ALL OVER AGAIN
Young Adult Sweet (Paranormal) Romance
What happens to Elizabeth when she is in a coma?
In the first draft of Recycled Souls, Elizabeth met up with Devlin again, when she regressed back across the years. However, when it was time for Elizabeth to come back to the present day, Devlin kept 'following' her.
The problem was how to 'get rid' of Devlin, without losing the heart of my story. I wanted Recycled Souls to be a simple love story—a story of discovery that even through many lifetimes, many mistakes and many different choices, we always end up where we are always supposed to be…
All Over Again
The sun is bright and shimmering through the trees, rays of sunbeams dance over me. The forest is vast, and the trees seem to go on forever, the darkness getting deeper and deeper.
I look around taking in the tall trees, the green undergrowth and the shadows deeper within.
Distracted, I wipe my hand over the fallen tree trunk I am sitting on. I feel faint indentations and looking down I see a heart carved there. I smile as I softly follow the outlines with my fingertips. Devlin and I carved it here, it seems a long time ago.
After the longest while, I take a deep breath and stand up, following the pathway out of the forest.
I am almost out of the forest, seeing the glimmer of green rolling hills through the many tree trunks, when I hear someone call my name and turn.
My heart jumps to my throat when I see him and I call to him joyously, “I thought you weren’t coming today. I have been waiting for ages.”
He laughs, surprise lighting up his face. “Would I miss spending a day with you-certainly not.”
“I was just going to go and look for you,” I say as I skip back to him. As he gets closer, I smile. I see his dark hair falling over his forehead and down so that the tips just brush his shoulders, his full lips match the colour of his rosy cheeks perfectly, he is sunburned, his jaw strong. He has the features of an angel. I look into his violet blue eyes and sigh softly.
He scoops me into his arms, laughing exuberantly and he swings me around, my long dark hair waving out into the wind.
I lean my head back, enjoying the wind on my face, my laughter weaving through the trees, bouncing back to my ears.
He puts me down, looking at me intently and I run my hands over his muscular arms.
“You are so silly.” I laugh.
“A silly little thing called love,” he agrees, his eyes laughing.
I smile. “So, what shall we do today, silly little thing?”
“Let’s go horse riding,” he suggests.
“That sounds like an excellent idea,” I agree.
He takes my hand and leading me along the narrow path, we walk into the sunshine.
Letting him go, standing on top of the hill, the whole valley stretched out before me, rolling hills disappearing over the horizon into the hazy distance, and while Devlin walks on, I open my arms wide and look up at the sky, letting the sun shine on my face.
“Hey sun-goddess,” he calls from where he stopped, waiting for me.
I laugh and run to him, into his arms.
He holds me tight and kisses me on the forehead. “Come.” He pulls me by the hand down the hill.
“You are always so impatient,” I reprimand him.
“And you always want to stop to smell the roses. The same sun as yesterday, the same grass, everything is the same.”
“No, it is not the same, every day is different and special, never to be taken for granted.”
He looks at me puzzled. “Where did that come from?”
I laugh. “I don’t know.”
We walk to his house, a wooden structure with a grass roof. Behind the house, there are two horses grazing. The horse, I usually ride when I sneak away from home, is chocolate brown, while Devlin likes to ride on the statuesque white stallion.
Devlin saddles the horses, while I lean against the shoddy fencing and I stare at him pensively. It feels as if I have not seen him in the longest time, yet I know I met him yesterday in our usual place by the fallen tree trunk where we have spent endless hours talking softly.
He turns back to me and raises his eyebrows questioningly. “Ready?”
Gracefully I mount my horse and then I lean forward to bury my face in her mane. I take a deep breath and pat her on her neck taking the reins into my hands.
As soon as Devlin is on his horse, he nudges him and lurches forward. Galloping away, he yells, “Come slow one, see if you can catch me today.”
I nudge my mare. She is obviously not as fast as the massive white stallion, but we manage to keep up. We ride far, never meeting another person and when Devlin stops, he slides off his horse and waits for me, while smiling and pretending to be impatient.
I reach him and dismount, jumping down onto my feet.
We leave the horses to graze and sit in the grass beside them, the daisy-scattered grass rippling in the gentle breeze.
Devlin puts out his arm and gently he pushes me backwards, until I am lying on my back. He lies down next to me and stares up at the blue sky for the longest time. Suddenly he asks seriously, “Have you ever tried to find the words to say something, but no matter what you think of saying, you know it might come out wrong?”
“No.” I laugh.
“I am trying to be serious here.” A quick frown flashes between his eyes.
