Honey’s Wedding Venue

First up, apologies for not having posted anything in so long. I realise Whispers has been collecting dust, and I feel bad.

Yesterday I finally did something which I’d been putting off for a while, which is build the venue for Honey’s wedding. I still need to get the actual pictures but building this took a while, so there.

It’s mostly complete now, so what you see below is pretty much as it’ll be in the next chapter. There are two different dressing rooms in the building, one foe the bride and one for the groom, and the outside gardens. The table in the middle of the seated area is for the cake.
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Screenshot-360 Screenshot-362I‘m hoping to have this out early next week – think Tuesday or Wednesday ūüôā

~MischiefTheKitten

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6.28

The flight was over surprisingly quickly, and before we knew it we were landing in Shang Simla. Throughout the whole flight Misty and I had been holding hands but neither of us had said a word. What was there to say? No words on this earth could have changed what we were about to do. None that we knew off, anyway.

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The flight had been quiet and uneventful. Due to exceedingly good weather we had made it faster than usually, and landed a good bit earlier than we had been supposed to. I silently wondered to myself if the ghost had had anything to do with it, but I wanted to believe that she couldn’t manipulate something as powerful and destructive as the weather.

Ana’s words resounded in my mind. The ghost wasn’t as all-powerful as she wanted to believe. As I had started to believe.

We got off the plane, and since neither of us had bothered with luggage we left the airport without having to wait around for long.

Back home it was nearly ten in the morning. Dad and Honey would have found the letters I had left them by now, and would have realised that there was nothing they could do to change what Misty and I were now committed to doing.

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I turned on my phone only to find seven missed calls, seven voice mails and ten text messages from Honey. Not wanting to hear what she had to say to me I switched my phone off again.

Next to me, Misty took my hand. “Ready?”

I nodded, not sure if my voice still worked. Together we approached the taxi counter and were given a number.

The wait was almost unbearable. With every passing minute I got more worried that somehow, Honey would come running through the gate only to drag me back home even though I knew that it was impossible. There was only one flight a day that went to Shang Simla from Sunset Valley. Even if there had been one two hours after the one we had taken and Honey had somehow gotten that, she would still have been too late.

All we needed was enough time to take a taxi to the hotel Honey and I had stayed in all those years ago, and then walk the rest from there. I had no doubt that once we were there the ghost wouldn’t waste any time given how long she had waited already.

Once we were inside the cave there would be no going back. Both of us knew that.

Our number was called after what seemed like an incredibly long time, and even the short drive from the airport to the hotel seemed to take forever.

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Misty and I walked in silence from the long staircase to the winding path that led from the main road to the cave, but half way up I stopped.

“Hang on.”

“What is it?”

“I need to make my wish.” I really hoped that I hadn’t left it too long, that the ghost wouldn’t be watching us and know how to move around it, but I hadn’t wanted to do it too early, either. Ana had said that she’d be able to find me with this, after all. It made more sense to release the odd firefly-sparkles closer to the cave rather than further away from it.

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The minute I took it out, Misty looked like her eyes were ready to pop out of her head.

“Cari! Do you have any idea what that is?”

I shook my head since firefly-sparkles was all I had.

“It’s fairy dust! Do you have any idea how rare that is?” Again, I shook my head.

“Not very? Ana seemed to be able to create it out of nothing pretty easily.”

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“It’s easy for her because she’s a fairy, but Cari, they don’t share this very often with humans! Or any other species! Why did she say was she giving this to you?”

I shrugged, feeling nervous that something was going to go wrong now that we were so close. Was fairy dust really this big a deal? “I don’t know, she said she just genuinely wanted to help and that she had helped someone in my family before.”

“This is a very special gift, Cari. I had no idea that this was what you meant when you said that she had given you a present. Fairies are notoriously protective of this! Fudge, Cari, I didn’t think you’d actually be able to save our souls here with what she had given you! Fairies are known to play tricks, I thought-” I couldn’t help but stare at Misty as she couldn’t take her eyes of the fairy dust in my hand. Was this really that rare? “We’ll be fine, Cari. Make your wish. This is powerful stuff, whatever the ghost has in mind won’t bind us to her. We’ll really be fine!”

Swallowing hard and suddenly feeling like I had been given a terrible responsibility, I made my wish and blew the dust into the air where a breeze picked it up effortlessly.

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“Let’s go.” Misty nodded, and both of us made our way to the entrance of the cave. I couldn’t see her, but her laughter seemed to fill the air like thick fog.

“Is that-” The hair on Misty’s arms stood on end, and I nodded.

“That’s her.” I swallowed, and thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest when Misty took my hand and squeezed it.

“Let’s end this. For the babies.”

I nodded, feeling overcome with grim determination. “For the babies.”

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The cave was better lit than I had remembered, and the door which I had had to figure out how to open last time was already standing wide open. I thought back to how it had just suddenly occurred to me how to open it, and I remembered a voice in the back of my head telling me what to do.

I felt dizzy at the realisation that the ghost had manipulated me before I had even set foot into her chamber.

When we entered that same chamber this time, she wasn’t hiding. She was right there, standing by her altar and caressing the cold stone lovingly.

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“Cari! You made it!” The evil grin on her face grew as her eyes fell on Misty, and I felt her freeze in her spot next to me. “And you brought me a present! I knew you loved me deep down.” Hearing the fake adoration in her voice made me feel sick.

“You know exactly why she’s here.” My voice carried more hate than I had known myself to be capable off.

“Do I?” A soft, icy cold giggle escaped her throat. “Why, you’re right! I believe congratulations are in order.”

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“You’re the one who cursed my girlfriend and possessed my little brother?” If I had been surprised at the amount of hate in my voice than the hatred in Misty’s voice downright stunned me. The iciness of it would have made the ghost jealous if she had still been capable of emotions other than revenge and spite.

“Why, aren’t you a feisty one! I see my plaything chose we-”

“Don’t you dare call her that!”

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“Hmm? And what will you do should I do it again? Given why you’re here, I don’t think you’re in any position to threaten me, now, do you?”

I could sense Misty grind her teeth next to me. Even if I hadn’t been holding her hand I’d have been able to tell just how tense she was.

Not wanting to draw this out any more than necessary, I decided to cut to the point. “We’re here to offer you an exchange.”

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“Oh, I know. Didn’t I tell you that you’d beg me for this?” Her voice was as sweet as honey. I felt like I might throw up.

“You let my babies go, in exchange for our souls. And they’ll be free of you forever.”

“Of course! I was only ever interested in the entertainment you could give me. And you have performed beautifully, my pet.”

“Why?” Misty no longer sounded so sure of herself. Instead, I heard tears tremble in her voice and the smug look of amusement on the ghost’s face confirmed it.

“Because eternity gets lonely, my new plaything. But don’t worry. I’m not interested in your spawns. I’m nothing if not a ghost of my word!” Her laughter filled the entire cave and I wondered how the people in the village didn’t hear it. “Come forward, then. Let’s begin.”

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I turned to Misty who closed her arms around me. “I love you.”

“I love you.”

