The orange glow of the sun struck the water. Lydia watched as the last glimpses of day hid behind the cold mountains. She sighed and turned around to walk with her family. Lydia looked through the crowd, but couldn't see her mom and dad anywhere. Had they already left…? She looked once more, and then started off to where she remembered the car was parked. As the light in the sky darkened, more people started walking on the pier to enjoy a night by the beach. Lydia, try as she might, could not get through the crowd of people watching the sunset.
"Excuse me," she said politely to a bulky man who stood in her way. He must not have heard her, for he didn't react at all to her comment.
"I need to get by, could you please move?" Lydia tried again to get the man to move out of her way. No reaction.
"Sir! Please, I have somewhere to be!" said Lydia, getting annoyed with the man. When he didn't answer her for the third time, she finally tapped him on the shoulder to try and get his attention. To her surprise, her fingers sliced through the man as if he was just a hologram. This puzzled her, so she tried again. This time she tried to place her whole hand on his back. Again, her hand slipped through. Did no one else notice this? Lydia looked around for the projector but couldn't find it. Odd, it seemed as if he was communicating with the people around him. Was he or was he not a hologram? Still questioning the realness of the man before her, she stood and observed. What happened next she might never understand, but the man and his friends started walking towards the end of the pier. She assumed they would go around her when they reached her, so she stood and watched as they talked, oblivious to her standing right there. The men kept walking, and when they got to her, they simply pasted right through her! Lydia turned and watched as the men walked on, her face white and petrified.
Lydia's eyelids flickered, and then she sat straight up with her eyes open wide. She couldn't see anything at first, except for a gleaming bright light.
"Hello?" she called out in a questioning voice. She heard no response except for the echo of her voice. She looked around starting to make out shapes and colors. She looked down to see that she was still wearing her shorts and tank-top, but her shoes were gone. Lydia stood up from where she lay, and started walking around. In her pursuit she found a door, along with a light switch. Not that they did her any good. The confusion that she went through at the pier, along with being trapped in a locked room, started to make Lydia think she was going insane. She tried to focus her mind, and get away from the prison of white, but couldn't. Was this all real!? Had she been drugged and then brought here? What was going to happen to her? Thousands of worrisome questions littered her brain as she sank to the ground with her head in her arms. All she could do was hope for the best. She stayed in a little ball until she heard whispered voices outside the door. At this cue she rose up and gently put her ear to the door. The little words she understood out of the muffling made no sense to the situation at hand. She heard clips of "She doesn't know…" "What are we going to do wi…" This nonsense talk went on for a little longer, but suddenly stopped as two pairs of feet could be seen outside the door. Lydia scrambled back to the bed she had woken up on and quickly made an effort to cover up that she ever got up. The door squeaked, and she peeked through slitted eyes to see who entered.
"No! We don't know her purpose yet!" a masculine voice said.
"But we can't just leave her without an after home! She needs to be assigned sooner rather than later!" This was a second, much higher voice. They talked as if they were siblings that never learned to get along. No matter what one would say, the other would do or say the opposite. The bickering stopped suddenly as they realized that she was just lying there. Both of the people nodded simultaneously and walked towards Lydia. As they approached the bed, Lydia found it hard not to squirm under their stare.
"Lydia, we know you're awake," the first voice said calmly. Lydia wasn't sure if she could trust these people. All she knew was that they had taken her away from her family, and may have erased some of her memory, if that was possible.
"God Eli! Why do you alway have to be nice, even when they don't cooperate!" the second, definitely feminine, voice said.
"She's confused, give her time," Eli said. "She will learn to trust us."
The curiosity inside Lydia simply couldn't stand not seeing who these people were. So she slowly opened one eye, and then the other. In front of her sat two college aged kids. The boy must have been Eli, and next to him sat a girl. She sat up and stared at them. They stared back.
"Lydia! You finally decide to join our conversation," Eli said, a look of joy on his face. The girl next to him just looked annoyed.
"Who are you, and what do you want with me?" Lydia asked as she pushed back against the wall to create some space between the two teens and herself.
"Why can't we just ask her a few questions and send her on her way like everyone else?!" asked the snobby girl, who was starting to get on Lydia's nerves.
"You know why Ash!" Eli said turning to look at her.
"But this is so much work!" Ash retorted. Eli just grumbled at her and turned back to Lydia.
"Lydia Draco, welcome to The Glow," Eli said as he extended his arms to show the room. It would have been a perfect movie scene had there been dramatic music and a beam of bright lights. Sadly, nothing happened. Lydia just stared at him unimpressed.
"Would someone just tell me what's going on?! Do you want my wallet? Want me for ransom? What do you want?" Lydia asked again, hoping for an answer.
"See, she doesn't even know why she is here! How is this going to work?" Ash said, getting more exasperated than she already was.
"If she doesn't even know what she is doing here, I suppose we could push her in the right direction to try to figure the puzzle out. May as well tell her the rules," Eli responded, then turned to her.
"Lydia, I'm sorry for how you have been treated thus far, but you still need to listen to everything that we say. It is incredibly important." Lydia just looked at him. Could he be serious? Trust him? Listen to him?! These people had kidnapped her and now they expected her to play along?! Lydia stood up in frustration, which caused both Eli and Ash to take a step back.
