Reading is a series of human emotions. Writing is the gift of sharing these emotions.
It feels like I have been walking my way to eternity for what seems to be years and years of nothingness. How long has it been like this? Being alone in this solitary path where I only feel like a miniature girl walking by the bridge unnoticeably. I have no connection to the world.
I look down at my white doll shoes where my feet are sluggishly walking 3 kilometers per hour, which is beyond the average walking speed of a normal human being. I almost bump into two kids, a boy and a girl, with their mom and dad or so I assume. They look like a perfect family biking safely at the right side of the road, where I am pensively taking my daily stroll. A billboard advertisement answers my curiosity when I see a date along with Jonathan Van Ness’s picture. The sign says Road to Beijing tour kicks off on April 11, 2019 in Homestead, Pennsylvania. So, it’s 2019.
I have been perpetually walking to ruminate on people’s sudden end to communication. Did I stop interacting with people or did they cut ties without a fathomable reason? I feel so deserted. I remember the last time I was talking to someone was in 2011. The memory is blurry, but I can never forget the year because Amy Winehouse died and that was all I could remember.
My mind is on a treadmill and it brought my body with it. Literally. When should I stop walking? I’m not even losing weight. I still feel the same. I discreetly search if anyone’s around and upon seeing no one, I look at a car window parked in an intersection in front of a hardware store. I still have a chubby face and my long hair isn’t helping me cover my hips. And why am I always wearing white? I could be mistaken as a ghost with this kind of look. Super long black hair, long white dress, pale face. “Jesus, Mary, Joseph.” My voice sounds a bit hoarse, realizing I’m thirsty. I suddenly remember a small house by the bridge. “I must go back there.”
I finally reach the small house. It looks like a stone cottage perfectly overseeing such fascinating water body. I would’ve thought the house was empty when it suddenly illuminates from inside. I guess someone turned the lights on.
Okay. I can do this. All I need to do is knock on the door, greet with a smile and politely ask for a glass of water. I knock on the door after a few minutes of going back and forth. A tall teenage boy with square shaped face and a very manly jawline turns up. His brows sit very close to his eyes and it looks mesmerizing. He looks Asian because of his partial mono lids. Maybe he’s Korean.
I find myself staring at his thin lips and had to get back to earth before he finds me any weirder. It takes a minute before I utter something while he stands quietly with his tensed brows and squinted eyes. “Hi.” It was the most awkward greeting in my entire life.
His glare transforms into a confused look. “Hi?”
At least he responded. “I was just passing by and realized how thirsty I was. There aren’t many residents here and I saw your house so I was wondering if you could maybe give me a glass of water?” It felt like I was talking non-stop for an hour.
“Okay.” He blinks twice and makes way for me to come in.
“Thanks.” I said as I find myself entering at a snail’s pace.
He closes the door behind me and leads me to the kitchen. My eyes couldn’t help but examine the living room on my right, and a bedroom with its door half open. I try to get a further look, but he calls out in a soft voice. “Hey.” He appears a few steps away in between his kitchen’s entrance, holding a glass of water.
“Sorry. I got sidetracked.” I hastily approach him, and he instantly hands me the glass of water. As I gulp my drink, I scan the kitchen and catch a glimpse of him staring at me in a way that I couldn’t quite understand. I give him back the glass after swallowing the last drop. “Thank you.”
He nods and heads towards the living room. He looks back to check if I’m following him then politely gestures his head and eyes to the door as a sign for me to leave. In my dismay, the door is suddenly out of sight. My reaction causes him to also realize that the door has vanished.
I cover my mouth with both hands as I approach him. He looks confused as I am when we stare blankly at each other, trying to comprehend what is happening. I need to sit down so I turn my back on the now invisible door and painstakingly take my steps to the sofa on my three o’clock. The boy stays quiet and immobile. After a few moments of silence, we catch each other’s questioning eyes and he finally blinks, comes up to me and sits on the other end of his beige sofa.
“The door.” He starts to speak. I look at him inquisitively.
“I know. It vanished.”
He shakes his head. “It was never there.”
My eyebrows meet halfway, and I fix my eyes on his face. He starts to look a bit familiar though I couldn’t remember from where. “What do you mean it was never there? I didn’t come in through the window.” I hope my sarcasm didn’t bother him.