“That’s so sweet, but I’m getting bored here. Who should we sacrifice first, hm?” Her eyes fell on Misty. “You. Come to me, my pet.” Misty gave me one last look before our hands parted…

… and she walked to her end.

*

Epilogue

For the tenth time since I had found it I read over the letter my baby sister had left me in the mailbox, hating myself for not having known what she and Misty had been up to.

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Dad had locked himself in his room and hadn’t come out since he had read his, but every now and again I could hear faint sobbing coming from his room. In the quiet house it seemed to fill the air completely.

After I had read the first few lines of my letter, I had jumped into our car and had driven to the airport, ignoring the speed limit. The attendant had told me three times that there was no flight to China until later today before I had accepted it. Later today meant too late, but it didn’t matter. Cari was gone. My baby sister was out of my reach, and there was nothing I could do to save her.

I had gone back home, had checked on the twins and had gone over the letter again and again, trying to feel something and hating myself for not breaking down like Dad was doing on his own right now.

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I was numb. I felt nothing.

I just wanted my little sister back home so that I could tell her off and ground her.

When I had last checked on the babies they had still been ghosts. My sister was still alive, but I knew that soon she wouldn’t be and there was nothing I could do to change that. Somewhere far away from me, my sister was dying and I couldn’t tell her how much I loved her one last time.

My fingers brushed over the piece of paper, caressing the letters which my sister had written by hand. She had touched this paper. She had held this paper in her hands, and had written on it. She had held this. In her hands. In her warm, beautiful hands.

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A sob escaped my throat as my eyes went over the words again.

Honey,

I’m sorry we just left without saying anything. I know you’d never have let us go if we had told you that we were going to Shang Simla, but it’s the only way. I love Autumn and Ciel, and I love you. I don’t want any of you to get hurt, but I’m afraid I can’t help it this time.

Misty is with me. Don’t try to follow us – by the time you read this we’ll be too far away for you to reach us.¬†

I love you. I love you so much, and I know that you’ll make a great mum. I know you didn’t want children yourself, but Rainy and Ciel would be in great hands if you could raise them for me. I’m sorry I can’t do it. I know they’ll love you as much as I did. Dad is old, and Wave is on his way to another country. You’re all they have.

Thank you for always having been there for me, and for having been an amazing big sister. 

I know you’ll be a great Mum to the twins. You’ve already¬†raised¬†one child who loves you.

Thank you,

Cari

For the first time since I had found the letters and had realised that my sister wasn’t at home, I cried. Realising that my tears were washing off the words from her last letter to me I quickly put the letter away from me, and just cried into my hands, not caring whether Dad heard me or not.

Miko, Cari’s dog since she had been a little girl and he had been a puppy, walked over to me and rubbed his head into my legs, whining.

“You know what’s up, too, huh.” If I hadn’t known better I could have sworn that the dog was crying. His eyes looked wetter than usually – or maybe my own view was just that watery?

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Suddenly, out of nowhere, a sharp pain pierced my heart and I doubled over, hiding my face in Miko’s fur like my sister had done so often. Miko began howling, and as I hugged him sobbing into his fur it felt like we were both holding onto each other.

Only seconds later I heard two small voices scream from their cribs upstairs. I did my best to steady my voice and quickly wiped my eyes with my shirt before pulling away and looking at Miko.

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“Come on, boy. Her children need us.” He gave me a pitiful bark in response, and together we made our way upstairs into Tacao’s old room which we had turned into a nursery.

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The twins were screaming as loud as newborns were physically capable off. Both of them were perfectly human. Any signs that they had been ghosts not ten minutes before were gone.

Gently, I picked up both of them and held them close.

“Your momma has left me in charge of you two, and I swear to Berry I won’t disappoint her.” Carefully, I lowered both of them in turn just enough for Miko to be able to sniff them. “This is Miko. He was your momma’s bodyguard, and now he is going to be yours.” My voice still wasn’t as steady as I would have liked it to be, but looking at my niece and nephew’s tiny faces I knew that they were what mattered now.

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I’ll raise them for you, Cari. I’ll make sure they’ll be all right.

And I’d make sure that they’d grow up knowing what kind of person their Mum had been, too.

6.27

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Autumn Rain.

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And Ciel.

Feeling defeated, I looked down at my two babies who had been born as ghosts. Not just my first born, but both. Both my babies were cursed.

Which also meant that the ghost was going to want two souls to lift the curse of them. I wasn’t going to be enough any more.

The silence in the room felt too heavy as Misty and I looked down on my babies. Who was going to…?

“It’s fine, Cari.” My eyes darted to her as her unusually quiet voice filled the silence. “I know I’m not their mother but I love them and I love you and-”

“No.” I couldn’t let Misty do it. I had already gotten her involved enough as it was, but I couldn’t let her do that.

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Yes. I’m coming with you, anyway. You can’t stop me. Besides, who else is going to volunteer?” Truth was, I knew that both Honey and Dad would have volunteered, had they known the full extent of what was going on. But they didn’t, and I wasn’t going to change that. That left only my other siblings, who I had kept out of this so far, and…

And Wave.

Who was just as innocent in this as I was and on his way to start over in some other country.

I shook my head, not knowing what to feel or say. I couldn’t let anyone step into this for me. But then what would happen to my baby? Would only one of them seek out the ghost eventually? Would I have to chose which one was to be saved and which one would remain a ghost?

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I swallowed hard, feeling tears sting my eyes.

How on earth was I supposed to chose between my babies?

I took a deep breath in, forcing myself to try and think this through calmly.

Autumn Rain was the first born. She was who I had promised to the ghost.

With shaking hands, I picked her up from her crib.

“Hello, sweetheart.” I felt Misty’s hand on my shoulder as my voice was breaking and a tear rolled down my cheek. In my arms, Autumn made little soft gurgling sounds in reaction to my voice. “Don’t worry. I won’t let her get you.”

“We won’t.” Misty added, picking up Ceil next to me. “And she won’t have you, either.”

I gave my daughter a kiss on her tiny forehead, then leaned over to Ceil who was softly cooing in Misty’s arms, and kissed him in the same spot.

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“Oh Berry, Misty, what am I going to do?” I held on to my daughter so tight I was worried I might squish her.

“Do we have a choice?” Misty’s voice was a controlled calm which I knew was fake. She felt no more steady than I did.

“You do. I don’t.”

“And you’re all right with that?”

“I’m their mother. I love them.” Slowly, I inhaled Rainy’s scent, wondering whether I’d be able to bring out another word without bursting into tears.

How had I ever thought that I had run out of tears?

“Then I don’t have a choice, either.”

My eyes settled on Misty who’s eyes were starting to look red.

“You do! I’m the one who-”

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“Cari, when I suggested that maybe, we could get married eventually, I was serious. When I suggested that maybe, once these two were old enough we could try to have a child together, I wasn’t kidding. Sooner or later, these two would have been mine. And I already love them like they are. You’re going to China? Well, tough, I’m coming with you and if that ghost has to sacrifice me so we can be sure that both of these beauties are safe than so be it.”

