August 8, 2016 by Lyn
This story written in response to AMHarte’s question to Shahin:
When did you realize you had the power to see people’s deaths?
That’s not as easy to answer as it sounds. When did I realize I was seeing people’s deaths? I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing at first. Even after Abby – well, it could have been a fluke. People talk about that sort of dream – you have a nightmare that it’s going to rain all over your wedding, and it does. And while it hadn’t been a dream, and it hadn’t been a wedding cake, well, it could have been something like that. At least that’s what I told myself.
And then Steve. There’s certainly something a little distressing about sliding your hands up under someone’s shirt for the first time, getting all nice and intimate in the – well, where we were – and then your eyes are still closed and you’re seeing him sitting in front of you with his neck canted oddly, his skin clammy and his eyes glazed over.
And not just him, dead, but the old rotted-out grocery store in the background, his ‘board behind him, one wheel still spinning grotesquely. Just like it was, exactly like it was, when I found him there a week later. His neck canted all weirdly to one side, broken.
Then I knew that what had happened with Abby wasn’t a fluke. I’d seen her body shatter on the rocks, and I hadn’t told her, and it had happened. And I’d tried to tell Steve, but what can you tell a guy like that? We were all immortal – until we weren’t.
I think there were times before that. When I thought about it later – even as all the psychiatrists tried to tell me it was just an anxiety disorder, a bad coping mechanism trying to deal with a friend’s death (why is it they pretend that it’s not an emotional connection, that they say “friend” instead of “boyfriend” as if it makes it easier, or less painful, as if maybe you shouldn’t be wearing black and sobbing for the boy you really, really thought you were going to marry right up until he broke his fool neck?), even, god help them, a cry for attention – pieces of memory began to make more sense.
You brush against a cheerleader and you see her as an old, old woman, withered, grey, used up, rattling out her last breath. You shake hands with a colleague of your mother’s, and you see him slumped in a too-expensive armchair, the bottle of bourbon slipping out of his slack fingers as he falls into a long, final sleep. You accept a hand up at a bus stop from a punk-sort playing white knight even as he’s acting all tough for his buddies, and you see the bullet through his stomach that kills him slowly and painfully. That doesn’t have to be precognizance; that could be just wishful thinking or an overactive imagination, both of which I knew I possessed.
I think it started around my thirteenth birthday. When Steve died, I was halfway to fifteen, and by then there was no helping any of it. But I can remember, just a week after I turned thirteen, a friend of my mother’s came to visit, and when I shook his hand, I could see, clear as anything, a hanging. Straight out of the westerns, the hemp fandango; I could even smell the fresh pine board of the newly-built gallows.
Morbid fantasy, right? After all, he was kind of a creep, and, being here now, he clearly hadn’t died back in the Wild West.
I’m not so sure anymore.