong father break down in front of her shook her to the core. She wasn't sure the pain would ever go away.
Hope pulled Kelley close in to her body, wanting so badly to comfort the younger girl. Now that Kelley could actually feel her arms around her, Hope never wanted to let go.
Kelley rested her head on Hope's shoulder, allowing herself to accept the comfort that Hope provided. She had never felt so much love radiating from another person in her entire life. Kelley's breathing slowed and her body relaxed. Only Hope could have this effect on her, Kelley thought. Their bodies reacted perfectly to each other.
"Hey, it's okay to cry," Hoped gently offered, rubbing Kelley's back. "Let it out. I'll be here."
"No, I'm okay." Kelley attempted a weak smile. "I just need to be strong. My family needs me right now. I can't give them the comfort that they need if I'm out here crying my eyes out. I'm just so grateful you're here with me."
Hope's heart ached at Kelley's confession. Although she was so glad she had finally been able to be there in a more physical way for her soulmate, there wasn't an end to the pain Kelley felt right now. She wasn't entirely sure that returning to the human world would bring Kelley the type of peace she wanted. Too much had happened that day, things that Kelley would never forget.
Kelley picked up on the thoughts that were circling through Hope's head. "I can see your mind going a million miles a minute. I know I had a 4.0 GPA, but even perfect students can't read minds. Wanna fill me in?"
Hope smiled sadly. "You're such a dork. You can take the girl outta the school..."
"But you can't take the school outta the girl," Kelley finished, grinning. "So what's up, Hope?"
"A few things, actually," Hope replied. "The two most important things being the evil ones and getting you back to your body. I know that I was able to carry us to safety for now, but they'll eventually come here looking for you. We need to be ready when the do. Luckily, I have a lot of experience fending them off. We just need to stay as close to your body as possible to make sure you're able to get back into your human form as quickly as possible."
"Okay," Kelley said, "that's all good news, right? Well, at least not the worst news. You're a kick ass guardian that can beat the crap out of some evil butt. They'll come, but we'll be ready. So, why do you look so sad? I know the situation is pretty bad at the moment, but eventually it'll be okay again. My body is in awful shape right now but I know that I'm a fighter. I'll be okay." Kelley searched Hope's face for any sign of relief, but found none.
"I know, Kelley. You're the strongest person I know." Hope sighed. "And I know that you'll be okay. I'm so, so happy for that." Hope felt guilty for feeling the way she did. There was no way she was getting out of telling Kelley the whole truth. Kelley hadn't even known her a day and she could already read the emotions flashing across Hope's face.
"It's just that..." Hope hesitated, but felt encouraged by the strength in Kelley's eyes. "It's just that I know that you'll be able to get back into your body just fine when it's strong enough. I'm just going to miss you when you do."
Kelley's eyes softened as she let Hope's words sink in. She knew, without a doubt that she'd feel the same way. The only difference would be that Kelley wouldn't be able to see her anymore. She wouldn't be able to touch her. Kelley's heart hurt at the thought. "You're right," Kelley said sadly. She held Hope's gaze before continuing. "I'll miss you, too. But I know that this is temporary. I'll come back. My soul will come back to find you."
At those words, Hope's body reacted. There wasn't any doubt that Kelley felt it, too. She couldn't stop her feet from closing in the distance between their bodies as she pulled Kelley in close to her.
"Stop me right now if you aren't sure about this," Hope breathed onto Kelley's lips. The space between them was painful.
Right as Kelley moved to meet Hope's lips with hers, there was a shout from the end of the hall, from the room where Kelley's body lie in it's damaged state. "Help!" Kelley's dad frantically searched the hallway for someone to respond.
"It's my daughter," he cried, "she's flat-lining!"
Sorry I've been away for so long! I'm going to try to get in a chapter this weekend! Let me know if there's something you'd like to see. :)
Kelley’s eyes flew open and she pulled back at the sound of her father yelling for help. Their soulmate’s kiss would have to wait for another time. Hope had waited for her for centuries. She would understand.
Confusion filled her head as she hurried down the hallway, Hope on her heels, to the room where her body lay. She was just in the room and the doctor said that her body had been stable. What happened during the time they had been gone?
The room was in chaos when they entered. Dr. Ellis was shouting orders to nurses and Kelley wasn’t able to follow what was going on. Hope touched Kelley’s shoulder softly.
“Kelley, you’re the strongest person I know and the biggest fighter. Your body will pull through this, even with the injuries you sustained today. You have the best doctors and nurses working on you right now,” Hope comforted.
Kelley nodded. “I know, it’s just hard to see. I still can’t believe that all of this is real. I’m still trying to catch up to everything that’s happened today. It feels like an out-of-body experience.”
