She gasped in shock when she saw Evan standing in the darkness on the other side of the glass. “What are you--!?” she caught herself and lowered her voice, “what are you doing here?”
Evan removed the bug screen, accidentally dropping it, causing both him and Evelyn to wince, then he slid the window open.
“To see you of course!” he declared valiantly.
“Most people come through the door, did you climb the building? This is the fourth story!”
Evan shook his head. “Not quite, I used less conventional means.”
“Yes, I can fly now, and I think I’m finally stable enough to take you with me!”
“Really?” Evelyn’s grin sparkled.
Evan’s cheeks brightened a few shades of red. “Uh huh, so as soon as you are better let’s go for a short flight, to anywhere you want.”
She nodded eagerly.
A calm silence enveloped the dim room.
“Heh, I better be going, mom might notice I’m gone.”
“Yes you should, my parents might walk in soon too.”
“Ok,” Evan grinned.
They both felt like rogue agents, working outside the law of the parental government.
“Get well soon.” Evan muttered as he patted her head.
“I will.” Evelyn promised. She watched as Evan stepped out onto the narrow ledge. His dark clothing made it seem like his body vanished, all except his face and hands. He closed the window behind him and waved, flashing one of his smiles that she loved. Then he seemed to just vanish, like a shadow when a light is turned on.
Heavy regret filled her chest as her diaphragm shook weakly.
'I should have asked for a ride now…' she thought as her eyes watered. 'He doesn’t even know I’m not going to leave this place. I hate lying.' She looked out at the window, trying to catch a glimpse of her friend, hurrying on his way home through the night sky. She looked back at the door to the room. Her mother still had not returned. Another meagre spasm shook her diaphragm. She felt her body relax. As she felt herself drown she smiled. 'Now is the best time. I wanted to be alone when this happened. I wouldn’t want to see mother’s or father’s scared faces. They would just make me nervous.' A hollow feeling gripped her heart, as fear poured in. She did not want it to be this way. She was afraid, her teeth began to chatter uncontrollably as she felt her senses numb.
'I’m glad that the last face I saw was smiling.' When that merciful thought touched her soul, it gave some relief to her fear, now she was ready. Against her will her lungs painfully expanded, bringing in the harsh air and prolonging the agonising process.
'He has a princely smile, it makes me almost imagine he's from a book. I wish I went with him…' However reality hit her harshly as she thought of the consequences of being carried by him while she went through this. 'That would be bad for him. A first kiss would have been nice though. It would have looked like Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. The perfect end to a fairy tale, a happy ever after.'
She made one more shallow breath. There were only a few spare moments before she suffocated. 'I guess I can fly with you after all, Evan…'
A dull pain filled her chest as her heart pumped hard once followed by two gentle murmurs, and at last, a single shaky beat as her faithful pump tried one more time to defeat the Muses’ scissors, until at last the struggling ceased, the thread of fate cut. She blinked once, and three tears fell from her eyes, one of farewell to her parents, one of regret for her dearest friend, and the last a tear of joy as she felt her wings take flight.
The wind blew pleasantly through Evan’s hair. He could not wait until the day he would take a flight with her. There was an odd lightness in his chest and burning feeling in his stomach.
He dived into a long straight alley to avoid the brighter lights of down-town, as he hurtled through the passage he felt a grip on his shoulder. He twisted around swiftly and landed, skidding along the cement. He looked around in the darkness, wondering what had touched him.
He spied a clothesline and sighed in relief. Something about the touch had been frightening to him, despite how tender it felt. After one more deep breath he took off into the air and continued home.
The next day Evan walked down to see his mother on the phone, the skin of her face ashen, and when she looked up him, she grew paler still.
“Umm, it’s Evan,” she said into the phone. “Yes, I’ll tell him,” a choke hit her throat as she uttered the last, overused phrase, “Sorry for your loss.” The phone tumbled from her hand to the receiver.
“E-ev-an,” his mother sobbed, tears welling up in her eyes, and one of them running a trail down her cheek.
Looking at his mother’s face, the boy’s eyes widened slowly as realisation hit him. He made a sharp intake of breath and in a deep and harsh moan cried, “N-no!”
“I’m sorry, I should have gone with you last night…” Mrs. MacIntyre was now breaking down in heavy sobs of immense guilt and sorrow.
“No!” Evan cried. “No, no, no, no!” He turned and ran towards the door.
“Wait, Evan!” his mother screamed while chasing after him. Before she could reach her son the door had slammed shut before her. She did not even have the heart to open it and call out to her child. She crumpled before the closed door, engulfed in her sobs and wails. Her heart was breaking as she thought of the misery tearing up the heart of her son and how she wished she could go back in time to fix it. Her own child’s pain had been more than evident in his defiant shouts that only barely covered the sound of his breaking heart.
Down the street Evan ran, no tears had fallen down his face. He just ran, focusing on the pain he felt as his bare feet slammed against the cold concrete, numbing the wretchedness that was gradually sneaking up on him. Not paying attention to where he was going he found himself running into the secluded corner of the garden that he and Evelyn had called theirs.
With nowhere further to run he leaned against the brick wall. He pounded it in frustration. “Why!” he hissed. “Why her?”
