By Brooke J
“Hey, hey… look at me….” A tall figure loomed over her, voice faraway and hazy, “Everything’s going to be okay. It’s time to let go.”
Hannah’s vision sharpened, and she found Derek staring at her, his blue eyes filled with tears. She sighed as she heard the all too familiar hospital heart rate monitor.
It had been months since she was diagnosed with lung cancer. No one saw it coming. She and Derek were both in Cancun for their second anniversary when she began having chest pains in the middle of the night. She was rushed to the hospital, and the doctors started her treatment immediately. She had to shave off all of her beautiful dark brown hair, and her doctors, doing everything they could in their power to save her, began Chemotherapy. She was in and out of the hospital due to constant checkups, but the doctors said the treatments were working; things seemed to be going well.
She had been admitted to the hospital when she began having chest pains, but she was getting better within two weeks.
One early morning, her lungs began filling up with water; she couldn’t breathe. Hannah pushed the call button; nurses came as soon as possible; Derek arrived minutes later for emotional support, but it was too late. Derek clung to her hand as she drifted in and out of consciousness, only hearing bits and pieces of conversations between the doctors and Derek.
“I’m so sorry.”
“It’s too late.”
“We’ve tried everything.”
Hannah looked over at Derek, who sat near her bed, his hands covering his face, shaking as he cried silent tears. She took his hand.
“Thank you, Derek. I’m sorry…I love you.”
Hannah’s vision dimmed, and she exhaled for the last time, hearing the heart monitor flatline in the distance.
Hannah opened her eyes again. Nothing hurt anymore. Her hair grew long, and her lungs didn’t feel like they were on fire. She floated above her hospital bed, watching Derek shake with every sob. Hannah felt a pang in her chest, and guilt washed over her. She felt guilty for leaving Derek alone in the world; she promised him they would travel the world before she had lung cancer. Because of it, because of HER, Derek never fully lived out their dream. She watched as he slowly stood up from his seat and shuffled out of the room. Hannah decided to follow him. She would serve as his guardian angel, watching over and protecting him.
Hannah followed him back to their apartment and watched him sit on the couch and begin to cry. Hannah wanted to reach out, hug him, and tell him. Everything was going to be okay. Still, as she moved closer, Hannah remembered Derek was deathly afraid of ghosts. They were invited to a friend’s house for a movie night about a year ago, not knowing they were watching a horror film with ghosts together. It’s safe to say that after that night, Derek and Hannah would not be watching any more of those movies. She pulled back her arm and began watching Derek from a distance.
Weeks turned into months. He didn’t do much after her death. He pulled out the curtains and closed the blinds, shutting the world out from his room. He never went outside, not even to get groceries. He would sit on his bed for days, staring at the wall, unable to move. This continued so long that his parents and friends began helping Derek seek professional help. Hannah kept watching Derek as he began to work on himself. His parents found a therapist, Dr. Harry. Hannah could tell Derek felt comfortable talking to Harry about his problems and feelings. Harry understood and could relate to Derek; his wife died a few years ago. These weekly therapy sessions helped Derek. He began to go on runs every morning, eat meals, and return to work. Every so often, Hannah would find Derek crying in his room, hugging a framed photo of Hannah to his chest. She wanted to comfort him, but she couldn’t. All she could do was sit and watch, and it pained her seeing Derek look like that. But Derek would stop, wipe his tears, and kiss the photo.
“I miss you so much. Maybe someday I’ll see you again.”
Derek got a puppy, a small golden retriever. Hannah loved to watch Lucky zoom around his apartment. Hannah became uneasy but kept Lucky entertained by blowing a leaf around the apartment. Lucky felt her presence but wasn’t bothered. Derek was working long hours for a promotion. He burst through the doors, picked Lucky, and spun her around.
“I finally got a promotion at the office!” Derek whooped, laughing and spinning Lucky around.
He looked genuinely happy; Hannah hadn’t seen Derek like this in a while. She chuckled to herself and lovingly watched Derek play with Lucky. She missed him too; she just couldn’t tell him.
Hannah began to notice small changes in Derek. He would constantly check his phone, make calls, and text someone while smiling and laughing. At first, Hannah brushed it off.
“He can’t be talking to someone new already… I’m probably just being way too paranoid. Besides, I trust Derek. I need to stop worrying….”
Hannah had all the time in the world to think and overthink it. She now spent most of her time pacing, or really floating back and forth, around Derek’s apartment, pondering the situation. Then, he brought someone home. A girl?
He showed her around his apartment, she made him dinner, and they sat on the couch to watch a movie. Hannah stared in disbelief as she watched them talk and laugh throughout the film, jealousy coursing through her nonexistent veins. She knew the girl; she had even met her before. Stacey Holloway, Derek’s coworker ever since he started working at Bexley’s Corp. They’d been friends for a while, but she never thought they would turn out like this. After Stacey had left, Derek flopped back on the couch, sighing happily. He looked over and saw Lucky giving him the side eye. Even Hannah was giving him the side eye.
“Hey, come on, don’t give me that. Stacey’s just a friend; there’s nothing going on between us. It’s just been hard since Hannah….” Derek’s voice trailed off.
He leaned over the couch, picked the squirming puppy off the ground, and began playing with her tiny paws.
“Right. Of course. Stacey’s just a friend,” Hannah thought, “‘Just a friend, my ass.”
Hannah watched as Stacey began to visit Derek more and more often. Derek would also disappear for long periods of time, leaving Hannah to play with the puppy, who was now beginning to grow up. Sometimes, Derek wouldn’t return for the night, and Hannah knew where he was.
“Stacey’s house. Of course. Why would he neglect the dog, though? The poor puppy is alone in the apartment. At the same time, Derek’s busy hooking up with his coworker,” Hannah grumbled, “At least take responsibility for the dog you wanted.”
Hannah became increasingly irritated with Derek the longer he left Lucky alone. Suddenly, three years had passed since her death. Hannah was still gone but never forgotten. Lucky was a full-grown golden retriever now, and Hannah still loved to play with her. Stacey had come more often and began moving her stuff into their apartment. No matter how hard Hannah tried to fight the fact, Derek had moved on. One day while Derek was helping Stacey move into the apartment, he got down on one knee and asked the dreaded question.
“Will you marry me?”
There was joyous laughter and tears, but all Hannah could feel was heartbreak, sorrow, and annoyance. She watched Derek and Stacey embrace in the apartment she and Derek had bought together. Suddenly, she was gone again, not only from the world but now from his heart. Derek had moved on; now it was her turn. It’s time to let go and just ghost him already.
About the Author
Brooke J was born in 2008 in the SF Bay Area of California. She will be an incoming freshman at American High School and loves reading and listening to murder mysteries.