When Specter came through the door, I nearly dropped my guitar but managed to just set it down gently before flinging myself at him. I wrapped myself around him tightly, nuzzling close. “I missed you! Thank goodness you’re home!”
Specter just grunted and tried to wriggle away but when he realized he couldn’t, he gave in and gave me a kiss which was what I was wanting. “Chance, you need to get over this freakin’ phobia. It’s stupid.”
“You can’t just tell someone to get over their fears, it’s not that simple.” I looked up at him all wide-eyed as he glared in return. “I missed you though. Can we get a pizza?”
“No, if you want food, you cook it. I’ll make a sandwich for myself.”
“But–but–but–” I protested as he went to the fridge. I watched in horror as he did just that, make himself a sandwich. “Can you make me one too?” I asked hopefully but he just shook his head. “I learned a new song, want to hear it?”
“Fine,” he grumbled as he searched for some more food.
I returned to the guitar and began playing slowly, unsure of the notes. I had had this guitar since Christmas. He had gotten it for me, to my complete joy, since he couldn’t really get me a piano and he didn’t like keyboards. So a guitar! To play music! I was ecstatic and played all the time, especially since I couldn’t play video games anymore. Not since–well. Seriously, someone can’t just get over a fear like that. Especially this fear which is completely reasonable and grounded and really was scary.
I was afraid of mirrors now. Well. Reflections of any kind. That had been going on for a month, ever since Specter came home one day all bruised and bleeding. He told me about this ghost who was so strong they had complete control over their solidness. They had smashed every single mirror and window in the house they were haunting as well as anything else with a reflection. Specter had done a battle with this spirit but thankfully won! But when I asked him about the reflection thing…
“It’s part of myths and legends,” he had said. “In older days when someone died people would cover all the mirrors in the house to stop the soul from being trapped in the mirror. Many cultures believe that mirrors and reflections are gateways or links between life and the afterlife. Like… look in a mirror with nothing but candles and you’ll see a ghost, or you need a mirror to summon ghosts, that type of thing is all over the place. Mirrors and windows are popular items to take pictures of in haunted places.”
And he kept talking about that stuff, filling me so full of fear that the next day when he left for work I covered up every last bit of reflective thing I could find. I wasn’t going to let myself get trapped. I covered the mirrors, and the TV (which made me sad) and thankfully all the windows were already covered. I covered some of the lamps too, though. Since they were reflective. Specter thought it was kind’ve cute the first couple of days but after that he grew annoyed and kept insisting I’d be fine, but I couldn’t. I wouldn’t even go near the kitchen because of all the shiny surfaces of cookery stuff and silverware.
I spent my days with him gone either playing the guitar or staring sadly at the covered TV, missing my video games. At least I did have my guitar though. It gave me something to do… well, I had other stuff too but nope, didn’t want to do them. Specter had gotten a bunch of books for me to read. Books to teach me stuff. Math and history and stuff like that, insisting I should educate myself. I occasionally read something but it was just… boring. I’d rather play video games or guitar. Which I did. Only now it was just my guitar.
“Can you believe I’ve been here so long?” I asked, realizing how close it was to my twentieth birthday, only a couple months away. “Almost a year! Doesn’t seem it, does it?”
“No, seems more like fifty years.”
I giggled at that and returned to playing. The past months (other than the mirror thing) had been super nice. In January, he told Mrs. Penstone he was getting a roommate if that was okay with her, a male roommate who was very shy. She was very suspicious and kept insisting on meeting me but he told her I had been born with a physical deformity and I hated meeting people, but I talked to her sometimes on the phone. Specter had to pay a little more rent but it gave me the freedom to play my guitar and stuff while he was gone.
Once the weather started getting warmer, Specter took down the anti-ghost protective barrierness and started taking me out. Usually at night, after making sure Mrs. Penstone was asleep. We’d go down into the jeep and I’d hide under some blankets as he drove us out into the countryside. There I would play guitar while he read, or I’d sit and listen to him reading, or we’d have a picnic, or sometimes we would have sex under the stars. It was veryveryveryveryvery nice and made me so happy.
