The author does not encourage any events this story may preach.
From that day onward… for better or for worse… in sickness and health… in life… and even in death…
Garry, have I ever asked you how your day was?
All she remembered doing was awkwardly mumbling a reply when he asked about hers. He could tell her about his, but all she would be able to offer were nods and repetitive hums that vibrated from her throat. He was the only reason they could have conversations. He would skillfully drop questions just in time to keep her speaking, but not overwhelm her at the same time. He would smile and egg her on, patiently waiting for her as she used what little vocabulary she had to answer him. Even as she stuttered, he would still listen, not in the way adults tolerate loquacious children but with interest, as if she was the best storyteller in the world. And by the end of their meetings, he would be the only one who got to know more about her, while he still remained a sort of mystery that kept her wondering in a corner of her mind. She knew that as time passed, she would learn to be more like him; she would learn more about him and the gap between them would just be a tiny crack like the one in his house that they hardly noticed. As time passed, she would…
Garry, have I ever properly returned your hugs?
He hugged her when they met. He hugged her when he was happy, he hugged her when he was scared; he hugged her just because he wanted to. Even when he hugged her because she was scared, she only remembered clinging to his shirt. His strong embraces tightly wrapped her in a blanket of warmth and comfort, and security. He smelt sweet – a fragrant of cologne that she was sure had a name to it, but had long been registered in her head as Garry’s smell. Sometimes it would be strong, like herb and resin, like earth after a rain. Sometimes it would be mild, having been diluted by his smell – his actual smell, and she liked to secretly sniff for it. She knew with time, she would finally find it in her to keep him in an embrace of her own. With time…
Garry, have I ever kissed you?
Whenever they parted ways, he would always bend his tall frame and place a long, gentle kiss onto her forehead, his large hand holding back her roof-like bangs. Then, he would pull back to his towering height and give her a smile that made her feel like she had just finished her favorite hot chocolate. She would still be touching the place where his lips has descended onto even as he waved at her one last time and disappeared around the corner. The day she craned to press a bashful kiss to his cheek should be soon…
Garry, have I ever told you how much I love you?
The lightning flashed. Then the thunder sounded.
His living room was dark, messy – dilapidated. The once colorful wallpapers all around the room had been carelessly torn down, hanging off the bricks in wrinkly, tattered scraps. The furniture looked like a hurricane had distributed them into the room – some slanted, some on their sides and some were simply broken. The only remotely acceptable pieces were a molting armchair, the coffee table accompanying it, and a tall stool that belonged to his study. Every time the windows blinked white, cans and containers could be seen scattered about the dirty floor – mostly empty beer bottles and half-eaten take-outs from various restaurants in the neighborhood with a generous side of unfinished cigarettes. The thick layer of dust that had accumulated couldn’t hide the traces of vomit spilled on the wood and rug.
The air, setting aside the stale odor that would clog up the throat of anyone who dared breathe it, hung low and thick.
She sat across from him, still and expressionless, knitted hands buried between her thighs. If her red eyes betrayed any emotions, the darkness was sure to keep them safely veiled. As the rain raged and slammed against the windows, she looked straight at him, searching for any indication that he was acknowledging her presence.
Whereas she was an expensive china doll with combed long hair pouring over a white shirt, neatly tied neckerchief and ironed skirt, he was no different from a filthy rag in his worn tank top and fraying trousers.
He sat across from her; his rangy figure slouched on the discolored armchair like a lifeless puppet that would only move when the tangled strings attached to its limbs were pulled. His skin was pale and pasty, as though someone had taken a knife to his throat and drained him of life. He leant his sallow cheek against his knuckles, dead blue gaze staring at nothing in particular from beneath his unkempt locks – their vibrant purple shade now imitated a wilted violet. His hair had grown longer than she was used to, the black roots slowly on their way to gain back dominance. It was hard to tell, but dark bags smudged the skin under his eyes. His dilated pupils swirled right past her, not reflecting anything but the darkness. He felt so far away, as though it wasn’t just a severely chipped coffee table that separated them.
