If you knew some one was going to die; knew when and where it would happen; who it would happen to, but not why it would happen. Would you save them?
Save a complete stranger from what probably would have been their timely death?
Could you watch it happen right before your eyes and live with the guilt that was bound to come with it?
But I let it happen.
The woman was middle aged with salt and pepper hair, thick knowledgeable brows, tiny gray eyes and a full pouty mouth.
She was a beautiful woman but her eyes screamed lonely and forgotten. Her countenance lacked happiness. So cold and empty. She wore a long black dress the reached all the way down to the floor with a large lacy top hat perched atop her crown. She held a black umbrella in her pale hands as she strutted down the lane as only a true English woman could.
Her name was Ada Pembrooke; a British woman who had been residing in London, England, for over three decades.
Her whole life, actually.
Ms. Pembrooke has had the same routine for twenty years. Never a minute too late or too early and to be late (in her case) was never excusable. She treated tardiness like a sin and early arrivals as if they were unnecessary and selfish; other wordily known as a slightly less presumptuous sin. Which is all the more reason why she made such an excellent schooling teacher. She was as stern as leather whip.
I never knew this woman...during her living moments. But she has shared a great deal with me in her afterlife.
That is another thing; I was not aware- until after meeting Ms. Pembrooke- that I could see ghost, let alone, speak to them. I assumed it to be because I had seen her fate the night before it happened.
I had a vision.
My first premonition.
It was like having a nightmare. A very real nightmare where I could feel everything: the coldness of a bitter winter breeze; the sting of icy raindrops; the smell of patrol as cars drove up and down thoroughfares, through gritty fog and back again, too blind to see any traveling pedestrian; I felt a sudden chill- the sort of chill that has nothing to do with cold.
I felt the chill of death all around me.
I'll never forget that chill.
I had the vision the night I had been tempted to run away from home...again. Running from my home- out into the night- circling the block, passing old Big Ben, and crossing over Thames. I sat on the walkway tasting the cold night air on my drying tongue. A few clouds- here and there- blanketed a very large moon with thick gray threads. The wind blew through my long white hair, my dress – though very heavy- danced with the wind a slight itself. It was very late at night, hardly a soul walking these dark dismal streets. The lights of the Parliament were all dark and dear old Ben chimed as his needles signaled midnight.
That is when it happened.
Black feathers; first one, then another. Then dozens floating in circles around me I caught one as it floated past my face and I could see that it was a Raven's feather. There were hundreds now- floating all around- dreamlike in a way that seemed to try and force its way into my conscience. Dark clouds swirling around me in a twister of thick fog. Then everything- the Parliament disappeared and in its place I saw a long street. There was a fierce storm pouring rain down hard on every English head that wandered. There was darkness framing my vision, focusing my eyes on a pale woman holding a large black umbrella and pinching her face against the freezing rain. I could barely see her through the thick mass of fog blanketing the street, probably the whole city as well, and cars were flying up and down the street as if oblivious to the fact that it was too foggy to see even a foot ahead of the vehicle. It was very easy to spot Ms. Pembrooke, though. She was the only person with darkness hovering around her body as she navigated the walkway unaware of the thick ominous mist about her. She looked left and right as she prepared to cross the street. She never saw the truck speeding up the lane closing in to deal her death.
My vision started to blur as the truck came nearer to the woman and it seemed to be picking up speed to the point where it seemed as if the driver meant to hit her.
The driver blew his deafening horn but it was to late.
I never foresaw the truck hitting her because the premonition faded out at the last second; the sound of ear piercing screams being the last thing I heard before I found myself sitting on the walkway across from the Parliament. The feathers were gone and the large clock read twelve-oh-five.
'Only five minutes?' I thought, surly I could have sworn it felt more like thirty.
I picked myself up and started back towards my domicile, I was suddenly frightened about being out so late in the night by myself. I followed my earlier route back through the empty streets, past the Ben, and onwards towards my sanctuary.
The next day I woke to a chill that rushed through my veins, down my spin, and to the tips of my toes. My eyes were soar and my fingertips were white; as white as my hair, maybe whiter. I attempted to sit up in my bed but my back was painfully stiff. I felt like I belonged in a retirement home. When I finally did get myself out of bed I slowly made my way over to the mirror that hung over my dresser. My skin looked pasty and was sticky with drying sweat and my hands were shaking. But what really got my attention were my eyes!- they were a bright fuchsia around the irises. They were originally green! I nearly screamed in terror after I saw them but I stopped myself with a shaky hand over my mouth. I froze for a few seconds to make sure my parents had not heard me. It was quiet so I let my hand drop and tried to hold back the urge to panic.
