When a ghost remembered

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Rags's dream/Ashlyn's POV

"One Frappuccino with extra whipped cream and strawberry syrup and your banana bread," Jack said, handing me my favorite order. It was actually the only thing I ever ordered.

This café didn't serve drinks with strawberry syrup. That was reserved for the dessert items. But Jack knew I loved strawberries, so whenever his boss wasn't around, he'd bend the rules a bit just for me.

It was Friday afternoon, which was surprisingly not a very busy time for the café. I leaned over the front counter, happily sipping my cool drink. Jack stood with his back against the wall behind the counter, watching me with a smile. Had it been elsewhere, we'd be a lot closer. However, his boss had made it clear she did not like any forms of affection to be displayed between worker and customer in her establishment.

I asked, "What are you going to do after work tonight?"

"I'll probably crash at home. I think I still need some rest before I can fully recover from this cold."

"Are you drinking that tea I got you?"

Jack was the least responsible person when it came to taking care of his health. If I wasn't around to nag at him to take his medicine and vitamins, I didn't know what would've become of him. To my relief, he replied, "Every day, Lyn. And what are you up to tonight?"

"You already know. I have to edit my final thesis."

"You've read that thing a hundred times already. What more could you edit at this point?"

"Actually, it's a hundred and three times," I joked. "And I just want it to be absolutely perfect. It's the last assignment I'll ever hand in as a college student."

I was in my last semester already. It felt like yesterday when my family had thrown me a party to celebrate my acceptance letter. But that was four years ago. My college graduation was a little over a month away. It had also been three years since I accidentally spilled my iced coffee on Jack in the hallway. That was what started it all. Sure, studying hard was an important part of my years in college, but the most meaningful thing that had happened to me during this time was that I found someone I truly loved. And it was because I loved Jack so much that I worried a lot about him these days.

"Have you looked into any of the internship positions I told you about?" I asked.

It was hard to believe at times, but Jack was in his fourth year too. While I had been actively applying to companies and going in for interviews, it seemed Jack didn't have much plans to leave this café. I had to remind him over and over again to do some decent job hunting to the point where I became fed up and did the research for him. However, that was as far as I could do to help. When it came to actually filling in his résumé and doing interviews, Jack was on his own.

He couldn't meet my eyes as he responded, "Uh, yeah. I haven't heard anything back..."

I knew he was lying. He was horrible at keeping secrets. Frowning, I said, "Jack, you have to be more serious about this. We're graduating next month."

"I know!" he raised his voice to my surprise. He immediately passed me an apologetic look. "I know. I'm just stressed out about it, that's all."

Maybe I did sound a little too forceful just then. Softly, I offered, "Look, I can help you with anything you're struggling with—"

"No," he sharply cut off. "You don't have to help me with every single thing, Lyn. I can handle this on my own."

I sighed, giving in. "Alright, I trust you."

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