Hesitantly, she parted her lips and gathered her exhausted voice. “Garry…”
“Y-you can’t be serious, sir…” Garry said in disbelief, his blood running cold. The world seemed to have stopped revolving for a single moment.
The lethargic, listless face of a usually confident man stared back at him. The father tried to speak, but his voice failed him, and only broken whimpers came out. Clinging onto Garry’s jacket and shaking his head, the older man’s expression twisted into a bitter frown as he squeeze fat drops of water out the corner of his eyes. On the doorsteps of the Lowell’s private mansion, Garry watched as a grown man reduced to a sobbing mess. Nathan collapsed onto his knees, clawing at Garry’s jeans.
Garry barely noticed the distraught father, his mind occupied by all the noises inside his head. Loud, so loud. Had the hill always been this loud? Ib and her mother were on a trip overseas. They had just left the other day, and he had been busy with schoolwork so he couldn’t send them off. The day before they left, he had taken Ib out for macarons. He had wanted to send them a message to bid them a safe trip, but had ended up falling asleep before he pressed ‘Send.’ Just the week before he had still been discussing fashion with Alysha. He was going to see them again next month. No… what?
His heart quickened. His throat was painful as a knot formed somewhere inside. He swallowed and looked down at the crying man before him. A creased suit that clearly hadn’t been changed since yesterday; greasy hair mussed not by sleep, but by agonized hands. The charismatic businessman he had come to know and respect was nowhere to be seen.
He helped Nathan back to his feet and led him inside, expecting a scene befitting his grief-stricken state. On the contrary, the living room was immaculate as always as he settled its master onto the sofa. He hadn’t taken the cleaners into account.
Sitting down, he stayed with Nathan until the man regained his composure and muttered an apology.
The baby upstairs started crying, eliciting a tired sigh from the father. As the man wiped his face and was about to get up, Garry got to his feet first. “Rest,” he said abnormally normal. “I’ll take care of him.”
After he shushed Luke back to his infant sleep, he excused himself and went back home. The baby took entirely after his father, the dull brown hair and soft brown eyes of mundane good-looks. How did he get home? Surely by passing the streets he had always walked with Ib. The last time he saw her, she was sending him off at the foot of her family’s hill with her soft smile that had always seemed oddly mature for her tender age. Her exquisite red eyes faked disinterest to the world, but he could always tell the gazes of wonder she refused to let up.
The morning city outside the window seemed so distant and phony, resembling a bad bluescreen technique. The door closed behind his back as he stepped into his dark apartment. He leant against the indented surface and stared down at his right hand. She always walked to his right; her hand would only hold two of his fingers as they go. She would glance at him and, when she thought he wasn’t paying attention, stare in a meticulous observation. They had only known each other for one year, but their bond could challenge friendships of a lifetime. She was more important than he could ever admit. The vapid household he grew up in, the careless flings with girls and guys alike… All his life there had never been anything so deep and meaningful.
He traced shaky fingers over the white scar on the back of his right hand.
The girl he had protected. The girl who saved him.
He would never see her again. That precious existence.
Reality finally hit home. Hot tears slipped down his face and blurred his vision, making everything even more unreal. He slumped down to his knees and brought his arm up to his eyes, trying to hold back the tears with his sleeve. He willed his tears to cease, but they continue spilling like a broken tap. He wanted to scream and wail unrestrained like a little kid, but his chest was tight with jagged air and his throat constricted around his vocal cord. He must look no different from the pitiful heap Nathan had been, maybe even worse.
He didn’t remember how the days passed. He would go to college, come back none-the-wiser, sit around, eat, sleep… He spent his time looking at photos he had of her on his phone. The hours he spent outside grew increasingly few until he eventually shut himself inside his condo. He didn’t bother to cook, didn’t bother to clean. He lived only on the foods that had dwindled since he bought them a week ago – or was it two? He would boil or microwave everything, and quickly swallow whatever mush in front of him. He ate just because. Food was all the same tasteless shit.
The phone rang one day, with Nathan telling him of the somber ceremony. He didn’t want to go. The older man sounded like a patient on his death bed.
He showered and shaved to look presentable, and donned a suit he was going to wear for his interview. Right, the interview was already last week.