“Luna, it is nearly time for school!” my mother called. “Come- come, darling, we wouldn't want you to be late...again.” The final word she said with a lot less enthusiasm.
I promptly sought out a pair of my darkest sunglasses, swallowing the panic that I had just minutes ago nearly let entice me enough to scream 'Bloody Hell!' to the top of my lungs, and quickly threw on my uniform. At least as best as anyone could throw on such thickly layered attire such as this blasphemous dress! I had to put on a thick black dress with frilly white sleeves, wrist cuffs and neck lace and so many strings to tie I had to have my mother help me unless she was kind enough to tie them for me beforehand and there was a large silver cross embroidered somewhere below the knee of the dress. Not that I have a problem with the cross.
When I had my knee-highs laced up ( which, in my opinion, really throw off the entire rig) I snatched my sunglasses off my dresser and put them on to hide my eyes.
“There you are,” said my mother, as I rushed from the hall into the kitchen “Wait! Aren't you going to eat your breakfast?” She was scrambling eggs in her old black skillet and I saw bread toasting in the oven.
“Uh- no, mum, I'm not really hungry.” I said; keeping my eyes averted and slowly backing away towards the door. “I promise I'll eat lunch later!” And ran out of the house before she could say her usual “Have a nice day!”. My father's car was gone so I assumed he already left for work which was just lucky for me because that gave me one less parent to avoid.
It was pouring rain outside this morning; not quite a storm but one seemed to be rapidly approaching. I rushed to school because of this, and I had left my umbrella at home in my haste to escape. My back had stopped hurting after I got dressed but it was still stiff enough to slow me down.
I took a side street that I hoped would shorten my route and I ended up on a street that I was vaguely familiar with.
I had this strange feeling as if I have walked down this road countless times before. I shrugged it off and easily made my way to another side street that led to the road I was looking for. A small chill passed through me as I continued on my path to school.
The classes, the teachers' chastise, the prejudice gossip all seemed to breeze by in an empty wind. I hardly noticed any of it. I was too busy worrying about my eyes and predicting which teacher would scold me for wearing sunglasses in their class.
So I invented a rather fine scheme.
Thankfully I did not have to use it until third period.
“Miss Trainwick,” said Professor Duggen, “you know students are not permitted to wear accessorized dark glasses during chemistry lesson. Please remove them.” His voice was as plain as paper but he looked at me as if I were some bloody animal preparing to wreak havoc.
I stood there for a minute. Clearing my throat before I announced my excuse.
“I'm sorry, Sir.” I said, making sure that my tone sounded faint and pitiful. I knew that my skin still looked pasty and that supported my lie, making it seem more presumptive. “I have an awful migraine and the lights- the lights are just too much.”
Duggen glared at me for a few more seconds before he let out a long exaggerated huff.
“I suggest you make your way to the nurse.” he said dryly, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. I was sure I had probably caused him to have his own headache.
I snatched my book off the counter and rushed out of the class.
My vision blurred and I saw a flash of a woman standing in the rain; that darkness clouding around her was so thick it was hard to believe she could not see it herself. I had to stop in the middle of what used to be the hallway. “Used to be” because the hallway was no longer there. Only black feathers and the darkness cloaked woman standing in the rain under her umbrella. She did not move, though, like she did in my last vision. She only stood there. Staring at me with black eyes.
Her eyes were gray.
But they were not gray this time. They were a shiny black. So shiny a black, they were, that I nearly mistook them for marbles.
She stared straight at me with a look of disdain and pity. My heart started to flutter an unusual rhythm as the truck started speeding its way up the lane. Pembrooke smiled a black toothed smile at me before she started making her way to the middle of the street. In the middle of the truck's lane. All the while she walked she was staring at me with that hideous grin on her face.
The truck sped up the lane and...vanished?-at the same time the truck would have hit Pembrooke.
The woman stands there laughing at me as the truck dissipates into thick white steam around her.
My vision fades out quickly and I find myself back in the empty hallway.
The whole school seemed silent- other than my breathing- it was eerily quiet.
A massive ball seemed to drop in my stomach then, and I started to feel horribly nauseous. I ran to the nurse's office and threw the door open without knocking first. I rushed through the office to the bathroom and dry heaved over the toilet.
“Oh... dear, “ said Mrs. Wellcot, she had been the nurse at my school for as long as I have been there, “Miss Trainwick, what is the matter with you?” I hardly ever had to see the nurse. This was my third visit in the three years that I had attended the school.
I kept heaving for what seemed like nearly an hour before I could speak again.
And even then I came up with the most absurd excuse.
I smiled up at her and said “I'm fine.”
The woman looked at me as if I had gone mad.
