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Authors: Adalynn Rafe

Ripple Effect: A Novel

BOOK: Ripple Effect: A Novel
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Ripple Effect

 

A Novel

 

 

 

Adalynn Rafe

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

 

 

 

 

This book was greatly inspired by the sweet souls of those who left the world too early, including a few precious friends of my own. You are each greatly missed. I am certain that you will find your own little paradise in the here-after. Know that your legacy lives on in the people that love you — in the hearts of those you impacted most.

 

 

 

THE BEGINNING OF THE END

 

“I’m not really into this type of thing.”

I sit down at this small round table with a rather sultry looking black velvet tablecloth. There’s also a crystal ball in the middle. A sense of mysticism lingers in this dark backroom, lit by a few lamps and glowing salt rocks.

Across from me is the fortuneteller, Elsie.

My right hand extends to her. I watch anxiously as she starts to trace the lines on my palm. She says something about wealth. Then she releases a small gasp and her eyes widen.

She slowly looks at me, her pupils large. My right hand drops to the table. “Your left hand—” Elsie is eager to see what the other palm has to reveal.

My left hand extends more reluctantly than the right. An ache in my temples suggests that my jaw has been clenched too tightly for too long . . . that, or the incense is giving me a headache.

After another examination and complete silence, she places my left hand on the table. She just stares at me, evaluating every possible thing that she can, including my soul.

“Well—” My throat is a little froggy from being nervous, so I clear it and try again. “
Well?

Elsie leans forward onto her pointy elbows. “Welcome back to the realm of the living.”

PART I: CONSEQUENCE

 

What could the hardships of living possibly be compared to?

If everything has an opposite, wouldn’t death be life’s dark reflection?

 

Chapter 1

 

Colors surrounded me. Richly vibrant colors.

My vision became clearer as a mountain came into view, clouds hanging lightly over the snow covered peak. Tracing the lines of the cliffs, my sights landed on a cluster of vibrantly green pine trees. Following the trail of glistening water, I came to the ledge in front of me. Trees and plants filled with bright greens, yellows, reds, and purples lined the hill, coated with soft sparkles. It smelled like subtle hints of rose and lavender, mixed with vanilla bean and soft cotton.

Stepping toward a plant, I noticed that I wore a soft, white, sleeveless dress flowing elegantly in different lengths between my ankles and knees. Twirling once, sending the light fabric of the dress dancing around me accompanied by bits of sparkling dust, I laughed and picked a long and thin leaf from a violet branch. It was real, or seemed real. It felt real. The leaf held the color of royalty, a deep purple––my favorite. And as soft as a feather. I brushed it across the skin on my arm; bumps rose in its shadow.

 

The doors kicked opened and my frantic mother ran into the morgue. Her short brown hair wasn’t styled. No makeup covered her ivory skin and large purple bags haunted the space beneath her hazel eyes—my eyes. Her lips looked almost white with fear and apprehension, her face now pale and skeletal. Not even when my father died had she looked so horrified as she stared at the body before her.

 

 

Running, I tried my hardest to wipe the vision from my head.

It seemed to dissipate as my fingers touched the soft plants. The air smelled so clean and fresh. Plants released a cleansing fragrance and dewy sparkles. This seemed to be some sort of paradise, nothing I had ever seen.

Dropping my body to the ground, I was enveloped in soft leaves, like feathers, and I stared up at a star filled sky.
What a spectacular dream I’ve landed in.

An orange and pink sunset stretched in the west and a sun rise glowed in the east. Between them stretched a sky full of glorious stars and the big white moon, back dropped on an indigo blanket.

My eyes shut.

 

“My baby?” Her voice filled with denial. “My Cecily?”

“Mom,” I whispered. “Momma?”

Anger filled Mom’s eyes, an anger that I’d never ever seen in my life. “My daughter did not commit suicide!” she screamed, hysterical now. “Cecily did not commit suicide!”

 

Howling rang through the quiet space, jerking me from the nightmare once more.

Sitting up quickly, I glanced around me for the source of the noise. My heart pounded and dread etched through my veins. I could only think of one word: s
uicide.
It couldn’t possibly be true. I was alive . . . wasn’t I just dreaming?

A black, white, and brown beagle came running toward me, trying it’s hardest to jump over the colorful bushes, and hardly clearing them by a few centimeters with its color stained white belly. Its giant ears slapped against its head every time it landed. When it reached me, the tail wagged back and forth and a big puppy smile lined his beagle face.