Though sometimes he’d give me this look and I kept getting the feeling he wanted to say something but never did. He constantly asked if I was happy, or if I was having nightmares, or this, or that. I promised him I was happy even when I wasn’t, except after we started going out and about I did become super happy. I liked the feel of the night air on me, seeing the stars and moon above me. Sometimes we’d stay out till it got light out and I got to feel the early morning sun on my non-skin. One time he even took me to a graveyard, near where he had to work. I got to meet a few ghosts and chatted with them all night long until Specter came to pick me up.
Most nights, though, we’d stay at home. Him reading, me playing games or guitar. I’d cook him dinner and sometimes breakfast, we’d do a lot of bedroom activities, we’d fall asleep curled up together and I had even started venturing into saying I loved him though he never said it back, but I could see in his eyes he did.
So was I happy?
Oh yes. Very much so.
Except for the mirrors.
“…pesters you about it, don’t believe it, he acts starved all the time. I mean, don’t get me wrong dearie, I don’t mind if you feed him but don’t feel like you need to. Hear me?”
“I’m glad you don’t mind him up there, but if he ever bothers you just kick him out, okay? Specter never let him in but he doesn’t really like Specter, but I think he likes you. But if he bothers you, just toss him out. Okay?”
“And if you ever want to come down here just come on down, I make some good tea if you like tea, or coffee, or we could have some ice cream. I make some homemade ice cream sometime and it sure gets hot in these summer months, doesn’t it? But whoo, it’s hard for an old’en like me to crank the old fashioned ice cream maker, but I like the ice cream better from it than from that machine my niece bought me last year, I only used it once and it’s weird. Do you like ice cream?”
“Oh yes, I–“
“Well sometime you come down here, and please don’t feel shy, I don’t care about anything like that. But if you don’t maybe sometime Specter can take that new machine and the two of you can have ice cream.”
“OH! Look at the time, I need to go. Bye, sweetheart.”
Click. I stared at the receiver for a moment then hung up the phone. Mrs. Penstone called a lot just to chat to me although her talking to me usually consisted of just that. Her talking, and me barely getting a word in. Most the time she invited me downstairs, and the times I was able to answer I’d decline as nicely as I could. I wasn’t even sure of what the deformity I supposedly had was. Mrs. Penstone never asked about it, I never said anything about it… so I guess that was it.
Today was the same as always. She waited until she saw Specter leave and then she’d call. Once in a while she’d ask me to set the receiver down and play guitar for her over the phone even though she said she could hear it a little bit through the floor. The first time she ever said that, I apologized and offered to stop playing but she threw such a fit about it that I never asked again. One day she handed Specter a DVD that was a ‘how to’ thingie about playing guitar. But that wasn’t that long ago so I only watched a little bit of it before I got into my no-reflections phase… which I wished I could get over.
I will. Maybe Specter was right and it was just mind-over-matter. I went over to the TV and looked at the sheet draped over it. I reached one shaky hand up to the cloth and curled my fingers into it. You can do it. Your reflection is just a reflection, mirrors aren’t gateways into the Nether, you won’t be trapped. It’s just ghost st–
I froze and then yanked my hand back, letting the sheet flutter back against the wall. I WAS A GHOST STORY! If ghosts existed and other weird things then maybe–maybe–NO I can’t DO it! I backed away and then went for the guitar with a small sigh. I played throughout the night, stopping a couple times to pick up the books Specter wanted me to read about math and history and stuff. I stared blankly down at the page of math problems I was supposed to do and then, after glancing around for some weird reason, put my pencil down and went back to the guitar. At one point I heard a thumping sound on the porch and a knock. I knew it was Mrs. Penstone but I never went to answer it, I just kept playing.