“This is the second time today that unbelievable things happened.” Hearing him respond in more than four words has somewhat pleased me. He struck me as a boy without so many words, but I needed an explanation and he was going to give that to me. “First, the door was never there but you saw it. That’s why I was alarmed to hear someone knocking and I was even more shocked to see you.” He pauses.
“Go on. I’m listening.”
He continues. “I have been stuck here for a very long time. I just woke up in this house and found out I had no way to get out.” He sighs. “There was never a door.”
“What do you think happened?”
“I don’t know.”
“Are there windows anywhere around your house?”
“No. There’s none.”
“I see.” I look around, thinking about what I want to say but nothing comes up. From the look of his small house, it is comfortable and big enough for him. Everything looks quite expensive and classy.
He looks down at the fidgety hands that are rubbing his knees. Is he sweaty? He must’ve heard my thoughts because he suddenly looked at me. “I’m also wondering why you can see me.”
“What do you mean? Of course, I can see you. Why wouldn’t I?” I suddenly feel goosebumps all over my body as I look at him from head to toe. The confused look on his face is gone and I could see pure sadness in his eyes. “Why aren’t you responding? Why wouldn’t I be able to see you?” Once again, I inspect every bit of him from head to toe, from his hands to his face and his hair. He still isn’t responding. “Please say something. You’re starting to freak me out.”
He does the same exact thing he saw me do. He looks at me from head to toe, from my hands to my face and to my hair. “What are you?”
I roll my eyes at his question. “What am I? What do you mean what am I? You’re such a question dodger. I asked you first, so you tell me why you think I won’t be able to see you. Otherwise, I’m leaving.”
A smile starts to form from his face, but he manages to get back to his blank face.
I now realize why. “Right. This house has no exit.”
“You know I like you more when you’re not so quiet. This is getting awkward and I feel so alone when you’re not talking. I am stuck here with you. The least you can do is make me feel comfortable.”
He looks at me with sympathy. “Okay.”
“So now tell me and please be honest. Why can’t I see you?”
Instead of responding, he rises and goes to his bedroom.
“Hey! Don’t ditch me here.”
He suddenly comes back from his room with a book and sits beside me. I realize it’s a yearbook. “Here.” He flips the pages and stops midway. “Look.” He points at one picture and hands it to me.
I look at him with a blank expression, shift my eyes back to the picture and recognize him. “Justin Noah Mills. This is you.”
“Yes.” He gives me a partial smile. “A few people used to call me Juno.”
“Used to?” I stare at his picture, turns the yearbook to its cover page and saw the year 2011. “This was your High School yearbook, but you look the same. How old are you now?”
I’m starting to understand what he is, but I was in denial. To confirm my doubts, I slightly touch the back of his right hand and it surprises him. Before I could react, he goes running to his room as I tell myself, “Oh my gosh. He’s a ghost.” I then feel nauseated and things start going blank.
“Hey.” I wake up to his face. I must’ve fainted.
Still heavy-eyed, I see his concerned face fixed on me. I look at the surroundings and figure that I am lying on his bed. “It’s Juno, right? For Justin Noah?”
“Yes. Are you okay?” He asks while helping me get up to a ring sitting position.
“Juno, you’re a…you’re a” It is so damn hard to say it.
“A ghost. Yes. I guess I am.” He sounds a bit embarrassed by the fact.
“I’m not scared of you. You don’t look like a ghost at all.” I give him a smile.
He gives out a partial smile. “I’m glad to hear that, Hera.”
“No problem.” Wait, how did he know my name? Have I mentioned that unconsciously? “Juno, you know my name.”
The expression on his face completely transforms into fear. He stands up and exits the room without looking back. That exact look on his face and the way that he ran out of the room was so familiar. It feels as if it has happened before. His name starts to sound more acquainted with me and I experience a sudden flashback.
