Okay maybe being human was a little more difficult than I thought. The next day I wound up falling over so many times that Specter just carried me most places. Except when we were out shopping, when I wore some of Kay’s old clothes to go find new ones for me. Specter came in the dressing room with me to help me figure out out to zip and button and stuff. I had a general idea of how clothes went on but it was still a bit confusing. Finally, though, we had some outfits and returned to the labs.
“ITCHY!” I shouted as soon as we were back in our room. I began struggling with the clothes, trying to get them off. I was in nothing but my underwear by the time Specter finished dumping the clothes bags by the dresser. “I don’t like clothes. They’re itchy, and feel gross and… tight.”
“You got loose clothes,” Specter pointed out.
I folded my arms. “I don’t like them.”
Specter stared at me and then crossed the room, sliding his arms around my waist which felt so nice. Then he kissed my bare shoulder. “I won’t complain,” he said in a rough, gravelly, sexy tone. “Why don’t we go to bed?” he offered.
I melted against him and almost said yes but then I shook my head and pulled free. “No.”
“Wh–no?” He looked like I had hit him or something.
“It’s gonna hurt.” I shifted my weight, not really sure how to explain. “I mean, I can’t go all… non-solid when it starts to hurt. And… and… I’m a bit… I’m not ready.”
Specter opened and closed his mouth a couple times and his brow went down in his usual grumpy look. I was worried he would try to argue because I didn’t want us to fight. But he just kissed my shoulder again. “That’s all right. It’s going to–to be very different now.”
“You’re not mad?”
“Just a bit annoyed at all the cold showers I imagine I’ll have to take.” I giggled and jumped against him, hugging tight. “Oof! Especially when you do stuff like this!”
“I love you.” I buried my face in his neck, feeling all happy as he held me up. We kissed a bit and then he went to get that cold shower while I sat on the bed and examined my hands and toes and legs. I didn’t have any hair on my body except the top of my head and my eyebrows. Were eyelashes considered hair? I wasn’t sure, but I had those.
Then I thought about Kay, and how he knew who I was. I scooted back on the bed, wondering if I should let him tell me. I sorta wanted to know. But I was also scared to know. What if I didn’t like who I was? If it was something bad surely Kay wouldn’t be so eager to tell me, unless he just thought I should know regardless of who I was before when I was alive the first time. Then I wondered why I didn’t get memories back after seeing my living face in the mirror again, like I did when I saw Specter. Maybe my living memories were locked away for a reason. Maybe it was just better not to know.
The next few days were spent learning how to be alive. Learning to deal with (ickyickyicky) clothes, keeping myself clean (like taking showers and brushing my teeth), and the fact I needed to really make sure my hair was brushed. I learned the hard way I couldn’t see in the dark anymore. One night I got up to use the bathroom and I slammed hard into the wall. So hard that I hurt my nose and blood came out, and I began screaming because of the blood thinking I was dying again but Specter comforted me and assured me everything was fine. I just put some tissues in my nostrils and tilted my head back, staring teary-eyed at the ceiling till I stopped bleeding.
Not that that was the last time I bled or had injuries. The next day I fell and banged my arm so hard that it bruised, turning a super weird color. The day after that I bruised my shin, and later that day I skinned my knee. Walking was hard. I was glad Specter carried me more often than not. He carried me to the labs for the doctor to examine me. Doctor Rosso, Rood, whatever. Doctor Green-Eyes.
It turned out I wasn’t completely 100% healthy. I had a few problems. Like iron def… de-fish-incy. But it was only minor and I could either eat foods that had lotsa iron in it, or take pills. Also I had calcium de-fish-incy, so I had to have calcium intake as well. And then I also had to take vitamin pills since I was lacking (not as bad as iron and calcium) for other stuff too. Also, it turned out, some things were wrong. Some thinks were… underdeveloped. Like, they worked fine but not perfect.
“Is it bad?” I asked, swinging my legs as I sat on the edge of the hospital bed. I always used to swing my legs (didn’t I?) but I couldn’t really anymore cause my heel whacked against something and I whimpered in pain.
“It is not terrible,” Doctor Green-Eyes said, looking over her notes. “It will not hinder your continual growth and in time perhaps fix itself. Although…” She finally looked up at me. “Your hippocampus is not completely right.”
I squinted at her. “Hippowhatus now? Like, hippopotamus?”
She sighed heavily and pushed her glasses up. “Hippo-campus. It is part of your brain.”