The ‘thump’ turned out to be a box with the ice cream machine in it, which Specter brought in when he came home. I wrapped myself around him like usual and begged him to pick up stuff to make ice cream sometime soon. He agreed to do so… when the covers came off the mirrors and TV.
I stared at him in horror. “But–but–but–“
“At least one of them.” I pressed my lips together. “The TV?” he offered.
“You don’t watch TV.”
“No, but you do and I know you want to play some games. Why don’t we–“
“Go to the bedroom?” I offered, to distract him. He folded his arms and gave me one of those looks. “I want to. Now.” I put my hands on his hips and tried to look up at him all sexyness but he just continued to give me that look. “I want ice cream.”
He sighed at that and pulled away from me. “Fine. Tomorrow, but no more until after you take the sheet off the TV. Have you ever had ice cream before?”
“A long time ago.”
“When you were al–” He stopped talking and moving, and I stopped moving, and he didn’t look at me and I stared at the back of his head, and then he gave another sigh. “What flavor do you want?”
“Chance…” But he didn’t say anything more. After dinner (pizza, which he ordered) we curled up in the bedroom but we didn’t have sex or anything. He just held me as I curled up against him. There was a moment of strangeness that felt like I was going to fall off a cliff–and everything was pulling me in. I felt like crying but I didn’t, I just held Specter.
“I love you,” I told him. Specter’s arms tightened and I felt his lips against the top of my head. My eyes closed, since I knew that was all I was going to get from him on this subject. But even though I was kinda sad about it, I also wasn’t; I was happy because it was there, quiet and unspoken.
I took the sheet off the TV the next day though I did from the side and turned it on before I could see my reflection or anything. I turned on one of my games but then wasn’t sure where to go from there, since on some of the screens it’d be dark enough that I would be able to see… what?
Okay, so ghosts do exist but if every ghost that’s looked in a mirror before or after death is trapped there’d be a lot less ghosts. I looked in mirrors loads of times back… back at… wherever I was at ages ago… I think. I picked up the controller and played, wincing in fear every time the screen got dark enough but I started relaxing after some time. I wanted Specter to see how brave I was. I was trying… even though it was just the TV and not the mirrors. I wasn’t sure when I’d be ready for that.
When Specter came home he nearly dropped the bag of groceries. “You’re playing games again,” he said, shutting the door behind. “The sheet’s gone.”
“Yep!” I paused the game and went over, happily accepting the kiss he gave me. “I need to stop being stupid about that.”
“You’re not stupid.”
“Yes I am.”
“No you’re not.”
I tipped my head to one side. “Then how come you’re making me read all those books?”
“Errrr–cause there’s a difference between ‘stupid’ and ‘uneducated’,” he quickly said. “How about I order pizza again and we have ice cream, and I’ll call in sick… and we can stay up for hours and hours.”
“Doing what?” He smirked as he went to the fridge to put the groceries up, and I blushed. “And if I take the sheets off the mirrors?” I asked after a few seconds.
He hesitated then turned to face me. “How about a weekend? Not here. Somewhere… else. Like, a getaway…” He reached one hand up and began nibbling at his thumbnail in a nervous, edgy manner. “Samuel owns this really nice cabin out in the middle of no where. We lived there for a while. It’s far from towns and nobody goes around there so you’d be able to move around freely. He rents it out… but I might be able to get a weekend there sometime… if you… want.”
I threw myself at him, hugging tightly, super happy excited at this idea SO MUCH! “Yes! Yes please! I’d love that! It’d be a romantic getaway!” I bounced around and then went into the bathroom to get the sheet off the mirror then into the bedroom to get the sheet off that mirror. I recoiled at my reflection but took the sheets into the living room, dropping them on the floor. Specter just stared and then began laughing.
He never laughed that much but when he did it was like music, happy music. He crossed over towards me and swept me into his arms. “All right, I’ll talk to Samuel.”
“Pizza and ice cream and sex tonight still?” I asked hopefully.
He set me gently down on the ground and gave me one of those kisses that made me just want to melt into a puddle of complete joy and love. “Of course.”
