Lara smiled as she watched him move up there on the stage at Wembley. He was so beautiful and full of life. It was hard to fathom that he was gone now. She gazed at the TV screen, her eyes sparkling with love for the man strutting back and forth as he sang out clear and beautiful, and for a moment or two Lara felt a sense of sadness. It was about that time in the year. Two months before she and her mother and sister had celebrated his birthday. Now the time was approaching to light a candle for his death. In fact, it was the next day.
She'd been a Freddie fan practically her whole life. He'd died when she was eight years old, and she remembered her mother crying when the world found out the great Freddie Mercury had passed away. Her mother, Jane, had barely recovered from the day before when everyone found out he had AIDS. Lara remembered her mother had been depressed for a month or so after that. Lara herself didn't become a fan until she was around twelve. Her mother had been so proud! Her little girl was following in her Freddie fangirl footsteps. Every year on September 5th, she and her mother and sister Laney celebrated Freddie's birthday, and every November 24th they lit a candle for his passing.
Now Lara was 28 years old and was watching Freddie perform at Wembley Stadium on DVD. It wasn't her first time seeing it, in fact she'd first seen it on tape when she was six years old. She and her sister had danced around the living room while their mother clapped. Lara watched him move and sing and play the piano and a wave of sadness passed over her. Tears sprang into her eyes as she knew the concert was near the end of it. She looked at the clock on her laptop and saw that it was 11:45 pm. At midnight she was going to light a candle for her Freddie. Her eyes moved to the TV again and she wished she'd have been there at the front of the stage, so Freddie could grasp her hands as he sang. As the concert came to a close, Lara sniffled and clapped along with the audience. She let the credits roll as she hugged a pillow to her chest, listening to the music that accompanied them. Midnight came more quickly than she'd wanted it to and as soon as the clock struck twelve, Lara got up and grabbed her lighter. She lit the vanilla flavored candle she had bought for this occasion. It was her only candle. After she lit the candle, she went back to the couch and sat down on it. She picked up the pillow again and gazed at the candle. Suddenly, she began to cry, hugging the pillow close to her chest, "Oh Freddie...ohfreddieohfreddieohfreddie" she whimpered.
All of a sudden the lights went out and Lara felt a presence around her. That's what it was; around. She didn't know if it was beside her or in front of her or behind her, she just knew it was there. In a moment the lights came back on and Lara nearly jumped out of her skin. There was someone there...someone she never in a million years thought she'd ever see in front of her.
"Oh, come now. All this boohooing over little 'ol me?"
Lara's wet eyes were wide in shock. Her mouth had dropped open and for a moment or two she literally forgot her ability to speak.
The figure resembling Freddie chuckled from where he was leaned against the door frame, "Speechless, are you? Well I suppose you would be, seeing a ghost and all...especially seeing such a fabulous ghost." he grinned, showing off his prominent teeth.
Lara finally found her tongue, "F-Freddie? Is...is it...you?" she whispered.
"The one and only, in the flesh...well sort of..." he said, looking down at himself. He was wearing a skintight black unitard with plastic diamonds around the shoulders. His black hair was touching his shoulders and he face was clean shaven. He looked as he had in the mid 70's, and Lara couldn't stop staring in astonishment.
After a few seconds, Freddie put a hand on his hip and gave her an impatient look, "Well are you going to do anything, or have I wasted my time coming here?" he said in a very annoyed tone of voice.
Suddenly something inside her clicked. Lara's pillow dropped to the floor and she sprung off the couch and launched herself at him, grabbing him around the waist.
"Oh my god! I can't believe it's you! Oh my GOD!" she cried, squeezing him tightly. She half expected him to push her away, but he didn't. Instead he gently put his arms around her and hugged her.
"Aww sweetie...you really do love me, don't you?" he said, seeming to positively melt at her affections. His annoyance had melted away and now he was rubbing her back and stroking her hair.
Lara sniffled, "Y-yeah...I love you so much!" she looked up at his smiling face before it suddenly hit her. She was touching him! But...he was a ghost, wasn't he? Slowly she let go of him and took a curious step back. He let go of her so she could move freely.
"Is something wrong, darling?" he asked.
"Y-you're a ghost..."
He nodded, "Affirmative." he said reaching to wipe the tears from her cheeks with his hand.
"So how can I touch you? Why didn't my arms go right through you?" she asked.
Freddie grinned again, "Well, darling, since you're such a sweet little lady, I'll let you in on a secret! Some ghosts...such as myself...are able to become corporeal at will. So if you ever need a hug from yours truly, I am able to give you one...ooh! And watch this...I can even change form."
Lara watched as Freddie put his arms out and his looks began to change. His chest and shoulders went from skinny to broad and his hair changed from long to short. She saw his upper lip sprout a mustache and his clothes changed from the skintight unitard to a pair of blue jeans and a white wife beater with a white and black striped jacket over it. When he was through changing, Lara was looking at 80's Freddie where 70's Freddie had stood before. He smiled at her, moving to stand beside her.
"So....what do you think?"
