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I woke up late. The house was quiet, and too bright. I checked my phone and realised with a horrible sinking feeling that I’d forgotten to turn my alarm on. I grabbed the nearest clothes I could find and legged it. They weren’t clean, but I didn’t have time to look for clean clothes. No time for a shower, no time for breakfast. I was still buttoning my shirt as the door slammed behind me.

Still, maybe she’d forgive me if I got there with flowers, I thought, dragging my fingers through my hair. The grocery shop around the corner from her house usually had some for a few quid. Daffodils, maybe. If I cut across the park, I’d come out on that side and pass the shop on the way. It’d only take a couple more minutes.

I pulled my phone out of my pocket. I didn’t have enough credit to call her, but I had enough for a text. “Sry im l8. BRT.”

I ran across the road.

***

“Hey.”

I was lying on the ground, and there was a girl standing in front of me. My head was spinning as I looked up, and she seemed to shift in and out of sight.

“Ow. Hey,” I said, trying to get up. She reached out and grabbed my arm to steady me.

Now I was stood up, I still felt dizzy, but I could at least see her properly. She was kind of cute, in a perky goth girl sort of way, and she looked at me with sympathy and concern in her eyes.

“Jeez,” I said, rubbing my head. “What hit me?”

She pulled her mouth to one side before answering. “A truck. You crossed the road without looking.”

I stared at her, wondering what kind of weirdo would think that was funny. I mean, I would know if I’d been hit by a truck.

“Seriously,” she said, looking over my right shoulder. “Big truck. You flew pretty far.”

I looked over my shoulder, following her gaze. There was a truck there all right, and the driver was just climbing out of the cab. He was white as a sheet, and people were running towards him. He was looking at something further down the road.

The goth girl jumped in front of me as I turned to see what the driver was looking at.

“Easy tiger,” she said. “Not a pretty sight. And I don’t think you’re ready for that.”

I felt dizzy again, as if the world was falling away from beneath my feet.

“Ready for what? What’s over there?”

She looked as if she was debating what to say for a moment, then shrugged. “You are,” she said.

“I am? What do you mean, I-”

She sighed and stepped aside, putting one hand on my shoulder as if to brace me.

I stared at my own body on the ground, twisted and bloody and not moving. I swayed; she held me up.

“I’m…”

“Yep,” she said.

“So you’re…”

“Yep,” she said.

I took a deep breath. Or did I? I wasn’t sure any more. I felt like I was still breathing but if my body was over there I obviously wasn’t any more.

“I wasn’t wearing clean underpants,” I said.

She laughed. “Well, they wouldn’t have been clean now anyway!”

She was right. And I figured it didn’t matter too much any more, anyway.

“What happens now?”

She hooked her hand through my arm.

“Now,” she said, “we take a walk.”
© Kari Fay

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