Oliver returned to the office to wrap up his to-do list for the day and didn’t take a break until he heard two knocks on the door. After seven years of working with him, he could tell Jane’s knock from any other. It was soft, almost hesitant and she always tapped her knuckles on the door twice. Never thrice or four times, twice. “Come in,” he answered.
Jane was carrying a suit bag draped over her forearm as she walked in. Oliver sat with his legs crossed on the couch in his office. A rectangular centre table by his feet was piled with documents and files. Somehow, he found it more comfortable to work on the couch than at his desk. Jane caught a glimpse of the title page of the file he was reviewing, which was a twenty-five-page contract agreement she had submitted on his desk four days before. The legal team was generally in charge of contract evaluation, but her boss was so thorough that he wouldn’t sign off on anything unless he had personally reviewed it.
Jane’s steps getting closer to him didn’t make him look up from the agreement. He maintained a laser-like focus on the paper, flicking a pen between his fingers as he always did while thinking.“Sir?” Jane called him.
With a slow sniff, Oliver peeled his face from the agreement and looked at Jane. His brown eyes screamed exhaustion that only she could read from years of practice. To others, her boss looked like he was ready for a marathon, but that wasn’t true. His sleeves were rolled into three-quarters; he did that when he was tired. Too bad she wasn’t there to deliver the news that would make his day better.
“If you want to make it to Mr Yen’s fundraising, you have to leave now,” she said. Oliver glanced at his wristwatch. It was 7:32 pm. Jane gestured to the suit on her forearm. “Mr Rhodes dropped your suit before he left.”
Rhodes had asked for permission to leave work early for his six-year-old daughter’s birthday dinner.
He thoughtfully tapped the agreement with his pen thrice and slowly the fourth time before standing up. He closed the pages and dropped the agreement on the table. “Tell the legal team to review Clauses 28, 26, 23, 31 and 46. I don’t like those provisions,” he said. “They expose us to liabilities we shouldn’t be exposed to if we are smart and we are smart. Tell them to find a way around it.”
“I will,” Jane said and took the contract.
He took a few steps towards his desk area before turning back to Jane. “Why haven’t you clocked out?”
“I had a few tasks to finish up.” She laid Oliver’s suit on the couch. “I will leave after clearing this.” She began sorting through the paperwork on the centre table.
“Leave it and go home. It’s late. I have to continue with them tomorrow anyway.”
Jane hesitated, as though weighing her boss’s suggestion then she smiled lightly. “Thank you, sir.” She exited the office with a wave from Oliver.
He dressed for the charity event after taking a shower in his office bathroom. “You want to raise funds, and you throw a million-dollar party to do it,” he mumbled to himself as he buttoned his shirt. “Why not skip the party, get the donations instead, and use that for whatever you wanted to raise funds for? Save everybody the headache.” He clipped his cufflinks. “I honestly don’t understand,” he whined.
His real problem was spending hours with almost a hundred people in the same space. In a place where he would be cornered into handshakes in the name of courtesy. He liked winter since it allowed him to wear gloves under the guise of the cold weather. Gloves in the middle of the year would raise some eyebrows.
In minutes, he was ready. He mentally braced himself for death visions that would assault his mind later that evening as the elevator sped to the ground floor. He avoided physical contact as much as he could.
However, given his position in the corporate world, he could only avoid handshakes for so long before people started calling him obnoxious, rude and a thousand similar names. Maintaining a positive image was another business core.
Striding past a few SH Group employees who were working late, he got to the underground parking lot and drove out into the night. Daylight was long gone, but the streets of Red Hill were very much alive. Fluorescent street lights illuminated every major road. Neon lights shore beneath ad boards as clubs, restaurants and every other nightlife joint powered on for the night.
At a red light, Oliver shifted his gaze to a roadside eatery where a family of four was having dinner. He couldn’t remember the last time he had that- perhaps the Hastings family never did. Not that his family was dysfunctional or not close. The problem was always time. With him at the top of management and his equally capable cousins managing various other branches of the family business, it was difficult to get them all in one room, even on Christmas.