“Bandit?” My eyebrow shot up with disbelief. “Hound?”

Bandit howled again before bobbing his head up and down. A pink tongue lolled out of his mouth and his whole body wagged in happiness.

My heart clenched and my vision blurred. “Bandit!” I wrapped my arms tightly around him and rested my head on his soft black fur, noticing the spot of white at the base of his neck. “My mongrel!”

Bandit licked my face, his warm tongue leaving wet streaks on my skin.

“But—but you’re dead! This obviously can’t be real!”

A blank expression filled his face and he panted.

“As are you, Cecily Wolf,” said a man. “You’re dead.”

 

A noise came from my mother’s mouth, the most horrible noise that I had ever heard. It was a scream of horror, of terror, of realization––the noise a mother makes when her child is gone forever and there is nothing she can do about it.

 

Shaking my head to release myself from the horrible vision, I glanced over my shoulder and into the shocking blue eyes of a man. He smiled as he watched me, a sad one at that. His handsome face filled with kindness and understanding, though inquisitive with a tensed brow.

“Dead?” I breathed, eyes wide, almost crying. “
No.

“My name is Kelly,” he introduced professionally. “I am here to help you, Cecily. I am here to help you get home.”

I noticed that he wore white as well, in the form of loose linen. His worn hands rested on the colorful ground beside him. He might have been wise, but I knew he was just a young thing, like me. Pretending that he didn’t feel my gaze piecing apart his soft features, he stared off into the sunset.

“This is just a nightmare—”

“Cecily, you have died,” he informed. “You are now lingering in a place of holding, if you will, until you find your way home.”

I buried my face in my hands and choked back the sudden onslaught of sobs.

“Cecily, you have died. I know it is hard to believe.”

My dog started whimpering as he snuggled closer to me. Even he knew the truth.

“Look.” My hands lowered as Kelly pulled something out from behind him that resembled a large picture frame. “Only the truth can set you free,” he said.

I stared at the reflection of a girl I once knew. Rosy cheeks, soft lips, small nose, and feminine angles—I saw Cecily Wolf. The auburn hair proved it. How could I be dead if I looked so very much alive?

“Only the truth can set me free . . . ,” I whispered.

Chapter 2

 

“Kelly, I’m not going to go in there, am I?” I stared at what I would consider a bad place.

Taking my hand in his, he held it tightly, as if to carry some of my fear for me. “Remember that I am beside you, Cecily. You aren’t alone.”

My eyes met his. “Thank you,” I whispered, before facing the scene.

A mansion sat high up on the hill. This dwelling would normally look pristine and flashy, but its glory was dimmed down with other, darker things at the moment.

Like teenage stupidity. I would know.

Loud music blared from the miniature palace, the bass vibrating so violently that it could be heard from where we stood a large distance away. Surging from the walls of the house, the music lacked lyrics and the main beat of the song, sounding like jumbles of screeching and scratching. It was the basis of an absolutely earsplitting headache.

Amusing, though certainly sad, a few lost stragglers—filled with booze and only they knew what else—paraded across the lawn and pretended that their dignity remained intact. These few also were keen on running around in boxers and underwear in chilly temperatures, and taking dips in the extravagant fountain in the front.

And this was existence for the elitists, the royals, of high school.

I doubted that the parents of the kid who owned this house would approve of this gathering of partygoers, so my bets were placed that they were gone. What parent in their right mind would approve of a vehicle parked on the perfectly manicured front lawn—BMW or not? Clearly, it was an act of flat out rebellion.

Kelly pointed to two girls strutting haughtily down the street.

“Hazel and you.” Kelly sighed.

That’s when pain and doubt shot through my chest. What I saw was unacceptable and horrifyingly real. That imposter had taken my body and turned me into a skank! Dark makeup—supposedly sultry but looking more like zombie—hid my face, and my auburn hair was piled high on my head to expose my neck and collarbones. The flesh of my white stomach showed through a lacey black top, and if it wasn’t for that red bra under the lace . . .

I shuddered. “That’s not me!” My hands patted my soft auburn hair, and I knew that I wore little makeup, if any. That imposter wasn’t me.

Kelly sighed loudly and surely rolled his eyes at my denial. “Cecily, that is you.”

Cecily laughed at the half-naked guy on the front porch lying face down in his puke, probably choking and dying. She strutted into the party, arrogant and full of herself just like the others, with a nervous Hazel in tow. Kelly and I followed behind them.

Inside we found a huge dance party. But this wasn’t just any dance party; it was one that catered to the royals.