It took a couple weeks but Specter got a weekend off, and got the cabin. Apparently he needed to do some upkeep to it when we got there like fixing one of the drainpipes and replacing the tub faucet. Stuff like that. But I was so excited, and I could not sit still on the long drive there. I had to wrap a blanket around myself on the main highways but once we got on the back roads I was able to shed my ‘disguise’. I chattered away about a mile a minute, asking loads of questions about the place and I was just so happy, and excited, and I felt this was an anniversary gift or a honeymoon or something–not that it was, or would ever happen, but in my mind it was.
The cabin was a little thing nestled in the woods and not big, but big enough and there was even a hot tub. I had never used one before and I wasn’t sure what it’d do to me. I never took showers or baths, really, but I had been outside in the rain. Though that was chilly rain and not hot, boiling water. I ate soup though and that was hot liquid… so I figured I might as well try.
“Is it okay to use?” I asked, already making my clothes fade.
“Should be. Samuel has a handyman that comes in and we haven’t gotten any complains about the hot tub…” He stretched his arms and then watched as I examined the hot tub. He shook his head then came over to get it started. I jumped when it started bubbling and then cautiously poked one toe in.
“It’s so warm!”
“It is a HOT tub,” he said with a grin. I grinned back and then slipped into the hot water. I stayed there while Specter brought his stuff in from the jeep and got the house set up. Then he joined me with some champagne which I had never had, I hadn’t ever had alcohol before. I wasn’t sure if it’d do anything to me.
“It’s as bubbly as the hot tub,” I giggled after taking a few sips. “This is so nice. Thanks for bringing me here…” I trailed off, seeing he wasn’t looking as happy as I felt. “Is something wrong, Specter?”
“No. Well… no.”
“What is it?”
He took a sip of his drink and then leaned back. “Just, Samuel is… not pleased with me right now. That’s all.”
“I’ve not been working late, coming in on my days off, and now took off an entire weekend coming up here,” he said blankly.
“Is that… bad?”
“To most people, no, it’s normal. But I always used to. So my change of behavior is making him suspicious.” He took another sip. “Especially when I asked for the cabin.”
“Bad suspicious?” I asked and he looked, I could tell, like he was about to lie. “Please tell the truth.”
“With him, any suspicion is bad,” he muttered. I put my arms around his waist and hugged him. “I don’t know. Sometimes I feel–ahh, but we didn’t come here to talk about that, we came here to spend time together. Yeah?”
I put my head against his chest and snuggled. “We can talk about whatever you want to talk about.” But he didn’t continue about Samuel. Instead he talked about other stuff and then we had some fun in the hot tub before he had to get out since living people couldn’t stay in hot tubs too long. I wallowed in it for a very long time while he made dinner, though. I loved the hot tub and hoped we could spend a lot of time in it over the weekend.
The first evening and night were wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Since he needed sleep and I didn’t, I stayed with him until he fell asleep then I returned to the hot tub and curled up under the water. It was amazing, all the heat and bubbles. I was glad I didn’t need to breathe. I stayed there for a long time and only emerged when Specter came out of the bedroom. I splashed up out of the tub, going all non-solid so the water would fall off of me.
“Did you sleep in there?” he asked.
“No I was awake the whole time, but it’s so nice and warm. It’s a shame we can’t get a hot tub back at your place. But maybe I’ll start taking hot baths or something.”
We had breakfast and then I had to put clothes on since we went for a hike in the woods that lasted until well in the afternoon. We sat on a big rock and had stuffed ba… baq… baguettes and fruit salad and then some chocolate stuff for dessert. When we got back to the cabin, we were both smiling and enjoying ourselves–making plans for a super romantic evening–when we saw a car parked by the jeep. Specter swore and then pushed me behind a tree.
“Stay here,” he hissed. “Whatever you do, don’t come near.”
“Don’t come near.” And then he sprang off towards the house. I watched in confused silence then went invisible, going towards the house. I knew I shouldn’t but I was curious. Super curious.