“My brain is underdeveloped?”
“No, merely… not working properly. Only part of your brain. The hippocampus.” I just stared and she gave another sigh before going to her desk. “The hippocampus is located in the med–” Then she stopped. “Never mind. Ahh, here.” She held up a picture of a brain and tapped her finger against one spot. “Here. Your brain looks fine and works perfectly fine. However my scans show there is… hmm, how do I put this… When you look at a ghost you can nearly see through them but there is something there, correct?”
“Correct, uh, I think,” I said, swinging my legs again and hitting my heel again. I gave another whimper of pain.
“That strange… essence… shows up strangely on scans of–” She stopped completely and began shaking her head. “It’s complicated. And full of words I am sure you wouldn’t understand. To put it as simply as I can, your brain is fine but there is something strange going on with your hippocampus. I do not know if this is permanent. But it is something I have seen often.”
“With other ghosts. Not all, but some.”
“What does the hip-p-cam-pus do?” I asked, sounding it out carefully.
“It has to do with memories and s–“
But I cut her off with, “Memories? My–my memories?” I hopped off the bed and promptly fell flat on my face. Doctor Green-Eyes just gave impatient sighs as I pushed myself back up. “I have memory problems!” I exclaimed.
“Yes, most ghosts do. Sixty-four-point-eight of ghosts suffer from problems with their hippocampus. The scan I did of you shows it particularly problematic but not the worst I have seen. Nearly a full eight percent of all ghosts have complete amnesia, and a further eleven-point-four percent have the inability to retain new memories. Which is when you have the ghosts that just repeat their final hours, or moments.”
She adjusted her glasses and turned away from me. “Judging from the scans, you are in the thirty-two-point-five percentile of ghosts who lose their memory of previous times. I have been informed most of these are called ‘wanderers’. When they move on to a new place, they begin to slowly lose their memory of where they’ve been before, or who they’ve interacted with. Ghosts that stay put can suffer this problem, but are less likely as their environment does not change.”
I was very unhappy. I didn’t like this but tried not to say anything, except tears formed in my eyes and soon I was crying. Doctor Green-Eyes said nothing. She did nothing. She just went on with her business, ignoring me completely. Tears splattered on the floor and finally I asked if I could go. She said yes, so after I got dress again I quickly left the room, nearly falling over.
Specter wasn’t around since he was helping Kay with something. My appointment with the doctor was supposed to last a bit longer than it did but I guess the doctor didn’t want to deal with a crying boy. Fumbling, I made my way back to our room. I wasn’t sure the route but I knew we were somewhere on the second floor. I went up in the elevator and managed to get to the room. I swiped my card then went in, falling on the bed and sobbing hard into the pillow. My hippocampus wasn’t working right, my memory problems were cause of that. Would my hippocampus ever work right? I hadn’t asked if it could get better but I didn’t think it could. Other ghosts had this problem. I was the first ghost-into-living-person (that Kay knew of) so there was nothing to compare to.
I cried myself into sleep before Specter came back, and when he woke me up I began crying all over again and told him. He held me tight, rubbed my back, and promised me everything would be okay.
“I’ll be here for you,” he said, kissing the top of my head. “No matter what.”
Doctor Green-Eyes ran more experiments on me as the days went by. She monitored my diet very carefully and I had to eat a lot of things like kale, and drink milk a lot, and take pills. My time on the treadmill shortened from when I was a ghost since I ran out of breath easier and I sorta tripped a lot. At one point I was supposed to swim but I totally freaked out and cried so much she decided not to put me in the water. I had no idea how to swim, and I didn’t really feel like drowning. I had only taken one bath and Specter had been right there in case I fell or slipped or any of the multiple things I probably would have done (and okay at one point I nearly whacked my face against the faucet when I was trying to wash my feet).
Specter did a lot of work around the labs, helping Kay and stuff. Sometimes I saw him sitting by himself, his head in his hands. Once or twice I saw his beard was damp from tears. I knew it was cause of Samuel. He had killed Specter’s parents? And lied about it? Said it was a ghost–and that was why Specter had so much difficulty with me. I wanted to go and kiss the top of his head and tell him it’d be okay and I would be there for him but I wasn’t exactly sure how to say it. I was afraid of saying something to make it worse for him, so I just left him alone when I saw he was in a really sad mood.
