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The Legacy of Androva Series

Spooky Quilling - Friends

Happy Hallowe'en! 🎃 👻
Today's blog post contains the fifth and final Spooky Quilling prompt. It was Savannah at The Book Prophet who invented this challenge (thank you!!), and it's been so much fun to participate. You can read all about it here 😊

This last piece of writing didn't have to be scary, although you could make it scary if you wanted to. The story had to be about a group of friends and how they ended up spending their evening on Hallowe'en. The chance to invent more characters was (as ever) the best part for me. I went into the Spooky Quilling challenge thinking I would only have time to do a couple of the prompts, but they were so interesting I couldn't help trying them all. I hope you enjoy today's story, and thank you for reading!

“Are you coming to the party, or not?”
“You know I’m not.”
“Please, Zieka. We all miss her. Having this party doesn’t change that. The date only means something if you let it.” Oren gave his friend a look that was a mixture of sympathy and exasperation.
Zieka shook his head. “No.” He tried to push past, but Oren grabbed hold of his sleeve. Zieka huffed a frustrated sigh. “Oren, I can’t.”
“I don’t understand. Tonight of all nights, you shouldn’t be alone.” Oren frowned. “Please. Just for an hour? Come back to my house first and we’ll go together. No one will mind if you don’t dress up.” His frown deepened. “I’m worried about you.”
Zieka shrugged off the hand on his arm and stepped backwards. “Will you drop it?”
“No,” said Oren stubbornly. “Not unless you give me a better reason than just saying you can’t.”
Before he answered, Zieka glanced left and right to check that he wouldn’t be overheard. The parking lot was almost empty. Most students had left school as soon as the bell rang because everyone had Hallowe’en plans and it was far too cold to stand around talking.
“I really can’t,” he said. “I’m expected somewhere else. And it’s important. I can’t miss it. I won’t.” He paused. “Not even for you.”
“Not even for me? What does that mean?” Oren’s eyes widened. Before he could change his mind, he blurted out his question. “Are… are you admitting there’s something going on between us?”
For one long moment, neither of them spoke. Then Zieka turned away. “I don’t have time for this. I’m late.” He started walking.
“Wait,” said Oren, calling after him. “Wait. You can’t leave. You can’t… Zieka! Come back!”
Zieka sped up, hunching his shoulders. Oren watched Zieka cross the road and walk along the sidewalk until he disappeared from view. He got into his car and drove home, wondering how he was going to get through the evening without knowing how Zieka really felt. Part of him was horrified at what he’d said. His cheeks were still hot an hour later. But another part of him was burning with something other than embarrassment. It was curiosity. He’d told himself all semester that he and Zieka would only ever be friends. He’d believed it. But now he didn’t know what to believe.
After Oren had put on his vampire costume, carefully outlining his eyes in a perfect sweep of black liner, he unlocked his phone and scrolled through the photos in the instant messaging group they’d set up for the party. It would be their last and everyone wanted to make sure it would be one to remember. Once they graduated next summer, things would be so different.
Who am I kidding? he thought. Things are already different. When Revin died a year ago, run over by a speeding car on her way home from soccer practice, it had sent shockwaves through the whole school. Everyone knew Revin. She wasn’t just popular, she was good. The kind of person who lit up a room with her smile and make everyone feel like they were important.
She and Zieka had been the perfect couple. He’d been devastated, shuffling along the corridors from class to class like a ghost for months. His grades had plummeted. No one had been able to get through to him. Until one afternoon, Oren had been joking around during an English lesson, when spring was finally breathing life into the trees outside and the classroom windows were open for the first time that year.
Mr. Ditton had set them the task of reading aloud from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Oren had taken on the part of Benedick with enthusiasm. Steff, the girl reading Beatrice, had struggled to keep a straight face. Oren had spun round after delivering one of his character’s particularly cutting insults, to see that Zieka was laughing.
That had been the turning point. Gradually, Zieka had come back to life, and the days settled into a new version of normal. No one forgot about Revin, but it was easier to remember the happy times now that Zieka wasn’t huddled in the corner like a fragment of his former self. Oren and Zieka’s friendship had grown close over the long summer holiday.
When school began again, Oren could no longer ignore the fact that his optimistic heart was beating faster every time Zieka smiled at him. He did his best to behave the same as always, but there had been a couple of times when he’d caught Zieka looking at him with a puzzled expression. And now, in the space of one, “Not even for you,” he’d gone from ignoring his feelings to being consumed by them.