I felt my nose burn and my eyes sting. This was not what I had wanted. I had come to terms with having to die to save my baby. But Misty dying for my other baby? I couldn’t-

“I love you. And I love these two. We would have raised them together, anyway, right? I would have been as much their momma as you are. Y’know, apart from the biological part. I want to see them safe as much as-” Tears ran down Misty’s cheeks and her voice failed as we instantly realised what she had just said.

Neither of us would see them save. Or grow up. Or hear them laugh. Once we were on our way to China, that was it. I was never going to see my babies again and neither was Misty. Berry, I wasn’t even going to find out who they took after more. Whether their hair was blue or orange.

Carefully, I placed Autumn back in her crib and waited until Misty had tugged in Ceil.

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Then I threw myself into her arms and didn’t care who heard me cry.

“I’m s-sorry! I should n-never have t-told you any of this! M-maybe the gh-ghost wouldn’t ha-have- M-maybe I’d only h-have one b-”

“Oh, stop it! They are both gorgeous and you know you wouldn’t wish either of them away!” I sobbed all the harder because I knew that she was right. I didn’t want anyone to have to die to end this, but now that I knew that there were two babies I couldn’t just wish that one of them had never been born. They both deserved a chance at life, even if it meant ending ours.

I hated the idea of Misty coming with me. But I didn’t know who else I would have picked, either. This couldn’t have been fair on anyone but me.

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I was the silly one who had gotten herself cursed, because she had stupidly walked into a cave in China which looked sinister even from the outside! Had I been smarter none of this would have happened! Had I been smarter I wouldn’t-

I held onto Misty as tight as I physically could.

Had I been smarter, neither of my babies would be here now. Their ghostly forms made it hard to tell for sure, but I thought I could see little smiles on their little faces.

How could I possibly wish them away?

“Maybe I can convince the ghost to only take me. Maybe you can still-”

“We both know she won’t do that. We might as well accept that now.”

Trying very hard to breath steadily and failing, I was grateful that both Dad and Honey had granted us some alone time with the babies.

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Both of them had been with me when I had given birth, as had Misty. Since neither of us had known how exactly a ghost birth would work we hadn’t dared to go to the hospital. Each time I had gotten an ultrasound the nurse had commented on how oddly faint the picture looked.

I thought that most likely also explained how we had missed Rainy’s brother. If the picture had been too vague to see one baby, another could have easily hidden behind it. Though I didn’t know if that was normal or if the ghost had manipulated the equipment somehow.

Slowly, I nodded. Misty was right. There was no way I’d be able to convince the ghost to only sacrifice me for whatever ritual she had in mind.

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“There is one good thing in all this.”

“What’s that?”

“Do you remember I told you that I met this fairy on my family’s cemetery?” Misty nodded, confused about where I was going with this. “She gave me a present. She said if I make the right wish at the right time, the ghost won’t be able to keep me as her toy for all eternity. We’ll die, and we won’t see them grow up, but we’ll be free of her.” Gently, Misty snuggled her head into my shoulder briefly before smiling at me.

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“What is it with you and non-humans?”

The smile that briefly flashed up on my face felt wrong, and it was gone again before I could try to enjoy it for just a little bit.

“We’ll be fine. In a way.”

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“Yes. We will.” Misty flashed me another brief smile before kissing me and pulling me into her arms. “We’ll be all right.”

*

We didn’t go to China right away. First we researched flights in secret so that neither Honey nor Dad could suspect anything and so that we’d be able to get one late in the evening. Dad was often tired from work and his age, and Honey had to get up early for her job at the local movie studio, so both of them went to bed early.

After a few days we found a flight that left at 10.15pm. All we’d have to do was tell Honey and Dad – if they were still awake then – that we were going on a brief walk once the babies were asleep, and they’d never realise in time that we were gone.

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So that’s what we did. Both me and Misty spent as much time with Autum Rain and Ciel as possible in our first and last week together.

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When the evening came for us to leave, we asked Dad to keep an eye on the babies should they wake up while we were gone, and left like we really were just going for a walk. Praying that neither saw us I placed the letters for everyone in the mailbox before we walked into town, from where we called a taxi which brought us right to the airport. Sunset Valley was enough of a tourist town to have its own airport, so the drive didn’t take twenty minutes.

While we bought the tickets and waited for our plane to begin boarding I kept my eyes peeled on the entrance and windows, half expecting Honey to come running through the doors and begging me to stay, but nothing happened.

Sharp at 10pm the flight attendant called our flight number for boarding, and the few passengers the flight had entered the gangway.

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The plane left the ground and I felt an odd sense of relief at what we were about to do.

 Because now that we had left Sunset Valley there was nothing Honey or Dad could do to stop us.

6.26

I grew up quickly after that. More than a little early, and without a birthday party. I just woke up one morning after I had talked to Ana and was older. I hadn’t even felt it happen. Everyone figured that it was because I was pregnant – and technically, they weren’t wrong, even if it was a bit more complicated than that. I knew it was because of the grown-up decision I had made. Or was it grown-up? Surely anyone in my situation would have decided to do what’s right for her children? I didn’t feel grown-up. I felt just as self-conscious as I had always done.

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After that it didn’t take long until my clothes no longer fit, and I had to go out to buy maternity wear. Soon after that I was undeniably pregnant. My baby bump was small still, but I was three months into my pregnancy so it was visibly there. If that hadn’t been the case the morning sickness would have reminded me.

Having brought up five children before and having been part of three pregnancies, Dad knew what to do and was a huge help. He insisted I buy pregnancy books and made me go to the doctor’s for regular check-ups. When I had the first ultrasound done everyone had come with me – Dad, Honey, Misty, and even Sal had gotten the day off work just to come along. She insisted she was perfect for this since she was pregnant, too, and would be able to pass advice on to me – that I was further along than she was didn’t seem to matter to anyone, everyone simply marvelled at the baby.

All of us went into town afterwards for ice cream, and had sat down in the park to eat it. The whole day had felt so normal that I had almost forgotten all about the ghost and her curse.

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Dad was so caring and so understanding that eventually, around my fifth month of pregnancy and on a day of particularly sore feet, I decided to tell him.

I didn’t tell him everything, but I told him that I had been cursed, and that the baby would most likely turn out to be a ghost because of that. I didn’t say anything about what I was planning to do about it. The day in the park had been so… normal, that I wanted more days like this rather than spent my last months with everyone frowning and crying.

And somehow, normalcy was exactly what I got.

Misty moved in with us, and we shared my room like a proper, grown-up couple. Since Misty was older than me and Wave she had already celebrated her birthday a few months before she moved her things in with us. We were both officially young adults now – just, I didn’t feel like an adult, and I couldn’t easily picture Misty as one, either.

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Even though we shared a bed now Misty didn’t pressure me into anything I wasn’t comfortable with. We did share a lot of time in m- in our room, but most of the time we just… kissed, and she held me reassuring me that everything was going to be all right.

I knew I had to tell her what I had decided on doing, but I had no idea how or when. Was there ever going to be a good time to tell her that I was going to die? Were there any good words for it?

Every day I wanted to say something, and every day I put it off. Until one day, I felt like I no longer had a choice.

