Hand in hand, they walked back to the cottage.
Cassidy tried not to think too much about what had happened. At least, she tried not to think about the fact that he was a ghost. She concentrated on the feeling of his hand as he led her through the growing darkness – warm, solid, alive. He felt alive, and normal. She locked onto that thought in her mind.
She’s gotten over the initial shock, that wasn’t the problem anymore. The problem now was that her mind was wandering, wondering how the relationship – if it could be called that already – would last. Her mind jumped quickly from one thought to the next. Would he stay with her, or would some ghosthood rules of some sort make him leave? Could he leave the island? Maybe he could only be where he’d been while alive. Would he age? For a brief moment she imagined herself as an old woman, holding the hand of an apparently twenty-five year old Simon. People would think he was her son, or grandson, would he even still like her?
She didn’t realize that she’d stopped walking until Simon spoke.
Cassidy stared blankly at him for a moment. “I’m just… you… can this work?”
He shrugged. “I suppose it will get a little annoying if you can only touch me at night. We could go to Antarctica. Doesn’t night last months there?”
Despite his serious tone, Cassidy knew he was joking. “Can you even leave the island?”
“I haven’t tried.” Simon tugged on her hand gently and she started walking with him again. “Why?”
“I don’t live here,” Cassidy pointed out quietly. “I need to go home eventually. And… I’d like you to come with me, if you can.”
“There’s no reason to believe that I can’t,” Simon said.
“Ok, well… do you think that you’ll get older?”
Simon shrugged. “I know just about as much as you do. Try not to worry, all right? I’m doing my best to figure things out and when I know, you’ll know.”
“How can I not worry?”
“I’m not worried.”
Cassidy tugged her hand out of Simon’s. “So? You’re already- you know. You’re a ghost. But I’m not. I’m going to keep getting older and what if you just stay the same? If you can even leave the island and if you’ll even still like me and if-“ she paused and met his gaze for a moment. “I sound crazy. I’m sorry. I’m assuming you care about me as much as I care about you and maybe you don’t, so, never mind.” She shouldered past him on the thin path, momentarily relishing the fact that she actually could push past him instead of just walk through him, and headed up the hill towards the cottage.
She had already taken off her coat and shoes when Simon stepped into the cottage. Without looking back at him, she started talking again. “I’m confused. There’s so much about this that doesn’t make sense.”
“Does love ever make sense?”
Cassidy spun around. He was standing in the open doorway, in what she now thought of as his “forlorn stance” with his hands in his pockets, and smiling slightly. She flung her arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder. After a moment he managed to pull his hands from his pockets and he wrapped his arms around her waist.
“I’m confused too,” Simon admitted. “But I’m not worried. Not because I’m already dead, but because I know that I’ll do whatever I can to stay with you. If I can’t leave this island at first, I’ll find a way. If I don’t age, I’ll remain faithfully by your side. I made myself visible; maybe if I keep working at it I’ll be able to make myself permanently solid. I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to be with you. I’ve been thinking about it since you found out who am I and since I realized that I love you.”
For a long moment Cassidy couldn’t think of anything to say, she just hugged him like she’d wanted to do all day. Finally she looked up at him. “I’ll help you,” she promised.
Simon smiled. “How about you let me make dinner?”
“How about we make it together?”
“That’s a much better idea.”
Once dinner was done and all cleaned up, they went to the living room like they had every evening. Simon got a fire going while Cassidy sat on the couch making notes in her notebook. She wrote about what she’d learned about him, and all the weird aspects of being a ghost that he’d discovered.
When he joined her on the couch he draped an arm over her shoulders and she snuggled up against his side. He poked the page she was writing on. “That’s a bit of a flowery description of me, don’t you think?”
Cassidy covered the paragraph with her hand, embarrassed. “You’re not supposed to read over people’s shoulders.”
“I wasn’t.” Simon lifted up her hand easily. “Wearily handsome? What does that mean?”
“Stop it,” Cassidy slammed the notebook closed and held it out of his reach.
Not to be so easily deterred, Simon reached around her to try to grab the notebook, so Cassidy tossed it across the room. He stared over at it like he was considering getting up, but Cassidy was leaning on his arm at that point, so she simply grabbed him.
“Leave it. Maybe it wasn’t about you, anyway.”
“It said Steven Donahue.”
Cassidy smiled cheekily. “Not Simon Battle? Guess it wasn’t about you.”
She cut off his protest with a kiss, and the notebook went forgotten.
He woke her up the next morning by accident, while he carefully tried to climb out of bed. Cassidy was confused for a very brief moment until everything came back to her and she sat up with a start. “You’re still here?”
“Where else would I be?” Simon asked. He leaned against the dresser behind him and crossed his arms.
“Nowhere, I just…” Cassidy trailed off. The night before she’d shyly invited him into the bedroom – not to do anything, she’d quickly said, but just so that he didn’t have to sleep on the couch. Now she was feeling a little silly about the whole thing. It didn’t help that Simon hadn’t yet put his shirt back on.
“I’m going to go make breakfast before the sun comes up.”
Cassidy sighed. “Maybe we should move to Antarctica.”
Simon laughed. He pulled his shirt over his head, leaned across the bed to give her a quick kiss, and then left the room. After a few minutes had passed, Cassidy forced herself to get up and change. She had a feeling that she’d have to get used to getting up so early. It wasn’t fair. Maybe the solution was to become nocturnal and just stay awake all night. Enough of her friends had done it in university, so how hard could it be?
Still half asleep, though she tried to pretend otherwise, Cassidy walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table. Simon was making eggs and bacon. Cassidy yawned, propped her chin up on her hand and watched him. Soon, he placed a plate on the table in front of her.
“So what are you doing today?” he asked as he settled down in his usual chair.
Cassidy sleepily started picking at her food. “I was thinking of going back to the library.”
Simon looked up sharply. “You’re not still thinking about what happened to me, are you?”
“Can’t I try to solve it?” Cassidy asked.
“I don’t see how the library would help you,” he muttered. “It’s not as if you’ll find any information in an old book.”
Cassidy sighed. She knew he was right. However, after a couple of bites of eggs a new thought occurred to her. “What about ghosts? I’ll bet there are books about them. Maybe we can learn something about you.”
It took him a moment to reply. “Maybe.”
Cassidy grinned. “So? Want to come with me?”
He met her gaze and smiled, “Yeah, all right. It’s worth a shot.”