"I don't know what the two of you want with me, but I just want to go home!" said Lydia. Ash and Eli exchanged a look of confusion and despair. Then Ash turned to Lydia, and with a deep breath, told Lydia what she was doing in The Glow.
"Lydia, I'm Ash, and this is my coworker Eli," Ash said. "Like you, we have passed from the first world, and have sat right where you are sitting now." Lydia just looked at her. This was making no sense. Passed from the first world…? Were they implying that she was dead? They couldn't be. If she was, she would be standing at the gates of heaven right now. When Lydia didn't respond, Ash rolled her eyes and said, "Look Lydia, you're dead, stop acting so innocent." She stood still for a moment longer, but then her body crumpled and fell to the ground.
"Lydia, Lydia!" Lydia opened her eyes to see Eli standing over her. He offering his hand to help her up. She gladly took it, and hoisted herself off the ground. Even though she just found out she was dead, Lydia was not scared whatsoever. She may not have believed it if her day had gone as normal, but she was definitely gone and not coming back. Lydia could tell that there was tension in the air and wondered if it was because of her. With her newfound calmness, Lydia sat down and waited for Ash or Eli to speak. Finally, Eli asked a simple, yet complicated question.
"Lydia," he started off. "What is the last thing you remember before you woke up in The Glow?"
"I remember watching the sunset with my family, and then I passed through a man," said Lydia, as if passing through people was normal now.
"I knew she was the one we were having problems with!" declared Ash.
"Why was I being a problem?" asked Lydia, she was genuinely confused. Eli sighed and rubbed his chin.
"When people die, that last thing they are supposed to remember is a flashback of all the good they have done in their life."
"And sometimes, if I'm quick enough, they get to see the terrible person they really are!" interrupted Ash excitedly. Eli just glared at her, that made her shut up.
"As I was saying, people see a flashback, and then wake up here. You stayed with your family much longer than you should have after your death, and you don't even recall a flashback." Lydia looked at Eli questionably.
"So… what does it mean?" asked Lydia.
"It means, that you didn't die in peace," said Eli. Lydia's hold on peace became more and more of a struggle as she protested the new information.
"What is going to happen next…?" asked Lydia in a shaking voice.
"If we don't rest your soul, you will never be able to leave The Glow. We feared this, but we may have a solution. Lydia, if you can go back to earth and stay there as an observer, you can find out how to put your soul at ease," said Eli.
"How will I know what to look for…?" Lydia asked, wringing her hands.
"Sometimes, it is who killed them, other times it is how they died. You will know when you find it," said Eli. Lydia was still confused about how she was get past The Glow, but as she tried to ask another question Eli and Ash faded out in a beam of white light. Then Lydia's body was hurled away from The Glow and tossed back to earth.
Lydia awoke with a start and was surprised to find herself at home. Around her she heard the usual morning bustle of cars and people. Lydia looked around and relished in the comfort of home. As she stepped into the kitchen she saw her parents and older sister sitting at the table eating breakfast. Everything seemed to go on as usual, until Lydia checked the time. It was 8:00 in the morning! Lydia's parents should have been in work two hours ago, and her sister started school at 7:00. What were they all waiting for…? It looked as if they had all frozen! Lydia looked around for anything she might be able to move. If she could move something or do ANYTHING, her family might start acting like they were supposed to. Just as Lydia moved towards a piece of paper lying on the counter, she heard her dad get up. She turned and saw that he had tears in his eyes. Her mom and sister looked forlorn as well. The whole family was dressed in black and grieving. Lydia looked on with tears in her own eyes as her family walked out of the house, and then drove to the church.
It had been days, maybe weeks since Lydia had started haunting her family. She took turns following each of her parents as they went about their daily lives. Occasionally she would follow her sister around, but that often ended with her wishing she was still alive. Her sister still had all her friends, had her classes...had her life. After watching her go through her day, Lydia wished she could just die...again. She wandered around town now, listening in on people's conversations. Lydia held no hope of returning to The Glow, or even going past it to Heaven. As she walked around people she couldn't help but overhear a group of annoying girls.
"Ya, it was me. I was the one who pushed Lydia. I didn't know she would get a nail in her head… oops," the tall brunette girl said to the group. They all snickered and asked for more details. Lydia walked closer to the group and was surprised to find that it was Fern who said she had pushed her to her death. Fern and Lydia used to be the best of friends, until one day in 7th grade. Lydia shook her head to clear the dreadful fact from her mind. She was so tired, and surprised that she went to sit on a bench in the middle of the huddle. Two girls were already sitting there, so Lydia just sat down in between them. She may or may not have been sitting in one of the girl's sides, but she really didn't care.
"Well…? Why'd you do it?" one of the girls asked. "Is it not obvious?" said Fern. "She was ruining my life, after she rudely ended our friendship a few years ago. The only thing that comes out of my parents' mouths is how much they wish we would become friends again. How she always did things perfectly." The rest of the girls just stared at her. Fern killed her because she was being outshined?! Not only was Fern being ridiculous, but she also lied. She was the one who ended the relationship. Lydia could hardly believe her ears. Fern had killed her out of jealousy? Lydia wanted to stay and hear what else Fern had to say on the subject, but she didn't get to hear much more before she blacked out.
"Welcome to paradise, Lydia," a soft voice said. Then there was a brush of a kiss on her cheek and all was quiet. She made it...