Note: this fanfic spoils parts of the good ending of Trace Memory. If you don't mind that, then go right ahead.
Love From Beyond - A Trace Memory Short Story
"Hey, paisanos, it's the Super Mario-..."
"Who are the Mythbusters?"
"Coming up, Stephen Colbert's special report, 'Bears: Threat or Menace?'"
Ashley let out a sigh of frustration as she flicked the TV off. Flopping onto the sofa in Jessica's apartment, she began to think. Something was eating away at her and she couldn't figure out what.
It had been two weeks since Ashley had reunited with her father after the events on Blood Edward Island. Since then, a restless feeling had come over her that she couldn't quite shake. It was almost as if something was still missing from her life.
Still, she had to admit things were looking up for her. Once her dad got his affairs in order, the two could start over as father and daughter. The thought of that made her smile...
In that instant, the answer came to her. She had been reunited with her father, but her family was still missing someone. Ashley decided to go pay that someone a visit.
Sayoko's grave was located in a nice little plot in the back of the cemetery, a short walk from Jessica's apartment. Ashley hadn't been there in some time, but she found herself there that day.
"Hi, Mom," she said. "It's been a long time, hasn't it? So much has happened that I want to tell you about. Dad's come back home and we're going to be a family again. And...and I really miss you."
"I've missed you too."
Ashley perked up as soon as she heard the voice. Turning around, she saw a ghost floating behind her. She appeared similar to D, with her top half being visible, her bottom half a ghostly wisp and colored evenly in a light blue. She looked the same as she did when she died, young with beautiful eyes and short hair, almost an older version of Ashley. She looked at Ashley with a warm smile.
"M-mom?" gasped Ashley.
"Hi, sweetie," replied the ghost.
Ashley instinctively rushed forward and embraced her mother. She was quick to stop when she realized her arms merely passed through her, but instead simply assumed the position as though she were actually hugging her. Her mother happily returned the gesture by embracing her daughter as best she could in her arms.
"Oh, Mom, I'm so happy to see you again!"
"So am I, Ashley."
The two released their embrace and leaned back to take a good look at each other.
"How is this possible? How did you come back?" asked Ashley.
"People who've died can come back to visit every once in a while. It's kind of a rare privilege."
"Why haven't you come to see me before, Mom?"
"I'm sorry, Ashley. Coming back from beyond is very hard for us. I only managed it once a few years. I knew you were all right with Jessica, so I wanted to find out what happened to Richard."
"You saw Dad?"
"Yes, he was working in a new laboratory on an island. I'd never seen him focused so intensely on our old research. I tried to get his attention, but he couldn't see me for some reason."
"I think I know why. I met another ghost once named D. He told me that some people can't see ghosts because their minds are too clouded. They can't see things in front of them."
"You met another ghost? When was that?"
"It's a long story, Mom."
As Ashley told her story, her mother sat down on the ground as best she could with her ghostly appendage. Ashley sat down next to her, eventually laying down and resting her head in her mom's lap. She continued to talk while her mother stroked Ashley's head gently.
"Oh, that's quite a story," said Sayoko. "I had no idea so much happened to you."
"It still surprises me when I think back on it," agreed Ashley.
"You've grown up so much, Ashley. You've become such a beautiful young woman."
"You really think so?" asked Ashley, turning just a little red.
"Of course. I'm very proud of you."
Ashley smiled and snuggled into her mom's lap a little more.
"Hey, Mom, what's it like being a ghost?" asked Ashley.
"It's...very odd. You really can't do anything but observe other people."
"Is it lonely?"
"Yes, I suppose it is. A lot of the other ghosts I've seen all seem to visit their loved ones when they come back. Why do you ask?"
In truth, seeing her mom again had caused Ashley to remember D. If ghosts who came back were lonely, she could only imagine how bad he'd had it on Blood Edward Island all those years. She wondered if he was doing all right now that he had moved on.
"Hey, Mom, if you see D in the afterlife, would you tell him I said 'hi'?"
Sayoko looked down and began to see her arms fading.
"I have to go now," she said softly.
Ashley jerked back up into a sitting position in surprise.
"What? Why?" she asked, turning back to her mother.
"I can't say long in this world. I don't have the kind of strength needed."
"Will I ever see you again?"
"Of course, honey. It will take a few years, but I'll be sure to come back when I get a chance."
"I love you, Mom."
"I love you too, Ashley."
Sharing a final embrace, Ashley held her mother until her warmth could no longer be felt. When she opened her eyes, Sayoko was gone. Tears welled up in her Ashley's eyes, but she didn't hide the smile on her face that lasted all the way home.