“You’re staring, again.”
“I hate you,” you shot back to Sarah, your best friend since freshman year.
“I honestly don’t get what you see in him. He’s really freaky looking. Like a rapist or something.” You rolled your eyes and refocused on your book,
“He’s really nice.”
You definitely had a bit of a huge crush on Tate Langdon. He was a quiet kid, but you’d known him since you two were children. You were neighbors, in fact. You were there when his dad left and when Beau died; you were always there. He was funny, cynical, and had great taste in music. Not to mention he was adorably attractive and had a really sweet smile with those little dimples. But, alas, you two were friends.
You popped another almond into your mouth as you continued with your SAT prep. You needed at least a 1500 if you were getting into NYU. You heard a knock at your door and casually hopped off your bed to go answer it. To your surprise, you saw Tate, looking equally surprised at your choice in clothing. You were literally just wearing a giant sweatshirt. May or may not have been wearing shorts. May not have been. You noticed him glance towards your legs and then shiftily look back at you.
“Sorry, your mom just let me in. Didn’t realize you were busy, so I-I’ll just go.” You chuckled and held the door open so that he could come in.
“It’s cool, the SAT isn’t until December.” You sat back down on your bed and patted the mattress for him to sit down. He sat quickly, taking note of the new posters in your room.
“Backstreet Boys? Really?” you playfully hit him on the arm, “I know they’re good looking but come on.” He flashed you his adorable smile and you felt your chest tighten again.
“Not like Green Day has the most appealing visuals,” you replied, and Tate simply shrugged. He glanced at your prep book and scoffed.
“Why do you work so hard? It’s not like high school matters.” You grabbed an almond and tossed it in his mouth. You always scored.
“Well, maybe not to you. But I really want to get into a good school. College is becoming a necessity now.” Tate tossed an almond at you and you caught it.
“But why work so hard in school just to go to another school?”
“Because I want to help people, Tate. I want to get into law school and defend those who are less fortunate.” Tate just shook his head and rested back on his palm.
“You’re too good sometimes.” You chuckled and pressed against his elbow so that he fell down onto your bed. You quickly joined him and turned so that you two were nose and nose. Hopefully, he wouldn’t be able to tell that you were getting flushed. He grinned at you and glanced down at your lips (for a split second so it was probably nothing) and then back into your eyes.
“Why do you live, (Y/n)?” he asked, and you could feel the weight of the question.
“Because of the people I’m alive with. God has blessed me with a wonderful family, a comfortable life, and amazing friends.” You knew that Tate had issues with religion, but you always gave him honest answers. “Why do you live?” Tate’s eyes narrowed,
“I don’t know.” Your eyebrows furrowed in concern.
“Well, what about your plan to move away and go into the music industry? You would be a P.D. for Nirvana and Queen, and I’d come visit you in your mansion.” Tate’s expression didn’t phase.
“What about Addie? She must make life worth living.” His eyes warmed at the mention of his older sister.
“True. I guess it is the people you’re alive with, isn’t it? Even if a majority of them are just cheating bullsh-” you gave him a look to watch his language, “cheating ‘jerks’ who only care about themselves.” You hummed and began to play with his bangs.
“But you have to appreciate the people who are with you now. Like me, you really love me.” You gave him a cheeky grin and he pinched your nose in retaliation. You laughed and he grinned back before quickly sobering up.
“But what will happen when you leave? When you get into your smart school for smart people? You’ll leave all of us.” You heard in Tate’s voice what he meant. You gave him a reassuring smile and replied,
“No I won’t. My family will always be here, and you will always be just a phone call away.” You bopped his nose and he gave you a small smile.
“Sure. Just a phone call away.”
Your head shot up from your book and you looked to Sarah. She shrugged in confusion. Surely it wasn’t a gunshot. Someone probably dropped a really heavy textbook on the ground. Probably. You shook your head and tried to get back into your bo-
“GUN! GUN! HE’S GOTTA GUN!” Your blood ran cold and Sarah’s hand flew to her mouth. By instinct, you grabbed her arm and immediately stood up.
“We have to hide, right now,” you whispered, and she nodded violently. Your eyes canvassed the library. The goth girl, two athletes, the librarian, Amir, and the grunge dude were all there.
Fortunately, they were silent.
You glanced to the emergency exit and made a break for it, dragging Sarah with you. You could hear the handle on the door jiggle and you held in a sob. You heard another shot and dropped down to the ground.
He was in.
You crawled with Sarah behind a bookshelf and looked toward the exit.
“Do you believe in God?” That voice. You knew that voice.
“Yes?” You heard a shot. It was really close. You heard the footsteps depart to the other side of the library. There were more gunshots and some screaming. You looked at Sarah and pointed at the door. She nodded and you wiped a tear from her cheek. You offered a weak smile and took a shaky breath. You took her hand in yours, and with the other, you began to count. You held up one finger, then two, and then bolted.
You took 3 steps in total before Sarah fell. Her body weight pulled you down. She had a bullet lodged in her stomach, and a red stain was growing on her sweater. You screamed and knelt down next to her, catching her before she hit the ground. She looked up at you and you began to sob.
