When a ghost felt sorry

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A bridge, a river below...

...I hope he doesn't find me like this...

...Eight days.

"Guys, I'm telling you he's the one!" Archer shouted early next morning. He had come home past midnight when everyone was asleep, so this was the first time he was seen in a full day.

"Okay, don't jump to conclusions. You just met the guy," Skyler rationalized.

"No, I'm serious. Alex is perfect."

"So, are you going to show us his picture or not?" Rags asked.

Archer was going through the man he had met at the bar last night's Instagram pictures on his phone. He had a hard time picking one to show his friends because he thought all of them were too good. He couldn't find a single flaw on this guy. But that was mainly due to the fact that Archer was always the one to fall for people too fast, which then resulted in him being heartbroken just as quickly.

"Alright, here it is," he said, putting out his phone for his three friends to see.

Immediately, Cooper remarked, "I guess he's cute. But I think Brad was hotter."

"Forget about that asshole!" Archer said spitefully. "Brad may have been hot and handsome and sexy and sweet when he wanted to be and had the cutest dimples..."

"Okay, what are you trying to get at here, Arch?" Skyler asked.

"My point is that he's out of my life and I've moved on," Archer said with a slight ache at the back of his heart. "I only have eyes for Alex now."

In the middle of this conversation, Rags remained completely silent, focusing on the face of the man shown on Archer's phone. Two light blue eyes stared back at her with a soft smile that made her feel uneasy for some reason. A rush of confused emotions hit her, but among them only one word stood out in her mind.

Sorry.

Before Rags could try to piece together what all this meant, Archer snatched his phone away at the sound of a new text. He shrieked, "Alex says he's almost here!"

"You invited him here?" Skyler asked.

"He doesn't have any classes today so I told him to come over so we can go on a proper date. Anyways, guys, go get dressed in something nice before he arrives!"

"Why do we have to? It's not like we're the ones going out with him. Besides, shouldn't you be worrying about your own appearance first?" Skyler pointed at Archer's current attire of fluffy pink pajama pants and a black t-shirt.

Just then, the doorbell rang.

Both excited and panicked, Archer began rushing in the direction of his bedroom. "I-I have to go get ready. Keep Alex busy for a few minutes. And don't you dare say anything embarrassing about me, Coops."

Cooper asked, "Then like, don't mention the fact you write extremely cringy chick lit in your spare time?"

"Absolutely not! And TBBGLvTBAOTQFTAGV? is not cringy. I'm told it's people's favorite story on a daily basis!"

"Those people must have really bad taste in literature even for my standard. And I haven't read a book in years."

Meanwhile, Skyler had opened the front door to reveal a thin six-foot tall college student on the other side. He partially resembled Skyler in that he also had light brown hair and blue eyes, but that was as far as their similarities went. Alex looked much younger than him as if he still belonged in high school despite the fact he was only a year below him.

As soon as Rags saw the man in person, the apologetic feeling she'd gotten earlier came back. And it only grew stronger the moment she heard his tenor voice.

"Hey, where's Archer?"

Yeah, whatever...

Rags's hands moved with a mind of their own to grab Alex, though she stopped herself midway. She could swear she wanted to give him a hug, but she had no idea who this person was to her, only that she felt some kind of connection laced strongly with regret and apology. However, Alex walked right past her, completely oblivious to the additional ghost in the room.

"Shoes at the door please," Skyler sternly requested, grimacing over the fact he'd have to mop the floor again. "And he's getting dressed. He'll be out in a minute. You can have a seat while you wait." He pointed to the living room couch.

The three guys sat there together, a now barefoot Alex being sandwiched in the middle. Though he didn't seem at all intimidated. He kept himself collected even when Cooper began probing him with weird questions.

"So, like, I've always been curious. How do you know you're gay?"

"Um, you just do. How do you know you're straight then?"

Both Cooper's mouth and green eyes widened. "Wow, I never thought about it that way. I guess I don't know. Maybe I'm gay too."

"Coops, you're not gay," Skyler said. "You like Margaret, remember?"

"Oh, right. Say, Alex, you don't happen to know any good ways of dealing with harassment, do you?"

"Well, if it's serious, maybe you should report it to the police."

"No, but I like the harassment."

Rags continued to keep her eyes on Alex. By then, it was certain she knew him somehow. She'd clearly heard his voice in her head before. But how was the question. She also didn't understand why the more she thought about him, the more she felt so sad.

Skyler noticed Rags darkened expression and passed her a concerned look. When she saw him, she said, "Oh, don't mind me. Pretend I'm not here."

"Got it, Rags!" Cooper replied without thinking, making Skyler shake his head in disappointment.

"Who's Rags?" Alex asked, following Cooper's gaze behind him where he saw no one else but Skyler.

"Oh, she's just like this cool ghost that lives with us."

"Coops, shut up," Skyler said under his breath.

"A ghost?" Alex repeated skeptically. "Yeah, right. I don't believe in ghosts."

"That's because you've never seen a real one before."

"Yeah, sure."

Archer finally finished getting dressed and reentered the living room. He rushed over to the sofa with open arms to which Alex stood up and hugged him too.

"I'm sorry I kept you waiting," Archer said.

"No, it's okay. So, Coops mentioned something about a ghost in the apartment."

"A-A ghost? W-Why would he say something as silly as that? There's no such thing as ghosts." Archer let out an awkward laugh. He briefly met eyes with Rags and sent her a silent apology. "Anyways, let's get going. I know this great diner around here that serves the best pancakes and sausages."

"Yeah, sounds good."

While Skyler and Cooper stayed on the couch, Rags followed the newly formed couple to the door. She watched as Alex put his shoes on and the whole time could not shake the worry that she might never see this man again. But why should she have cared? Nothing was making sense to her right now and she wanted answers.

She then realized a way to get them—a way she ought to have thought through before executing. But it was too late to back out.

"I'm sorry about this, Arch," Rags said once half of her friend's body was out the door. In the blink of an eye, she wound up being on a date with a gay man.



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