The giant foyer held young people. They danced provocatively, grinding on each other and teasing one another seductively. So much flesh––so much exposed cleavage and stomach and lower back. One partner seemed not enough for some and that’s when the real awkwardness began. Needless to say, their actions made me want to puke. I felt like I had walked into a room of concubines and sex slaves.

On second glance, I just saw teenagers being stupid and promiscuous. Perhaps my new found innocence made these actions all the more atrocious. I suddenly preferred the stinky, corpse-filled morgue.

When we reached the main room, we found the real party. Strobe lights flashed and disco balls hung from the tall ceiling with extravagant molding. Food covered
the large countertop in the over-the-top kitchen. Kegs of beer had been placed on the kitchen table next to bottles of hard liquor. People moved to music filled with mumbling voices that surely said nasty words in their haste to follow the quick beat. And of course, drugs were being passed around.

Unfortunately, yet inevitably, drugs were where Cecily and Hazel headed first.

Nausea filled me, which was not fair because I was dead! “Stop! You don’t want that!” I yelled at them. No one could hear or see me.

“Try this out.” Some guy intercepted Cecily and Hazel. “It’ll blow your mind!” Obviously, he was a little “mind blown” already.

Cecily smiled widely and gave him a flirtatious pat on the arm. “Epic. Thanks!” The kid disappeared into the crowd after that.

She then popped some pills before handing a few to Hazel, who wasn’t bent on the whole idea, I could tell. Cecily swallowed it down with a brew.

How could I have done that? Did I even think about my sister, Adie, and how the drugs could ruin the precious bone marrow that she needed to survive?

“What about your sister?” Hazel yelled. “This will ruin your ability to do transplants!”

 

My mother held
my older sister, Adie, in her strong arms. My sister heart-wrenchingly cried into my mom’s shoulder. They sat in the dimly lit living room on a large red couch. Behind them on the wall next to a window was a family portrait, taken of us before Papa died. We sat in the forest.

 

I felt like I had been dropped on my head or something as the room swirled around me, a mixture of the roaring party scene with bright flashing lights, and my cozy living room with red couches and soft lamp light. It made my stomach churn.

Finally we landed in the living room, but a shimmer coated everything, and lights blinked softly in the background. It proved the party was still going, ever present, but dimmed down by the scene before us. My sister and mother really did sit on the red sofa in my family room.

Kelly focused on the picture on the wall, specifically my father.

 

From Germany came my father, Luca Wolf. He stood tall, strong, and handsome. His suave looks matched his charm. One wink from his honey brown eyes and hearts would swoon. Brown hair tapered around his masculine face.

Luca had fallen in love with a tourist named Nina. They married and moved to America to live the American dream. They established a home in a small mining city along the Appalachian mountain range and he became a coal miner. He died three years ago thanks to the black lung. Well, no thanks actually. Lung cancer took my Papa away from me.

My senior picture sat on the coffee table in front of them. I had auburn hair and hazel eyes, like my mother. My cheeks were flushed that day due to a cold, but my delicate face still looked nearly perfect. I was able to mask my illness well. It seemed I masked a lot of things well.

 

“We need to get back to the party, Kelly. I have to see what happens to me!” My hand rested on his bicep as I shook him. “Kelly!”

He just stared at the living that occupied the room. “Just watch.”

They looked, like, fuzzy and coated in opalescent paint.

 

“I miss her, Mom,” Adie cried. “Why did she have to go?”

Adie was my older sister. Her thin body was plagued with chronic leukemia. She had clearly relapsed since my death, a fear that we held inside. Her long brown hair was pulled up into a braid with stray wisps around her narrow face, and her ivory skin looked rather pale. Her skeletal hands wiped the tears from under her brown eyes.

 

A horrible pang hit me internally. It’s not every day you decided to be a selfish brat and kill yourself, letting your sister die slowly and painfully. Without my bone marrow . . . Adie didn’t have a chance.

 

*              *              *

 

Bright lasers hit me in the face, causing me to shield my eyes and look away. We were back at the party—pounding music and laser show and drunken teens all included.

“She’s going to die anyway!” Cecily screamed, but quickly became calm. I stepped up to her, nearly face to face, and examined the dark creature I had become. Tears filled her darkly dramatized eyes, but she fought them with every ounce of strength she had. She was so broken I almost expected precious blood to pour from every crack in her mangled soul. Then she calmly said, “After tonight, it won’t even matter.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death––

That passage came from the Bible. My mother used to read it us in times of sorrow
.