Misty suggested that maybe, once the baby was old enough, we could try for a baby of our own, maybe even get married. I knew that she didn’t mean right now, but I felt unfair letting her think that I wanted all those things when in reality I wouldn’t be around to do either.

That’s when I told her. She reacted as I had expected. As anyone would react. But she also composed herself again very quickly.

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“I’m coming with you.”

I didn’t know what to say to that. I had expected her to cry, to beg me to stay, but this I- I couldn’t let her come with me.

“No.” I had sounded a lot more confident in my head.

“Please? Let me come with you, Cari, I can’t just let you go by yourself!”

“I…”

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“Besides, what if it goes better than you think? We don’t know much about ghosts, for all you know she’ll have a change of heart!”

“She won’t…” I didn’t need to know her that well to know that she wasn’t going to change her mind about sacrificing me. The more I thought about it the more I believed that this had been the whole point of her game from the beginning. It had never been about watching me suffer, or about gaining my child as her toy. It had always been about sacrificing me on that stone altar at the end of it. Now that she was close to getting it she wasn’t going to back down. Especially not for my sake.

“And if she does? Just let me come with you. Besides, no one should be alone when they- You shouldn’t be alone, either. The ghost has no issues with me, right? I’ll be fine, and I’ll be with you.”

I could tell from the sound of her voice that she was struggling to hold back tears, but was trying to stay strong for my sake. And I did want her there with me. Kind of. But what if the ghost would find it more amusing to use both of us?

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“I’m coming with you.” A small smile crept up on my lips. I knew when I had lost, and there was no arguing with Misty. Especially not when the second arguing person was me.

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We snuggled up on our bed after that and stayed like that for a while. I also finally let her go this next step further, and… well, I only regretted that we wouldn’t be able to do it for much longer before it was time.

Wave had made no attempts of visiting me. Or maybe he had but the thought of my siblings uniting against him had kept him away.

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Misty said that he had nearly run into me once when we had been out in town, but he had turned around when he had seen me. The sight of my growing belly was too much for him, and a constant reminder of just how wrong things had gone.

About two months before my due date, Misty told me that Wave was leaving the country. She thought he was a coward for running away, and Dad and Honey readily agreed with her. Dad was angry that he was leaving, and Honey thought he was taking the easy way out. I didn’t know what to think. A small part of me agreed with them. A bigger part of me felt bad for him. He hadn’t agreed to any of this, either. He hadn’t meant to… do the things he had done, and he definitely hadn’t wanted me to get pregnant because of it. He hadn’t meant to be possessed by some ghost and be forced to do things.

I couldn’t blame him for wanting to leave. Maybe he could start over elsewhere. Maybe one day, he’d come around and be a dad to our child, but if he didn’t I couldn’t hold it against him. This was far more than either of us could have expected.

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The saying ‘If life gives you lemons make lemonade‘ just wasn’t put into practice as simply as people always made it out to be.

One month before my due date I sat down and wrote down everything that I could think off for my baby. In case the ghost ever decided to come back and trick him or her.

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I mentioned the scholar we had met in Moonlight Falls, I mentioned everything I had learned so far about this curse and why I did what I was going to do, and I mentioned Ana. That she had said that one day, there’d be another solution, but that there wasn’t right now. Maybe if the ghost ever did come back for more my child would be able to do something about it. If what Ana had meant was to happen soon enough.

More importantly, I wrote letters. One for Honey, to explain to her where we had gone. One for Dad, to explain to him what I had done. And several letters for my baby. One for each important birthday.

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And then, suddenly, it was time.

6.25

Mum…¬†

Just like every night before, it was quiet. There was some faint noise that the wind carried over from Sunset Valley, but overall it was quiet. It was just me, and the soft rustling of the leaves.

Disappointed, I reached her grave.

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Mum, are you there?

I had come to our family graveyard every night for two weeks now. If there was an insane ghost haunting a cave in China, why couldn’t my family still be around our cemetery from time to time? Or did it not work like that?

“Mum, I… Do you know what I can do?” If there even was anything. Like I had done every night up until now, I stared at her tombstone and wondered what she had been like. If she could see me.

Here rests

Mango Janna Pavlova

The One I Loved.

Beloved Mother of

Cari Mango Lace.

Dad had told me about her loads of times, but it wasn’t the same. Mum and her family had originally been from China. Maybe if she had still been alive she could have told me how to fix this.

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My eyes wandered over to the small framed picture behind her final resting place. The other pictures of my ancestors all showed them with their partners, holding each other and looking happy. Mum and Dad’s picture only showed them as children. Dad had explained to me why that was many times, but I still wished there was a proper picture of my Mum. Something to tell me what she had looked like.

Dad said it was better this way. He said this picture represents a time when they were still happy, before all the madness started.

“I guess your grandma was right, Mum. Ghosts do exists.”

Before now I had never come up here much. Or family cemetery was a little way out of town, near the science facility but still a twenty minute walk away from that into the countryside. There was a small path that led to it from the facility, but mostly it was quiet and didn’t have many people walking past.

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Especially not as late as this.

I had really hoped that Mum, or anyone, from my family might appear. Maybe they’d know how I could fix this. Someone was bound to know something, I just hadn’t found them yet. Surely ghosts were more likely to know about ghost related things?

So far I had had no luck. It had been two weeks, and no-one had appeared to me once.

Sighing, I let my head sink in defeat. Even the scholar in Moonlight Falls hadn’t been able to tell me anything, and he had spent a lot of time researching the topic. Why would my family know? As far as I knew no one else had ever been afflicted by a curse. What were the odds of someone walking into a cave and running into an insane, evil ghost? How many people could this happen to?

Only me.

I let myself sink down onto the cool grass, going over everything that had happened over the last two months again. Even if nothing happened while I was here, it was still nice to take my mind of things. Like being cursed and having gotten my baby cursed. Or being alone at night on a dark cemetery.

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Tacao had grown up, and had moved out. Now there was just me – I was the only teenager left in the family. Everyone was getting jobs and was doing well, and I-

Things had gone well for a little while, but then the ghost had tricked me and I had walked right into her trap. Now my child would be born a ghost.

My baby would have no future prospects. It would seek out the ghost who had done this and become her plaything just like I had been hers.

And there was nothing I could do about it.

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Dad had been very calm about everything. On the surface, at least, but I knew that he was mad at Wave and I could see him ball his hands into fists whenever the doorbell or the phone rang, just in case it was him.

And I couldn’t blame him. I couldn’t tell him that I had been cursed. It was bad enough that I had gotten Honey and Misty involved, I wasn’t going to get him mixed up in this as well.

Just… Once my child was born there’d be no denying that something had happened. Neither Wave nor I were ghosts. I wouldn’t be able to explain to him or my other siblings what had happened.

I sighed, deeper than before.

There had to be something I could do.

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Dad and I had had a chat about my… options. He had asked me what I wanted to do, and I had considered abortion for a brief moment, but I couldn’t do something like that. I had been raped. I was the one who had gotten herself cursed. The baby had had nothing to do with it.

