Chapter 17

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The next day was a Saturday, which was an obvious complication in the easiest method by which we might have gotten the locket away from Violet. In any scenario I could imagine, the most opportune time to snatch that locket would have been in the girls' locker room before gym class.  As Trey and I curled up beneath my blankets, considering what the next day might bring, I felt a small amount of relief that at least since the locker room scenario before gym class wasn't a viable option, I could potentially involve Mischa and Trey in the grabbing of the locket. What if I reached for it and the clasp didn't break?  Or if something even more horrific happened, and the gold chain sliced through the skin on Violet's neck? I felt with certainty that we were on the brink of closure with Violet, but surely she must have felt it, too. As much as I was ready to settle things with her once and for all, I was terrified of taking her on all by myself.

I heard my phone vibrate on my bedside table at a strange hour, and instinctively sat up to answer it. It was Mischa, in an inconsolable state. Next to me, Trey sat up and rubbed his eyes. I patted him on the shoulder and told him to go back to sleep.

"Do you ever think about what it's like to die, McKenna?" Mischa asked me. Her voice was raw, and sounded like she had been crying for hours.

"Sure," I confessed. "All the time. I've wondered that for a long time. I think it's peaceful. The whole bit with the white light full of grace, and drifting toward it, and then feeling total serenity and contentment. I believe in all of that." I didn't tell her that I believed all of that because I had to, because without that I couldn't stand to wonder what pain and horrors Jennie had endured as she left behind the life we shared.

"I don't believe that," Mischa countered. "When my grandmother died, my father told me that all life consists of is a series of neurons firing in our brains that make us perceive energy around us. When we die, and those neurons stop moving around, there's nothing left. Just blackness. Nothingness. That's what becomes of us when we die."

There was a long pause, and I tried not to let her words make too much of an impact on my thoughts. The notion that everyone I had known who had already passed away had just been hurtled into a void was too painful to consider.

"We know that's not true. Olivia reached out to me. She wasn't in a state of nothingness," I offered.

"What's going on?" Trey asked me groggily. I shooed him away, knowing that Mischa's emotional state would only annoy him.

"I don't want to be an angry ghost. I want to stay with my parents and win a medal at the Visa Championships and I want to go to college in Lacrosse and marry Matt and be a mom. How did all of this happen? Why did we play that stupid, stupid game? I want to take it all back! I don't want to die, McKenna!"

I could hear the sincerity in her plea and I didn't have a simple response for her. It wouldn't be fair to assure her that she wouldn't die. Olivia and Candace already had.  "We're trying, Mischa. We're trying."

As I climbed back into bed, I wondered if she'd eaten any solid food at all that day.  If we didn't find a surefire way to prevent the death that Violet had foreseen for Mischa, she might just die of starvation anyway.

Even with Trey's arm wrapped around me, the now familiar fall and rise of his chest against my back, both of us enveloped in the smells and textures of my childhood bedroom, I sensed that all of the security I had known most of my life was about to be torn away. I tried to assure myself that it was just Violet's spirits, trying to scare me out of doing what I knew needed to be done. But deep down in my heart, I felt certain that I was on the edge of a precipice. Once I pushed back the blankets and climbed out of my bed in the morning, my life would never go back to normal again.

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