Everyone Sees What They Once Lost
“Please, explain to me: why are you following me?”
Ever since they met in front of the wall, that guy had started to follow her. Be it to the supermarket or back to her building, he was there like a shadow. He didn’t seem to mean any harm but his simple presence was burdensome.
“It’s a free country.”
She could feel her right eyebrow twitching. His personality reminded her of an old acquaintance, one that knew when to appear to make her feel like a crazy person.
A younger version of Zoe was going to see what middle school was really like. For a while now, her mother was against public school but her father convinced her to let her daughter experience new things.
Zoe was looking forward to the new school. She knew that if she was to make real friends, the imaginary ones would disappear. Unfortunately, when her father parked the car, she could already see someone at the entrance. He was looking straight at her and she was sure he wasn’t a teacher.
She glanced at her father and gulped.
“There is a man at the entrance, isn’t there? He looks scary.”
Her father squinted a little to see what she was talking about. She was scared that he might not see him.
“Yes, there is.” She sighed in relief hearing he could see him too. “He must be your teacher. But he doesn’t look scary at all. He’s even waving at us, look!”
She glanced at the entrance and saw a friendly man waving at them. Well, at least there was a man there and she wasn’t imagining things but she could swear he was different before.
However, when her father left, someone appeared behind her and whispered something into her ear. She didn’t understand what he said because it was in a strange language but it freaked her out.
Zoe didn’t know, but she had to hide a lot of things from her teachers and classmates. The other students liked her because she was new and because she always found an interesting story to tell them but she was also getting in trouble.
“Stop following me,” she mumbled. She couldn’t speak loud with so many people around her. The older man only chuckled.
“It’s a free world. Besides, you’re avoiding me.”
“I’m imagining you. You’re not real,” she mumbled as she slipped through the kids in the hall.
The man’s eyes widened and he started to laugh loudly, choking at some point. Fortunately, no one could see or hear him. But then again, that was quite unfortunate, too.
“Just because only you can see me doesn’t mean I’m not real.”
Zoe sighed and made a sudden stop at the girls’ bathroom. She entered a stall and locked herself in before she sat on the stool, pulling her knees close to her chest.
“It’s only my imagination. Now I have real friends. Now I have real friends and I don’t need imaginary ones.” She closed her eyes and covered her ears. No matter how much she was trying, she could still hear him chuckle. “Let me go.” She didn’t know the real meaning of her words, though.
“I can let you go only when the dark side of the moon arises,” he whispered into her ear. It sent chills down her spine.
That was all. It stopped and he left her alone. She opened her eyes and glanced warily around her. Everything was normal. Zoe walked out of the stall with a lighter heart and walked towards the sink. She washed her face and rubbed her eyes, thinking just how out of control her condition was getting. That thought amplified when she raised her eyes and noticed the writing on the mirror. It was everywhere.
“The dark side of the moon…”
She called the teachers and told them that someone followed her in and wrote that on the mirrors. However, the teachers could only see one thing written on the mirrors:
She did it.
Fortunately, that was ages ago. Zoe had needed to transfer to another middle school because everyone came to the conclusion that she was only looking for attention. However, that just proved to her that whatever was around her was not imaginary. She wasn’t crazy but she wasn’t completely sane either. From that moment on, she started to draw everything she would see and change it according to where she wanted everything to lead her to. That led her to Alec. She got a job and she started to work more seriously on Fallen. It was nice to create heroes when she only had villains around her.
“Hello? Are you even listening to me? Wakey, wakey!”
She blinked and took a step back when he slapped his palms in front of her. It was too close and he almost hit her nose.
She pushed his hands away from her face and looked around. They were in front of a coffee shop. When she looked closer, it was the one where that little ghost Danielle was. Zoe didn’t want to enter because then she would have to be in her presence. Too much excitement was not good for her health.
Against her wishes, the guy whose name she still didn’t know pushed her inside. He nudged her towards a table in the back and she complied in the end. Thankfully, it wasn’t crowded. It was almost closing time anyway.
“The staff is going to shove us out when they’re going to close,” she said while watching them clean up.
“My friend works here. I’m sure he will let us stay and talk for however long we want.”
“Yay.” She grimaced.