Juno was wearing blue and red plaid polo shirt, a mustard-colored khaki trousers, and plain white sneakers. He was driving a car and I was with him laughing and singing Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares. We went to the movie theatre to watch The Green Hornet and I could remember it during the first month of the new year. When the movie was finished, I went to the restroom while he waited in the car. On my way to the parking area, someone gently grasped my left arm and showed himself. It was Michael. He was in my Foreign Language subject, the only same class we took together. He handed me some red roses with a small pink envelope but before I could open it, Juno appeared out of nowhere. He quickly grabbed my right hand and escorted me to his car. It happened so fast that I couldn’t even look at Michael’s reaction. Juno and I were just about five steps to the exit door, but I stopped and told him that I needed to talk to Mike. He looked shocked and scared, paused for a moment then hurried out the door. Instead of going back to Mike to talk to him, it hurt a lot to see Juno with fear in his eyes that I have never seen before so I followed him to the parking lot. When I got into his car, he just took a glimpse of me, put the key in the ignition then started the engine. He drove fast and the minute we got to the highway, he reached for the flowers and envelope. I tried to take it back, but he was quick to turn them away from me. He managed to pull down the car window and threw them away.
The flashback stopped. That was all that I could remember.
Considering that the house is small, it shouldn’t be difficult to locate where Juno is. But I looked for him in the kitchen and the dining room adjacent to it and he wasn’t there. Though I didn’t see him go to the bathroom inside his bedroom, I still had to look. He’s a ghost. It must be easy for him to vanish and hide anywhere without me noticing it. If the movies were accurate, a ghost would have some advantages.
It’s been hours and there’s still no sign of him. I wonder why he looked scared when I asked him how he knew my name when clearly, we had a past. We were close.
“There’s an attic!” I holler in excitement. That’s the only place in this house that I haven’t looked. It’s a small house, alright. Every space in the house is very narrow but I do remember from its view outside that there are two stories so either there’s a second floor or there’s an attic. The problem is…where in the hell would the stairs be? I scan the entire house like a detective and figured that there might be a hidden ladder camouflaged on the ceiling. As I look up to examine, my 20-20 vision pays off as I notice a slightly visible line before entering the kitchen. A wooden stool is within reach, so I carry it and try to reach the ceiling. A protruding tiny handle gives me the confirmation I want. I instantly pull it but the force and bad position between me and the stepladder that was bound to come out as I expected, causes me to lose my balance so I struggle with the weight. Before I get any successful in finding my equilibrium, rats appear before my eyes and start to fall. I scream to the top of my lungs and fall hard on the floor. The ladder almost hit my hip.
Juno’s white sneakers materializes in front of me. “Hera!” He cups my face and I instantly feel him carrying me like a feather. He rests me to his bed. “Are you okay?” He cups my face again and examines me from head to foot.
“Juno, you’re here.” I smile.
“What are you smiling about? You almost got hit by the ladder. Why did you pull it down?” His worried face gives me so much warmth.
I pout my lips like a child. “I was trying to find you. I looked everywhere except for the attic.”
He seems relieved. “Okay. Tell me if you are hurting somewhere. That scream you let out almost astral projected me to another dimension.”
I chuckle and suddenly realize my leg hurts a little. “Astral projection, huh? But you’re just a spirit. Which body are you coming out of?”
“I know. That was a joke.”
“I know.” We both smile. But I had to break it and tell him about my flashback. “Juno, you and I go way back. I know it now. I don’t know everything but when you swiftly ran out of the room all scared, it reminded me of something.”
He looks taken aback. “So, you know?”
“And you don’t hate me?”
“Why would I?”
“Hera, what exactly did you remember?”
“I remember Mike giving me roses and a pink envelope. You ended up throwing them out of your car window.”
“That’s all that I could remember.” I said as I study Juno’s face to uncover the expression. There was more to the story and he doesn’t seem too eager to reveal that. After a few seconds of silence, I manage to think of a better way for him to be more open. “Juno.”
His attention easily shifts from his moment of contemplation to me.
“You can trust me. Tell me everything that you know, and I will listen without any judgement. I know I can trust you too. I really need to understand what is happening.”
Juno bows his head and stays like that.
“Juno, please. Let it out. Whatever it is that is bothering you, just let it out.”
He stays silent and just when I thought he would start opening up, he starts crying.
“Oh my gosh, Juno.” I instantly pull him to my arms. The crying takes quite long that I started worrying about the gravity of the situation. It may be something big or something that I wouldn’t be able to handle but I must be ready with whatever reason it is that’s making him very emotional.
When his sobs start to subside, he gently pulls away and wipes his tears. He looks at me intently and at that very moment, I knew he was ready to speak. “Hera.” He shakes his head and looks down. “I can’t look at you.”
