Count Down (Part 1)

My time had almost come. I lay in bed, dawn peeping in though the gaps in the damaged blind. I watched the shafts of golden light playing with dust particles I must have missed during my late night cleaning. Turning my head, I saw the small, bright red timer sitting on my bedside table beside my alarm clock, glasses and water bottle.

The numbers run together for a few moments then I put on my glasses and they become clear. 3:00:56 flashed at me before the seconds changed and ticked down. I sat up and picked up the timer, it was shaped like an egg – if an egg could be flatted and still hold it shape. There was a small grey washed out screen on which the black numbers were displayed. The timer had a couple of deep scratches and a dint in one side. It had been with me all my life, so some wear was going to happen.

The numbers carried on counting down and my mind whirled with thought. I sighed loudly and lay back down. My ceiling was plain white, designed so that things could be projected across it. I played with the timer, feeling it’s smoothness and dint. Oddly, I could feel it pulsing. I’m sure it hadn’t done that before.

I went to look at the numbers again, but my bedroom door opened. I shut my eyes and stopped moving my hand, faking sleep. I knew it was my younger sister, I could tell by the way she was trying to sneak in.

‘Caz, get up. I went to go to the park and mum says you have to come too!’ Arabella’s voice shouted.

‘I don’t feel well,’ I responded.

‘Mum! Mum!’ Arabella screamed, ‘Caz is sick!’

I waited, half holding my breath and debating what I was going to say. There was a light knocking on my door and my mum calling my name.

‘Yeah?’ I muttered.

‘Are you ill?’ she asked and walked in.

She was still wearing her pink dressing gowned and slipper. Her hair was tied back and her face clean of makeup. She came to sit beside me and put her hand to my forehead.

I brought my hand up and showed the timer.

‘My life event,’ I pointed out, for that was what the timer was.

Everyone at their birth was given one. No one really knew where they come from or why, just that when the numbers reached zero a major life event would happen.

Mum nodded, not seeing the number at all.

‘Look,’ I demanded sticking it in her face, ‘Maybe, I should have told you sooner, but I was scared.’

Mum took the timer and looked at it, her face twisted from concern to puzzlement to fear.

‘What’s going to happen?’ I pressed. I could feel the panic raising within me.

‘Nothing, nothing,’ mum said calming, ‘don’t think about it.’

I shook my head, ‘no. There must be a reason…please.’

‘Look, you just stay in bed, okay? Nothing can happen to you here.’

She kissed me and placed the timer back on the bed. She got up and pulled the duvet tighter over me. I clutched my fingers together and tried to convince myself that she was right. Nothing was going to happen.

‘I’ll come and check on you before we go to park,’ mum said and left.

I watched her close the door and I heard Arabella questioning her. My eyes flickered back to the timer. What did it mean? What was going to happen? If I stayed in bed would the life event pass me by? I rolled over and watched the seconds and minutes running down. I had never before questioned the timer. It had been a part of me like a finger or a toe was. Maybe, I thought, I should have spent more time trying to figure it out then daydreaming about Rory Tylor.

Burying my head in the pillow, my glasses dug into me and I had ease myself up again. The urge to go to the bathroom, which I had pushed away came back again and I decided I should go. I still had Three hours, fifty-five minutes and twenty-six seconds to go. I quickly walked down the hallway and did what I had to do. Which automatically included washing my face, brushing my teeth and hair.

When I got back the timer showed, 3: 53: 09 and when I blinked I could see the numbers dancing in front of my closed eyes. I got back into bed and pulled out a book I had been reading. I found my place and began, but the timer pressed against me and I just couldn’t take my eyes away long enough.

I closed the book and picked up the timer, ‘what is it? What’s going to happen?’ I questioned it. The timer didn’t say anything. I squeezed it and started muttering a pray-mantra. Words tumbled out of my mouth, running together and soon I didn’t know what I was saying. I came back to, the words fading and realised I had been rocking. I stopped and looked down at the timer. My palms were red and a slight imprint of the timer could be seen.

The numbers were still counting down.

I didn’t know what to do. I got up and roamed around my room. I looked out the window. I could see a bit of the street, the park and the apartment. There was nothing else. I looked at the timer and thought about dropping it out of the window. I unlocked it and pushed open the glass. I felt a tickle of cool air and then nothing. It was a hot day. I held my hand with the timer out and willed myself to let go.

I couldn’t do it.

I brought my hand back in and saw the numbers now said; 3:46:38.

Something had to be done.

I dressed, putting on whatever I could find and hurried down the stairs. Mum and Arabella were at the table having breakfast. They stared at me as I burst in.

‘Look, she’s not sick!’ Arabella yelled.

‘Leave her alone,’ mum said and turned away from me, the fear on her face plain enough.

I walked over and looked down at the cluttered table. Their timers were there. The numbers were high and not counting down.

To Be Continued…