For a short while I had wondered if maybe, it would be kinder to get an abortion. If it lived it would have no prospects in life, and that was if it somehow didn’t end up as the ghost’s toy. Would it be kinder if I…?

I didn’t say any of that to Dad, but I didn’t need to. I realised on my own that I couldn’t deny my child whatever chance it may have had, and finally settled on having the baby.

Dad was proud of me. He thought I was so strong, but he was tired. Neither I nor Honey could remember when we had last seen him smile genuinely. It seemed that these days Dad had a constant frown on his face, and I often reminded myself that no matter what was happening to me now, Dad had had a pretty hard life himself. First his wife secretly used him for her father’s business, then he cheated on her with my Mum, then his wife left him, then Mum died and suddenly he’s a single father of five, and now he has to deal with my problems on top of that. And he didn’t even know all of it.

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He was so patient, and made a point of speaking to me every day to see how I was doing, if the baby had kicked yet (even though I wasn’t showing yet) and if he could get me anything. I even saw him smile every now and again and I thought that for the first time in a long while, my Dad had found a reason to smile again. It wasn’t often, but it happened, so neither me nor Honey wanted to spoil it.

But between my Dad’s compassion and Tacao’s birthday, nothing was as surprising as Salvia’s announcement that she was with child herself. Her pregnancy was an accident, but she said she knew who the father was but didn’t want to start a relationship with him just because there was a baby involved now. I knew she had always been more reckless when it came to love – or her definition of it – but I had never imagined she’d have a baby so soon after moving out.

So my Dad suddenly had two grandchildren to look forward to – even if he needed some time to come to terms with the idea of Salvia being careless doing… that, and me having gotten pregnant after I had been raped.

I couldn’t blame him. It had taken me a while to think the whole r-word, too, let alone say it out loud.

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“Dad is amazing, Mum. He often says that Honey jumped in and raised me, so I guess you could say that Honey is more my step-mum than my sister, but it doesn’t feel that way.” I loved Dad, and I loved Honey. Some days even I wasn’t sure if I loved her as my big sister or if I loved her like a mother. I felt tears well up again, but swallowed them down easily.

Over the last two months I had gotten far too good at holding back tears.

“What if I can’t take care of it, Mum? What if I can’t protect it from the ghost?”

“There is one thing you can do.” I jumped violently and turned around faster than I knew I was capable of, staring into the direction the quiet, soft voice had come from.

Was it maybe…?

The moment my eyes found whoever had just answered me I knew that it wasn’t.

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I knew that I was staring at her, but I couldn’t really help it. There was a fairy on my family’s graveyard, in Sunset Valley. Since when were fairies living here? Were there more? Had she always lived here and I just hadn’t noticed?

The fairy smiled at me, and something about it calmed me down. “It’s all right. I am sorry if I startled you. I have come to offer you help, if you wish to hear what I know.”

My legs shaking a little, I walked towards her. She definitely wasn’t a ghost, and she didn’t seem evil. I didn’t get the same feeling from her as I had always gotten with the ghost.

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“I’m sorry, this is supposed to be a private cemetery. It’s not open to the public.” What was that she had said? She had come to help me? How would she even know what I needed help with?

“I apologise for intruding. I mean no harm to you or your family. I simply wish to offer you guidance, but I understand if you would prefer it if I leave.”

“I don’t-” I tried to remember if I knew her from somewhere, if I had at least seen her around town before, but nothing came to mind. I didn’t know her, so why did she think that she could help me with something that I had kept quiet from most of my family? “I’m sorry, do we know…?”

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A warm smile spread on her face, so completely different to the smile the ghost had always shown me. Even the fact that I was alone on a graveyard at night didn’t bother me any more. I just felt save. Perfectly save.

“We haven’t met. My name is Anakiwa, but you may call me Ana, if you wish. A long time ago I knew one of your ancestors, but she passed on long before you were born.”

“You-” How was that possible? Did fairies really live that long? “Who did you know?”

“A self-conscious but very sweet girl called Ivy. Her grave is just over there.” I followed her nod to two tombstones and the photo of a green woman with grey hair and a turquoise man. I recognised him from pictures around our house, and I definitely recognised her from the large portrait in our corridor.

The large picture we had of her said Pale¬†Ivy underneath it, but then so did her tombstone. Her knowing her name didn’t prove anything, but I wasn’t sure how else she could prove to me that she was telling the truth. I knew nothing about Ivy myself.

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“How did you know her?”

A sad smile replaced her happy one from a moment ago, but it was no less friendly.

“Ivy came to me when she was deeply troubled about something. I wasn’t a fairy back then, and the people of this town called me a witch. Ivy didn’t know if she could trust me to know how to help her, but she came to me regardless.” The fairy’s, Ana’s, eyes seemed very far away, but it only lasted a short moment before her playful smile was back and she was focused on me. “Much like you are now, Cari.”

I knew I should have been more suspicious, and with every other person in this world I would have been, but I instinctively knew that Ana was nothing like the ghost. She actually did want to help me.

I could trust her.

“And could you help her?”

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“When I first saw what she was facing I felt terribly sorry for her. I offered her my advice as best as I could, and she continued to see me on occasion once she felt better. But she had trying times ahead of her, just as you have a difficult decision to make over the months to come.”

My eyes focused on hers, and I felt like all the tears I had been holding back over the past two months reflected in her eyes.

“You said there was one thing I could do.”

Ana nodded. “There is. But before I tell you what that thing is, you have to confirm something for me first.”

“And what’s that?”

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“Do you want this baby?” I felt so taken aback by her question that I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what I had expected, but this… Did I want this baby? I was young, probably too young to raise a child, and I didn’t know if I could protect it from the ghost who had cursed us, but I wanted this baby.

“If you’re asking me if I’d consider abortion- I’ve already made my decision.”

“And you know what the ghost will do to your child, don’t you?”

I swallowed, balling my fists remembering what the ghost had told me. “I know that the ghost wants my child as entertainment.”

“That is only the beginning of it. In the hands of the ghost, your child will suffer. Am I right in thinking that you want to avoid this if possible?”

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I nodded, hard. “I do.” I knew I had every reason to resent this baby, but once I had come to terms with being pregnant I had loved the child and I knew that over the following months I’d only love it more. It was my child, after all. It wasn’t even born yet, and already the world had treated it unfairly.

“Then there is indeed something you can do.”

“Tell me.” I took a deep breath in, steeling myself for what the fairy was about to tell me. When she spoke, her words weren’t as much of a shock as they should have been.

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“I’m sorry. You will have to die.” Slowly, I breathed out, nodding to myself more than to Ana.

Hadn’t the ghost predicted as much? Hadn’t she told me that one day, I’d ask her to sacrifice me?

“What do I have to do?”

“The ghost wants a soul, but more than that she wants entertainment. She had your soul, but you traded it for the life of your first child. In order to save your child, you have to offer her your soul back. A soul for a soul.”

“And my child will be normal?”

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“Yes.”

“And will I be trapped with the ghost?” A warm smile entered Ana’s face.