I try to stop laughing, but I cannot get rid of the grin on my face.
He sighs. “Okay, fine. I am just going to say it.” He sighs deeply again, yet he says nothing and just continues staring up at the sky.
Turning onto my side, and propping my head up with my hand, I face him. Tracing circles on his arm with my fingertips, I look down into his blue eyes.
He glances at me and then looking back at the sky, he says, “Don’t look at me that way. I have waited too long for you and today it was as if you never left.” He turns his face all the way to me, looking sad. “If I kiss you now, take you in my arms, I will be selfish and not tell you what I need to tell you. Then one day in the distant future you might stumble across something that would yank your memory back and then you will hate me forever, for not telling you the truth from the start.”
I have no idea what he is talking about, because I was waiting for him today and he saw me only yesterday, how could he have waited for me too long?
He takes my chin between his thumb and index finger, slowly pulling my face toward him, while his face reaches up.
I forget to breathe and close my eyes. Just as I feel the soft touch of his lips on my own, he draws back and it is as if it never was.
He settles his head on the ground again and takes a deep breath. “How can I tell you the truth when this is the miracle I have waited for? I know all about hope, but can I really wait to first meet you again in another lifetime?” He asks himself, more than me. He sits up abruptly and stares across the rolling hills.
I feel a sense of worry weigh down on me. He is confusing me with words of lifetimes and waiting.
I can see fear and despair in his eyes when he looks at me again. “Did you know Eilish is the Gaelic interpretation for Elizabeth?”
“Yes, Devlin, I do. I can speak Gaelic quite fluently and you know this?” I look at him frowning.
“No, Eilish, you ARE Elizabeth,” he says, sadness clouding his eyes. “Eilish and Elizabeth is the same person.”
I look at him confused, sitting back from him. “What are you saying, Devlin? I am not Elizabeth, have you lost your mind?”
Softly he tells me, “You are Elizabeth, you returned to me today after centuries of waiting.” He smiles sadly and looks away across the distant hills. “When you came stumbling into the forest almost a year ago now, just after you moved back, I recognized your soul immediately. Physically you looked different, but your eyes were the same. You were so sad that day and as I sat there with you, I noticed a calmness come over you. I was glad to make you happy, even if you could not hear my voice. I could always be there next to you, always make you feel safe, always make you believe that everything will be okay.” He turns toward me again, searching my eyes. “You cannot imagine my joy, when today as any other day when you come into the forest, I called your name, and this time you responded!” He reaches toward me when he sees the shock on my face. “I am sorry. I did not want to scare you.”
I pull away from him.
There is a look of pain etched on his face, as he looks into the distance and starts explaining, “The last time I saw you as Eilish, was when your father chased me off his land, after finding us together.” I gasp as this sink in and he continues hastily, “I decided to go to Dublin, and I walked there, took me all of six weeks. All the while, I berated myself for not staying and fighting for you, we never had the opportunity to say goodbye. I knew that I could never live the rest of my life without you, because I lost my heart to you that first moment, I saw you. The day after arriving in Dublin, I decided I was going to go back for you, start my journey the following day and steal you away in the middle of the night. The two of us could make our own life somewhere else, but unbeknown to me, in 1355 an illness had come to the streets of Dublin. That night I started with a fever so grave it rendered me unable to move, and then the next morning large swellings grew in my groin. The swellings grew as large as eggs and they started spreading across my body, turning black and purple. I had no choice during those days but to live on the streets, and …” He looks at me, tears running down his cheeks. “I died there Eilish, wishing I could see you only once more, convince you of my love. I did not even realize I was dead at first. I came back to our forest, our meeting place, but you never returned until now.”
This is too much for me to understand. I tentatively reach out and touch his cheek, to console him and more to convince myself he is real. His skin under my hand feels warm, so he must be here and not a ghost. “How can you be dead, if I can touch you?”
He cups his palm over my hand on his cheek and smiles sadly. “You moved on, Eilish. You are now Elizabeth and as Elizabeth you were in an accident, and this is only a dream for you.”
I struggle to breathe. “But it feels as if I have always been here. I even remember yesterday.”
“I can’t explain how it works. I can still barely believe you are here with me.”
I whisper, “I don’t care if you say I am now Elizabeth, someone with a different life apart from you. I still love you and I never want to be without you. Something brought me back here to you.”
He is silent for the longest time, searching my eyes and then he says, “Eilish, I don’t have a choice but to force you to make an informed choice one way or the other. Either you can stay with me for eternity and it would forever just be you and me, or you can go back to your present life and continue what you have not yet finished.
I reply adamantly, “I obviously choose you. There is not even a choice to be made.”