But he was mostly in a pretty good mood. Well, good for him. He even smiled once or twice and didn’t glare as much as I was used to (unless the doctor was around and then he was in all-out glare mode). At one meal with Kay the three of us were fixing our dinners with Specter building up his hamburger and mine, and me building up our potatoes and I asked Specter if he wanted pepper on his potato, and he growled, and I asked if he wanted sour cream on it, and he growled, and I kept asking different things and he kept growling and when I gave him his finished product he silently ate it.
“How d-did you know what he w-wanted?” Kay asked, eyes huge.
“It’s in the way he hmphs and growls,” I whispered back. “Watch this,” I added and then spoke a bit louder, “Specter, you want some more pop?”
I grabbed his glass smugly. “That means yes.”
Specter’s hand shot out and seized my wrist. “That means I’ll get it. You’re liable to fall and land on the broken glass. Professor Rood, we really should use plastic plates and cups and stuff with Chance.” Then he looked at me and growled. I stared, and he said, “What does that mean, oh great translator of mine?”
I blushed, my cheeks heating up, because I didn’t know he knew I knew what his hmphs meant. “I love you?”
He gave me a quick kiss. “Yep.”
After a little over two weeks Specter and I began talking about getting our own place cause we couldn’t just live at the labs forever. I wasn’t sure if he wanted to go back to his old place but he told me he would rather live in Moonlight Falls. “I’ve already talked to Mrs. Penstone about finishing up my lease,” he said, which took me by surprise. “Oh. I talked to her when I found you.”
“Do you… w-want to talk about…. things?” I ventured. He narrowed his eyes and frowned. “The day I became alive…” I slowly continued.
“He’s dead. I’ve talked to Doctor Roo–… Rosso. It’s so strange calling them by different names.” He rubbed his beard at that. “Samuel was the one who… hurt… my family. He’s the one. Not–not the ghost… and all this time…”
“You know for–for certain?”
“I saw some of the security footage,” he muttered. “I didn’t see the… the attack. But I saw Samuel go into their room while the ghost was clearly going somewhere else at the same time. Samuel just killed them. I–I trusted him. For so many years. I never really… loved him. But I trusted him. He raised me. He took care of me. And all that time he had killed my parents. And completely lied to me about it.” He slammed his fist into the wall at that. “I just can’t believe I was so stupid.”
“You weren’t stupid.” I put my hand cautiously on his arm. “Being uhhhh misled isn’t the same as being stupid, is it?”
“Hmph.” It was a very, very, very angry ‘hmph’ that didn’t translate to anything but anger. I flinched back but he twisted his body and hugged me tight. “My life has been so fucked up. I’ve made so many mistakes. I’m never letting you go again. You’re the only good thing in my life. And the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” He held me so tightly I wondered if he forgot I wasn’t a ghost. “I do… love… you.” Mmmm, it felt so warm and wonderful when he said those rare words.
But then he was pulling away and giving me a super odd look. “What is it?” I asked.
“Ugh. I don’t–I didn’t–I didn’t have this planned. And I know it’s stupid. Maybe I should plan it but I just–I can’t. I don’t want to. So I’m just going to ask.” He wrapped his fingers around mine and then covered both our hands with his other hand. “No. I’m not going to ask you because asking requires an answer and you don’t… need to answer… right now. Later. Whenever. Never. I don’t–ughh…” And the he gave a frustrated growl. I really had no clue what he was going on about but then he said, “I want to be with you. Always. I can’t stand the thought of losing you. I won’t.”
Then it dawned on me, and I brightened. “Marriage?” I said without even thinking not to. “Yes! I want to get married!”
“Oh my Watcher!” I flung my arms around him and hugged tightly. “Specter, yes, of course I will marry you!”
“I wasn’t–that’s not–what?”
Ooooops! I let go, my feet landing on the ground, my eyes on his. “You weren’t proposing?”
“No!” he half-roared. “I just–wanted to ask–if you wanted to be officially… you know… a committed couple… not–oh. Oh.”
And then I said, “Oh,” too. Then we just stared at one another.
Just when I felt like things just got so bad, he said, “You want to get married?”
“Ye-es,” I drew out. “I’d like to. I want to, very much. I’m alive now and I can get married! Really. I mean, Doctor Green-Eyes can probably give me any background stuff I need, she’s done it with some other supernaturals. But if you don’t want to… that’s ok.”