“Under usual circumstances, you would be. However, the ghost didn’t plan for you to meet a fairy.” Ana winked at me playfully, and I wondered if the rumours that fairies resembled little children in nature were true. “She wants you to think that she is all powerful, but she is not. She is an all spiteful spirit, but she doesn’t hold as much power over you as she thinks she does.”

“What do you mean?”

“It means that I can spare you eternity as her slave. Hold out your hands.”

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Without thinking, I did as she asked. Beautiful little lights, similar to fireflies, appeared in the fairy’s hand and slowly poured into mine.

“I will find you with this when the time comes. More importantly, this grants you one wish. Use it wisely, Cari.” I nodded, understanding completely. “I have told you what I know. Whether you use it is up to-”

“I will. My child will be free of her.” And I wouldn’t have to spend all eternity with the ghost. I would still die, and I wouldn’t see my child grow up, but my baby would be save. This was more than I had hoped for.

“Then when the time comes, speak your wish out loud while holding onto what I just gave you. Let it go with the wind once you are done, and your wish shall be granted. But be precise, Cari. Be clear about what you want when making a wish.” I nodded. This didn’t seem too hard, but one thing still confused me.

“Why are you doing this for me?” We had never met, Ana had said so herself and my Ivy was long dead. I was a complete stranger to her. There was no reason for her to be so kind to a stranger.

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“Because I wish to help you. Is that not enough?” I wanted to say no, but stopped myself. Wanting to help someone should have been enough of a reason, I just… She didn’t even know me! There was one more thing I needed to know. If she could save me from becoming the ghost’s slave, if she had this knowledge about curses, maybe she’d be able to do this, too.

“Can you do something about the ghost? Can you ban her?”

A sympathetic frown spread on her lips. “I wish I could, Cari, but such is not within my power. There is nothing more you could do for your child. One day, there will be. But right now, this is all there is.”

I felt the tears well up again and had a much harder time to keep them down. My baby would be safe because a fairy had decided to help me. My baby would be fine, and I wouldn’t have to stay with the ghost for all eternity. I would die, but thinking about it now I realised that I had accepted that a long time ago.

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This was the best possible outcome. The fix I had been looking for.

And it was all because a fairy I had never met had randomly decided to help me.

“Thank you.”

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“You are welcome. It seems I am drawn to your family for no reason I can-” Before I had a chance to think too much about it, I hugged Ana. I wouldn’t have much time to be grateful to her, but for the last few months of my life I would appreciate what she had done for me and my child with every day.

Because finally, I had found the fix I had been looking for.

Finally, everything really would be all right.

6.24

“Cari.” I had been trying to ignore her voice for what seemed like hours, but it was getting harder to pretend that she wasn’t giggling softly in the back of my mind. Her voice sounded too sweet, like a bee moments before it stings you, but even then the cold in it seeped out. The hint of her victory which she wasn’t trying to hide now that she had it.

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“Do you like the twist I added, my plaything?” I didn’t know how long I had been lying on my sofa like this. I hadn’t moved since Wave had left, but when had that been? Ten minutes ago? An hour ago? Ten hours ago?

My whole body was aching. My head felt like it was about to split open, and the sound of her satisfied laughter only made the feeling worse.

I tried to move my hand, and when it responded I wrapped it around my arm gripping hard despite knowing  that all efforts of protecting myself were coming too late.

“I only thought of it in the last moment, but don’t you think it adds a nice piece of irony?” I didn’t want to hear another whisper in my mind, but knew that she wasn’t going to leave until she was happy. She never did. She could do what she wanted, and there was nothing I could do about it. I really was her plaything.

I didn’t know what else I could possibly have given her. She already had everything she had wanted from me.

“I know you can hear me, Cari. Ignoring me isn’t going to help you now, but you already know that, don’t you? Nothing is going to help you now. You’re mine. You’ve always been mine.”

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A tear rolled down my cheek, and I felt my throat tightening up again.

I was pregnant.

I was definitely, without a doubt, pregnant. Because there was no way she would go to such lengths and mess up part way through. Even if she had – would it have mattered? Couldn’t she just possess Wave again until I was pregnant?

But I already was, so it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered.

“Don’t you think it was clever that he fulfilled my wish on your sofa? After all, it already nearly happened there once – I thought it was a nice sentiment, wouldn’t you say?”

And I couldn’t even hate Wave for it, because Wave hadn’t done it. He had been played by the ghost as much as I had been. The only ones I could blame were the ghost and myself. The ghost, for obvious reasons, and myself, because I should never have entered that cave to begin with. And because I should never have promised her my first-born child.

More tears rolled down my face, but my face was so numb by now that I didn’t feel them any more.

“Aren’t you excited, Cari? You’ll be giving birth to a ghost- Oh, I’m so sorry!” I could see her ugly smirk in front of me without needing to physically see it. The look of it had burnt itself into my memory clearly enough for me to picture it just fine now. My stomach clenched uncomfortably at her words, and I thought I was going to be sick. Could humans even…?¬†“I never told you that part, did I! How silly of me.”

So my child was to be born a ghost. Even if I somehow managed to keep it save, it would never have a good life. Not like that. My child would never fit in.

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I had been so stupid.

I had been so, so stupid.

“Oh, don’t feel bad! Your little one will seek me out so quickly you probably won’t have time to get to know him, anyway. That’s something, now, isn’t it?”

I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t sure I still knew how to speak.

“This is so exciting! And it looks like you get to explain what happened in a few brief moments! You poor thing – I sure would hate to be you right now!” Her laughter echoed painfully in my head, and I wished it would just burst open already. That way, all my problems would be solved in one quick, easy fix.

“Don’t think just because you can’t hear me it means that I’m gone! I’m always watching, remember? Now, go and amuse me, my plaything. Make our last nine months worth my time.”

And just like that, she was gone from my mind. No more laughter, no more smirking, no more-

Just, she was still there. I knew she was still there. I could feel her somewhere, at the back of mind, like she was a dream I was trying to remember.

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True to her word, the door to my dojo opened, and I felt sick. How was I going to explain to Dad that I was pregnant? That Wave had been possessed by a ghost who had made him ra- How was I going to explain it to Honey? To Misty?

Not sure if I was still crying or not, I listened to my sister’s footsteps as she entered my dojo.

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“Cari? Are you in here?” If I tried hard enough I could just about see her through the gaps in the wall, but it hurt my eyes to keep them open, so I closed them again.

“There you are! Did you sleep in here last night? Dad and I were worried when you didn’t come to bed but we thought you were just train- Were you crying?” I didn’t need a mirror to know that my make-up must have left dark, smudgy trails when it had dried on my face, so there was no reason for me to speak. The answer she needed was right there, on my face.

When I didn’t respond, Honey rushed across the room and bent down besides me. “Cari, look at me.” But I kept staring blankly ahead. My eyes were hurting so badly I wanted to keep them closed for the rest of my life, but closing them meant that I had to move them, and I didn’t want to move a muscle. “Can you sit up?”

My sister’s fingers were gently brushing against my cheeks, and I felt new tears well up. Barely visibly, I nodded.

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“Good. Would you mind sitting up for me so I can look at you properly?” Since nothing made sense any more no matter what I did, I sat up. “Let’s see… You don’t seem to be injured as far as I can tell. Are you hurting?”

