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People say it's the memories that kill you in the end, the longing, the wishing for a different outcome that would never come to fruition that chipped away at your soul. Those words could've never been more true.
I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I know you don't believe me but I've never been more sorry.
Tavis' words kept echoing in my thoughts on our way over to my apartment, where all this mess started. I had about thirty minutes left until midnight approached us and I had no energy left to finish what needed to be done. I felt burned out, and betrayed and defeated. No matter how much good I did in this life, how many wandering souls I helped cross over to the other side, it would never compensate for all the harm I've caused to the people closest to me.
Sylvia. Didn't you come to me sooner?
I knew the answer of course. And I didn't blame her. She could see everything from the spiritual lane. She could read my thoughts, my emotions, witness the intimate encounters between me and Tavis even after his death. The guilt was eating me alive and the second I stepped inside my apartment, I closed the door and slumped down against it. I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe. The heaviness of the shame I've been carrying around since Tavis and I ran away together the day of his wedding to my former best friend, was anchoring me down into a dark place. A place I haven't visited since my foster home days. A place I swore I'd never go back to no matter what the circumstances were.
And here I was, ready to let the barriers I used to keep the most malevolent of spirits out down long enough for them to take everything I had left in me. I didn't deserve to be here. Not like this. Not when the love of my life and my best friend were both deceased and I had nothing left to hold onto.
"Is she the reason why you left my side that night?" I asked Tavis, as I closed my eyes and let the tears stream down my cheeks when I felt the cold chill of his presence sitting beside me on the hardwood floor.
"Yes," he began and I shook my head, letting him know I had no desire to know how she died. I had no energy left in me to be angry at the reaper for taking her so soon. Sylvia was dead. There was nothing I could do or say that would make this any easier for her. I wasn't so sure I would be the wisest choice even if I could.
"You have to find someone else to help her, Tavis. I can't do this anymore," I pleaded as I felt the push of energy trying to break through my barriers. Blood began to drip out of my nose while I felt the excruciating puncture of a spirit taking over my body.
"Sylvia, stop. She's not strong enough yet," Tavis' sharp warning echoed painfully inside my mind and I held onto his strong energy long enough for me to get up from the floor and gather myself. If Sylvia had something to say, she needed to say it before time ran out.
"It's okay," I reassured him and swallowed hard once again as I waited for Sylvia to show herself. I caught my breath as her form began to take shape and I covered my mouth when I saw she'd chosen to show herself to me in solid form and in her wedding gown.
I remember her wedding day as if it happened yesterday. Tavis and I had woken up the day of the wedding in between sweaty limbs and tangled sheets. Dread and sorrow looming over us like the reaper usually did while he was on the clock. We didn't say a word to each other as we got dressed. I simple called Sylvia and told her I couldn't make it to her wedding due to a severe allergic reaction I had to some food I'd eaten the night before. She'd been disappointed of course. A maid of honor was practically obligated to attend the wedding no matter what.
But I couldn't stand beside her at that altar and pretend like my heart wouldn't break the moment they said their I Do's. So I chose the coward's way out. I made an excuse and didn't show up. Not until the very last minute, when it was time for Tavis to walk down that isle to wait for his soon-to-be wife. We didn't exchange words then either. He took one look at the mess that had emerged from the raging wet storm outside of the church and closed and locked the door behind me.
Tavis had dipped his fingers into my tangled curls and rested his forehead on mine, taking in three breaths before he captured my lips in his and pressed me into the door behind me. He was shaking while I removed every piece of his tuxedo, his body reacting against what his heart really wanted. I never wanted it to be me. I never wanted it to be us. But there we were, being the worst kind of people, indulging our desires instead of holding onto our morals.
We left a letter behind for Sylvia to read, detailing our sincerest apologies and we didn't hear from her until now. At least, not on my part. It seems as though Tavis had kept tabs on her all this time according to what his memories were showing me. He made sure she found a man who loved her so deeply, it overwhelmed her. They had one child together. A girl. And her name was June.
"I don't hate you, June," Sylvia's statement tore into me like chainsaw breaking through my skin. I didn't want this. I didn't want her forgiveness. I didn't deserve it.
"I'm sorry you're dead," I replied and her laughter vibrated throughout my body, reminding me of all those nights we spent partying in college. We'd been so close, so attached, so intertwined, I thought of her as my blood sister. I never wanted to take what belonged to her at the time. I didn't want to let a man come in between the bond we had built. Fate was a nasty thorn. It made sure to pair Tavis and Sylvia together first and out of spite, knowing Tavis and I were the true soulmates. A cruel twist indeed. One I spent a lot of time trying to atone for but to no avail.
"Yes, well. I've done all can in this life. Except for one thing," she answered cryptically and I raised an eyebrow when I heard loud voices and the sounds of someone barging into the apartment next door to mine. It belonged to the newest member of the building. A stranger none of us in the building had gotten to know just yet. I'd only seen him once before in the elevator. He'd been quiet, kept to himself. He held a lot of secrets in his eyes, but it didn't make him any less attractive. He stood just about Tavis' height, with shaggy brown hair and dark blue eyes, and the palest complexion I'd ever seen. He'd turned to glance at me once before the elevator doors opened and we both stepped out. I never caught his name. I never told him about his dead grandmother who'd been following him around since he got here. But it seemed as though the stranger was already deceased despite the paramedics who were trying to revive him. His spirit had passed on quicker than expected and it wasn't until I realized Tavis was no longer at my side that I understood what Sylvia was trying to convey.
"You have a lot of forgiving to do, June. I want you to start with yourself. You owe me that much," Sylvia's words clung to me until there was a knock on my door and I felt her presence pass through to the other side while I looked into the peep hole and opened the door. The paramedic, who's name was Fabian, and who's long line of dead relatives surrounded him in protection, greeted me with a quivering smile.
"Can I help you?" I asked, coughing into my hand as I felt a draft pass through me.
"Yes. Do you know this man....Derek? Derek Donahue? He's been asking to see you since we brought him back to life," Fabian claimed as he looked through his paperwork and I tried not to swallow my own tongue. He didn't. He couldn't have. I mean he could. But he really shouldn't have.
Damn it, Tavis. What have you done?