He pushed his bangs back and growled, this one was frustrated but not an angry frustrated. More like a confused frustrated. “I want to be with you. Always. Losing you put me through so much pain. I refuse to let that happen again. If you… want to get married… I mean, it’s not something I’d be… against it… if it’s what you want…”
I began beaming and now I took his hand. “Well then. Will you marry me?”
Now I really knew what it felt like for my heart to skip a beat or two. But then he was bending in and his lips were nearly brushing against mine. “Yes,” he said, kissing me in the most wonderful way I ever experienced in my life–dead life or real life.
I WAS GOING TO GET MARRIED!
I was going to get married.
I. Was. Getting. Married.
Who said living people couldn’t float? I was floating after his ‘yes’ and kept floating and just oh my goodness, so much happiness. I practically exploded when I told Kay. He probably had no idea what I actually said since it all came out in a big burst. “SpecternotsayrightIdidn’tgetandhewantedIaskedhimandhesaidyes!” Then I took in a deep breath and said a bit slower, “Specter and I are going to get married.”
“Wh-what? Oh! Oh, c-c-c-congratulations!” He gave me a big hug.
“I don’t know when or anything, Specter wants us to have a house first which he’s working on,” I said then began bouncing. “And–and–and I was wondering–I mean, I told Specter this and he’s not too happy and making a big production of it, but I know people do this cause I’ve seen it in movies and stuff–and I want you to walk me down the aisle if you, uh, if you don’t mind?”
Kay looked very happy then then he gave me a bit of a frown. “Typically m-males don’t get w-walked down aisles.”
“I don’t care.”
“Are you s-sure?”
Then he split into a big grin again and we were hugging, and I knew this was the right choice. I felt super connected to Kay in this weird way, not romantic or anything. Like maybe a friend? I didn’t know what it was. But I really wanted him to walk me down the aisle, and I wanted to walk down the aisle even though Specter and I both knew it’d be a tiny little ceremony thing with just the person to marry us and some witnesses. Though maybe Mrs. Penstone would be there, I knew Specter liked her and since I doubted Doctor Green-Eyes would be a witness we’d need someone else besides Kay.
“Can we talk about it later?” Specter asked when I tried to bring up the subject and I realized maybe I was rushing things since we had just got engaged the day before. I apologized, he grumbled in an apologetic manner, and I decided to leave it for just a few days because it would take a while to find a house.
Not quite as long as I expected. Specter found a house shortly after our engagement. “It’s a cabin,” he said as he drove me to go see it. “It’s about ten minutes outside Moonlight Falls. But I think you’ll like it.”
I did like it. The first floor was almost one entire room except for a bathroom, and the second floor there was a main bedroom with its own bathroom, an extra bathroom, a study (perfect for Specter!), a laundry room, and an empty bedroom. It was wonderful, and I told Specter so. He grunted and began signing papers that an excited Realtor was holding. We were homeowners now! Well, he was. I didn’t have any background stuff so when we got back to the labs I talked to Doctor Green-Eyes about it.
“My brother says he knows who you are,” she said blankly, not even looking up from where she was typing on her computer. “Discuss it with him.”
I felt a sharp pain in my stomach. “Can’t I have a new background?”
“Go talk with my brother.”
So I unhappily went to find Kay. I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t want to do this. I wanted to cry, I wanted to just pretend I didn’t need to do this but I had to. He raised his eyebrows when I told him–finally–I wanted to know who I was. “So I can get married,” I said, kicking the ground and jamming my toes in my shoe rather painfully. I hated shoes. They were so icky.
He didn’t even wait for me to change my mind. “Your n-n-name is Chance Danevbie.”
When he said it, I expected like the fog to wash away and my memories to come back and everything would be fine. But all that happened inside my head was my voice going ‘oh’. “Oh,” I said out loud.
“Your p-parents are–… w-were… S-Serenity D-Danevbie and… Henri Lar-roche.”
“They weren’t married?”
“No… th-they married but th-they kept their own n-names,” Kay said, rubbing the back of his head. “He w-w-was a ghost.”
I squinted, hoping this would bring back something but it didn’t. “How did she marry a ghost? I don’t get it. Was this after I was born?”
His mouth hung open just a bit then he clamped it shut, and then said, “No. B-before. He… d-died. And was br-brought back to a… a strange half-dead-half-alive th-thing. A lot like you existed. And th-then they got married and had t-two kids. Your older s-sister, Miracle, and… and you.”
I squinted even more. I had a sister? “Oh,” I said then shifted a bit. “Um, okay.”