I nodded.

“Where?” Since I wasn’t sure how to signal her that I was hurting everywhere, inside and out, I continued to stare at my feet. “Here. Come on, let me help you up.” Not convinced that my feet would carry me I let Honey pull me to my feet.

The moment I was standing more or less upright she pulled me into her arms, and I started sobbing the second her arms had closed around me and her hand was stroking slowly over my back.

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How did I still have tears left? Shouldn’t I have run out by now?

“It’s all right. Tell me what happened.” It’s all right. Growing up Honey had said those words to me a lot. Whether I had scraped a knee or done badly on a test at school, she had somehow always fixed everything by telling me that everything would be all right.

For once, I couldn’t believe her, because for once I knew better than her.

“It’s okay. Take your time. We don’t have to leave until you’re feeling better.” I still didn’t want to get her involved in this, I really didn’t, but she was so understanding, and so calm, and I-

“WhenwewenttoCh-ChinaIw-wentintothisc-caveandtherewasthisg-ghostandshec-cursedmeandIthoughtIwasgoingtod-diebutsheofferedmethisd-dealandIacceptedit!”

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“Wait, slow down. What’s that about a ghost?”

I took a deep breath in as best as I could with my breath shaking as much as it did, and started over.

“When we w-went to China I went into a cave. A g-ghost was inside it and she c-cursed m-m-me. I tried to find a cure, but there isn’t one! I was g-going to d-d-die! But she offered m-me a d-deal and I t-took it and I- I-”

And I had never been such an idiot. Had I really thought that she wouldn’t find a way? Why else would she have suggested it in the first place?

She always won. I knew that now.

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I was stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

And now I had gotten Honey involved.

“Sssh, it’s okay.” Even Honey didn’t sound so sure any more. “What was the deal?”

“She s-said… She s-said I could be n-normal again, if I gave her s-something.”

“And you accepted?” I nodded, really hoping she wouldn’t ask for details, but of course she wanted to know the rest. “What did you have to give her?”

I really didn’t want to have to look into her eyes for this, but she held me slightly away from her and looked right into mine.

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“My f-first child.”

“But you’re with Misty, Cari. The procedure for same-sex couples to have a baby is still too risky, I’d never let you do it.” Honey gave me a smile, but it did nothing for me. “You’re not going to have any biological children, but you can always adopt! If you and Misty even stay together. You’re both young, right? See? It’s fine! There’s nothing to worry about as long as you don’t go through with the pr-” Before my sister could finish her well-meant explanation, the door flew open and we heard feet run across the floor.

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“Cari! Oh Berry, I only just woke up in our garden and I- Oh fudge, Cari, I’m so sorry!” We both stared as Wave stood bending over right there, in front of us, looking every bit as miserable as I was.

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“Wave! What do you-” Again he cut off Honey who was staring at him, not quite grasping yet what he was apologising for.

Fudge! Cari, you have to believe me! I didn’t mean to- I didn’t want to- Berry, I remember what I did, but I swear to the great Berry above I didn’t want to do it! I didn’t- It wasn’t me!” Wave had never sounded so desperate before. His own voice was shaky, and I thought I could see tears building up in his eyes, too.

But it wasn’t enough to stop Honey. I watched as realisation replaced the confusion in her eyes, and she stepped between me and Wave, no longer staring but glaring.

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“What did you do.”

“I- Fudge!” His voice failed, and ended in a high pitch I hadn’t known boys were capable of as Honey stepped right in front of him. “I didn’t- It wasn’t me! Cari, please! I’d never-”

“Get out.”

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No! Please, Cari, let me just-”

“There is nothing that you can say either to me or my sister that will make right what you did. Get. Out.”

“If you just let me talk to her alone for just a mi-”

Before I could say anything at all Honey had slapped him hard across his cheeks. “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I leave you alone with her ever again. Now get the fudge out.”

“I’m sorry.” Hanging his head in defeat, he slumped over, looking as hopeless as I was feeling.

“I’m telling her brothers what you did. I’m telling her other sister what you did. I’m telling Dad what you did. If we see you here again your Kung Fu skills won’t protect you.”

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With that, Wave left. I knew he was crying, but he got out so fast that I couldn’t see his face properly before he was gone.

“I-” I didn’t know what to say, but I felt I had to say something. If there was anything I could say.

“It’ll be all right, Cari, I promise. We’ll figure something out. Why don’t you sit down for now, and I’ll just give Misty and your brothers a call.” I was grateful that Honey didn’t blame any of this on Misty, but I couldn’t sit down.

I couldn’t move at all.

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“Hi, Sal, it’s Honey. … Yeah, I’m fine, but I need you and Cam to come over as soon as you can. … No, not me. Cari. … Okay, I’ll see you in a bit.”

“Honey, I-”

“It’ll be fine. I promise you, Cari, we’ll figure something out. I’ll just give Misty a call and then we can get you upstairs and showered, okay? You probably want to shower. Then you can lie down while I tell Dad what happened.”

I nodded, not sure what else to say.

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I had to tell her that there was nothing she could do. As much as I loved her right now for everything she was doing for me, I had to tell her that the ghost had already won, no matter what she did.

But right now, in that moment, I couldn’t do that to her.

6.23

It was amazing how much quicker life flew by when things were going well, and you were happy. Before I knew it six months had passed since I had made the promise to the ghost, and it had been six months of bliss.

Six months without any transparency, or invisibility, or ghost-transformation. I was just human again. A normal human, as I should have been.

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It took me nearly two months to accept that the curse really was over, but once I had come to terms with it I had gone to buy new clothes. My old ones from before the curse no longer fit me, and I felt like new ones would set a better statement to myself, too. No more curse, no more fear of turning into a ghost at any given moment. No more old clothes which I had when I first got cursed.

Something new just seemed more appropriate.

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Misty and I enjoyed my new ‘freedom’ as well. Even though she had never been bothered by the transparency, and had actually liked that she could make me turn invisible sometimes when she kissed me, she was happy to know that it was over, too. No more fearing for my life – from either of us.

No more fear of dying before I reached my next big birthday. We could just be together like a normal couple, and not have to worry about whether today might be our last day together before the curse caught up with me.

At first I had been reluctant, but once I had my new clothes and had accepted that I was me again we went out more often. Before I had been worried about suddenly missing a hand while sunbathing on the beach, or suddenly turning into a ghost in front of everyone in the middle of a busy high street, but eventually I went out to the beach with Misty.

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Sunset Valley was famous for its beaches, but we went back to the same one where we had first met. This time it was just her and me – no protective brothers watching every step she took, and no Salvia to drool over her, either.

I had felt a little uncomfortable at first, going into town and holding hands with Misty. I knew that Sunset Valley wasn’t exactly opposed to same-gender relationships, but if you spent all your life expecting to be with a boy then going out with a girl can put you out of your comfort zone. I thought people might talk behind our backs, or glare and point fingers even, but nothing like that happened.

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When Misty surprised me by throwing her arms around me and kissing me, hard, in the middle of our busy High Street, and no one cared I was finally convinced that it didn’t matter.

