I was still wearing my black funeral dress when Celine first came, looking as pale and as forlorn as I remembered. I had been washing dishes in the kitchen and had reached out for a towel to dry them. Something about the monotony was soothing, my body becoming numb at the repetitive motion; it made me feel better to mourn in a silent daze than to scream and cry, like waiting for the cork of a bottle to pop and explode. As I turned, she stood before me; the plate slipped through my fingers and fell onto the ground with a loud smash. Trembling, I took a step back, my mouth gaping while I tried not to react to the coldness she looked at me with.
“Celine…?” I gasped.
Her blonde hair was limp around her shoulders, greasy and unkempt in a way I had never seen. The light and lustre she was acquainted with was gone, along with the shine that filled her bright blue eyes; a feral glint had replaced it, making me shiver as I gazed at her. Her clothes were ragged and worn, falling off her body to expose the marred flesh beneath. It was the worst I had ever seen her. Celine never allowed even a hair out of place, she was always so put together; I always felt insignificant standing beside her as she whispered the latest gossip into my ear, or gushed about her ‘oh so loving’ boyfriend while she trailed behind him in a manner that I could only compare to a lovesick puppy, it was both sweet, and sickening. It made me ill to think so poorly of her.
That Monday had gone horribly wrong for her, in more ways than one.
She still had the cuts and bruises from what had happened only that Monday; the blood almost looked fresh, dripping from the slice to her forehead, and the bruises had darkened to painful puce, scattered over her bare arms and around the lower half of her legs. Hit by a car on the way home from school, an accident because she was looking at me and not the road, she didn’t see the car until she was on top of it. Bloody and broken in the middle of the road, I wasn’t sure who screamed the loudest, me or her. Celine looked just the same as she did after the accident, the last time I saw her. The back of my hand rubbed my cheek, suddenly sore from the slap she had given me that day; the first time she had raised a hand to me. It felt so long ago, even though it hadn’t even been a week. I didn’t know why she was here. Her very presence scared me, which was something I had never felt before, not when it came to her. I only started seeing what she was capable of only that week, since she was so good at bottling things up. Celine certainly let it all out before her presence today.
I probably was as much a mess as she was; my eyes red and raw with the tears I had spilled with the other mourners at the funeral, and my face was flushed from the kiss that Seth had been stolen from under the cemetery’s willow tree, my lips were bitten and swollen with blood. It was a shock when he had approached me when the funeral goers had begun to thin out, I’d always liked him, but I never expressed anything more than friendly since he was Celine’s boyfriend, although that had begun to sour around the time of her accident. It might have been what she was shouting about… I never was able to make sense of what she said when she went off on a rampage.
It was a blur how it happened. We were talking, he said something, and then he kissed me like I was the one he cared about, not Celine…
It had been wrong, and it shouldn’t have happened, but I couldn’t say no. I ran away before he said another word. It was the only thing I could do, to not betray my best friend any more than I already had. He was Celine’s, he would always be Celine’s, and he had kissed me. I didn’t understand why, but it only made me feel even worse because of what happened at the beginning of the week. Our last conversation could only be described as a one-sided shouting match, since it was all on her part; my ears were still ringing from her screams… She still hasn’t stopped screaming…
“What are you doing here? How are you here?” I asked, rubbing my arms to get rid of the erupting shivers.
She shook her head, ignored me.
“You took everything from me… My love, my life, everything was mine… And you took it from me!”
Her hands sprung out and wrapped around my throat, squeezing the breath out of my body. I grappled her wrists to pull them away from me, but she wouldn’t relent.
“Let me go… I took nothing from you… It was only an accident…” I gasped.
Spots danced in front of my eyes when her grip finally loosened. Celine wrenched her hands away as if I had burned her. I wheezed, trying to get the air back into my lungs, my insides screaming in pain. Her eyes were flames before me, and I feared that they would consume everything in their path; a trembling white finger pointed at me.
“It should have been you.” She said, an icy air filling the room and making my blood run cold. “That car should have hit you.”
Something inside of me snapped. She couldn’t blame me for her own mistake. She was the one who walked into the middle of the road. She was the one who started the argument, who shouted and screamed and slapped me in the face. If she had just looked, she wouldn’t be…
“It’s your own fault, Celine. I didn’t do anything. You did this to yourself, and you paid the price.”
Celine snarled at me.
“The price? I’m dead, you bitch! You watched them put me into the ground, crying with the rest of them as if you cared! It should have been you! They should have been burying you!”
Celine died because of her injuries. Internal bleeding, severe head trauma, snapped vertebrae; even if she had lived, she would have never walked again. She always said she wanted to leave a good-looking corpse.
“There’s nothing you can do now. Just move on and let everyone mourn you in peace.” I pleaded.
A dark look crossed her face, her eyes sinking back into her cracked skull.
“No… I’m going to make you pay. If I’m dead, I’m going to take you with me, one way or the other.”
She disappeared in the blink of an eye, as if she had never been there. I felt true terror when she said those words, because Celine always got what she wanted, whatever the cost. Whether her ghost would cost me my sanity, or she would drive me to my death, either way, I feared that I would soon be falling into a grave next to hers. I knelt down onto the floor, gathering the pieces of the broken plate with trembling hands and putting them in the bin. No use trying to fix something so broken… Celine sounded just the same.
Tears filled my eyes as I headed to the bathroom. I had this vain hope that I’d just imagined the whole thing, my subconscious mind telling me that I could have done something to save her, and my head was going against me by having her scream her accusations at me until I broke down and jumped into the ground alongside her.
When I looked in the mirror, I knew that it had happened. Around my neck were two red handprints, wrapped in a choking red chain at my throat.