“Whatever would make you less uncomfortable is okay, Juno. Whether you look into my eyes or not, I will listen. And I understand that you’re about to tell me something very serious so I want to let you know that you can tell me.”
“Hera, I don’t think there is something that we can do about our situation.” His eyes show signs of regrets.
“I’m listening.” I try my best to sound understanding.
“The missing piece to your flashback is very important.” He covers his face with hands, takes a deep breath and looks at me with sincerity. “When I threw your roses and pink envelope through the window, I lost my control of the steering wheel.” He pauses.
I hope I can take whatever is coming but whatever fear I have; I am not going to show him. “Go on.”
“We almost hit someone by the side of the road, but I was able to avoid it. Instead, we fell off the bridge.
That was it. That was the last of his statement and he was looking at me very keenly to get a response. “We both fell off the bridge. Both of us?”
“Is that why you died? And I guess you don’t know how I was saved?”
He shakes his head and his palms cover his face again. “Hera.” He looks back at me. “We both didn’t make it. The next thing I know I am stuck in this house for a very long time with no memory of you or anyone. The only reason I remembered was because you touched me, and I had flashbacks of everything that happened and everyone I know. I had flashback of my entire life…with you in it.”
“Juno, I don’t understand. I know you’re a ghost now but what am I?”
“I guess same as me. I mean, how else would you have seen me? Nobody else was able to see me. Nobody even knew this house existed. It doesn’t have a door. It only appeared when you knocked.”
I get off the bed. “This is insane. I’m sure as death and taxes that I’m alive. I just got hurt when I lost my balance and hit the floor. A ghost would never get hurt.”
“Well do you remember the last time you talked to someone or the last time that someone talked to you?”
“No but that’s because I’m a loner.”
“Do you remember the last time you ate?”
“No but I got thirsty and I drank water, remember?”
“Hera. You’re in denial. You’re not alive.”
“But I’m not dead either.”
“It’s either you’re alive or dead, Hera. And I am telling you. You seem exactly the same as I am.”
He’s right. It does seem like we’re both dead. Maybe I should do some research. Or maybe I should examine him a bit more. When I touched his hand and I hugged him, I felt him. If he’s a ghost, I wouldn’t be able to do those, and he probably would’ve felt icy. Or maybe I hadn’t noticed that. Should I touch him again? “Juno, let me touch you.”
His eyes went wide in disbelief. “Ta…touch me?”
“Yes. I need to know how it feels so I can assess whether you’re a ghost as you say you are or a human.”
He has turned into a dead mute. Didn’t expect that the thought of touching him would freeze him.
Still the same expression on his face and no response from him.
“I don’t why you seem shy about it. I touched your hand before and you touched my face when I had a little accident. I have also comforted you when you were crying like a baby so…”
“Like a baby?” He cuts me off. “I wasn’t crying like a baby.”
Okay he doesn’t to have to be cute at a time like this because it’s distracting. I cup his face and once again he freezes. With my face right in front of him, I could find out if he’s human by feeling his breath. So, I move closer. “Juno, say something.”
This won’t work. I am close enough to kiss him and yet I couldn’t feel any air coming out of his mouth. There’s only one last option. I rest my right hand on the bed, my left palm still on his face, I slightly tilt my head and gently kiss him. I partially open my eyes to see a glimpse of him. His eyes were closed. I kiss him again and this time, more ardently. I stop and we both open our eyes staring at each other. He was breathing hard as he looked at me and I felt a strong confirmation the minute his warm breath reached my face. I let out a big smile. But it fades as I see him start to disappear. I begin to feel an intense energy pulling me. “Juno, what is happening?”
“Hera. You’re fading.”
We were both fading.
I open my eyes to an unfamiliar room, but it doesn’t take rocket science to recognize that I’m in the hospital. I feel uncomfortable with a thing under my nose that is attached to a tube. The television dramas set in hospitals allow my brain to process it as a ventilator. I try to take it out, but the door suddenly opens, and a woman with a surprised but grateful look comes in. It’s my sister, Elena. She drops her bag and rapidly approaches, strokes my hair and rests her hands to mine. “I have been praying so hard for this, Hera. You’re finally awake.” Tears run down her cheeks. “I’m so glad you’re finally awake.” So that confirms it. I wasn’t dead. I was in a coma. But where is Juno?
