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A Second Chance

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This is the story of Ashley, a normal girl from any criteria: she is a popular girl in her high school, she's an excellent student and she overcomes every challenge life sets for her. If anyone ever searched for a definition for pink life, Ashley's life fit it perfectly.

Despite such a meaningful, almost dream-like life, nothing can be perfect. Ashley's parents got divorced when she was five years old, so she grew up without her father, who moved away from her, and whom she could visit once at six months. Ashely's mother was a drug addict; Cocaine was her weak spot. She spent most of the money meant for holding Ashley and her for Cocaine packs, and barely could afford holding the house, whose rent was too high for her to pay. When Ashley thought nothing could make her life worse, she discovered her father got stabbed to death in a drunk brawl. She became deeply depressed and all she could think of was escaping reality, by any means necessary. Leaving this cold world was all she craved for. Ashley became less friendly in time, closing herself in her room, shutting all windows and crying on her bed.

One day, while sitting in her room, shaking off the depression which ate her soul, a thick smoke entered her room from beneath her closed door. Ashley began to choke and stepped toward her door in order to find the cause of the smoke, but when she opened her door she could see nothing but fire, all over her house. Afraid of the fire, which kept consuming every part of the house, Ashley searched for the source of the fire. And then she saw it – the oven was left working with no supervision. Even if she wanted to turn it off, it was too dangerous and hot to get near. Ashley's heartbeat grew faster than ever, and tears began to drop down her cheeks. She ran for the door to open it and escape the burning house, but instead of opening, it remained shut! Her mother locked her in from the outside accidentally, dooming Ashley to die choking and burning. Ashley fought harder to open the door and began to cry of fear, but her efforts didn't help, and the door remained locked. This was it for her. Surrounded by fire which came closer towards her, Ashley accepted her fate. After all, that's all she ever wanted – escaping. Cheered from the thought all is going to end, Ashley took her terminal breath and closed her eyes, as the fire began to burn her slowly, peeling her skin from her, and burning deeper and deeper into her exposed flesh.

After a few minutes, Ashley felt nothing, no agony nor the fire consuming her. However she still felt alive. A living conscious with no physical body. How could that be? How was she still alive? And more importantly, why was she still alive? What kind of sick fate will prevent a suicidal man from his deepest wish? All these questions bugged her. There must be an explanation to all this. There must be. Ashley tried to open her eyes, but all she could see was the color white, stretching further until the horizon. "Maybe I'm within a limbo," she thought to herself. But why? Why did she, from all the depressed people out there, get thrown into an unwanted limbo? When it came to her mind, Ashley realized she was floating. She looked down, and she could see a white floor below her. Ashley stretched her legs and as her bare foot touched the cold floor, she fell down. She slowly stood up, exploring the bizarre environment she was in. Nothing but white. Ashley began to walk slowly toward the white horizon, not knowing even where she was heading. After a minute of wandering within the enormous white, Ashley heard a whisper saying "Ashley". It sounded like her father. She searched for the voice around her, but she found nothing.

"Dad? I'm here! Where are you?" she yelled into the horizon, hoping someone would hear.

"I'm right here, my child," replied the voice.

"If I can hear you, does it mean that… I'm dead?"

"No. You're not dead, Ashley."

"But how? The last thing I remember is that I got burned…"

"You're a very clever girl, Ashley. I've seen it since the very moment you were born."

"So how am I not dead?"

"I think you know the answer to this question."

Ashley thought for a few seconds, trying to find the right answer for what she was told. When she felt she found the answer, she replied:

"I'm not supposed to…"

"That's right, my child," her dad replied.

"But how? I saw no reason in living after your death! All I wanted was to join you…"

"I believe the reason for that was simple – despite your will to die, you have more life power than anyone I've ever met."

"If what you're saying is correct, how do I go back?"

Her father remained silent for a few seconds, and then replied:

"Fight for it."

"I… I'll try my best, dad," Ashley said, the fear could be felt speaking from her. "But what will happen if I fail?"

"You will not. You're a strong, brave girl. I know you can do this."

"Thank you, father…" Ashley said, then she turned around and began to walk peacefully, like she could see the door out of this place. After a few steps Ashley stopped, turned her head back and said to the white emptiness, "I love you, dad."

"I love you too, Ashley, so much…"

Ashley then began to run toward the white horizon as she began to fade. She was coming back.

Ashley woke up and felt a strange cold inside the darkness she was lying in. She tried to sit, but she couldn't raise her head, like something was blocking her. She raised her hands, trying to feel the object that blocked her. It felt cold and smooth, like marble. Ashley could hear a woman crying somewhere above her. Despite the cry sounding far and obscure, Ashley recognized the person who cried. It was her mother.

Only after hearing her mother's cry, she realized.

She came back. Too late.

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