Chapter 1:

The Ghost's Austerity I

ONE SHOT


[Love's Austere]

Once again I found myself sitting in this police station. There was only this bench directly across from the sheriff's door and the hallway it was located in had to be the longest one in the building. And the doorway at the end of it felt ominous. I felt like a helpless family member worrying for their loved one who had just been rushed into the ER. I hadn't done anything wrong and nor was I behind any bars. I had no reason to be here to begin with.

Getting out of there always feels like a maze despite already knowing every turn like the back of my hands. That police station was bigger than it even needed to be. If I could have just one word with the architects, I would tell them: "This isn't a hospital we're building here!"

I had no purpose for being there and to be honest, I have no purpose for being elsewhere either. I can go anywhere. I have no one to restrain me now. The train station isn't that far from here. It has an indoor mall where I love shopping for things that I like. I'll go there.

Ah, the train station is just as I remember it. People waiting for trains and people bustling to catch the next one. It's especially crowded in the center where that post clock is. My favorite store is the same as always. Souvenirs, travel items, J-store goods, and treats were all still here. The neon lights makes me feel like I've stepped into an arcade. Although, this time was different.

I see familiar faces here today.

Those are my old classmates...

A group of 7 to 10 kids perhaps? Where are the rest of the kids? And what are they all doing here now?

The space station isn't too far away either. Is this some kind of rest stop for a middle school field trip?

Now I'm having second thoughts about coming in here. But why do I have to be so hesitant now? It's not like they can see me anymore.

I should just go over to them.

On the right side of the store, I decided to stand by some of the girls I used to know looking at the travel bags. One girl, whoose name seems to have slipt my mind, made a comment.

"Oooh, I like the patterns on this one."

The girls began lifting up the bags on the shelves in some kind of strange, rhythmic unison. Unconsciously, I did the same. By the time I realized, I hoped they wouldn't notice a slightly risen bag with no one holding it, seeing as to how there was a gap between two of the girls. The bag I grabbed was black with a pink, hypnotic swirl printed it on it.

If I were still alive, I would have bought something like this on impulse.

Then another girl responded. She was the girl to my right.

"Yes, these are nice. These are the kinda bags that are what you call "in season", right?"

Hannah?

I looked down to see her face. Round and rosy. Just as I had remembered.

It is her! Hannah!

She's so nerdy and smart, and her voice was so squeaky, like a mouse (at least that's how I remembered it in my head). In a class of fellow peers where I felt distant from the rest, she was one of the few people I could communicate with.

I thought I would never be able to hear her voice again, let alone be among her presence.

I'm so happy, I could cry. But that could prove to be too much for me. Let's see who else I run into.

I left the girls and made way to see who was standing at the counter.

But it was strange...

I was confused...

Some of my classmates from elementary school were here too.

What does that mean?

Did they transfer into my middle school and wound up put in my class?

And out of all the people I knew, in this small group, he was here.

Gerrard.

He was the first and only crush I've ever had.

Back in the 5th grade, our classmates would tease us, making up all kinds of couple jokes and getting nosy.

"Do you like him?"

"Well, I bet he likes you!"

"You like him, don't you?"

"Oooooh, it's an 80% compatibility!"

"Tell him how you feel, girl!"

"Mrs. Hudson."

Just because we didn't play basketball like the rest of you?

Because we would race together to the swingset instead?

Because that's what brought us together the most?

I thought I had left a tiny message behind in his yearbook on that final day, but no matter. We've gone our separate ways.

Literally.

It's a love that will never be, regardless of what his real feelings could have been for me. At the time, he moved on to the next school, I went to another.

He lives, I died.

Besides, it's not like I ever asked for his number or anything.

Seeing him again takes my heart into a spiral.

I walk to him seeking comfort but I know that doing so won't ease the situation. He's so close now. I try to place my hands on his cheeks, but he's just out of reach. If it were possible to get in just one more goodbye, that would be great.

The girls are coming over here now. Looks like the whole gang's here.

One boy pointed out the bowl of candy behind me on the counter.

"Hey there's candy! How much?"

He asked seemingly to the air, hoping someone would chime in with a response. Luckily, a store clerk was returning to his post and answered the question.

"Oh, are you kids on a field trip? Don't worry about it. It's on the house. Enjoy!"

Score! My classmates cheered with happiness.

"No way!"

"Free candy!?"

"Thanks!"

"Hey guys, free candy!"

"What pieces do you want?"

"Hey, don't take that piece away from me!"

It's been forever since I've had candy. I want some too.

Being the ghost that I am now, eating candy takes me back to a time where getting the chance to eat it was always a free commodity... What I'm saying is that people always give away free candy to kids just because.

Eating candy reminds me of elementary school. Carefree days that weren't as long as I originally thought they were.

Funny. A ghost such as I still has the ability to taste food. However, nothing happens after I swallow.

I reached for a piece of caramel but I had to drag it out quickly so it wouldn't look odd. Everyone was caught up in the happy atmosphere, so I was safe for now. I unwrapped the caramel and held it to my mouth.

Hannah, a girl whom I could call my friend, stood to my left.

Gerrard, the boy I denied my feelings for, stood to my right.

I put the caramel in my mouth.

"Mmmfff, it's so good. Mmmrrrff... It's so good I could cry. I'm so happy... *sob*"

The tears trickled down my face.

"Man, this is so sad."

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ONE SHOT