Scattered Ashes - Jessica Sorensen


The sky is dark like a rainstorm; only, no rain is falling from the clouds. The air is cold and crisp, and I can smell death, taste it, feel it through the humidity seeping into my skin.

I’m standing alone in a forest just at the edge of a field. Through the thick tree branches, I can see where three human figures are leaning over something with their heads bowed.

I slowly walk toward them, my bare feet burning against the snow with each step. Tree branches scratch at my face, my arms, my legs, trying to hold me back, a warning not to go any farther. Still, I press on, shoving them out of my way, until I finally trip into a flat opening where the trees part.

“Hello!” I call out, but they don’t turn around.

Snowflakes float from the sky and melt against my flesh as I inch closer. Who are they, and what are they looking at?

“I can’t believe she’s gone,” one of them sobs.

Wait. I know that voice.


She's standing between two people who I recognize are Laylen and Alex. My heart leaps in my chest as fear pulsates through me.

Something’s wrong.

I race for them, but a flock of crows swoop from the trees and dive for me. I hunker down, shielding my head with my arms as they circle me, pecking at my skin. Finally, I let out a scream, and they scurry away. But one remains, flying above Aislin, Laylen, and Alex.

I straighten an inch closer, my heart knocking in my chest as I approach them.

Aislin slips her fingers through Laylen’s, and they turn from whatever they were looking at. Their eyes glisten with tears as they look through me and walk toward the forest.

I twist back to look at Alex. His head is still tipped down, his body still.

“Alex,” I utter softly.

He rakes his fingers through his hair. “Forem,” he whispers the words of our Forever Blood Promise then turns to leave. His shoulders are hunched, his eyes are red from tears, and he looks so heartbroken, so in pain.

And I want nothing more than to make it all go away.


“Wait.” I reach for him, but he vanishes in a heartbeat.

“No!” I cry out, my voice echoing around the forest.

Turning back to where the three of them were standing, I finally see what they were looking at. On the ground is a black coffin with the lid open. Inside, a girl lies with eyes shut, her skin as pale as snow, and her hands are overlapped across her heart.

“No.” My voice trembles as I trip back. “No, this can’t be happening. I’m not dead.”

“Oh, but you are,” someone says from directly behind me.

My back bumps into something solid and cold, and I don’t have to turn around to know who it is.

I shake my head. “No, I’m not. I’m not dead. You’re lying . . . this . . . This isn’t real.”

Suddenly, the half faerie, half Foreseer, and one-hundred percent dead Nicholas emerges in front of me.

An evil grin spreads across his face. “Yes, you are. And denial isn’t going to get you anywhere.” He gestures over my shoulder at the coffin. “Look again, Gemma. And I mean really look this time.”

My eyes burn as I lean forward and look into the coffin.

“It’s not me,” I stammer, shaking my head.

“Look closer,” Nicholas purrs, “and you’ll see it.”

Suddenly, the girl’s eyelids lift open, and I find my own violet eyes staring back at me.

“No!” I scream, stumbling back.

Nicholas chortles. “Welcome to the Afterlife, Gemma, where only the soul survives.”

He shoves me forward, and I fall into the coffin.

“No!” I cry out again, scrambling to get up, but an invisible force holds me down.

Nicholas peers down at me with a crow perched on his shoulder. I start to get to my feet, but the coffin lid slams shut, sealing me inside with nothing but myself.



I open my eyes and breathe easy again when I realize I’m not inside a coffin, but in the safety of my room. The nightmare of my funeral has constantly haunted my sleep for the last few weeks now. It’s always the same, never changing no matter how much I want it to. I know it has more meaning to it than just showing me my death, that it might be my inner conscious showing me what I fear the most—my approaching, unavoidable death.

I try to settle back to sleep, but now that I’m awake, I’m hyperaware of everything going on around me. My boarded