I have my back to him, but I know he is here. I thought perhaps he could only visit in my dreams. But I can see the shadows on the wall shifting with his every breath, hear him shuddering in the winter air, blue-skinned and cold-eyed and drowning in shadow. The cold gnaws at the back of my neck, and I can feel the trails of water running down his face, hear them dripping onto the floor and pooling at his feet.
I close my eyes. Breathe. I need to breathe. I must take in air, must brace myself for the voices. They are only murmurs, now: whispered fragments grasping at something they cannot quite reach. But they will grow louder, as they always do when he visits me, bubbling up in my mind and hammering into my spine. They grow and weave, washing over one another like coursing waves, but I can never figure out what they are trying to say.
I suppose ghosts have the right to haunt those who have wronged them, but his presence still unnerves me. I do not want him here. Go away, Luke. Please.
Nothing; I can still hear his breathing. Must I turn and face him? I cannot bear to see what he has become--
Please, I try again. Please. I’m not ready.
A moment, and then he listens. I can hear his breath wilt into the air as he fades. It’s a soft sound, gentle, like the breath of air that kills a flame.
Silence follows, and then the raw cry of the wind. I open my eyes. The shadows are still; the street lights pour in through the windows. I sigh and rest my head against the windowsill. The painted wood is cool against my cheek, and I feel an urge to sink into it and never wake up.
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