He lifts his hand to brush my hair out of my face and fold it in behind my ear. Smiling sadly, he says softly, “You can’t imagine the loneliness, the longing. Now that I have you here with me, feeling the warmth of you next to me, I do not think I ever want you to leave again. I do hope you choose to be with me, but if you decide to turn it all around, then it will be okay too. I will risk everything for your happiness.”
He stands up then and pulls me up with him. We walk hand in hand toward the horses, not as exuberant as when we arrived, because sadness has replaced our cheerfulness. Slowly we walk the horses toward a cliff and then leaving the horses at the top, he leads me down a steep pathway toward a small beach below. Devlin holds my hand and steadies me over every boulder and when we reach the bottom, we step onto the white-pebbled beach.
I feel drained as the air is sucked out of me when I recognize the beach we are standing on. The same beach where I fell in love with Jared, where he sat so close to me, tracing butterfly soft patterns on my arm, where he said he would never let me go. I sit down, as my legs buckle under me. I remember sitting in the car next to Jared, seeing the silver car sliding at an amazing speed toward us. I wish with all my heart Jared is all right and I hope my mom is okay, always so over-protective, wanting to know where we are all the time, because of the suddenness of my dad’s death. One moment a person is there, and the next instant gone, forever.
Devlin hunches down in front of me, while he searches my face. “I am so sorry,” he says. “I had no choice. I cannot risk you finding out one day when it is too late for you to decide, to know where you belong. When he might not be there where you are able to find him now.”
The pain in my heart is suddenly excruciating and the tears are streaming down my face.
Sadness clouds Devlin’s eyes, when he sees the pain in mine. Softly he says, “No matter what you choose now, it will be okay.” He takes a deep breath and then slowly he expels the air from his lungs. “If you decide this is the end, then this is the end.”
It breaks my heart, anticipating the hurt in his eyes, but I ask, “How do I get back?”
With a look of acceptance, he says, “You are going to have to trust me.” He looks back over his shoulder at the sun setting behind the ocean. As he looks back at me, he says urgently, “But we need to leave now. We must hurry. I did not realize how late it was.” He grabs me by the hand, and we hurry up the hill. He waits nervously for me to mount the mare, before he jumps onto the stallion. He does not race away, but keeps pace with me, looking over his shoulder at the setting sun every now and again.
We reach the cottage, just as the last lick of light leaves the horizon and we run into the cottage, dragging the horses behind him and lock the door.
He sighs with relief and walks toward me. “I’ll keep you safe. Do not be afraid,” he whispers. “Just keep quiet, they will hear the horses and move on.”
I start to ask who they were, when a gust of wind rocks the cottage. He puts his fingers over my lips, looking into my eyes urgently.
In the wind, I can hear moaning, crying and painful screaming. The wind batters the cottage, making the wood panels creak and rattle.
I look at Devlin with fear in my eyes, while Devlin continues to look into my eyes, keeping his hand over my lips and holding me tight to him.
The horses start to panic and whinny.
There is a brief silence in the wind and then it starts up again, until I do not know who is making the most noise, the horses or the wind.
Just as suddenly as it started, it ends.
After a while, Devlin lets me go with a groan of relief.
“What was that?” I whisper scared.
“I think it is unhappy souls. They only appear once the last ray of sun disappears from the sky. Scared the colour off my skin, the first time I saw them coming toward me. It seemed to be a thousand spirits in a cluster, whirling around, creating this huge cloud, swirling and twirling about, with faces, legs and arms everywhere. The faces in there are pulled in hideous expressions and…” He smirks. “I don’t think I would want to meet them in a dark place.”
My eyes are wide, and I am frightened.
“This of course creates a problem for me. For me to cross over I would have to travel through the shadow of the valley of death, literally a forest of lost souls and then leap off the edge at the end of the world into the light. In the process of getting there, I must avoid this cloud of spirits, because I am sure once you are stuck in there, there is no getting out for eternity. For you to wake up Elizabeth, all you must do is choose to wake up, which you could do at any moment.” He hesitates for a moment and then he says, “You finally came along and broke the spell that kept me here. Now it is time to say goodbye and you can go back. I will be okay. I have avoided them this long, so I am sure I could get to the end of the world without running into them – literally.”
“No. I want to stay and help you,” I say sincerely.
He smiles. “You have always been so concerned about the lost and injured, looks like time changes nothing.”
I nudge his shoulder with mine, and then seriously I ask, “Will they be back tonight?”
“They are very unpredictable, but you must be tired though.” He smiles reassuringly. He sits down onto the ground, pulling me down with him.