Hope couldn’t help but to laugh in return. “Of course. Leave it to you to make a joke like that, even in the middle of all of this chaos. You really are the strongest person I know.”
Kelley gave Hope a weak smile and turned to take in the state of the room. Dr. Ellis had somehow managed to stabilize Kelley’s body and was directing a nurse to bring Kelley’s parent’s back in.
“Mr. and Mrs. O’Hara, thank you for allowing us the space to help your daughter. I believe that her body is still in a state of shock and is reacting to the amount of stress that’s been put on her today. Her heart was unstable and stopped beating for a short period of time, but we managed to restart her heart and she’s stabilized for the moment. I assure you that we’re doing everything we can to make sure that her heart will beat for years to come. We’ll keep a close eye on her tonight and I’ll be in every hour to make sure that she remains stable,” Dr. Ellis assured. Her parents managed a weak nod in return. Dr. Ellis gave a comforting touch to Mrs. O’Hara and left the room, her nurses following behind.
Kelley turned to look at Hope. “Do you mind if I stay here with my parents for a few moments? I just want to be close to them, even though they can’t see me.”
“Of course, Kelley,” Hope agreed quickly. “I’ll be right outside if you need me. I’ll never be far from your side.” With those words, Hope turned and left the room, allowing her soulmate a few minutes alone with her distraught parents.
Kelley walked slowly over to where her parents were sitting. She felt powerless to help them. To let them know that she was okay. Is this how Hope felt all this time, she wondered to herself? The feeling of helplessness was overpowering. Kelley did the only thing she knew how to do. She started to ramble.
“Mom, Dad,” Kelley started, “I know that you can’t hear me. There’s nothing that I want more than for you to know that I’m okay. I can only imagine what’s going through your head, seeing me like this. Bet you never thought that this would be the way this day would turn out. But I am okay, as crazy as that might sound. I don’t feel any pain. I know my body is going through a lot but I’ve been through hard times before. You’ve raised me to be strong, though, and I know that’s going to carry me through. It might not seem like it right now. I’ll be okay. And I’ve met this amazing person today, and she’s looking out for me too. She’s great. I know you’d like her. She’s been watching over me for awhile, just like I’m trying to do for you right now. And she’s doing everything she can to make sure that I’m okay, too. Sorry, I’m rambling again, aren’t I?”
Kelley heard a soft knock on the door as Hope poked her head in. “Everything okay?”
“Yeah, just trying to give my parents a little bit of comfort. I know they can’t hear me but they can feel me, right?”
Hope nodded in return. “Absolutely. Just like you could sense me, they sense you looking out for them.”
Kelley sighed. “I just want them to know I’m okay. See, look at me! I’m walking and talking just fine right now.” Kelley wiggled her arms for emphasis.
Hope laughed softly and stepped in closer to Kelley. “Of course you are, but it’s a little difficult to communicate that to them right now. They know and they believe in you, too.”
“So, what happens now?” Kelley asked quietly. “When my body’s better, will I just be able to get back into it? What will happen to you? To us?”
Hope wasn’t sure how to respond. On one hand, Hope was elated that Kelley would be okay. That she would be able to return to her human form and to the family that raised her. She knew, however, that Kelley wouldn’t be able to see her anymore, or hear her. Though it was temporary and they would be reunited eventually, there was no feeling like being able to hold Kelley and to comfort her. It’s what she had been waiting centuries to do. To have Kelley, even for a day, and then to lose her for years again was heartbreaking. But Hope’s job was to protect Kelley, even at her own expense.
“Well, when your body is better, I’ll help you return to it. Nothing will happen to me. I’ll still be with you, waiting, even though you can’t see me. And when the time comes, I’ll be there waiting for you. To guide you to the place where we’ll be able to be together forever.”
“Okay, but I still won’t be able to see you, right?” Kelley asked, sadness filling her eyes.
“No, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to me. I’ll still be able to hear you ramble, even when you can’t see me. And I’ll be listening the entire time. Nothing will take me away from your side,” Hope promised with a smile.
Kelley opened her mouth to respond, but before she could, there was a loud screeching in the hall. Kelley sensed Hope tensing beside her and instantly knew that something was wrong.
“Kelley, stay in here near your body. No matter what you hear, you can’t come out into the hallway. Do you understand me?”
“Hope, what’s going on? What was that noise?” Kelley was starting to panic.
Hope looked at Kelley sadly. “The evil ones are here, Kelley. They’re here for your body. Stay here.”
Kelley was helpless to do anything but let her soulmate walk out the door.
Hai guys. Sorry it took me so long. <3