Being with Misty was so different to the kinds of relationships that I had watched my siblings be in. Tacao had always lost interest quickly, and Cam and Salvia had only ever been interested in one thing and had usually broken things off once the initial excitement had worn off. Honey was somewhere in between, and hadn’t dated at all since she had started her career.

But I was happy. I was really happy with Misty. I had never seen any of my siblings be actually happy in a relationship – it had always been about the excitement, never about the love. Was what I had with Misty rare? It felt so… good, that I had someone I loved and who loved me, that I just couldn’t understand why my siblings didn’t want the same thing. Misty reminded me that everyone was different, and that I was lucky to have found someone so early in my life, and I finally let her convince me.

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I knew we were still young, but after the first awkwardness between Wave and me it was nice to have her with me. I didn’t know if we were going to last forever, like in those cheesy movies Honey and I had sometimes watched, but I hoped that we would.

And now that the curse had been lifted we had that chance that we didn’t have before.

During the winter months Misty and I spent most days together, either at her place or at mine. Most of the time we were in my room or in my dojo since we didn’t want to make Wave uncomfortable by kissing in front of him. Salvia kept asking me whether we had done it yet and I told her that we didn’t want to rush into things.

Truth was, Misty was ready – I wasn’t. We had come… close, a few times, but we had never gone further than that. The closest we had gotten had been one day when we had been alone in my room. We had been sitting on my bed and chatting the whole time when Misty had started kissing me. Misty did this a lot – start kissing me in the middle of a conversation or when we had run out of things to say – and normally it didn’t bother me. Normally I liked it, and I did this time, too, but before I knew it I was lying on my back and Misty was kissing my neck, holding my arms down above my head.

We had never gotten that far before. Usually I really liked it when she kissed me, but in that moment I suddenly understood what Salvia had been on about when she had said that the excitement was the only important part.

For a short moment I just stared at her, and for an even shorter moment I wanted her to… to go on, but then her hand wandered down and I must have looked panicked, because she leaped off me and apologised.

“I’m so sorry, Cari. For a minute there you looked like you wanted… I’m sorry.” I didn’t know what to say because for a minute there I had wanted. But now the moment was gone, and I was relieved that I was still in my shirt and her hand was no longer where it had been a second ago.

“I’m sorry. I promise I won’t push you into anything you don’t want. We’ll wait until you’re ready.”

This was the first time we had really talked about… that. Misty admitted with a very blushed face that she had done… that… before, but it had been with a guy out of peer pressure and she said it was how she knew that she wasn’t into guys. She said that she had done things herself before, with herself, and would be able to guide me just fine when we did eventually go further,and it was my turn to blush. She kissed me and said it was adorable how innocent I was.

It was easy to forget that Misty was two years older than me most of the time, but sometimes she gave me a subtle reminder that she was more experienced in most things than I was.

Or maybe it was because she was more open-minded and straight forward than I was.

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After that we mostly held hands, and Misty gave me an occasional kiss, but it wasn’t as much as it had been. I knew she didn’t want me to feel pressured into anything, and I did want to go slowly, so I didn’t mind.

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When spring came around again we spent a lot of time in our garden in our pool and lounge chairs. Misty celebrated the end of her exams while I started to worry about my last few years at school. Misty would be having her next big birthday soon, whereas I was still going to be a teenager.

Was it even legal for us to be together like that? Misty told me not to worry about it, so I tried my best not to.

I had started going back to KungFu, too. One person had left, and there were two new members – one who was completely new to it and had only joined a few weeks back, and one guy who already had a black belt but had just moved into the area and wanted to continue here.

Since I had kept up my training in my own dojo, I caught back on again very quickly and was able to earn the next belt a couple of months after I had rejoined. I had told Wave that I wanted to come back a month before I actually did go back, and since then we had trained together in my dojo a couple of times a week.

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He was really good now. He had always seemed very skilled to me, but seeing him now made me realise how talented he really was.

The best part of it was that I got to see my best friend several times a week outside of school, and that we could do something together that we both really enjoyed. Neither of us ever brought up what had happened before, and we didn’t talk about the curse, either. We just picked up where we had left off, and I was happy with it that way.

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Sometimes Misty joined us in the dojo and watched or read a book while we trained, but she never joined in. She said that it wasn’t really her thing, and eventually admitted to me that she found me beating up that training dummy very attractive when I asked her if she didn’t get bored. From then on I was self-conscious whenever we trained with Misty around, so she stopped coming and just joined us afterwards or left when we started.

That’s when things became worse. Much worse.

Because this time, things were much more complicated.

Misty had already left before Wave and I had started our training, and Wave had just left about twenty minutes ago, so when I heard the door shut just after getting out of the shower I thought it’d be Honey or Dad calling me in for dinner. I quickly threw my clothes back on and didn’t bother with tying my hair back since I was probably just going to go to bed soon after dinner.

I wasn’t expecting to see Wave back.

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Just, it wasn’t Wave. Even from this distance I could easily tell that it wasn’t really him.

And I had nowhere to run. The only way out of my dojo was blocked by Wave, and he was stronger than me on a normal day. But now? Like that?

I felt panic rise up inside me. I tried to remember what the easiest way out was, but I couldn’t come up with anything short of running past him. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get out that way, so my only other option left was talking to him and hoping that he’d snap out of it. And I didn’t think that I had a big chance doing that, either.

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But since it was the only chance I had, I had to try. “Wave, you’re b-back? Did you f-forget something?” I was trying to stay calm when every fibre of my being told me to run for it anyway, even though I’ never get out if I tried that.

I felt my heart drop while speeding up at the same time. I had never felt so trapped, except-

It felt exactly like it had done when I had been down in that cave with the ghost. Hopeless, with no way out.

If Wave had heard me, he didn’t give me an answer. He started walking towards me, and I saw a gap between us and the door. Against my better judgement, I ran.

Wave was faster than me, and snatched me up like I weighed nothing. I tried to scream, hoping that Dad or Honey or someone might hear him, but before I could make any sound at all his hand was over my mouth, pressing down harder than what would have been necessary.

Effortlessly he carried me to my sofa pinning me down with his legs, one hand still covering my mouth and the other began tugging at my shorts.

I heard myself cry, I saw him move, and I noticed myself closing my eyes and turning my head away from him, but everything seemed to be happening to someone else. To someone who wasn’t me, like a movie, where all I could do was watch and accept it. No matter how much I struggled and tried to get away, Wave was stronger.

I couldn’t see her, but even with my eyes closed I could feel her in the room.

Within minutes after I had first seen him stand in the door it was over, and he left. He walked right out of my dojo, like he had all the time in the world, and left me lying there. The moment the door closed behind him her presence was gone, too, and I was alone.

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I was shaking, and almost immediately curled up on my sofa. I really wanted to get far away from it but at the same time I didn’t feel like I could move.

The ghost had found a way to get what she had wanted after all.

There was no doubt in my mind that she had succeeded, even though it shouldn’t have been possible.

No tests were needed to confirm what I already knew just lying there, sobbing to myself.

I was pregnant – and the ghost would take it away from me.