I lay my head on his lap and he plays with my hair, twirling it through his fingers.
After a while he says softly, “I thought I would be able to say goodbye, but this is hard.”
Remembering how I felt earlier today, the intense love I felt for Devlin, the joy of seeing him and then the immense love for Jared that overwhelmed me on the beach. I chose there on the beach as memories of Jared flooded over me but being here with Devlin I wonder if it was the right decision. Did Sean not say, Eilish always proclaimed Devlin was the love of her life? What if I let him go and I realize too late I had made the wrong choice? This choice has no second chance. Once Devlin goes into the light, he will be gone forever. If I choose to stay, I would not be selfish, would I?
We do not talk, and I struggle through the night with my thoughts and my indecision. The howling, screaming and rattling does not return.
When the first light of the new day breaks, Devlin bends down and kisses me lightly on my cheek. “It’s time.”
I get up and stretch my arms high above my head, trying to get the aches and dull throbbing out of my lower back muscles.
He stares at me absorbed.
Feeling embarrassed I walk toward my horse, but he stops me, saying, “Where we are going, we would not need any horses.”
I look at him, frowning.
“Trust me,” he insists.
We walk through the door and he takes my hand. We leave the door to the cottage standing open.
“Would we not go faster with the horses?” I ask.
“Not really. We must walk toward the forest now and would have to leave the horses at the edge anyway. The pathway, as you know is only wide enough for one person.”
We walk up the hill toward the forest. The early morning colours of the sunrise are behind us. The rays from the sun highlights the clouds scattered throughout the sky above us with shades of yellows and pinks. It feels warm and temperate, not as you would expect Ireland to feel. I wonder if it is always warm here where Devlin is trapped, or maybe I just do not feel the heat or cold, because I am only dreaming.
At the edge of the forest, we stop, and Devlin starts to take his shoes off. I start to sit down to take mine off as well, but he stops me. “No, there is no need for you to take your shoes off. You will see soon enough why I am taking mine off.”
Just leaving his shoes there, he looks up at me and smiling forlornly, he says, “Where I am going, I am sure I won’t need any shoes.”
I have no words. I am not sure what the appropriate response would be, because I do not know if he would need shoes or not.
We walk into the forest, Devlin ahead of me leading me by the hand.
Looking ahead, I once again see the darkness deeper within. Darkness I have never really paid attention to before, but now it seems menacing somehow, reaching toward me, wanting to have me. It suddenly feels to me that if I walked in there, I might not reach the other side.
Devlin turns around and looks at me reassuringly as we enter the dark.
I want to pull back, first discuss this with him again before walking in. Taking a deep breath, I convince myself I am a brave, independent, strong person who can handle almost anything. Almost. Besides, I have Devlin with me, so I will fear nothing as I enter the shadow of the valley of death.
I gasp loudly as the dark envelopes me. It is absolute and I cannot see anything in front of me. I lift my hand in front of my face and I wave it – nothing - only darkness. It is not even darkness, but total blackness.
I hear a soft crooning noise all around me and it fills my ears. I realize I cannot hear anything else, no birds, not the wind in the trees, not even our footsteps as we walk one behind the other over the path leading deeper into the forest.
I ask Devlin, “Why is it so quiet?” but all I can hear is my own voice echoing in my head. I cannot hear myself say anything.
Unexpectedly I feel a tugging on my hand and realize I have stopped walking. I almost lose grip of Devlin’s hand. Hysterics almost overwhelm me, and I get the urge to turn around and run back, but would I know where to run to, I am too scared to try.
Devlin stops tugging on my hand and I sense by the way he is holding onto me that he is turning around toward me. If he is talking to me, it is falling on deaf ears.
So funny, Elizabeth.
I laugh, but only I can hear me.
Am I losing my mind?
Devlin’s probing hand knocks me against the head, shocking me back to reality. He finds my cheek, after almost knocking my nose askew and the way he holds his hand against my cheek feels as if he is trying to assure me that he is near.
After a moment, he turns back awkwardly.
I do not only want to hold his hand anymore. It seems too tentative, as if my hand could be ripped out of his at any moment. I lean in closer to him and then almost knock him off his feet, as I searchingly put my arms around his waist. Trying to explain to him without using my voice, his ears or his sight, I gently push against him, moving his leg forward as I move my leg forward.
He realizes my intention immediately and we shuffle on.
I wonder how he knows instinctively where to walk; maybe that is why he took his shoes off before we entered the forest, so he could feel the pathway beneath his bare feet. Imagine if he lost the pathway. We could be lost in here forever. Now that is a scary, scary thought. If we were to be stuck in here for eternity, the only thing I would have for all that time would be my thoughts and me. There would never again be any interaction with another living soul. My thoughts would surely drive me insane.
