It was so still, it convinced me it was glass. The motionless puddle made me consider how hard I had hit my head, it hadn’t rained for nearly ten days but here it was. Rubbing my temples, I edged towards it, not sure why I felt so attracted to it. As I inspected it, my breath escaped me.
My feet took me back several steps, clearly not having learnt their lesson from two minutes ago, how was this possible? The puddle reflected the most troubling words the English language could spell out. My name. On the nearest gravestone. This couldn’t be true, the stone was aged and a green colour, yet even when I vigorously rubbed my eyes, it was still there mocking me. The date belonged to today along with the year. I was too late to be involved in a practical joke, I had probably read it wrong, that was the most logical explanation, even so I didn’t look back. It had begun to rain by the time I reached the coffee shop and I was without a doubt the latest anyone in the whole of London had been to work.
“I’m here! I’m-”my hair was a wet rat tail and my voice gasped between each word I spoke. For eight in the morning, the shop was packed with people taking refuge from the weather, several pairs of eyes met mine, many with sympathy and apologetic eyebrow raises. Bowing me head, I went behind the counter and tied my aprons with number fingers.
Mandy didn’t look at me at all. She sighed beside the till. I forgot, today I was meant to cover her early shift and open up. But I didn’t.
“Mandy, I’m so sorry, my alarm didn’t go off and I fell and I’m awful friend, I’m so sorry,” I blurted this out without thinking about the words. She turned her back and ignored my pathetic apology, “Hey, I saw something really stupid this morning! It was- “but she didn’t care, she walked into the back sniffling and leaving me to deal with approaching mob. After exhausting the Espresso Machine, and myself, I realised how childish Mandy was being! I mean she could have said something at the very least. It felt like everyone who came in knew I had messed up, they all met me with half smiles and big eyes.
Just after lunch, Mandy came out of her hideaway to answer the phone I was just reaching for, she snatched it up and responded to the caller with lies about how she had never seen a more quiet day. I scoffed without hiding it and went for a late, well deserved lunch break. The rain had slowed to a trickle and I found myself outside my favourite bakery, the warming smell lifted my spirits instantly. I went to order the usual sausage roll and fizzy orange but was taken back when a tall man took my order; for five years it had always been the same lady with red hair. He eyed me up and down before informing me there was no need to pay, “It’s on me, honestly,” his hardened appearance softened in an instant, I thanked him over and over again but he simply nodded without meeting my eyes.
I perched myself on a slightly damp bench and ate my lunch not really tasting it. This regular Thursday had been the strangest, my mind replayed the gravestone image constantly, making the seed of doubt grow larger each time. I watched the sky stay solemnly grey and the cars drive at unusually legal speeds. All I needed was a warm bath. Reluctantly, I trudged back to work, trying to stay optimistic about the four remaining hours I had left to work. Annoyance filled me however, when I reached the shop to see it had already been closed early without Mandy telling me. I searched for my phone and tried to call her but it didn’t even ring. Sighing, I turned around to head home. Twenty minutes into my journey, I realised it was my feet and not my head controlling this journey. And they were taking me back.
The graveyard was just as ominous. I walked through a different entrance without realising how much of a maze this place was. I was heading off to the stone until I saw the luminous tape across the cemetery. It read ‘POLICE’ in bold, intimidating letters. I approached an officer to enquire about what had happened but she ignored me. How rude. Through the scene, I could see an ambulance and two other cars, something had happened and it clearly was none of my business. I jumped out of my skin when the bakery man came from nowhere and placed a hand on my shoulder.
“It’s okay, you will soon remember.” He spoke so calmly it almost distracted me from the two men walking past, wheeling a bed with a sheet over something. Oh. It was a body.
And he was right. I did remember. The world spinning upside down, the crack of my neck and the excruciating pain I felt for several seconds until I felt nothing. I remember how I didn’t stumble back to my feet. Instead, I just lay there. Alone. Looking at the stupid words in the reflection and knowing it was over. I remember those sorry-smiles and how they knew what I didn’t. And I remember mum telling me about the monastery and wondering why her eyes glazed over when speaking about it. And like my mother, my eyes glazed over, accepting my fate.