His wide puppy eyes were staring into her soul. Zoe was feeling very uncomfortable just standing there. Even worse was standing there with two ghosts on each side, inspecting and gossiping.
“I don’t like him. He seems suspicious.”
Andy was measuring the guy from head to toe. On the other side, Danielle had a different opinion.
“He comes here often. He’s a friend of the manager.”
Andy glanced at her over Zoe’s back.
“Isn’t the manager the guy you liked?” he blurted out, making Danielle blush. That was on point. Andy raised an eyebrow, content with her reaction and went back to judging the human.
“But he’s only a student. What can he do? He doesn’t even know what’s going on,” Danielle continued to defend the human, making Andy scoff at her naivety.
“You don’t know, either,” Zoe mumbled to the side. That instantly grabbed the guy’s attention.
“Did you say something?” Not only did she shake her head, but all three of them did. The ghosts were having an intense discussion behind Zoe. “Anyway, I’m Ezekiel. Ezekiel Addams.” He smiled sheepishly and bowed his head lightly, “Well, what’s your name?”
“What do you want to talk to me about?”
Andy glanced warily at Danielle. Something was fishy.
“Is that your name?” the boy, Ezekiel, asked jokingly.
He was pissing her off. He wasn’t a nice kid; he was a devilish human. She could see it in his eyes, the playfulness.
“Zoe.” He nodded and noted her name down. Well, that was weird.
“Why is he writing down her name? Isn’t that suspicious?” Andy’s words were harsh and were directed to Danielle, who still couldn’t see anything strange with Ezekiel.
“Maybe he’s interested.”
Andy scoffed and rolled his eyes.
“Interested in what? She’s a weird, overconfident and overly weak girl.”
Zoe spit a little bit of her drink, causing Ezekiel to frown and suddenly get up. He only wanted to help her but Andy quickly threw his drink on the floor.
While Ezekiel was busy pondering his next move, Zoe glared at the two ghosts. Mainly Andy.
“What?” He was acting all innocent after he did something unnecessary. “Hey! Don’t help him!” Somehow, Andy got offended and left. Danielle rolled her eyes and walked in the backroom.
“Hey, sorry. Here, let me help.” It was the least she could do after Andy’s antics. Ezekiel raised an eyebrow but didn’t question her.
“It’s fine. You didn’t do anything. I just wanted to talk to you about the wall.” The boy finally made his intentions clear.
Unfortunately, their drinks were in glass cups so when Ezekiel’s glass fell, it shattered in pieces. He was careful, but Zoe wasn’t thus she cut her finger without thinking.
“Damn.” She was ready to do what everyone does: suck on it.
“You’re bleeding.” Ezekiel’s eyes widened and he grabbed her finger to inspect the wound. It was just a scratch but something got Ezekiel to gasp in amazement. “Uh, can blood be so dark?”
She pulled her hand back quickly and covered it with a napkin.
“I only have one thing to ask you.”
They were back in their seats and Ezekiel was acting all business-like while she was simply silent.
“What did you see on the wall?” Ezekiel was really persistent about that problem.
“Why are you so interested in it?” Zoe urged him to give her a logical response, one that was as far as possible from the truth.
He chuckled and leaned back, playing with his fingers on the table while trying to think how to express what he was thinking.
“People see it with different eyes. I think everyone sees something different written there. I just want to know what you saw.”
“Well…” she trailed while glancing at her finger.
Zoe really wanted to tell him. It didn’t have the same meaning for him as it did for her so it wouldn’t affect him in the same way, if at all. She got scared because she could read it in the first place and that was his case, but something was holding her back. Her eyes wandered to the side, on the window and jumped back in surprise when she saw Mehrdir on the other side, looking bored.
《Tell him》 he mouthed. She sighed again and looked at the curious Ezekiel.
“It said 《Those who do not believe in Hell or Heaven》” She lied through her teeth.
“Did it say that?” He didn’t look convinced at all.
“Yes. You asked me what I saw. That’s it. I guess everyone sees what they lost once.”
“So I lost my pride?” Ezekiel exclaimed in offence. It should’ve been more complicated, like a puzzle. “What did you lose?”
“Belief.” She stated coldly.