He was half-way to the party, smiling at the kids still out trick-or-treating, when he got a text from Steff.
Go and get him. If he misses this party, he’ll always regret it.
I can’t. He said he had to be somewhere else.
Do you believe that? I don’t. Go and get him.
Oren put his phone into his pocket and bit his lip. Then, pushing aside his doubts, he changed direction and headed for Zieka’s house. He wrapped his arms around his body as he walked. The temperature had dropped even lower as darkness fell and his costume was nowhere near warm enough.
When he turned the corner into the last street but one before his destination, he saw someone walking very fast on the opposite side of the street, head down and hood pulled up. Oren recognized Zieka immediately, and he stepped sideways into the shadows before Zieka looked up and saw him. Where was he going?
After following Zieka for ten minutes, Oren could no longer pretend they weren’t headed for the churchyard. The churchyard where Revin’s tombstone stood, so white and new compared to the older graves. He nearly turned back several times. Although he felt a bit sick at intruding on such a private moment, he also couldn’t bear the thought of Zieka being alone in his grief.
Zieka approached the grave slowly, then fell to his knees. Head bowed, he whispered something, his breath emerging from his mouth as a cloud of mist in the cold air. Oren watched in silence for a few seconds, then turned away. This was awful. He should never have come.
He had started to leave, when he heard a laugh. He was so shocked that he froze to the spot, unable to even look over his shoulder to see where it had come from. Then he heard a voice. Her voice. He tried to hold his breath, but it was impossible. In and out, his chest heaved with emotion, part fear and part hope. He was reminded of all the times he’d wished he could talk to her, one last time. Just to say goodbye.
“I can see you, Oren. Don’t think you can escape now.” Another laugh. Finally, he was able to turn around.
Revin?” he said.
She ducked into a small bow, then lifted her head and gave him a wide grin.
“How…? I mean…. y-you’re… you’re…”
“Dead? Is that what you’re trying to say? Well, I am. Almost.”
She took a few steps forwards, and so did Zieka. Oren glanced down to see they were holding hands, fingers entwined. Of course. His heart thudded with disappointment. Zieka leaned to whisper in her ear, and she nodded.
“I know, don’t worry,” she said. “We’ll tell him now. Will you explain it, or shall I?”
“You,” said Zieka. He looked at Oren with a small smile. “He should hear it from you.”
Oren swallowed in an attempt to get rid of the huge lump in his throat. I just want Zieka to be happy, he told himself. It doesn’t have to be with me.
“This is a one-time gig,” said Revin, her grin fading. “Coming back, I mean. It’s the anniversary of my death and I’m ready to move on.” She turned to Zieka and brushed his cheek with her thumb. Oren realized she was wiping away a tear. Zieka closed his eyes for a second. “We’re both ready,” said Revin. “But I can spend one more night in your world as long as someone will accompany me and bring me back before the sun rises. It’s one of the only benefits of dying on Hallowe’en.”
“I’m sorry I’m not at the party. I just wanted to say goodbye to Revin properly,” said Zieka. He reached out with his free hand towards Oren and then let it fall. “I don’t know if you and I… I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I just know I’m ready to try. I have to let go of Revin so we can both move on.”
Oren opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again, unable to put his thoughts and feelings into words.
“Oren has lost the power of speech,” said Revin, a teasing note creeping into her voice. “Now I really can die happy.”
She laughed. It was the same joyful and infectious laugh as always, and Zieka and Oren couldn’t help smiling. Suddenly Oren knew what to say. “About this party,” he began. “Why don’t we go? All of us, I mean. If you’ve got until sunrise, there’ll still be plenty of time to say goodbye.”
“I-I can’t,” stammered Revin, shaking her head. “How will we ever explain it?”
“Are there any actual rules to this thing apart from being back before sunrise?” asked Oren.
“Well… no. Not that I’ve been told.”
“It’s Hallowe’en,” said Oren, raising his eyebrows. “If a ghost can’t go to a party on Hallowe’en, when can they?”
“He’s got a point,” said Zieka, grinning.
“That… that would be kind of awesome.” Revin’s face lit up.
“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go. Besides, not all of us are almost dead like you. I’m freezing.”
Before Oren could start walking, Revin leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “I’m glad it’s you,” she said softly.
The three teenagers left the churchyard together. It was going to be an interesting night.

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