He picked up a rock and threw it then turned around to do some other sort of destruction when he felt a strange pressure against his palm. A high pitched wail emanated from his hand and red dust filled the air. He looked the direction his hand had been facing and when the dust cleared there was a circular hole drilled through the garden wall. Another pressure touched his other hand. Again a roar wailed in his ears and a transparent rod-shaped vortex shot out from his arm and the force spun him around, a string of explosions ran across the wall beside him as he spun, leaving behind what looked like marks from a large sledge hammer.
Evan fell to the ground. Sudden exhaustion overcoming his body. The dirt before his face blurred as he lost consciousness.
Evan lowered his hand and stared at the former sheet of corrugated metal. The ridges had been eliminated and the twisted remains resembled a funnel with a ragged hole in the middle.
“So this was your reasoning.” He raised his eyebrow in wonderment as to how the Apparition knew about his past and the other side of his ability. 'So you want me to use this power?'
He grabbed the twisted metal and returned it to the garbage pile. He looked down the long alleyway. A bitter smile crossed his lips as he walked towards the churchyard.
The sun shown brilliantly on Evelyn’s funeral, it was the only day of the entire week that was not filled with storm clouds. Evan grit his teeth in anger every time a bird sang, or a butterfly drifted by. He felt like God was mocking the day his best friend was lowered into a two metre hole. He could not even provide rain to conceal the boy’s tears which made red paths down his face.
He glanced over at Mr. and Mrs. Douglas. They were sad, but at the same time, a glimmer of relief hid in their eyes. Watching their only child slowly and painfully depart the world had been torment, a torment from which they were now released. Apparently they had long known of their daughter’s condition. Evan had overheard that it was some rare lung and heart malformations, but he did not care for the details, she was gone.
Now Mr. and Mrs. Douglas could leave this painful chapter behind. As for Evan, he had ripped out his own soul and left it on the casket. After that funeral, he would continue on, but his heart would be locked away in that year he had spent with the small brunette girl with a delicate ski slope nose and tender, dark eyes. Evan as he had been that year was dead, and a new Evan took his place, a shell of a shattered dream.
The cold stone soothed his calloused hand. His fair gray eyes matched the tombstone’s surface. His finger traced the name, Evelyn Douglas.
Evan felt a strange happiness being here, before the grave of a girl whose life was snatched away too soon. “Hello old friend. This is my first time visiting you after that day... I’m sorry.” his voice cracked a little when the apology escaped his lips. Tears welled up in his eyes. “I’m sorry for not taking you for that flight I promised. The clouds we gazed at would have looked much nicer from above.”
He paused, enjoying the silence of the cemetery.
A quick chuckle escaped Evan‘s lips, followed by a bitter smile. “I lost my way.” a sob rattled his chest. “I even forgot that year we spent, the happiest year of my life. I’ve done a lot of things, Evelyn. I tread the byways of humanity, and lost portions of what was left of my broken heart all over the place. But now I came back, to make things right.” He placed his palm flat on the stone.
“This year, I found my way again. I’m caring for someone, but my heart is too small to carry the weight. Those two are far too wonderful for me, and I just don’t have the room. I can’t love them back the way I am, so please, hear my one selfish request. I may not be coming back here again, so please, return that piece of me I left with you. I want them to have at least half of an old man’s heart.” His stomach tightened painfully as he sobbed before the stone capsule of his past.
Despite his weeping, he felt the heavy burden he had carried since he began this lonesome trek, gently lighten from his shoulders. He was not sure whether his wish was actually granted, but at least the words he had wanted to say were finally said, and that felt almost enough.
Leaving the churchyard cemetery behind, he began on his way back. His heart skipped a beat just before he turned down the street where he would see the small oak bench. He calmed his breath and walked around the corner. The bench was just as it had always been, but there was a woman sitting on it. Evan huffed slightly to recover from his weaping and wore a neutral expression as he made his way down the street. He passed by the woman on the bench and paused.
The brunette pulled out a small mirror and glanced at her face. “Your friend would have turned into a beautiful woman.”
“You're heartless,” he muttered. Turning he made a weary smile at her. “I went on the 'find my heart' trip you wanted, now what?”
The Apparition flicked back the middle aged Evelyn’s hair, her face a perfect resemblance, and put away the mirror. “You regained the power right?”
“Then I need you to find someone, the one who is in danger. His name is George Donnelly and he lives somewhere in Edinburg.”
“Is he another Jinn?”
“Of course! The children of Adam have their keepers, but no one guarding the children of ash.”
“If you know his name, then shouldn’t you be able to find him and just tell us where he is? Use the internet. You don‘t have to rely on just on mind-reading anymore. It’s very last century of you.”
The Apparition smiled, still hiding behind adult-Evelyn’s face. “Good to see you have gained a sense of humour. His name should have been George Donnelly, however I doubt he goes by that after what his father did. I will keep you informed, I believe I know who is hiding him from me.”
Evan cocked an eyebrow.
She rolled her eyes. “Yes, even I don’t know everything.
“Anyway, those two are waiting for you.” She stood up. “Oh, but before you go, did I get the voice right?”
Evan paused, a genuine smile crossed his face. “You need to sound more like a crow.”
“Oh, and one more thing,” Evan said glancing at the ground. “Try to cast your shadow correctly, I could tell it was you immediately.” Smiling smugly, he departed.
The Apparition watched him go and grinned, shaking her head as her body flaked apart and drifted away like smoke from a snuffed candle.