“C’mon Rachel, turn off the computer, it’s time for bed.” My mam’s voice says from behind me.
Checking my phone, I notice it’s only eleven o’ clock, but there’s no point in arguing, I haven’t a hope of winning.
“Alright, I’ll go up in five minutes” I reply, reluctantly.
“Okay, goodnight, love you”
“Love you too Mam”
Two hours later, I log off Facebook and turn off the computer. I grab a Capri Sun out of the fridge and head up to my room, skipping the first step on the stairs, knowing it’s the squeaky one. If I woke up my 6 month old brother, Bobbi, there would be consequences. He’s teething and it takes hours to settle him as it is.
I get half way up the stairs before I hear a faint but spine-chilling cry. That couldn’t have come from Bobbie, I think. I stop and listen, holding my breath. Whatever it is, cries again, but this time it’s more of a wail, and I notice it’s a girl making all this racket. As I listen, I realise the sound is coming from close outside my house. I immediately decide to go and investigate as the poor girl’s howls become more heartbreaking by the second.
I grab my heavy winter jacket and my house keys, closing the front door silently behind me. As I step out into the night, I can feel my nose and cheeks reddening in the icy wind. I pause as I see the small outline of a girl sitting on the wall of my garden.
I approach her hesitantly, only when I reach her do I notice what she’s wearing. A long, black dress with short sleeves is all the protection she has against the night; it must be at least -2°C out here, maybe that’s why she’s crying. Her long black hair acts as a veil across her face. Her odd appearance sets off alarm bells but my natural instinct to help pushes me forward. I wearily tip her on her frail, ice-cold shoulders. She turns and slowly lifts her head. Her hair falls back as the light from the lamp post finds her face. The gasp that escapes my mouth echoes through the night.
Why is this girl, tears still falling down her cheeks, so familiar? She stares at me as it takes me a minute to place her. My eyes widen and I can see my confusion and fear reflected in her puffy, red eyes.
Sophia Omen. The new girl in my class in school. She joined a month ago, and I haven’t heard her breath a word since. Everyone think she’s an oddball sitting on her own, staring into the space, occasionally taking out a comb brushing her long black hair.
I hold her silent gaze for a moment longer; it begins to unnerve me so I sit down beside her on the icy, concrete wall. When I do she turns to me and her staring turns pitiful.
“Rachel McCarthy, 2,456th” She manages to choke out between noiseless sobs. Her voice is tiny and full of agony. It shocks me that she knows my name, but my confusion is more dominant. 2,456th? That number means nothing to me, why say it after my name like they’re linked somehow? I have a feeling it’s not a good connection so I go with my other question.
“Sophia, why are you here? “I ask uncertainly.
“I don’t have a choice” she responds.
Her voice is so full of depression I comfortingly put my arm around her tiny, shaking, shoulders. She doesn’t shrug me off and her crying ceases. I can feel the coldness of her through my jacket. I offer her a jacket but she doesn’t seem able to feel the frostiness.
We sit there in wintry quietness for a few minutes. She seems to be waiting for me to speak. Her face is a blank mask as I turn to face her, I need to know what the number means.
“Sophia, what does the number mean?” I inquire; she looks at me and remorsefully answers:
“It’s the number of messages I’ve delivered.”
“Messages of what, exactly Sophia?” Then it hits me. The hair, the comb, the crying. I know her answer before she even has time to reply.
“Messages of Death” The crying starts again, so sorrowful I almost pity her. She’s here to warn me of a death, I have nothing but hate for her. Did she join my school just to do this? My heart seems to stop functioning as I realise it’s not my death she’s informing me of, but that of a family member’s.
“Who is it?” I ask, my voice dripping with hate, but it still breaks at the end of my sentence.
Her wails become deafening before she attempts to gather herself, she seems to force the words from her own lips.
As she speaks his name an image of my baby brother appears in my mind. About four hours old, snuggling against my mother’s chest, still pink and looking as soft as silk.
The next image, Two days old, lying in his cot, his hand grasping my thumb, his fingernails the size of half a grain of rice.
The final image, a week old, asleep in my arms, wrapped in a soft blue blanket, the sun setting across his tiny face, accentuating the dimples in his cheeks.
Each of these memories comes with an overbearing need to protect him. I look at Sophia; she looks back with pleading in her eyes for me to understand. I do not blame her for this curse she has. There has to be something I can do.
“Sophia, is there any way I can go in my brothers place?”I beg.
“There is, I am not supposed to allow it but if I do you must come with me now, without a word of goodbye to anyone” This is a small sacrifice compared to that of my baby brother’s life.
She holds out her hand. I take a deep breath, slide my fingers through hers and close my eyes forever.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Rachel Wasser.
Published on e-Stories.org on 06/08/2012.