“No, no, you are not dying, Sarah. We still have to go see N*SYNC in concert, remember? You made me pinky swear.” Sarah’s eyes began to flicker and you shook your head violently. “Sarah, Sarah, stay with me. Please, please…” You pressed your forehead against hers and began to pray. You had never prayed in such desperation before. “Please, Lord, bless this soul and bring her to you, today. Please keep her happy and warm and alive in You,” you didn’t even notice the footsteps behind you. Sarah gripped your shoulder, and you looked down at her panicked expression.
“Behind you…” You turned around and saw,
“Tate?” The name came out in a whisper. As if you couldn’t believe who you were face to face with.
He held a shotgun in his right hand, by his leg, and there was a handgun in his belt. His face showed no sign of emotion. Sarah then groaned, before falling limp in your arms. You swallowed thickly as her arm fell into your lap. But you weren’t looking away from Tate.
“Why are you doing this?” you sobbed, tears falling as you cradled Sarah to your body. Tate squatted before you and put the gun down. You tensed as he brought his hand to your cheek. He noticed.
“Please don’t cry. It kills me when you cry.” His tone was warm considering what he had just done. You sniffled and nodded, trying to comply as best as you could. Tate smiled at you. He smiled.
“Why?” you asked once more, “Why are you doing this?” Tate sighed and placed his second hand on the other side of your face.
“Because I’m saving you from all of the pain of this world. You get to go somewhere better now.”
“But I don’t want to,” you hissed, “I want to live for the people I love and for my future.” Tate tried to pull his hands away, but you brought your hand up to his, gripping it tightly. “I loved you. I lived for you.” Tate stared at you. For a long time.
“I love you, too,” you thought you had saved yourself, “But now, you don’t need to live for anyone anymore.”
He pulled your face to his and gave you a brief kiss. His lips were chapped. But then, he stood up and picked his shotgun back up. “Just remember, I’m doing this because love you.”
I held Violet close as we sat on the beach. I loved Halloween. It was awesome to be able to roam like a regular human. To not be trapped next door to friggin’ Constance. Violet was awesome. She didn’t know I was dead, but it was chill. She really understood me. It was different. I hadn’t felt this way in a long time. Not since-
“Hey, freak!” Crap.
“Didn’t know they let you out anymore. Thought you were still with Mommy.” Those stupid kids. Can’t they get over anything? I saw the usual, the ones from the library. The two jocks, emo girl and boy, nerd Jewish kid and Sarah. (Y/n)’s friend. She wasn’t here this year either. That’s a relief. I stood up and pulled Violet up.
“Oh look, he’s gotta new girlfriend. Probably gonna kill her, too.” I didn’t reply and attempted to leave before they began to surround us.
“She hates you. Just like us.” Violet was tensing and clung to me. I put on a face and asked,
“Who hates me? I don’t know any of you people!” Emo girl scoffed, walking up to me and poking me in the chest.
“You know her. You knew her. Heard that you were best friends.” I exhaled through my nose, trying to keep the situation under control.
“She loved you.” Sarah.
“Tate, what’s going on?” Violet looked up at me, clearly terrified. I held my hand against her waist and pulled her close to me.
“Do you ever wonder why she never shows up?” I eventually just began pushing through them, dragging Violet with me.
“Is it because she hates you? Or because she’s traumatized?” I knew what she was doing. But I wouldn’t cede.
“I know why. And it isn’t any of those easy answers.” I stopped. The sand kicked up. I let go of Violet,
“Go to the car. I’ll be there in a second.” She nodded and ran; no one stopped her. I looked toward Sarah.
“Why isn’t she here?” Sarah smiled at me, it was a bittersweet smile. It petrified me.
“Because she’s got some new man. A living one, in fact.” Emo chick said with a sneer, and I couldn’t stop my eye from twitching.
“Yeah, they met in the library, where you killed her.” I clenched my fist but didn’t show anything else. They were just lying, anyway.
“They’re on a lovely date, right now. Probably at the movies or… Somewhere else.” The cheerleader’s eyebrow was perked as she spoke. I clenched my jaw and tried to keep myself from putting another bullet in her head.
“She is so into him, I don’t even think she cares about the dude who murdered her and her best friend.” Sarah remained silent and flicked her eyes toward me.
“Aw do you remember when she asked you how to kiss, Shelly? So cute,” I really wasn’t regretting shooting Corpse Bride, now.
“I know, right? They’re such a cute couple, always holding hands and listening to music together. It’s literally so cute.” I could feel my throat tighten at the thought of it. She’s dating someone alive?
I shoved grunge kid in the chest and moved to leave. They were all lying. (Y/n) would never do that. She would never betray me.
“She doesn’t even remember your name!” Sarah shouted, but I couldn’t let them see me cry so I walked faster. Violet was in front of the car and noticed my crying.
“Tate, what’s going on? Who are they talking about?” I grabbed her arm and went to the car.
“It’s nothing. Let’s go.” I sniffed before getting in the passenger seat. Not like dead people can drive.
“Why’d you tell him that she’s dating? Or even still here?” Sarah asked Shelly, who shrugged and replied,
“Because I don’t want him to have the satisfaction of being right.” She nodded and added,
“Those who believe in Him are saved.”