“They d-died. I think you were around s-seven or eight when S-Serenity passed on.” He looked exceedingly uncomfortable now. “It w-was at our old labs. Sh-she was helping us with a pr-project and… the… the… It’s all our f-fault!” He covered his face and his shoulders began shaking. Soon I heard quiet sobs.
“Ummmmm… I’m sorry… I… I’m sorry!” I reached over and gave his shoulder a pat, not really sure what else to do. I was becoming more aware that I was not good in situations like this. Maybe a hug? I hugged him, and he hugged back, still crying. I tried to comfort him and felt there was something seriously wrong with some guy not related to this family crying over my mother’s death and me not feeling upset. I was sad. But I didn’t remember her at all.
“The gh-ghost,” he sniffled, finally able to talk again. “The ghost th-that Sp-Specter thought k-killed his parents. He k-k-k-killed your mother.”
Now my eyes got super huge so much that it made my eyesight go all weird. “What?”
“When Everett let th-the ghost out he w-went straight for S-Serenity and… used her to es-escape the labs and… th-then he k-killed her. I’m so sorry, Ch-Chance. It’s our fault. My s-sister and I? We should n-never have kept him in our l-labs.”
“You’re not the one who let him out,” I said, trying to be comforting. “If, um, someone has like a dangerous animal locked up and someone else comes along and unlocks the cage before the holder an stop it, it’s not the holder’s fault. Is it?”
“If he hadn’t b-b-been at our labs then it w-wouldn’t have happened. You must h-hate me now…”
“No. Of course I don’t, I still like you.” I put my hands on his arms, feeling awful he felt so guilty about this. Although seriously, what a twist of events! It was something from a movie. The ghost my lover thought killed his parents did not kill his parents but his adopted dad did and the ghost he thought did it actually killed my mother. Jeez. And then many years down the line he and I meet. And are getting married. I’m getting married! Mmmmm… NO! Now was not the time to think about that.
“If my s-sister knew you were a D-Danevbie she’d… f-flip… I mean, she suspects. But she w-won’t admit it…”
He wiped his eyes and then readjusted his glasses. “My s-sister and I have lived along time. And it seems every generation of Danevbies somehow comes ac-across us. Your great-great-great-grand–oh… ohhhh…” He now paled. “I think there’s something else y-you sh-sh-should know… about–about… ab-about…” He began wringing his hands and was back to looking uncomfortable. “I’m n-not sure if I should t-tell you. But I–I guess I should. But… b-but you’re… we’re… we’re r-related.”
“Oh cool!” Now I felt super excited and happy again. “You’re related to me? Maybe that’s why you make me feel comfortable and stuff. Are you my uncle?”
“No, as I s-said I’ve l-lived a long time.” He began rubbing the back of his head again, so much I expected him to just rub off his hair. “I’m your g-g-g-great-great-great-grandfather.”
I blinked. “Oh. Okay!”
“Okay!” I repeated happily.
“Y-you’re fine with that?”
“Should I not be?”
“No. I m-mean, yes. I mean… I’m g-glad you’re happy. I wasn’t sure if you w-would be.”
“Can I just call you Uncle Kay instead of, um, great… great… uh… great… great…” I counted on my fingers trying to figure out if that was right or if I had gone gone, but Kay reached out, waving his own hand.
“Uncle is f-fine,” he assured me. He looked very happy at the thought. “I’d like th-that very much, actually.”
“Good.” I grinned back at him. “So, um, I have a sister and stuff? Named… Miracle?”
At that we finally sat down and he told me I had a sister, and three uncles and two aunts by blood and they were all married and had kids (he wasn’t positive about that, but he was fairly sure). I had grandpas on my mother’s side but he wasn’t really sure about my father’s side. “I d-didn’t know the Laroche f-family…”
He gave me names but none of them sounded familiar. Nothing did. I searched my brain, begging these names to form faces but nothing but white fog. Would seeing them bring back my memories? Or would they not? I wasn’t really sure… and it worried me. If I saw my family and I didn’t remember them, what then? If they last saw me as a ghost and now I was suddenly alive, what would they think? That coupled with my memory problems sounded like it would just be awful.
So when Kay asked if I wanted to go and meet my family, I shook my head. “Not right now. Maybe some other time.”
“Not even–th-the wedding?” he asked, startled.
I continued shaking my head. “Not right now…” I was scared of what might happen. I was scared it might ruin my happiness. I was so happy right now that I wasn’t going to risk having anything shatter that.