Two female nurses and a male doctor run some tests and Q&A then finally takes off the ventilator. I heard the doctor tell my sister outside that it was a miracle that after being in a coma for eight years and being dependent on the ventilator and IV drips, I seem to have fully recovered. After a long conversation with the doctor, my sister is about to go with him, but I call out her name. “Elena. I have something to ask.”
“Yes, dear but you have to hurry up because I’m not done talking to Dr. Marten and he has surgery in like 30 minutes. The next time I could talk to him is on Wednesday because I have a business review tomorrow.” She explains in a low voice, probably trying not to let the nurse and Dr. Marten to hear her.
“Where is Juno?”
She looks clueless. “I’m sorry. Who?”
“Juno. Where is he?”
“Dear, I have no idea who he is, but I will find out when I come back tonight, and I promise you that.” She gives me a light tap on the head as if I am nine years old then leaves the room to continue whatever and she and Dr. Marten were talking about that was more important than my feelings for a boy I need to see.
I feel so helpless and scared that she doesn’t know Juno. If he and I were on a car accident, she should know him. I was in a comatose and now that I’m awake, it feels like I have abandoned him. What if he really was a ghost and the encounter with him had helped me wake up from a long and deep sleep? What if he was guiding me all along but the truth is that he no longer exists in the real world. What am I going to do? I start feeling breathless and without warning, tears run down my cheeks . I spent a few minutes of crying and got taken aback by the presence of a guy whom I didn’t notice entered the room.
“Hera. Thank goodness, you’re awake. Why are you crying?”
I snuffle back my sob and instantly recognize him. “Michael.”
He wipes my wet and ugly face with his hanky. “I thought you’d be happy to be awake. Why are you crying?”
“I don’t know where Juno is. Where is he? Do you know him?”
“I was in the car accident with him.”
“Oh, you mean Justin.”
“Yes. Justin Noah. I call him Juno.”
“I see. Yes. Of course. I can take you to him if you want.”
“Oh my gosh, Michael! Thank you! That would be awesome!”
I thought I could properly walk but I guess I was still too weak, so I had to use a wheelchair. Mike takes me out of room 204 and to the hallway. My heart feels like it’s beating more than thrice its normal rate. When we turn right and I could no longer see any rooms, I see an elevator at the end of the hall. Where in the world is Juno? Is Mike taking me to the third floor? When we get to the elevator, he presses G and I get confused. “Mike, where are we going? Why did you press the ground floor button?”
“You’ll see when we get there.”
We get out of the elevator and my heart stops at the sight of the morgue. This is not good. This feeling is killing me. “Mike.” I utter in disbelief.
He takes out his phone and talks to someone. “Hey, come out. I need you to cover for me like you promised earlier. I’m just right outside the door.” He puts his phone back to his pocket and the morgue door opens.
“You were just in time, Mike.” He smiles. “And as you mentioned, she’s finally awake.”
We all head towards the elevator. “He’s a mortuary staff here but he owes me, so he covers for me sometimes when I have to visit you.” Mike explains.
He should’ve explained that a while ago before I died from too much pain in seeing a morgue. I had the impression that Juno had died, and it killed me too. I felt infuriated but I had to hide it because I didn’t want to be rude when I had just woken up from eight long years of slumber. I politely smile at Gab who was on my left side then asked Mike, “He covers for what?”
“I’m a registered nurse here, Hera. But I was assigned as a Chart Auditor since they needed someone to evaluate medical records for patients. Anyway, we can talk about it later. We’re here.”
I didn’t realize we had stopped in front of room 302 and Gab must’ve stayed back. “Oh. We’re here? Juno is here?” I look up to see Mike’s affirmation.
“Yes. I’ll give you privacy.” He opens the door and I see his body lying on the bed.
“Yes. I’ll be right outside the door.” Mike leaves in the room.
I slap my cheeks with both hands to make sure I’m awake and this isn’t a dream. Is he in a coma? I knew we were both alive. I grasp his hand. “Juno, I’m here. Wake up.” I didn’t even have to wait long because his eyes gradually open to see me smiling. I try my very best not to cry.
He lets out his first word after eight years. “Hera.”
© 2019 Shey Saints