I once heard somewhere that eternity would be like a diamond as big as the earth and once a year, a swallow would come to sit upon this rock and sharpen its beak, and so only once the entire diamond has been obliterated would infinity be done. I wonder sadly if Jared would ever wait for me as long as Devlin did.
A sudden spider web movement on my arm surprises me. As we walk further into the blackness, the keening noises are getting louder. More and more feather light movements brush over my body, coming from everywhere and I wheeze every time it happens.
The worst is that I cannot ask Devlin what it is.
I realize even though I am clinging to Devlin as if my life depended on it, and I can feel his warmth under the palms of my hands, holding him tightly against my body, I am alone, all alone. I have lost the use of all my senses, except for touch. The light brushings over me are starting to feel like urgent tugging and pulling.
Devlin places his hands over my arms around his waist, squeezing them rhythmically, as if to draw my attention away from whatever is brushing and pushing at me.
Something grips me from behind, physically powerful, and I scream, but of course, no sound leaves my mouth. It pulls at me, trying to dislodge my arms from around Devlin. I scream and scream silently, my throat starting to feel scratchy.
Devlin turns around and puts his arms around me, holding me tightly.
My legs lift into the air.
Devlin is straining to hold onto me.
There is movement all over me. It feels like a million spider webs brushing my skin. There is a sense of hungry eagerness pulsating through the blackness surrounding me.
Slowly Devlin moves one leg then the other backwards, still following the path, dragging and pulling me with him.
I can feel the strain in his muscles as he pulls against the force of whatever has my legs in their grip.
Suddenly voices boom out of the keening, humming noise that has surrounded us ever since we walked into the darkness. “HELP ME,” and then another, “TAKE ME WITH YOU.”
Devlin strains backwards a little faster and I sink my head on to his shoulder, trying to calm myself.
I am clinging to him with all my might, while my legs are being lifted higher and higher up into the air.
Devlin grips his hands around my shoulder bones as his forearms shift under my arms and it feels as if I am slipping away from him.
“Please,” I pray, “Please do not let me be here forever. Please, please.” If Devlin slipped and fell now, we might lose hold of each other and I will be dragged off. There seems to be a million voices yelling and screaming at us, they are all begging and pleading, some are menacing and some threatening.
Devlin loses his footing and he falls backwards.
In my head I scream, “Please!” as I land on him roughly. Looking up, I see that in the blink of an eye we were no longer surrounded by the dense blackness. The night sky is so brilliant and blinding, the light hurts my eyes. Everything is quiet.
As my eyes adjust, I see we are near a gaping hole in the earth. The opening in the earth stretches on both sides further than my eyes can see and I cannot see the other side of this immense abyss. It is a beginning with no end. There are hundreds and hundreds of people walking toward the edge, walking over the edge and then floating into this magnificent inviting light. Up and up they go and then they disappear through an opening in a thick, bright white cloud.
We get up from the ground.
“We made it.” I sigh with relief.
Devlin looks down at me, smiling sadly. “Farewell,” he whispers. He bends down toward me and I close my eyes, waiting for him to kiss me, sadness filling my heart at having to let him go.
He is viciously ripped from my arms.
Opening my eyes, I see the cloud of menacing souls rush by and I see Devlin’s pain etched face flash past in a swirl, mingled with arms and legs. I hear his voice cry out to me. Would he now be stuck in there for all of eternity? I could not let that happen. Did the cloud suck him in and not me, because I was still very much alive and only dreaming?
Without thinking twice, I run after the cloud and jump into the mass of bodies. Immediately I feel a rush of repulsion passing through everything I am. I feel the intense hatred and loathing, the menace and hopelessness of each soul within that cloud. I start to feel hopeless and sad. I think why bother getting out of here, what is there to go to anyway. Is the one life not the same as the next, maybe different scenarios, but surely always the same dramas of love and death? A small part of my mind, trying hard to remain sane, begins to panic. I jumped in here to safe Devlin, but what if I could not get out.
I see a flash of him, and I strain forward to reach him.
It is as if he has no control over himself and is being thrown about, swirling and twirling, knocked and bumped.
Grabbing him by his wrist, I pull him closer to me and it takes all my energy. I notice that in this short while, his face has changed. His cheeks are sallow, dark rings are etched deeply under his eyes. With all my might, I hold his frail body tight to mine, and I yell as loudly as I possibly can, hoping with all my heart it will work, “I want to wake up NOW!”