It was crowded when he arrived. He exchanged pleasantries with the empty shell of a father; where a small smile was appropriate, one wasn’t offered. He joined the line to the ornate ‘beds.’ The phrase Final Stage crossed his mind as his turn neared, sending his heart awry. The people in front of him left. His turn. His breath was caught in his throat.
Under the open lid, she slept peacefully. Her burnished brown hair poured softly down her slender neck and around her shoulders. Her immaculately manicured hands daintily rested over her stomach. A small smile graced her young features, and he could imagine her innocent eyes chasing whimsical dreams behind those closed lids, just as they always had when he watched over her slumber. The pink tint of her cheeks was so life-like he could ignore the scent of embalming fluids. He didn’t want to know how much of her had been damaged, didn’t care how much they had had to reconstruct. She was beautiful and he could live with knowing just that much.
Ib. His beautiful Ib. He had fallen in love. Yes, he had fallen in love. Call him sick, messed up to be harboring amatory desires towards a child, but in his eyes, she wasn’t a child. She was Ib.
There were so many things she had yet to learn, so many possibilities still waiting to be discovered. He was supposed to watch her grow up into the fine jewel that she was, achieve everything that she was destined to accomplish. He was going to wait, until the unripe fruit reach her most gorgeous red and then, maybe, finally be allowed to taste the forbidden nectar. Yet now she stayed forever frozen in time.
He moved along.
Alysha lay still with all her motherly elegance and beauty.
He walked amongst all the grieving people, feeling stranded. He felt like he didn’t belong. He thought these people shallow and insincere, their tears lukewarm and their words empty, when compared to the abyss of feelings he felt for the sleeping mother and child.
Something like anger bubbled inside him. Anger at how unfair this world was, where a lost cause like him could go on but she couldn’t; anger at his impotence and powerlessness. Anger that there was no one he could blame. The rims of his eyes were burning. It hurt. A piece of his soul was missing – stolen, ripped away by this cruel world, and nothing could emancipate him from the pain.
He rushed home.
People were so different. There were those who could slowly pick themselves up after a tragedy and look at the silver linings, and there were those who could not. Should the people who moved on be commended for burying the pain? Or should the ones who stood still be condemned because they refused to forget?
It was late afternoon when she returned from her home, feeling both glad and empty at the same time. Pa had smiled, in the company of a woman she vaguely remembered meeting somewhere. Seeing that had left her with a sinking feeling. It had been a year already since she and her mother left. She should just be glad – she knew that – but, in a way, she wished they were a little more irreplaceable to him. It was completely selfish of her.
The wind picked up, playfully pulling at treetops and drying clothes, but it could not touch her transparent nonexistence. No billowing skirt, no wind-plastered collar. Her long fall of hair remained perfectly still as she floated towards his window, hesitating to enter. Learned helplessness was seeping into her mind, but she wasn’t about to give up just yet. She couldn’t.
Passing through the paned glass and closed blinds, she drifted into his room – once tidy and sunlit, now frowsty, dark and depressing. With the lambent sunlight sliding in through the gaps of the blinds, she could make out the containers stacked up in a corner of the room together with disposable chopsticks, spoons and forks. Books were strewn on the floor, on the dresser and on his bed. He had attempted to read, but couldn’t stay on any one book for longer than minutes. His laptop was halfway closed and hadn’t been turned on for weeks, having run out of battery. He hadn’t paid the electricity bill, and the apartment since had been doused in the grimness of a catacomb.
She really should be glad Pa was doing so much better.
Unlike her Pa, Garry had never managed to let go of his memories of her. At first, he went about his humdrum life – as he had once described it – as normal, albeit with less than little zeal. She had thought he would eventually stop his grieving, but as the months went by she soon realized that wasn’t the case. Every day, he sank deeper into depression, and it slowly got to the point where he needed medication. She had been trying to gain his attention ever since, unable to keep on just watching over him. But he couldn’t see or hear her. Screaming at him in his sleep had given him nightmares, and then insomnia, and he started drinking these sleeping pills that completely blocked her from his mind.
In the end, all she could do was watch, completely powerless as he continued to destroy himself.
