“What are you talking about Rose? It’s Jessica. She’s come back for me.” Rose couldn’t look John in the eye and a wave of pity rolled over her to see all the grief all the sadness of Jessica’s passing written out on his face so plainly. Still she could not let her pity get in the way of making sure her friend didn’t fall into the clutches of this thing.

            “Jessica’s dead John, she’s been dead for two years. That’s not your wife John, your wife is dead.

            The ghastly apparition masquerading as Jessica leaned in closer to John whispering to John but still talking loudly enough for Rose to hear. “Of course it’s me John, don’t you know me, don’t I know you? She’s just jealous, she’s always been jealous” The wisps of dirty air that made up Jessica-not-Jessica’s hands stroked and cajoled John stealing away his energy along with his ability to think clearly.

            “Yeah Rose you’ve always been jealous haven’t you? Always looking in on from the sidelines and just hating how happy we were. If you can’t have a special someone no one else can either is that how it is? This is Jessica, she’s here and I can love her again.”

            “John that’s not Jessica, I don’t know what it is but it’s not your wife, your wife would never try to split us apart and would never accuse me of something like jealously.” That had stung, mostly because there was a small grain of truth to it as with all good lies.

            “Yes I would” The ghost leaned closer to John “because you are jealous aren’t you? Oh yes you are, you want my man and you’d do anything to steal him from me. You always pretended to be happy for us but always you were unhappy because of us. Rose how could you do this, I thought we were friends, how could you deny me?” The spirit had John fully in its embrace now and it was sucking the life out of him. How many nights had John been out here meeting with this monster? Professing his undying love to a thing that saw him as just another victim, a meal to be devoured. That was why he looked so tired, so beaten. That was why he was drinking so much and showing up to work with circle under his eyes. That was why she had to stop this.

            “John that’s not-”

            “Rose what’s your problem?!” John was hysterical now, on the brink of tears “Why do you always have to ruin things for me? How come you can never just let things well enough alone? If Jessica’s not around to love me, who will?” John was crying now and he was railing out against the world through Rose. Oh the unfairness of it all! Why did he have to work so hard just to scrape by as he watched everyone else get their lucky break and move on up in the world. What kind of world let you grow up fatherless and when you finally find someone you love and be the father you never had fate snatches her away. John was a broken man and the thing in the alley that was masquerading as Jessica had found a way to work through the cracks.

            Rose wasn’t about to let this happen. No one hurt her friend and got away with it. She walked right toward John. The spirit interceded. Deathly cold fingers danced across her skin, lightly at first but then ripping like knives. You’re pathetic. You deserve to be alone. No one ever wanted you and no one ever will. These thoughts danced through Rose’s head but they weren’t hers no matter how convincing the mimicry of her own thoughts they were still just the spirit trying to force it’s will on her.

The End

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