Not knowing what else to do, Lara began to clap, "That was wonderful! So...you could be any style you want?"
He nodded, "Pretty fab, huh?" he said, his black eyebrows moving up and down. Lara nodded vigorously and gave him another hug, which he returned giggling. He smelled like flowers and aftershave, and it was positively divine.
"My, my dear, you sure do love to hug!" he remarked.
Lara pulled back, "Yes...is that ok?" she asked, suddenly a bit worried. She didn't want to annoy the one person she thought she'd never get to meet!
Freddie gave an exaggerated sigh, "Well, of COURSE it's ok! I could hug you for centuries, my darling!" he winked.
Lara felt her face turn red, and another question came to her mind. Freddie could sense it and he waited expectantly for her to ask it.
"So...why did you come to me? Is it just because I was crying?"
Freddie smiled again and he got up and began to pace, since it seemed he couldn't stand still. Lara found that amusing; he seemed like that back when he was alive too.
"Well to tell you the truth, parts of the afterlife are kind of boring. I was sent to a place full of music, of course, but even there there are some boring days. So I said to the Maker, 'could I please be assigned something, anything to pass the time?' and he told me to go to someone who misses me. Of course, I thought it would be one of my most loved ones...for some unfathomable reason, I was whisked here of all places...to someone I never even met. When I saw the book you were reading, I knew it was you I'd been sent to. So here I am."
Lara stared. Of all the answers he could have given her that was the one she least expected...she really had not known what to expect really. After a couple of seconds Lara spoke again.
"So...how long can you stay?" she asked.
He sat back down next to her and touched her nose, "As long as you want me, sweeting...and when you don't want me anymore...I'll go!" he grinned.
Lara couldn't believe her ears...he was telling her that....he would be there for an indefinite amount of time?
"So if I don't want you to leave you can stay with me for...the rest of my life?" she asked, her eyes widening again. Freddie's eyes widened, "You'd really want me to stay that long? My dear, I can be annoying as hell if the mood takes me!"
"Just the fact that you're here, Freddie...I mean...I was eight when you went away...my mother, she was traumatized. Hey! Can I take you to meet her? She'd completely flip out!" Lara's eyes lit up.
Freddie, who had been misting up at hearing her loving words, gave her a sad smile.
"No darling....as much as I would love to meet your mother, you are the only person who can see or hear me. I came here for you and you only." he said, giving her cheek a stroke with his index finger.
Lara's face fell, "So....I can't introduce you to anybody?"
He shook his head, "Not unless you want them to think you're loony." he said kindly, putting his arm around Lara's shoulders, "But it means you get me all to yourself...you've got yourself an invisible friend." he said softly.
Lara laughed, "That's ironic! I've loved you since I was twelve, and in middle school and high school, you were my imaginary boyfriend."
He grinned hugely, "Was I?"
She nodded, "Yes...I didn't talk much about you in high school, because in middle school the kids teased me for it. They told me 'you're so ugly even your imaginary boyfriend likes guys more than you!'....good times." she sighed, blushing.
Freddie hugged her again, "Awww I'm sorry they did that to you, sweetie...well that's the good thing about the imagination...you can make someone exactly how you want them." he said gently. Lara snuggled against him, smiling. She loved being there in his warmth. He felt like he was actually alive!
"It's so neat that I can actually touch you." she murmured.
"It is, isn't it? I quite like it myself actually....it would be lonely being a ghost who couldn't touch anything or anyone. Oddly enough, I can move through walls. I suppose it can change at will." he seemed to muse out loud.
"Really? Cool!" she said, pulling back to smile at him.
He winked, "I'm a fabulous being, darling!"
She laughed, "Yes you certainly are!" she exclaimed, delighted.
After a moment, Lara had a thought, "Do you sleep? Will you be bored while I'm asleep?" she asked.
Freddie thought for a moment, "No, I don't sleep...umm...perhaps I can see what's new on television...see if there are any horrendous fashions I can make fun of." he giggled.
For some reason, Lara thought that was the cutest thing he could have said, and she leaned on his shoulder, eliciting an 'aww' noise from him as he put his arm around her.
"What's got you so affectionate, my girl?" he asked softly.
"I hope you don't mind...but it's what I want to do every time I see a music video of you, or hear a Queen song...or even see a picture or read anything you...but if it annoys you, I'll stop." she said softly.
"Aww...no, sweetie, it doesn't annoy me. It makes me happy you aren't afraid to touch me. Most people would be afraid to come near a ghost." he said softly, playing with a strand of her hair.
"I might forget you're a ghost after a while...unless you make a habit of changing forms. I just hope I don't bore you." she said.
"Trust me, darling. If I get bored, I'll find something to do, don't worry about me." he winked as he snuggled against her. She was very soft and he liked the way her pajamas felt.
They stayed like that for a little while until it was time for Lara to go to bed. Freddie carried her into her bedroom and tucked her in with a kiss. Then he went back into the living room and flipped the television on. After fiddling with the DVD player, muttering about what a weird contraption it was, he found the channels.
"All right, let's see what I've missed." he murmured softly.