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“Gunther, I know what I’m doing,” Lolita Goth laughed, taking the toolbox out of the closet.
“But, I’m just worried for you,” Gunther replied, planting a kiss on her cheek.
“Why?” Lolita asked, walking back to the kitchen, “I’ve taken so many classes, and you’ve seen how I fixed the shower, the toilet, and the trash compactor. How is a dishwasher so different?”
“Okay then,” Gunther finally smiled, “I’ll be in the parlour.”
He sat in the parlour for a good twenty minutes, flipping through a book. He heard the clunking noises, the clanging of metal on metal. Then a crackling noise.
And then Lolita’s terrified, high-pitched scream.
Gunther awoke with a start. It was always the one dream. He hated himself for letting Lolita fix the dishwasher. He should have called a repairman. He should have said something.
At least the dream was merciful this time. Usually it continued to play out. Gunther would throw his book across the room as he leapt from the chair and dashed to the kitchen. He would see Lolita on the floor, slightly twitching. The hand she held her wrench in was slightly blackened.
The dream eventually added the Grim Reaper himself, appearing over Lolita. Gunther would plead with the Reaper for his young wife’s life, but every time he would fail. Of course Death himself didn’t come for sweet Lolita, but maybe it was his subconscious’s way of dealing with trauma.
Gunther glanced at the clock. 5:30 am. He already knew that when he was jarred awake this violently, he wouldn’t be getting back to sleep any time soon. With a grunt he rolled out of the bed to go have a shower.
Five years, and she still haunted his subconscious.
“You look tired,” she laughed, handing him his coffee. Cornelia Crumplebottom pulled out the chair at Gunther’s table.
“More… more bad dreams,” he replied. Bad dreams wasn’t the start of it.
“That’s not good,” said Cornelia, “Lolita again?”
“When is it not…” The two were at the Little Corsican Bistro, sitting outside with their morning coffees. Gunther and Cornelia did this almost every morning. Gunther loved it. Cornelia reminded him so much of Lolita. The way she walked, the atmosphere she created when she entered a room, even their voices were similar. The difference was that Cornelia was more… refined. Gunther had loved Lolita for her childlike qualities, the qualities that made one want to protect her, the qualities that reminded one a bright, cheerful child, the qualities of eternal mental youth.
Cornelia, however, was mysterious, a mystery waiting to be explored. Gunther liked her because she was artistic and knowledgeable. Cornelia did everything with a perfection. Gunther had seen her in her garden, the way she knew everything about every plant, where exactly to plant them and how exactly to care for them. Cornelia had impeccable manners.
“I see you in your yard at night,” said Cornelia, “You sit beside her grave. I see you there a lot of mights, when I go to the cemetery.”
“What do you need with a cemetery?” Gunther asked. Someone like Cornelia should not be hanging about a place as gloomy as a cemetery.
“My lover is buried there,” Cornelia replied, “His name was Vincent Skullfinder. I sit by his grave and talk to him. I see his ghost every so often. It’s nice…”
“Ghosts are just children’s tales.”
“No they’re not,” Cornelia responded with an informative tone, “He comes out and talks to me. We dance just like we used to, and when the sun is coming up, he kisses me, says ‘Good night, Cornelia’, and disappears into his grave.”
Gunther paused. “You’re eccentric,” he laughed after a minute.
“Look at that, a smile!” Cornelia exclaimed brightly, “But I’m serious. Why don’t you try talking to Lolita? Tonight! See if her ghost comes out.”
“I may as well,” Gunther said, finishing his coffee. He stood up, and Cornelia rose with him. She put her arms around his neck.
“I hope you settle yourself,” she said, and left.
Gunther checked his watch. It was almost 10:30 at night. He was sitting by Lolita’s grave.
“Are you… going to come out?” Gunther asked hesitantly. Nothing. “Lolita, please come out!” he called.
You blame yourself, don’t you? came a whisper. Gunther heard it from all around him, and inside him.
“…I do. I should have done something.”
It was my fault alone came the whisper again.
“Lolita, are you talking to me, or am I going mad with grief?”
You are not mad… Far from it, my dear… A pale yellow mist began to swirl from the tombstone. Gunther gasped. He wanted to turn away, to leave, but he couldn’t.
And then, Lolita.
She was sitting beside him, translucent with a pale tint that faded from blue to yellow to white and back.
“Lolita…” Gunther whispered. A small tear rolled from his right eye. He laid his hand on hers. She smiled.
You must move on, Gunther she said. Her lips moved, but the sound came from around and within him. You must move on, or you really will go mad…
“But I can’t. I love you, Lolita, but you are lost to me…” Gunther was crying now.
My time was… up… You will fall in love again, very soon… Lolita smiled. She leaned over, and planted a kiss on his cheek. Her lips were cold, but it was a good feeling.
I will always be here, Gunther… She whispered, standing up, If you ever need to talk to me, you know where I am… She stepped toward the grave. Cornelia seems like a nice girl she said with a mischievous grin, and then disappeared into yellow mist, which floated down into the grave.
“Cornelia…” Gunther whispered in thought.