Garry lay on his side on the floor, his legs drawn and his arms hugging his stomach. He was shirtless, and the pair of loose-fitting jeans he had on hadn’t been changed for a few days already. A vacant look was almost permanent on his face before he choked on the smoke of his cigarette and spat it away. The still smoking stick flew straight through her ankle as she approached him with care. She sat down by his side, on her knees. She noticed the stubbles on his face and swiftly wondered if they would feel like her dad’s.
Garry had lost weight. He had always been skinny, but right now he was far too haggard. Lately, his condition had hit rock bottom – at least she would like to believe so. He had shut himself from the outside world and did nothing but mope around all day. The thought that he could get even worse than now made the memory just before her death seem like a cheap scare. It pained her to see him like this, and she blamed herself for having left him – her incompetence to have let him keep wallowing in this darkness.
With a grunt topping off his coughing fit, he slowly hefted his body off the floor and got to his knees, and she hurriedly got out of the way as though he could bump into her. His head hung low as his eyes searched his surroundings. Hands flat on the wood, he was mumbling something under his breath that she couldn’t make out.
“Ib…” a single sound echoed softly inside the small space. Her heart would be reverberating within her chest had she had a physical body. “You’re here, right?” Her eyes lit up with surprise and hope as she scuttled near him, tilting her head to meet his gaze.
“Let me hear your voice,” he whispered without meeting her gaze.
“Garry,” she complied immediately.
The silence returned as he stayed still as a rock, his shoulders only making the slightest motion as he breathed. Her eyes turned to those of confusion and worry. He sucked in a breath.
“Talk to me, Ib.”
She couldn’t see his face. “G-Garry, I’m-”
“Talk to me!” He slammed his fist onto the floor just before her, and she fell back – admittedly terrified even though she was supposed to be used to his occasional outbursts about now. Garry clawed at the wood. It didn’t make a sound, but she could see the muscles of his arms tightening up. “Dammit, you’re not gone.” His voice was heart-wrenchingly small as he pleaded. “Let me see you.”
“Garry, I’m here,” she cried, desperate to let her presence be known to him even though she understood that would never be possible. “I’m right here!” It was her turn to shout as shaky hands formed fists and frustrated tears threatened to spill. “Look at me!” If only she could still slap him like she had once upon a time.
“Touch me,” he said, his eyes flickering up at her through his dirty, knotted bangs. “Let me feel your warmth.”
Ib knew he wasn’t looking at her – he couldn’t, but she couldn’t help wanting otherwise. He picked up a crumpled picture they took together and held onto it for dear life as he sobbed. That was the only one he had left after he threw his phone down the toilet last month. She reached out and cupped his contorted face in her small hands, outlining the shape of his aura, hoping he would be able to feel her. But it was useless. His heart was closed and what little power she had fell flat against him.
She could not help him. She could not elevate his suffering. Just what had she lingered this living world for?
“Garry…” she called, sliding down from the stool. Her throat hurt as she tried to hold back her tears, waiting for a respond that would never come. She missed the way he would always stop anything that he might be doing and answer her in a gentle hum he used only with her. How he had spoiled her.
She crossed the small distance between them, each step heavy with hesitation, and arrived on the other side of the coffee table, just in front of him. He remained motionless, didn’t even seem like he was breathing. Even now, he still refused to look at her.
Even now, she still refused to give up on him. She would sooner cease to exist than give up on him.
“Garry.” Placing a hand onto his knee, she braced herself for him to lash out at her. She knew he had been devastated since she had gone, and that he cried her name every night, but a part of her believed he also hated her. He hated her because she hadn’t been there when he needed her most. If he brushed her away now, it would be justified. “Garry,” her voice was starting to crack.
For the first time since he had seated himself here, Garry lifted his face in a fraction of an inch, his eyes lazily glancing up. But it wasn’t at her. He didn’t even turn towards her, and instead was staring out the rain-washed windows, seemingly admiring the roiling storm outside.
Why wouldn’t he look at her? The thought that he hated her was screaming at her louder and louder. She shook his thigh once and twice. “Garry,” she called again. It had been too long, and she had grown more than impatient. She just wanted his beautiful blue eyes to reflect her like before. “Garry!”
