Not for the first time, I sat at Liam's study hall table, completely unbeknownst to the other kids around us. Discreetly, so it didn't seem like Liam was talking to himself, he was teaching me about the periodic table of elements, which I actually found quite interesting. He had a test on the transitional metals in the middle next period, and showing me was helping him study.
"You know, just trying to hard-core memorize these is only going to make you miserable. I'd try coming up with an acronym or a neat trick to help remember which ones go in what row."
He looked at me in surprise, since normally, I don't have much input on his studying or homework. Why would I bother with it if I'm dead?
"You actually like this stuff, Gwen? You do know that this is like poison for every other kid in our class?"
That brought a little chuckle from me, because I could remember all too well. Even though I didn't often pay attention in chemistry, I did realize that every other student complained or suffered when confronted with balancing equations or polyatomic ions. Chemistry for me, however, had always been a bit of an escape, it being the only class I'd been good at.
"Yeah, I guess I do like it. Labs were always my favorite though."
He paused for a second, seemingly trying to recall something. With an expression of shock, he grinned, pointing his finger at me.
"You were in my class!!! I can't believe it!!! You were even in my class, and I still never really noticed or spoke to you. Wow!"
I began to full on laugh now, because with Liam's little exclamation, people were now staring. To distract them, I swished over to a kid walking by and tripped them gently. Everyone's attention was instantly drawn away from Liam. He chuckled slightly, albeit a little sheepishly.
"I wish that whole thing hadn't required a cover, but you did it well. You're getting better at being discreet. Remember the first prank you played? All the lockers, a total mess!!! It was extreme, but incredible!!"
His laughter no longer seemed out of place with the snickers of other kids over the trip. The bell rang, cutting off our conversation, so we made our way up to the chemistry room. I assumed my normal seat on top of the nearest lab table, reminding myself not to float around too much and distract Liam while his test was out. The teacher laid the short test on everyone's desk, but five minutes in, I could tell Liam was stuck big-time. With a small sigh, I floated over to his desk, perching atop it, smiling.
"Just relax. It's all there, you just have to chill out so you don't scare it away with your nerves. Okay?"
Without looking up too much, he smiled back at me, putting his pencil back to the paper. I did this often, encouraged him. Despite his relaxed personality, he really wasn't very confident in himself, so a little smile went a long way in situations like this. A cold draft blew through the room, which no one seemed to notice but me.
"Gwen, come out into the hallway. Make sure no one notices you."
My eyes rolled purely out of habit. Micah. Always so dramatic, always unnecessarily. I moved back to the table, and when Liam seemed engrossed in the test again, I walked slowly out of the room. Sure enough, Micah was standing, arms crossed, in the dead center of the hallway.
"What do you want, Micah? You haven't visited in a month."
"Well, hello to you too, Gwen. I'm doing fine, and no, the trip was no trouble to tell you some pretty important information."
I rolled my eyes at him, clearly annoyed. Micah could be so aggravating sometimes. Important information piqued my interest though, so I hoped he would get along with it.
"Alright, Gwen, here's the deal. There's only five more numbers left between you and heaven. You should be in tomorrow. Isn't that great?!"
My heart sank clear into the floor. Tomorrow?!?!? That was way too soon!!! Leaving Liam, TOMORROW!!!! A tear rolled down my cheek at the thought, stunning Micah.
"What's wrong?! I thought you wanted out SO BADLY!!! Don't even tell me you've fallen for the supernatural guy. That's what happened, didn't it?"
With some surprise, I realized it was true. The idea of leaving Liam broke my heart, and I couldn't possibly bear to, although I knew I didn't have a choice. A word floated around in my head, a word I knew applied but I couldn't express. Love. I loved Liam with every fiber of my being.
"Oh, Gwen. I'm so sorry. I've been watching, you know. I see how you've changed, but I never thought it had anything to do with him. Seriously, though. Tomorrow is it. That's all I came here to say, so good-bye."
At that, he vanished into a little puff of light and smoke. My knees gave out, leaving me on the floor, crying desperately. I couldn't leave! At some point, the bell rang, but I barely heard over my tears. People filled the hallway, bustling around and through me, reminding me of my half-existence.
Just my name. Not enough to give any odd impressions, but loud enough for me to hear. I glanced up to see a neutral-faced Liam leaning up against a locker. With one last sob, I stood shakily, following him as he made his way out of the school. We walked in silence for a time, just trying not to provoke any more pain. He knew why I was crying, and I knew that he wouldn't handle this well.
"Well, that might have been the last test I sit in on, huh?"
A tiny smile curled the edges of his lips, but it vanished as soon as it had appeared.
My mouth didn't want to form the word. It felt too much like sealing a fate we couldn't prevent or fight.
With that, I lost it again, and I saw a tear on his cheek as well. This was not something either of us wanted, but we knew it had to come. This life would end just as the last one had, with everything stripped away, leaving us to start again. If this is what it took to get to heaven, maybe, just maybe, it wasn't worth it at all.