I didn’t know what to say. The determination ebbed and I got a sick feeling to my stomach. I looked from Arabella to mum and desperately wanted them to say something. Suddenly I realised this was my father’s life event all over again.
In a flash, I was back ten years. I was at the table in Arabella’s place eating soggy corn flakes and she was whimpering in a high chair. Mum looked tried and sick, she wasn’t eating. Dad walked into the room, dressed not for work, but as if he was going on a long walk. He kissed us all and went into the hallway. I heard him put on his coat and open the front door. He left without saying a word and mum went upstairs to cry.
I was too young to understand then, but now clutching my counting down timer, I realised that his must have hit zero that day. Where did he go and now did he know what to do? I looked up, going to ask mum.
Arabella give me a hard stare as if to show me that she knew I was faking being ill.
I opened my mouth, but mum quickly shook her head and said, ‘you do whatever feels right, hon.’
‘What?’ Arabella cut in, ‘why is she so special?’
‘It doesn’t matter. Go and get ready to go out,’ she snapped.
Grumbling, Arabella stormed off and mum began tidying up. She kept her back to me and for the first time in my life, I realised she was completely uninterested in me.
‘It happened to dad too, didn’t it,’ I said in a soft voice.
She didn’t speak but carried on putting the dishes in the sink.
‘That’s why you never talk about him. What do you think happened?’
She ran the taps and acting like I was a ghost, started washing up.
‘It could be anything,’ I spoke, ‘you see it on the news all the time. Peoples’ timers have gone to zero and they’ve won the lottery, had a baby, got married, fulfilled their dream. It doesn’t mean you die…At least not everyone…’
‘And what do you think it means to you, Cassandra? You’re sixteen!’ mum cut in, ‘you must have done something! How many times have I told you to be careful? All this time struggling to raise you and your sister, how am I expected to cope with this?’
She banged some things around as she spoke then pressed her hands to the sink and looked down into the water. I watched her shoulders sobbing and decided she was losing it. She wasn’t going to help me even if she could. Leaving, I went back to my room and sat on the bed.
The timer read; 3:38:57.
I thought if I was older maybe there were things I should go and put into place. Like maybe I should sort out a will or my money or something. I looked around my room and decided there was no point wasting time doing that. I might not die and if I did Arabella could have all my stuff. I looked down and noticed I was wearing purple jog pants, a thin green vest top and a comfy but ripped old jumper.
I took everything off. Put on clean underwear and from my wardrobe dug out a pair of soft blue jeans and my favourite long sleeved top. I found my sandy coloured ankle boots under my bed and put them on over some wool socks. Next, I packed a suitcase and a rucksack. I wasn’t really sure why, only that I had the urge to get away from here. I packed clothes, both winter and summer, took some books, my laptop, my music pod. A small photo album, my diary, pencil case and purse went in last.
I put the timer in my pocket and collecting the suitcase and rucksack went downstairs. The kitchen was empty and the house felt oddly silent. I took some food, bottles of water and cans of fizzy drink. At the door I put on my leather jacket and got my front door key.
Walking out onto the street, the day smiled around me. It was warm and seemed the kind of morning on which bad things just couldn’t happen.
I wheeled my suitcase down the street, listening to the birds singing and the sighing of traffic on the main road. I wondered where I should go, but just decided I’d wonder where I felt like it. I wanted to say something cool sounding like; ‘I’m following my destiny,’ but that just sounded silly. Plus, I was pretty scared.
All the houses I passed looked to be the same, right down to their front gardens. At the end of my street I debated turning left or right. I know I’d end up in the middle of town which every way I went, because the layout was a big spiral. I went left, heading towards the park. My grandmother’s words called after me inside my head, ‘it’s spiralled because they want to keep you in. They did it on purpose to confuse you and everyone just keeps going around and around.’
She was mad, I thought and bit my lip as I fell to wondering if that was really true. I walked on, passed streets of houses that looked just like mine and single tall trees. What had happened to her? I wonder as my thoughts trailed. I know she had died at the care home, I remember being told that. What was her life event?
I don’t think anyone had ever told me and that was the problem I realised. Beside from the news telling us things, everyone kept their life events to themselves. Well, those that came back did anyway. What if it was all a lie? I shook my head and cleared it off all thoughts. I tried to convince myself I was going on an adventure and I’d be home before bedtime.
Arriving at the park, I went through the gates and walked around. My suitcase tugged behind me and strangely I felt myself looking for something or someone. All I saw though were some kids and adults in the play area, a woman jogging and a man going to work on a bicycle.
Finally, I sat down on a red bench looking out over the duck pond. Took a few sips of water and eat a banana. I watched the ducks swimming about and listened to delight cries of child. Two dogs started barking followed by someone shouting. Then all the noise seemed to die down and I felt like the last person on earth.
I put the banana peel in the bin and as I sat back down, I saw the envelope next to me. Glancing around, I saw no one and not even the bushes close by were moving. I picked up the red sealed envelope and looked it. Nothing was written on the expensive heavy paper. I thought about placing it back down, but the urge to open it and peek inside was just too strong.
Tearing into carefully, I looked inside. There was a train ticket and a piece of paper. I pulled them both out and saw that the train ticket was for a train leaving my town’s station In less then an hour and going to the seaside. The note written upon the paper in thick blue ink stated;
Saturday 20th June 2038
I put the paper down and dug out my music pod to see the time. From my pocket I also took out the timer. It was twenty to ten and the numbers on the timer were at 3: 20: 07.
To Be Continued…