Garry wanted to stop.
At first, he stopped socializing. When he passed by people he knew on the street, he didn’t offer so much as a nod. His eyes were always somewhere on the ground, and he didn’t even realized they were people he knew, or that there were people approaching in the first place – not that he would have acted any different otherwise. Then, he stopped calling his exes over for passionless flings – soon after which he stopped going out, unless starvation loomed.
He just wanted to stop.
Moving on was hard, but that wasn’t the problem. He just didn’t want to be freed from his sufferings. He had always known out there somewhere was a cure for him. He wasn’t being optimistic – that term was nothing but sarcasm on him – he was merely being realistic. Seven billions people. At some point someone would be able to save him… and one person came dangerously close.
His friend Lucy dropped by from time to time and brought him food. Sometimes she even cooked for him. She would usher him into the shower every time. She cut his hair and even helped re-dye it to ‘keep fresh.’ She made him shave when she couldn’t stand to see his face anymore – basically a nagging mother. But a mother she wasn’t. She was capable and self-assured – and a potential mate. She was his opposite, and that attracted him.
The girl slapped him after he unceremoniously kissed her against the wall. “I have a boyfriend, Garry!” she exclaimed – as though pity sex would be on the table if Kyle didn’t exist. One would think she wouldn’t step foot into his place again. At least not for a while. But she proved him wrong, and continued to take care of him like nothing had happened. He had underestimated their friendship. It made him feel pathetic. She treated him like a little kid, like he was throwing tantrums because he didn’t know any better.
He hated it, but he couldn’t completely push her away either.
“I know you think I can’t understand, and I don’t, but to stop living is just plain dumb,” she lectured him one day. “You kept telling me that little girl saved your life. Well then, don’t squander the life she saved, you stupid idiot!”
He pushed Lucy out and didn’t let her into his apartment again. His makeshift lifestyle plummeted back to where it had been before in a matter of days, but he didn’t care. She had struck a nerve, and it shook him more than it should have. He was scared of her, afraid that she would eventually pull him out of this quicksand he had thrown himself into, because it meant leaving Ib. That little girl was at the bottom, and as long as he stayed submerged in the muddy tides he would be close to her. His disrupted memories kept her alive. She appeared in front of him when the chemicals in his brain overloaded, her visage calm and her touch somehow coy, and he welcomed the illusions… even when her silhouette faded too soon in his arms and her warmth cruelly fictitious.
Ib saved his life. His life was only for her.
He stuck fingers down his throat and threw up the pills he had swallowed raw just moments before. Why was he still taking medication?
She was no longer here. Why did he continue to suffer alone?
He was alone.
Seven billions people. He was this tiny little grain of dust that no one would notice even if it disappeared.
The lightning cracked its zigzagged whip across the sky, delineating the argent rain bashing down all around them. As she watched him watch the sky, time seemed to have stopped in its track. The powerful waltz of the storm, however, played on. No weaker than before, no stronger either. Constant as the ever-changing flow of time.
She started to question her goal. Though his vacant stare was less than satisfying, he was the calmest she had seen him in ages. He was not happy, but he wasn’t suffering either. Who was to say he wouldn’t be more tortured than elated to see the girl who had put him through so much pain? Shouldn’t she just let him be and stay by his side?
She was a bad girl. She was selfish. She wanted Garry, and this wasn’t him. Anything familiar about him was completely battered by time and grief. She didn’t want to let go. She didn’t want to forget his smile. She wanted him to feel for her again, even if it would be nothing but pain and hate.
“Garry!” Ib shook him more forcefully now that she no longer cared if she made him hate her more. “Garryyy…” He gave no responds, so she went around to his other side to better see his face. “Garry.”
“Garry.” She climbed onto his lap, intending to touch his face. “Garr-”
“Leave.” Came a growl as dark blue eyes settled onto her.
“Garry, please don’t!” Ib desperately shouted at him as she glided after him into his bedroom.