I did not blame her, actually, because I probably had.
“Luna,” she says after a brief moment of impenetrable staring, “I think it is best if you go lay down on cot for a bit.”
I let out a short groan.
“Mrs. Wellcot, I think I should go home.” I said, feigning a stomach cramp. “My mum will come and pick me up.”
The nurse stares skeptically at me for a moment before nodding her head.
“Fine, I'll let the principle know you are taking leave.”
I smile wearily up at her and slowly get to my feet. That part was not particularly feigned because my limbs were stiff again.
When I was on my feet I took my cell and flipped it open as if I were about to dial my mum. I smiled at the nurse and left. Closing my cell as soon as the door closed.
I rushed out of the school in pursuit of my curb near Thames.
But I was stopped by this awful scream.
It was as if it were in my head. Ear splitting with an echoing fade. I pressed my palms to my ears but that did nothing block out the shutter-some noise.
I swore and started running again in a useless attempt of escaping the screams.
I ran back the way I had came from home and found myself back at the street that seemed so distantly familiar. I stopped at the curb looking for my way.
A storm had begun some time around one o'clock. There was so much fog I could barely see where I was running. I could not see the street I was looking for and the rain was so heavy it fell in drops the size of cricket balls.
There very few things I disliked about the city but one of those things was that whenever there was thick fog it covered everything. I was surprised there were people out driving and rushing around the walkways running last minute errands.
I scanned the roads and allyways as well as could despite the fog corrupting my vision.
Then I saw her.
And it was as if time slowed down, she was walking out of a little market with a tiny black bag. She stopped to tuck it into her large handag.
My blood froze, literally, frozen in my veins. My body numbed and I would have fallen if I had not leaned against a dirty brick wall.
Ada Pembrooke strutted up the street aiming in my direction. She did not look at me, I was not a personal being to her as she was to me. The rain had somehow managed to soak Ada quite a bit, she stopped a moment to adjust her hat and skirts at the curb of the walkway.
A black feather flew past my line of sight on her and after it past I saw it.
It nearly swallowed her whole, that was how thick it had been.
She looked left and right as she started crossing the street and I wondered, 'how come I had not called out to her?', surly she would have heard me and stopped just seconds before the truck would hit her. But I could not, it was amazing. I could not find my voice I saw the truck grow near. I could not feel my limbs enough to run at her.
I could not cover my ears before the truck hit Ms. Pembrooke and I heard the crack!-of her neck breaking on impact and forced into the air.
I could not cover my eyes as she landed only inches from my feet, eyes wide open, as blood slithered down the corner of her mouth and eyes.
I stared at her. Muting the screams that were now bursting from those who had witnessed such a horrible scene.
I looked in her eyes. They were black and shiny and black smoke floated out of her mouth. For a moment she looked like just that. A creature of darkness. But after I blinked the darkness was gone and I saw the woman lying in a broken pile of bones and skin.
I remembered something just then as I looked at her.
She looked at me.
Right before the truck hit her. It was like she sensed me. Her eyes gazed deeply into mine from where she was standing she had to be at least ten yards away from me.
But she looked. Time slowed around us and her mouth fell open in a little o, her eyes began to widen as she started to turn away.
Then it hit her.
When my mind seemed to finally process what happened, I felt my legs give away and a different blackness blanketed my vision.
“Wake up!” I heard, the voice sounded far away. “Wake up, Girl!” this time the words were hissed at me and she sounded louder and closer.
My eyes reluctantly opened and I saw a cat standing over me. When my eyes where wide open the cat hissed and ran away.
I guessed that my eyes were still fuchsia and my glasses were gone.
So much for my disguise.
“Finally!” I heard her shout and I nearly jumped out of my skin when Ms. Pembrooke appeared as if from the air itself. “You have been out for quite some time, Girl.” she said smoking a translucent cigar and casually blowing out smoke as if it were not odd that we were talking.
“Okay. Ada.” I said, emphasizing her name in a way that unintentionally sounded rude. “I'm so sorry I couldn't help you.”
She looks at me with that disdainful expression she had in my second vision.
She takes a long drag off of her cigar and blows it out again after a moment. “It wasn't your fault.” she scoffs, “stupid Girl, what makes you think YOU could have stopped it!”
She seemed so much more pleasant in my visions.
“I saw it...before it happened.” I said slowly.
Her eyes grew wide for a second then, as if it meant nothing to her, she shrugged it off.
“That would explain why you were staring me down like a mad woman.” she said letting out a bitter laugh when she finished.
I looked at my surroundings: it was dark and I was lying on the walkway across from the Parliament; there were no passersby along the sidewalks; Big Ben read three thirty-five and I could feel my stiff legs again.
