It was Halloween and the night was young. Abigail looked out the window of her cramped studio apartment on the fifth floor and sighed. She faintly remembered the last time she dressed up for the occasion and had a fun night. It was a couple of years ago in her hometown; life back then was so different, and so was she.
The day before Halloween, her mom would bake a huge batch of chocolate cookies and decorate them with cobwebs made from orange icing. All the children in the neighborhood loved them, and so did Zyair.
Abigail drew the curtains and snapped herself out of the past. She poured herself a fresh cup of coffee and sat down to start another of her freelancing projects in queue. Keeping busy was the best way to suppress the urge to reminisce and evade feelings of loneliness.
During the day, she remained occupied with college classes and assignments, and her evenings were spent freelancing inside her humble abode. She was accustomed to an introverted life, and she liked living independently with no distractions.
A few of her closest friends from high school kept in touch from time to time, only to remind her how much she’d changed. She was once the life of every party, the girl who was always looking for an excuse to pursue an adventure, and the kind of person who could talk your ear off. When someone told her that they missed her old self, she’d laugh dryly and change the subject.
About an hour later, Abigail was engrossed in her work and the coffee cup sat cold and empty beside her laptop. Suddenly, the doorbell rang and she was jolted back to reality.
“Must be trick-or-treaters from the building,” she muttered to herself tiredly.
She grabbed a handful of candy bars from her refrigerator and went to open the door, expecting a bunch of cheeky kids in spooky outfits. However, what she saw chilled her to the bone and she dropped the candy in shock. He grinned at her impishly like he always did, and her heart fluttered at the sight like old times. Her throat went dry; she opened her mouth to scream or shout something, but no sound came out. He was dressed up as ‘Lucifer’, same as on their last Halloween together.
He closed the distance between them and wrapped her tightly in his arms.
“I’ve missed you, my sweet Abby,” he whispered softly in her ear.
She reluctantly hugged him back and time paused as they stood like that in the doorway, basking in each other’s warmth. Abigail buried her face into his chest and let her tears flow. He gently caressed her back and let her take her time. Shortly afterward, she took a step back and stared at him incredulously.
“I’m hallucinating, aren’t I?” she asked sadly.
He stepped inside, closed the door behind him, and motioned for her to sit down. She complied, not blinking once, as if afraid to break the illusion. He sat down across her, took her hands in his, and smiled reassuringly.
“I’m really here Abby and we need to talk,”
“How is that possible Zyair? You’re….you’re…”
“Yes, I’m dead,”
Once again Abigail was speechless and she waited for him to offer an explanation. Her mind traveled back to the day Zyair had died in a car accident with a drunk driver. It was only a week after they had graduated from high school. They had been dating since middle school and were going to college together.
Abigail and Zyair were young and madly in love; their dreams, ambitions, and desires were interconnected. These two had so many plans including growing old together before everything was blown to smithereens.
Abigail shivered and closed her eyes as the image of Zyair’s lifeless body flashed before her eyes. He watched her pensively as if he could see all the things going through her mind.
“You need to move on Abby,” he spoke resolutely.
She stared at him impassively, expecting him to say more. She had too many questions she was afraid to ask. Him being there before her filled her with hope again, and she wasn’t ready to let it go that easily. Zyair knew her too well; he didn’t need to read her mind to know what she was thinking.
“Why are you wearing your Halloween costume from four years ago?” she put forward to buy some time.
“I remember how much you liked it,” he humored, “you were so turned on that night,”
She smiled bashfully as she recalled their wild night that Halloween. Zyair truly did look hot as hell in his Lucifer get-up. She remembered failing to keep her hands off him the whole time they were together. They hooked up at least three times during the night – in her room when he came to pick her up for trick-or-treating together, at a party they crashed, and finally in the car before Zyair drove her home.
Abigail looked at her dead boyfriend longingly. In that moment, she would give anything to feel every inch of him again.
“We cannot be together Abby,”
“But you’re here,”
He explained how the dead could walk the earth on Halloween night. She was desperate and willing to wait all year round for Halloween to be with him for one night till the end of time. He told her that was ridiculous and that the purpose of his visit was contrary.
“Seeing you this way pains me Abby,” he said, “I want you to be happy”
She was angry at him for giving her hope and then demolishing it so quickly. How dare he tell her to forget about him and live on like everything was fine? His death wasn’t some insignificant tragedy she would get over just like that. She had been mourning for over three years and now he barges in out of nowhere telling her what to do.
“Why now?” she asked him indignantly.
If he could walk among the living every Halloween then why did he wait so long to come and see her? Zyair averted his eyes guiltily because he couldn’t deny that the delay was selfish to some extent.
“You were too upset and I thought it would be best to give you some time to recover,” he spoke without looking her in the eye.
She waited for him to continue and he confessed that he wasn’t ready to see her with someone else either. The revelation was followed by awkward silence, and then Zyair begged her to begin a new chapter of her life, and open her heart to fall in love again. She snorted at his plea and asked him to leave if he only returned to abandon her all over again. She gave him a challenging look, and he slowly rose from his seat to go. When he reached the front door, she ran to him and hugged his waist from behind.
“There has to be another way,” she sobbed.
He hesitated for a moment and then turned around to face her. He held her face in his hands and studied her tear-stained face incredulously.
“Would you rather be dead than live on without me?” he asked gravely.
She nodded in agreement and insisted that she was ready to sacrifice everything.
“We need to perform a ritual before the break of dawn”
“Then let’s not waste any more time”
Zyair procured a notebook from within his jacket and flipped to a page displaying a strange transcript. He told Abigail that they had to perform intercourse, during which he would recite some incantations. Abigail too had to repeat a verse three times by the time she reached her peak.
“Abocoda nemris teva kritnag sivaha venlum is what you need to say three times,”
She eagerly rehearsed the verse until she had memorized it perfectly. She couldn’t wait to feel Zyair’s body against her and submit to him completely. The reunited lovers undressed one another impatiently and clung to each other for life. He made love to her aggressively with utmost passion, and she moaned vociferously in the pleasure of every thrust. She recited the verse thrice when it was time and the world started spinning.
Abigail felt like her soul was being pulled out of her body and she howled in agony.
“The pain will cease soon my love,” murmured Zyair while he penetrated her fully.
In a matter of seconds, Abigail’s body turned to ash and Zyair acquired possession of the life in her. He was no more among the dead and he gained a second chance at life. All he needed was a living person to give him their life out of pure love. He almost fell sorry for her, but he didn’t regret it. Being alive felt amazing and there was so much he looked forward to experiencing with his newfound existence.
“Abby was a fool who took her life for granted,” he told himself as he gathered her ashes to flush down the toilet.
Once he got rid of the ashes, he cleaned up the place, rummaged around for cash, and stepped outside. The night was fading quickly and Halloween celebrations were approaching their end.
“Thank you, and rest in peace Abby,” he whispered as he looked back one last time.
He had so much to do, such as formulating a whole new identity and living his second life to the fullest.