Lily sat in the Bright family's cozy little living room with a cup of hot tea in her hand and a frown on her small face. Across from her, the mother-daughter duo sat on a comfy-looking couch while she sat on an old, rickety, wooden rocking chair. She didn't mind the chair. She didn't. She didn't care one whit about the stupid chair.
Okay, so she was a little peeved about the chair, but that wasn't what she was frowning at. No, what bothered her so much was, while she appreciated the gesture, and she was delighted to be invited inside, Lily just didn't like tea.
Sophie sat using one hand to hold her mother's, and the other to cover her mouth while she giggled. "Mom, you can't do this to me!" she complained.
"What are you so impatient for?" her mother snorted with crinkled eyes, "Don't tell me you want to show Dr. Smarts that ugly face you do when you get a present?"
"Mom!" Sophie squealed, "I don't do a face!"
"Oh, you wanna bet?"
"Don't wanna!" she giggled while sticking out her tongue.
Unable to hold back any longer, Lily struggled to breathe as she laughed at the duo's act. Even now, she was surprised by how similar they were, both in appearance and in personality. She knew Sophie to be 17 years old and her mother in her late 30s, though Lily figured no one would argue if she said 25, they looked more like sisters than mother and daughter. Long blonde hair fell from both of their heads, only, Sophie's was closer to an icy white while her mother's was almost golden.
Their faces bore an astonishing resemblance to each other, only Sophie's chin being a little sharper than her mother's softer features. The biggest difference was their eyes; one pair, a blue as deep as the ocean, and the other like a black abyss.
Sophie looked over at the guffawing doctor opposite her and asked, "Lily, what are you doing?" as she watched Lily struggling to take out her phone.
"Isn't it obvious?" Lily wheezed, "I'm readying my camera."
"Damn! I don't do a face," Sophie shouted. "Mom, go get the present, I'll show all of you!"
"I'm sure you will, Sophie," her mother stood up and sniggered.
"Wait! Mom, wait. You sit down, just tell me where it is and I'll get it."
Her mother gave a wry smile and sighed before sitting down, "Thanks, sweetie. It's sitting on your bed. It's still in the box so bring it down and we can open it together."
Sophie knitted her brows but then quickly jumped up and grunted in assent, "My room's all the way upstairs, what were you thinking?" she grumbled as she made her way out of the living room.
After Sophie left the room, her mother's smile finally faltered. "Dr. Smarts," she hesitated, "Is there any hope for me?"
Lily looked into the woman's eyes, as if she were searching for… something. Her lips pressed together and her eyes narrowed as she glanced at the doorway, "If there is," she thought, "it lies with her."
A sudden scream interrupted the two, followed by a strange mix of laughing and cheering. Sophie's mother first chuckled, breaking the grim atmosphere between the two women, as they shared a look. A rush of heavy footsteps made their way down the stairs as Sophie dashed inside, jumping up and down as if she wouldn't give up until she flew away, "I love it! I love it! I love it! They're so cute!" she shouted.
The flash of a camera went off in the middle of Sophie's celebration, "Look! She really does do a face," Lily pointed.
"Shut up!" she laughed back, "So what if I do a face; who wouldn't do a face at these cuties!"
Her mother wrinkled her nose at the sight, "And whatever happened to opening it together? You've ruined the surprise!"
Sophie just continued to laugh, her beaming smile was as if it were trying everything it could to make her surname known. She set the gift-wrapped box, covered in little bears and some red ribbons, on the ground and opened it for the others to see inside.
Color drained from Lily's face and her eyes went round when she looked within, "Wh-what is…" she quivered as she backed up behind Sophie.
Sophie rolled her eyes, "What a good doctor! You don't even recognize these things?"
Her disbelieving eyes were like saucers as she stared at her friend, "No… no, I recognize…"
Sophie picked up one of the plush toys from the box and presented before Lily, "Listen well, Dr. Sophie's lessons don't come cheap, you know?" she grinned, "this here is Chlamydia!"
Lily's eyes glazed over as she heard her friend's words. She turned to the only other person in the room, but could only accept her fate when she confirmed the doting look in the other's eyes. "What is wrong with this city," she muttered.
"Are you listening? This one is Herpes. Ah! It's so cute~!" Sophie squealed. "Mom! How did you know?"
"Stupid girl, stop acting like you're innocent," she chided. "How many Deluxe STD Plushie bookmarks have you left on my computer just this month alone?"
"Why is everyone in this city so…" Lily mumbled under her breath. She gave the box of cuddly STD toys a measuring glance before managing a slightly crooked smile, "Thank you for the tea, Mrs. Bright, Sophie, but I think I'll take me leave now. I'm actually still on call."
"Oh! Let me send you off," Mrs. Bright said.
Lily waved her hands in response, "No need, no need. I can see myself out. You two just keep chatting."
Despite her words, Sophie's mother still urged Sophie to send her off at the door. A few minutes later Sophie returned with a strange expression on her face, "What do you think of Lily, Mom? She's kinda weird, isn't she?"
"Who isn't weird in City-Y?"
"That's true," Sophie's brows drooped as she murmured, "sometimes I feel a bit lonely in this place."
"Enough!" her mother laughed, "I have work to do and I'm sure you saw just how much homework you have ahead of you, don't make me say it twice."
Sophie's face paled at the memory of what lay in her room, "Yes, Mom."
By the time Sophie made it to her room, it was already a little past noon. Outside, the sun sat itself overhead, surrounded by a beautiful blue sky with not a cloud in sight. She looked at the walls of her room and compared them to the view outside her window; she thought they looked particularly pretty today. Behind her bed was a wall as blue as the sky above and a curly tree wall-art to give it life, hanging from the wall were several framed photographs of her and her best friend, Emily.
The other walls were pure white, with some photographs blu-tacked to them, and a lot of writing filling the wall where her desk sat. Sophie walked to her desk and looked at the writings on the wall as she recalled the times when she was younger. Back then, she had more friends than just Emily but, somewhere along the way, socializing became such a chore; only Em stuck steadfastly by her side.
She cast a wry smile at the various books piled atop her wobbly desk and sat down, sighing as she picked up her pen and opened the first from the pile. The rest of the day was spent finishing her three days of missed homework and by the time she finished, a crescent moon had already risen to replace the afternoon sun.
Snug in her bed after a hard day's work, Sophie stared at her ceiling. She thought back to all that happened in the past several days. She smiled at the twelve rascal plushies now sitting on her shelf and held back a laugh when she pictured the strange doctor she'd been assigned. Her eyes watered when she thought of how her Mom must have felt after hearing the news of her accident.
Eventually, she thought back to what happened after she was hit; of the hit-and-run couple who cared more about a party than her life; of how she became a ghost and saw her corpse lying, unbreathing in the middle of the street; and of the Grim Reaper.
"Was it really just a dream?", she thought, "Or was it all real?"
"If I were to die again…"
Closing her eyes, she mumbled aloud, "would I meet you once more..?"