Her plea unheard, Garry dove straight at the unorganized piles of sheets, books, drawers, boxes… – an agglomeration of things that didn’t belong to any specific category – and started shuffling through them with maddened speed and vigor. He pushed everything around without the slightest care. Stacks of paper strewn, stepped on and crumpled; bottles and scissors clunked against each other and fell to the floor as he shoved the nightstand out of his way. Aimlessly and mindlessly, he searched his bed, flipping the heavy mattress, kicking the wooden frame and cursing out loud from the pain.
“Stop this please, Garry!” she tried again, even when she knew it was useless.
The scissors were right there, but he didn’t give them so much as a lingering glance. He had also been ignoring any cutting tools he came across. God knew what was going through his mind, but she had to thank any twisted logic he might have had.
He stormed back out to the already-trashed living room and started going through it all over again like a raging bull. He was looking for something, and she just knew she didn’t want him to find it. The night storm outside and the perpetual darkness in the apartment was working in her favor. She continued to shout and scream at him at the top of her intangible lungs, well aware she was nothing short of a broken record stuttering in an empty room.
Amidst the sounds of the commotion Garry was raising and the rolling thunder, she could hear him muttering. “Where is that box? That box. That box.”
And it just happened that her gaze fell onto a rectangular edge as the lightning ripped through the sky. The box, it lay not far from a lone drawer lying on its side in the middle of the room. For an awful moment, she thought he had seen it, too. But when she looked to him, he was off in a corner, tearing through the shelves of his bookcase.
Ib immediately lunged towards the black container, using her whole body to cover the wicked thing just before he turned around. Fear coursed through her as he neared her crouching form, and she concentrated every bit of her power around the slick surface of the box.
As she stole a glance up at him, it didn’t seem like he could see the box at all. Even when the lightning flashed, he only ruffled his hair in frustration as his gaze passed right by the space where the box was. Relief filled her as she realized it had work. Now she just needed to last until he calmed-
Garry took a step forward. She gasped as his foot went right through her body and inadvertently hit the box.
The illusion shattered. He stared down at the box even as she tried to hide, to cover it up again.
“No! Garry, please don’t do this!” She got up to her knees when he got down to his. “Garry!”
He stared not at her but at the box behind her, his hand reaching for it.
His eyes were dead, but at the same time hauntingly determined. She could see the reflection in his pupil as his hands made quick work of the lock. In the noisy storm, the click was somehow dreadfully vivid. She stared down at her chest and watched him pull a small handgun out of it. Even though the physical world no longer affected her, she still felt a chill from the firearm’s silvery glint.
She looked back up at him. A smile crept onto his face, and her tears started to flow without any warning.
“Please… Garry,” was her weak whimper.
“Sorry Ib… I’m coming,” was his husky utterance.
She could have sworn he was looking at her.
A gunshot was drowned out by the storm.
“Garry,” she showed no sign of surprise or hurt, her expression melting into a soft smile, happy that he finally gave her his attention.
“Leave,” he repeated with a hint of exhaustion, still in the same posture he had been in for what felt like millenniums.
Garry didn’t want to move. His limbs weren’t hurting, nor were his body idle. Ever since he transcended into this existence, he had felt more powerful and abled than he could ever hope to be. Things physically bent to his will while beings submitted to his presence without even knowing why. He was the supremacy of his kind. And he was tainted in the deepest shade of black. A cynical, corrupted spirit; a phantom that haunted this deserted property.
He looked at her for the first time after all these months, drinking in every single detail of her heavenly features, finding it ironic something like him still yearned for empyrean grace. Her small frame was cladded in that same attire she had worn when they had wandered the twisted halls of the gallery, showering him in a nostalgia so beautiful he could have been convinced his rotten soul was being cleansed. The warm chocolate of her hair made the idea of running his cold fingertips through it even more appealing. Her large, droopy eyes stared up at him in defiance, wordlessly telling him she had no intention of listening to him. That small nose he just wanted to pinch. And those soft lips…
He didn’t move, because he knew he wouldn’t let her leave if he did.
His eyes tore away from her and returned to the scene of nature’s dominance outside. Compared to her virtues, he was in every way unfit to be with her. A stray ghost and malevolent specter, cursed to forever roam the earth, never to find salvation. If she stayed, her purity will without a doubt be sullied.
