• Gateway

    There he stood; a dark figure blocking my way to freedom, I think. He was leaning against an iron gate and looked completely at ease. I was in the dark of the tunnel and he was in the light. Who is he and what is he doing here? Where is here? Why am I here? Who am I? This scared me. I couldn’t remember anything.

    “I thought you weren’t coming, Vera,” he said in a deep, echoing voice.

    Vera? Memories came crashing back to me. Not like normal memories were you only re-live the moment in your head, but I was actually there.

    I was walking through the crowded halls of a school... my school. Head down, shoulders slumped, hair covering my eyes. No one talks to me or even notices my presence. I feel like a ghost, haunting the school.

    Another memory jumped into view. I was standing in front of my full length mirror, fresh out of the shower, my wavy, tangled hair sticking to my body.

    “I’m not ugly,” I said to myself. I had an unusually high metabolism so I was thinner than a rail, though I ate so much, even an elephant could get full. My ears were pierced six times, three on top three on the bottom, an outcome of peer pressure back when I thought I had friends but I wasn’t about to go into that. My face was small and round but not out of proportion with the rest of my body. My eyes tended to glow gold against my light caramel skin. I remembered now!

    I blinked and I was staring in the deep blue eyes of Jonathan Pride, the most handsome, popular guy in school. He, of all people, was talking to me. He’s voice was kind, light and very polite. I remember over hearing the girls squealing and giggling over him between insulting me. If there was one thing I learned it’s the best way to distract a group of girls. His name is usually enough to send them into giggling fits and gossip stories.

    Anyway, whenever I talk to a guy I blush and look away, too scared to meet there eyes.

    “Do you sing?” he asked me at one point. “I overheard you humming.”

    I shook my head violently. “No, no, I’m no good at it.”

    “You should really try. You have a very musical voice.”

    I realized as we were talking that we had a lot in common, for a jock and a ghost in any case.

    “Hey, you got any plans this weekend?”

    I shook my head, my hair flying from side to side. “No, no plans.”

    Very gently, his hand steady and moving with meaning brushed the hair out of my face and tucked it behind my ear. “My parents are going out of town, so I’m having a party. Would you like to go?” Without thinking I agreed.

    NO! I screamed at myself but it was too late. My eyes squeezed shut knowing something bad would happen. Instead I tried to imagine us walking down the hall holding hands, leaning into a kiss but when I opened my eyes I was staring at the cruelest, curly haired brunette in the world.

    Melody Spite was head of the dance team, or something like that, and her eyes were green with envy. She was cussing me out; ordering me to stay away from Jonathan.

    “I don’t want him like that,” I tried to explain but they started screaming at me even more. The name calling got worse. Stupid, ugly, some random stuff about my mother... I felt the tears in my eyes.

    “Oh, she’s crying,” she laughed. The two girls at her side laughed too. She shoved me back.

    “Why don’t you just leave,” the dirty blond to her right sneered.

    I didn’t understand. If they wanted me to leave why weren’t they pushing me to the door?

    My eyes wandered away from them unable to take in what was happening. A few people were staring but that was it. No one cared what happened to me. As I looked over my shoulder I stopped. A six foot deep pool was only a few more steps behind me, and I can’t swim. I looked desperately from the pool to the three advancing girls.

    “Please,” I begged.

    They just laughed at me. “Get on your knees,” Melody ordered.

    I gasped. They wanted me to beg like a dog. I looked from her merciless green eyes to the light blue pool; I was trapped and humiliated. My knees grew week and I fell on them, my survival instincts taking the place of my common sense.

    They laughed hysterically as I stared at the ground. My eyes overfilled with tears.

    “Watch out!” I heard someone scream.

    I straitened up in time to see a foot come down on my chest. I felt the impact knock the wind out of me and the force pushed me back. I wasn’t close enough to the pool to just fall in. My head hit the edge of the marble and a sickening crunch echoed between my ears followed shortly by a loud splash.

    My eyes shot open and I was in the dark tunnel again. I realized I was soaked from head to toe; I shivered as the truth hit me.

    I was dead.

    They say your life flashes before your eyes, but being forced to see your faults, forced to own up to them, and not have the ability to fix them. How unfair.

    “Ignorance comes at a price,” I whispered as I stared at the man. He simply nodded, not looking my way.

    As I stood there a cold wind rushed by me, making me shiver. I suddenly longed for the bright sun that he seemed to offer. Without a second thought I started walking towards him; step by drawn out step. As I moved my feet sank deeper and deeper into the ground and my heart went with it. All the wrong I’ve done to my family. All the pain I caused them... Will they miss me? Will they morn for me? I heard burying a child is the worst experience a parent can have. Before I knew it I was literally trapped waist deep in my misery and guilt. I clawed desperately at the sticky substance; trying to pull myself back up.

    I looked up at the man. For a brief moment I wondered if the gate was a part of him. Like he was an angel, here to lead me the right way and the gates were his wings. One of them was open just for me. It offered a place of rest and comfort. I called out to him, begging for his help.

    “Vera, let go.”

    I understood despite my situation. Let my life go. Let my family go. Let everything I’ve ever know go.


    “You know the answer. Make haste, Vera, or soon you will be trapped in your regret and shame. If that happens your loved ones will join you, they will be unable to let you go.”

    I continued to struggle. Lashing, grabbing, screaming, pleading, yet still sinking. A hand reached out to me and I latched on with all my strength but still sunk, the mud was up to my chin now.

    “At this very moment what do you want?” he asked me.

    “I want to live!” I screamed as the mud enclosed my head.

    “But you are a ghost.”

    “I want to live!” I bellowed, my mouth filled with the mud.

    “But I gave you a light and you hid it from the world. I gave you a voice yet you sang only to the mirror.”

    “I still want to live,” I repeated over and over. I felt my head begin to rise and I pulled myself out of the muck, peace by peace until I was standing in front of the gatekeeper. I looked him square in the eye. My fear and regret vanished.

    “I want to live,” I told him. He leaned forward and whispered in my ear.