I thought that it lengthened the story unnecessarily, plus one of my early devoted fans felt that it didn't add to the plot. If you're so inclined, let me know if you agree. This takes place toward the end of the novel...
It was absolutely freezing. Instinctively, Kat drew herself into a tight ball. She wondered why on earth she was wearing such a flimsy sundress and no shoes, until the memory of what had happened rushed back to her.
With a jolt, Kat shot up and looked down at herself. She was fine, except for the goosebumps pimpling her arms. Her shoulder didn’t pulse with pain and the cotton weave of her dress that should have been stained by blood was white as snow. Carefully, Kat lifted her dress up. Underneath, she wore plain white underwear and the skin of her stomach was smooth and unmarked. She wasn’t in the warehouse anymore, but she had absolutely no idea just where here was. Blaze was nowhere to be found, neither was Seth or any of the Brotherhood. She remembered the ferocious struggle between Blaze and Seth, how Blaze had rescued her from being killed on the spikes, and Seth sending the spike meant for her to stab Blaze in the back. Her brain finally processed the obvious – she was dead. She had taken that dagger to save Blaze and hadn’t survived. She was all alone in this world of cold and fog.
Kat wrapped her arms around herself and stood up on trembling legs. The fog was everywhere, as pervasive as dread. Underneath her feet she could feel shifting sand. She could hear the sound of soft waves in the distance and smell the tang of salt in the air, but she couldn’t see the ocean itself. Pressing forward, Kat walked along the beach.
“Hello?” she called out, hoping someone, anyone, would hear her. “Is anyone there?” No response other than the echo of her voice came.
“Hi Kat,” a soft, shy voice greeted her from behind.
Kat spun around and nearly collided with Kim Stewart. The fog and sand were instantly gone. They were standing in the middle of a field of lavender and the sun was out, deliciously warm on Kat’s skin. A dragonfly buzzed by her.
Kat put her hand over her heart. “Kim, is that you?” she asked in a tremulous voice.
Kim gave her a little shy wave. “Yeah. It’s nice to see you, Kat.”
Kat closed her eyes and sank to her knees in front of Kim. “How can you say that?”
“Because it’s true,” Kim answered. She crouched in the grass next to Kat and touched her shoulder. “I’ve wanted to see you again. I just didn’t think it would be so soon.”
Kat shook her head. “You must hate me so much,” she said in a choked, anguished whisper. “I took your life from you.”
“No, you didn’t,” Kim denied. “That was my choice – not yours.”
“You never would have made it if I had stood up for you,” Kat insisted. “All I had to do was tell them to leave you alone and it would have stopped. You would still be alive.”
Kim touched her cheek. “And you probably wouldn’t be the person you are now. You would still be that awful girl you used to be.”
“You saved me, Kim,” Kat said tearfully, placing her hand on top of Kim’s. “I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.”
Kim smiled. “Yes you did. You saved me when you stood up for Bronwyn. You saved me when you took that ball for Luke. You saved me that day at the pep rally. Kat – I forgive you.”
Kat looked at her then dissolved into a torrent of tears. Kim hugged her and rocked her, whispering words of comfort. “You can let go of it now…the guilt. It’s over.”
After the crying spell subsided, Kat drew back and hugged Kim fiercely. They stayed that way for several minutes, just holding each other.
Suddenly, a thought struck Kat. “Wait – were you a witch?”
Kim nodded. “Yup – just another thing that set me apart from everyone at St. Agnes.”
“My God, why didn’t you zap one of us?” Kat asked with a laugh, drying her eyes. “Turn us into toads?”
“Besides the fact that it would have been against our laws, you all kinda already were toads,” Kim admitted, giggling. Kat burst out laughing, knowing too well that it was true.
“Where are we?” Kat asked as they rose from the ground. “Is this…heaven?”
Kim shifted her weight to her other foot. “Not quite. You’re not actually dead…yet.”
“What? Where are we then?”
“In between what?”
“Time and eternity,” Kim replied. She held out her hand. “Let’s go for a walk.”
Kat took Kim’s hand and they began to stroll through the field, the heady scent of lavender almost suffocating. They must have walked for miles but Kat didn’t tire or thirst. They came upon a lake, its surface shimmering in the sunlight. A sturdy wooden pier jutted out over the water, with a small red-and-white rowboat at the end. Kim padded down the pier to the rowboat and gently lowered herself down. She turned and offered her hand to Kat.
“Ready to leave?” she asked.
Kat felt a pang of uneasiness. “Leave for where?”
Kim looked at her as if she had just asked what one plus one was. “I’ve got to lead you there, that’s my purpose. It’s different for me because of the way I went out, but you have to make your choice right here, right now. Do you want to come with me or not?” Her arm was still outstretched, the palm turned upward.
“I can never change my mind, can I?”
Kim shook her head. “Afraid not. You would need to let it go. You would need to let him go.”
If the him was Blaze, then that was not an option.
“I can’t do it, Kim,” Kat balked. “I can’t leave him. I just found him, for goodness’ sake.”
“Then you can’t join me,” Kim said sadly. “You can’t have one foot there and the other here. You’ll be lost. There’s no rest that way.”
“I’m not done,” Kat said adamantly, thinking not just of Blaze and her family but of the girls at Mercy House, the ones who had just started to open up to her and depend on her.
“How much fight do you have left in you, Kat Grey?” Kim asked seriously. “Because you’re gonna have to fight.”
“Then I will,” Kat responded. “Because I can’t say that I did all that I wanted to do. If there’s still a chance, then I have to try.”
Kim sighed and dropped her hand. She sat down in the row boat and picked up the oars. “You’re a stubborn one.”
“So I’ve been told,” Kat said, swiping under her eyes. Kim grinned broadly and prepared to set off.
“Wait,” Kat called out.
Kim set her oars down again, her eyes bright. “You want to come?”
“No,” Kat replied. “I’m not going to stop saving you. That’s why I want to go back.”
“Good luck then,” Kim said. “I hope you set the world on fire.”
Kat walked to the edge of the pier. “I will. Thank you for forgiving me.”
“I hope I see you again soon, Kat Grey,” Kim said, giving her a little wave of farewell. Kat watched her row to the other side of the lake. On the opposite shore, Kim got out of the rowboat and climbed to the top of the rise. She looked back over her shoulder at Kat and smiled before disappearing into the woods.
Copyright 2013 Verdell Walker