“How did I get here?”
“Why I carried you of course!” she said as if it were the stupidest question she had ever heard.
“Carried me? But you're a ghost.”
She tossed her cigar into the river and glared at me.
“I don't need you to tell me I'm dead, Girl.” she hissed. “I know perfectly well what happened to me.”
I saw her lower lip tremble and her eyes grew shiny with tears. “You couldn't have done anything to stop it.”
But I knew I could have.
I let her cry for awhile before I tried to talk to her again.
“I had a vision it was going to happen,” I said, “I knew what you looked like, what you were wearing, when it would happen, how it would happen... but I didn't stop it.” I felt my own eyes well with tears and began to sob after I realized how terrible a person I must sound like.
Ada floated over to my pitifully slouched self and gently patted my back. Her hand was so cold it chilled my spine.
“Dear Girl, don't ruin yourself over a stranger's death-”
“It was my fault!” I shouted jumping to my feet. “I could have stop it! Why can't you understand that!” I was screaming at her to the top of my lungs.
She looked at me with the blankest expression and almost out of nowhere she clopped me clean across my cheek.
“Selfish Girl!” she bellowed. “I die and you turn this on yourself as if you were the only one who was impacted by this? I am the one who is dead you STUPID Girl! I am the one who's cats are going to starve to death!” It looked as if she had grown ten feet tall as she yelled at me. All the while the darkness circled around her and her eyes grew black and shiny.
Then suddenly she was back again.
She sighed as she shrunk back down to her average height.
“If you want to prove yourself so badly,” she whispered, “save someone else. In my place; save them the next time you have a vision.”
I was shocked at hearing this.
'Did she really think it would happen again?' I thought.
She stared at me expectantly.
“You will do it, girl,” she said darkly, “or I will NEVER forgive you.”
She glared at me once more before shaking her had and turning away from me to watch the clock.
I just realized that my dress was heavily soaked and wondered why no one- at least no one leaving- had bothered to carry me to dryer quarters. It had stopped raining and I was dreadfully cold. I would not stop shaking and I was sure I was so white I could be easily mistaken for a ghost myself.
I thought more about what Ada said; it didn't seem unreasonable more so impossible. I did not know if I would ever have another one again any time soon. And if I did what it were not a premonition?
'Oh! Listen to me wishing desperately for premonition!' I thought, feeling so disgusted with myself I did not know what to do.
After a moment of thinking I clear my throat to get Ada's attention.
She turned around to look at me, a hint of annoyance in her expression, she blinked her eyes wide at me as if to say “what do you want?”.
“W-what if I don't have another vision?” I asked.
She stared blankly at me for what seemed like forever.
“Then I shall stick around until it happens.” she said simply.
“But...what if it never happens?” I persisted.
She smiled and said, “Then I think we shall have plenty of time to get to know each other...very well.”
I swallowed hard and continued to stare at that mischievous smile plastered on her face.
“I don't suppose you will have second thoughts about this?” I asked warily
She shrugged as she scraped at her already spotless fingernails.
“Well it's not like we made a blood pact!” I shouted. I was panicking. I was still unsure if anyone else could see her. “Did anyone see you carry me here?”
She looked up at me and grinned some more.
“No, Girl.” she said. “I cloaked us quite well enough that no one even noticed the unconscious fool dangling in my arms.”
I gritted my teeth.
I had taken her word for it but I was losing my patience when it came to her insulting me.
“Okay, fine.” I said
“What do you mean “fine”?” she said, she looked rather taken aback by my forward rudeness. “Did you think you had a choice? Stupid Girl, I have bound you to me with my request! You have no choice.”
My mouth dropped open in a large O. I could not believe what I was hearing.
Her smiles were starting to look more and more wicked with every smirk.
“I am not leaving until you save someone,” she explained, “in place of my own demise.” she scoffed at me before she continued. “I think it would do you a lot of good...Stupid Girl.” the last two words she spat at me.
This woman was going to create hell for me if I did not have a premonition soon. I did not think I could live very long with her without first wanting to hang myself.
I swallowed the urge to cry again.
“How old are you, Girl?” she asked.
She smiled ingenuously
“Well aren't you a young one.”
I nodded losing the desire to argue with her about whether or not I am considered “young”.
“Well then...what are we doing out here at nearly four in the morning?”she said. “I'm sure your parents are frantic with worry! Come along!- let us be off.”
She linked her arm together with mine and pulled me along with our arms connected. I reluctantly let her drag me home while she was humming a Japanese tune I was unfamiliar with.
“By the way,” she said between hums, “did you know your irises are pink?”