“Ib,” the name he had once been so used to calling now felt oddly foreign. “Go back to your Ma.”
Her answer made his brows furrow. She had lingered on this plain for too long… all because of him. He hadn’t even touched her yet, and already his poison had started to contaminate her.
“Go to your Pa, then.”
“I’m staying with you!” Discontent was starting to show in her voice. “Pa is fine, but Garry isn’t.” She tugged at his shirt, and his fingers dug into the armrest, overly conscious of the contact. He had been trying to ignore how pleasant her weight felt on his thighs and- “Garry…” And she was just making it so much harder. He loved the innocent ring in her voice as she called his name.
Garry squeezed his eyes shut, clamping down at the dark, raging desire that was his very essence. It boiled and seethed within him like an injured tiger clawing at confined walls for escape. Keeping her here was so easy. Physically and spiritually she was no match for him. Just one word and he would be able to forever bind her in this decaying building.
“When the storm ends, leave.” As if the rain and wind could still harm her. The chains and bindings he had around his revolting nature were becoming undone. His stomach dropped as he recognized the look on her face. She, too, had realized the irony of his words.
“Dammit, I told you to leave!” He shouted, the darkness in him oozing out in thick masses. It slowly encroached upon the space around them, swallowing everything in the fetid stench of nether energy. Ib visibly shrank back from his simmering display, but her hands still clung tightly onto his clothes, threatening to tear the thinning material. “Ib.” His tone was wry with reproach. She shook her head from side to side.
She would never leave, a voice in his head susurrated, so why not?
Because he had already robbed her of the chance of eternal repose.
Garry straightened his posture. Yes, he moved. The arm that had been supporting his face snaked around her back, while the hand that had gripped at the armrest grabbed her neckerchief and roughly pulled her against him. He captured her in an openmouthed kiss, his tongue easily parting her unguarded lips. Tilting his head for better access, he explored her small mouth like a rapacious marauder. She was slow to react, whining into the kiss as she uselessly fought in his steely confines.
Never breaking the arousing contact, he rolled around and pinned her against the musty chair. Her lovely whimpers seemed to drown out even the rain and thunder as he seized her wrist and face.
When he finally withdrew his tongue, she was gasping for air, her free hand weakly holding onto the grip he had on her jaw. She muttered his name between breaths, but he didn’t stop to listen. He turned her face away and snuggled the slender column that was revealed, tracing his lips down to her collarbone as he yanked at the obstructive clothing. Her frail form trembled beneath his touch.
He pulled back with a distracted smirk, staring down at her as though admiring an accomplishment. “Last chance,” he said as she wiped her mouth, her eyes glazing over. “Leave or I’ll keep you forever. And this,” he paused for the severity to set in, “will be daily occurrences.” His own words left a corner of his mind fantasizing about the possibilities they suggested and his hands tightened around her shoulders, afraid she would disappear. He wasn’t ready to let her go just yet.
His eyes widened, and his hold on her slackened. She reached up, her shaking hands pulling him into a hug. “Keep me forever,” she said next to his ear, sending shivers down his spine. For a long time now, he had been the only one to make others’ skins crawl.
“… Do you know what you’re saying?” He had difficulty swallowing.
She nodded against the crook of his neck. For one year, Ib had watched as he slowly broke. She knew.
Garry held his breath and waited. He was waiting for her to change her mind, to get cold feet. He had never thought she would stay, because she didn’t love him that way… did she? Now he suddenly felt lost. All of his frustration and self-torment turned out to be all for naught, and he didn’t know what to feel. His vision blurred. It was okay for him to hold her? She was okay with him loving her?
“Garry?” her small voice brought him back to the present.
He wrapped his arms around her back, fingers gripping the fabric of her shirt. “You’re not leaving.” It was a warning.
“I don’t mind.” She pulled him tighter against herself.
“I’m never letting you go, so don’t regret it later-”
“I love you.”
Even in death I will continue to love you.
-Ib wakes up as a ghost at the funeral and starts following Garry when he arrives
-Garry’s mother died at a young age and he doesn’t know who his father is. His grandfather gives him a roof over his head and an education, but that’s it.