Killing myself was going to be harder than I thought.

I looked at the knife in my hand, poised against the flesh of my arm. Six inches long, single edge, ivory hilt. The blade was razor sharp, the evidence running down my arm in warm rivulets from the shallow wound. I steeled myself, and the blade bit further. For several long moments I held the pose, before lifting the knife and hurling it across the room. It clanged against the wall and fell to the floor, but I ignored it. Again I had failed. The scratch on my arm would join the other scars that marked past attempts.

It wasn't as though I was afraid of death. Far from it, I was intimately familiar with the afterlife, having discovered the ability to speak with the spirits more than two years ago. No, it was the pain that scared me, shamed as I was to admit it. It was the one final hurdle that stood between myself and the brief moments of complete freedom before eternal oblivion.

I slumped against the wall of the small hut I called home. Giving up on suicide attempts for the evening, I turned to the next best thing: the spirit world.

Ever since my parents had died – I say 'died' because it's easier than saying 'my father killed my mother and then himself' – I found myself with the unusual ability to speak with the dead. Imagine coming home one evening and finding your father sobbing over the body of your mother, a bloody knife in his hand. Before you can process the scene, he takes the knife and thrusts it into his own neck, falling to the ground to join her.

Bad enough, right?

Now imagine that you can see their spirits floating above their bodies, misty, hazy representations of the most important people in your life. Within moments, the mist dissipates, leaving you wondering whether you were hallucinating.

It gets worse.

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