There was shouting inside. Specter was shouting, then someone replied quietly, then Specter cussed again. I slipped invisibly into the house and found him arguing with a blond man. “… irregular. I think you should see someone,” the blond man was saying.
“I’m not sick,” Specter replied. “Just because I want a few days off–“
“You’ve never wanted a few days off. You’ve never wanted a few hours off.” The blond man came closer to Specter. “Something is going on.”
“Nothing is going on,” Specter said, taking a step back and then turning away so I could see his face. He looked slightly scared, and the blond man suddenly got this look on his face that sent chills through my body. I felt sick, scared–terrified. I wanted to grab Specter and run away. But then Specter turned back around and the look on the guy’s face was replaced with a cold, distant look. “Or do I have to spend every second of my life hunting down ghosts for things to seem ‘all right’?”
“It’s you,” the man said simply. “You hate ghosts, more so than I. I thought it was your mission to rid of the world of all ghosts. Hmm, who was it that said the only good ghost is the one being painfully and slowly destroyed?”
There was silence, and I raised my eyebrows. Please, no, I thought. I knew he hated ghosts, but– “I did,” Specter said, and not with a tone of regret. I slid backwards a bit.
“So why the sudden lightening of the work load?” The man tilted his head and suddenly looked as though he were focusing on me. His face muscles tightened up and his nostrils flared as he breathed in. “Oh. I see.”
Specter turned to look at me, and I backed up even more, having the feeling I was gonna be dead now. But they weren’t looking at me, they were looking at the sink because Specter said, “The sink?”
The blond man walked over and picked up the two champagne glasses from last night, one dangling from each hand. He spun back around to face Specter. “Who is she? No. Wait. You’re a queer. Who is he?”
“I’m not dating anyone,” Specter answered which, painfully, was the truth.
“No, your kind usually doesn’t. It’s just blind lust. Who is he? Where is he? I cannot believe you’re letting some itch in your groins get in the way of your career.”
Don’t take that, Specter, I begged silently. Punch him, kick him, kill him! I watched Specter, feeling super tingly and bad, not liking the fact he was just standing there and taking this abuse from whoever this blond man was. But he was. He just stood there, looking almost… sad. Hurt.
“I’m not letting anything get in the way of my career!” Specter blurted out, taking a few quick steps towards the blond. “I just took a weekend off to–to think about things. Those are both mine. You can look over this cabin all you want, you’ll only find my clothes, my things, nothing–absolutely nothing–to indicate someone else is here.”
“Two glasses,” the man said and Specter shrugged.
“One last night, one this morning.”
“Are you an alcoholic?”
“I’ve… been enjoying drinking, if that counts.”
There was a few seconds of silence. The man dropped the glasses in the sink and one of them broke. “I suppose alcohol is better than some… male.” He moved closer to Specter and put a finger in his face. “When you get back from whatever this weekend is supposed to be, I expect you to be back to your 110 percent focus. No. 125 percent. Or more. Get your fucking act together, Jareth. Or I’ll find out whatever little secret you’re hiding from me, and then you’ll be very sorry. Got it?”
But he didn’t wait for Specter… Jareth…? to answer. He turned and left the cabin, slamming the door shut. Specter staggered back, clutching his chest, breathing heavily and looking completely terrified. His breath sounded ragged and like he was trying not to cry. “Please tell me you’re not invisible and didn’t just see all that…” he moaned out.
I considered being completely silent, since I knew he wanted me to still be outside, but I couldn’t. I looked out the window to make sure the car was gone and, after seeing it was driving off down the road, I went visible and solid so I could go over and put my arms around him. “Who was that?” I asked.
But instead of being accepting of my hug, he yanked away, looking all dark and angry. “I told you to stay outside. Why can’t you ever fucking listen!?” He whirled around and stormed into the bedroom, slamming that door. I had the distinct feeling that our romantic weekend was being cut short. I just hoped our relationship wasn’t.