Cecily grabbed a very terrified Hazel, holding her shoulders now, and stared darkly into her eyes. “Do you ever feel like dying, Haze? Like there is nothing worth living for anymore?”

Hazel shook her head and gave her a stern look. “I enjoy living and so do you.”

Cecily glared at her best friend. “Shut up, Hazel!” She popped another pill. They were taking too long to take the jagged edge off of her inhibitions.

A flash of red light illuminated Hazel’s face and disappeared. She stared at her best friend with such shock, such betrayal. “What is the matter with you, Cecily Wolf? You are the most talented person I know. You have a scholarship to the Art Institute in New York City. Why are you throwing it all away?”

Cecily pushed Hazel. “Just take the drugs and shut up! You’ll feel better.” She turned around and merged into the sea of dancing people as Hazel reluctantly popped the pills—just to soften the horrible feeling she held inside.

We moved together, Cecily and me, as we entered into the raging epicenter of the dance floor, with its flashing lights and colorful laser show and mass amounts of drunken wild teenagers. Her skanky skirt threatened to ride up her thighs and she kept pulling it down awkwardly; my flowing white dress hung comfortably around me and I felt like it gave me immunity.

Graduates from previous years were showing up at this party—only royals who were on the football team, cheer squad, or in other stupid clubs that supported teenage stupidity.

And it was Fall Break. The opportune time for everyone to come home and . . . mingle.

We watched Cecily dance. I didn’t have much to say—I felt too sick to even speak about it. Kelly’s head tilted and he seemed remorseful. “Sometime in the few months leading up to this you snapped. Some sort darkness haunted you, perhaps since your father’s death, and something tipped you over the edge and created
this.

My lip started quivering as my heart ached. “Did I really kill myself, Kelly?”

Kelly’s striking eyes examined my face, watching me closely, brow tensed. “We’ll find out soon enough.”

A man advanced towards Cecily. In fact, a very familiar man. I think I had World Civ with his younger brother. She smiled at the attention she received. The drug ran circuits in her head and everything seemed bright and in tune. Cecily felt good as she danced, swinging her hips to music. Her worries and depression had vanished, or so she was fooled into thinking.

A man with dark blond hair and a medium build––yet stronger than an ox––reached his hands toward Cecily. She took them and allowed him to pull her to him. Giggling, she began dancing wildly with him while Hazel danced with another guy in the corner, half-paying attention to him.

“I don’t like this.” My throat started constricting.

“You shouldn’t like this.” Kelly kept his gaze mainly on me, though he looked to the living Cecily here and there. He wanted to see my reaction when everything hit the fan, when I found out the truth about how I died—he anticipated the minute I’d crumble.

“Come on,” the guy said to Cecily. “Come in here with me.”

Cecily stopped. “I don’t know.”

I cheered for her!

The man held her head in his hands and kissed her. “Come on.”

His lips felt good on hers, being that it was her first kiss. “Okay,” she said, bending to his will––only seventeen and highly susceptible at the moment due to intoxication.

He took her into the billiards room. After switching on the dim lights––appearing orange over the green cloth of the pool tables––he closed and locked the door. In the corners of the room sat shadows, the perfect hiding place for prying eyes. From the shadows another man emerged and stood in front of the door, guarding it. Advancing on the high school student, Cecily’s escort pushed her against the walnut-finished pool table.

She forced a smile, clearly more nervous than excited. Her hand traced through her auburn hair methodically, like it would help soothe her worries.

Licking his lips, quenching some disgusting desire, he moved closer. With a dark smile, he held her face firmly in his hand before kissing her.

My stomach churned and I felt short of breath. Yet, I forced myself to watch. I had to.

She moved her head and he pulled back. She was crying now.

“I won’t hurt you,” he whispered. The man’s hands traced down her body, his grimy fingers pulling at the hem of her shirt. I swore his hands touched me, tracing my body like they traced Cecily’s. A sour taste filled my mouth. “Stop it,” I ordered.

Forcefully, she moved his hands away as her face paled. “Stop,” she whispered, fear showing in her voice. “This isn’t right.”

His eyes lit with anger, as if switched on instantly. Grabbing her, he shoved her onto table. Cecily cried as she kicked at him, even hitting his throat.

Aggressively, I charged toward them. “No!” I yelled angrily. “Get off her!”

He grabbed her leg, his face cross. “Don’t fight, Cecily.”

Cecily kicked him in the face. “
Stop!
” We both yelled together.

BOOK: Ripple Effect: A Novel
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