He took off at the green light and spotted Johnson’s building ahead of him in less than a minute. Two figures pranced in front of Eden’s clinic with flashlights. Oliver slowed down to make out the figures who turned out to be Eden and a short older man. They looked unsettled. The man walked hurriedly to the other side of the building, leaving Eden to pace the front of the clinic worriedly.
What is wrong? Oliver saw that he was clear and packed on the other side of the street. He got out of the car and crossed to Eden as she was about to walk away. “Eden!”
She stopped on her track and looked back. She narrowed her eyes in surprise and pointed her flashlight at him.
He shielded his eyes with his hand. “Light.”
She switched off the flashlight, leaving the street lights as the only source of illumination. “What are you doing here?” she asked as she walked back to him.
“I was driving by– Are you okay?”
“We can’t find Granny Wess. His son and I have been searching the neighbourhood for her for a while.”
Oh, right. She has gone to die. “That was her son? The man that was with you,” he pointed in the direction the short man went.
“Yes. I gave him Jay’s number. He wants to ask him to trace her phone.”
Oliver was silent.
“We have to find her soon,” Eden mumbled with a troubled voice. “She doesn’t have good eyesight… wandering alone in the dark,” she bit her lower lips. “I can’t stay here.” She took three steps away from Oliver only to pause and turn back to face him. She turned on her flashlight and pointed it at his torso down his feet. “You are a little overdressed for someone coming from work,” she swept her gaze over his dark plaid blazer.
Oliver looked at himself as if to confirm Eden’s statement. “I’m going for a fundraising.”
“Uh,” she glanced at the street and back. “Why not use the money used for throwing the party for whatever they are raising funds for?”
“I know, right?” Oliver perked up. Exactly my point!
“Rich people,” she rolled her eyes and faced her previous course with the flashlight.
The way she rolled her eyes triggered a distant memory that Oliver couldn’t reach again. He trotted after her and asked, “Are you sure we have not met before?”
“I am certain I have seen you somewhere before,” he spoke to himself. “Where is that?”
Eden stopped to cock her head at him. “Is that your line?”
“No, it’s not like that. Your face, name, everything feels very… known. It is there, I just can’t reach it.”
“I am sure every girl’s name sounds familiar to you,” she said as they turned to Havel Avenue, a major street next to the clinic.
“I told you it’s not like that. Where are you going anyway?” Hands tucked in his pockets, he slanted his body frame to avoid physical contact with a pedestrian.
“I don’t know. Looking for Granny Wess. I can’t simply wait,” she said, walking down the street. “She couldn’t have gone far. She should be around the block.”
Oliver sighed and galloped after her. Her legs were considerably shorter than his, still, he had to burst into cardio to keep up with her paces.
“Aren’t you going to your party?” Eden’s line of sight was on every alley and everybody else on the street except Oliver.
“She is not around here,” he said.
“What?” She kept walking.
“Your Granny Wess, she is not around here.”
“And how would you know that?”
He paused. “Because I saw her.”
Eden came to an abrupt halt and shot her face back at Oliver. “You saw her and you haven’t said anything since.”
Oliver retreated with two steps. “No! not like that.” He raised his hands in surrender. “I didn’t see her like that—” He groaned, calling himself crazy for the words about to spill out of his mouth. “I saw her when she touched me this afternoon.”
“What are you talking about?” Eden inquired with a frown.
Oliver opened and shut his mouth several times. Niles was the only person who knew about his ability. Everyone thought he was going insane when he first got the ability at the age of twelve. The doctor said he had PTSD from what he went through. He was subjected to CT scans and MRIs every day. As time passed by, he learnt to keep it to himself and told them he didn’t see anything. They believed his PTSD was cured and he was better. He knew he wasn’t crazy and that was enough for him.
Oliver had zoned out again. She disregarded her last question with a tsk, shaking her head as she continued her search. Eden’s desperation was obvious and he knew she wouldn’t stop looking until she found the old lady. Then it occurred to him that Eden was the only person he couldn’t see her death vision. What if she was the key to getting rid of his ability? If he hoped to find that out and stay around her, he couldn’t keep his ability a secret from her.
After the incident that left him with the ability to see how people would die, he spent years hopping from one therapist to the other before travelling to Europe for his studies. His parents tried all they could to stop him from leaving but he insisted. He was running from something— still is, only this time, what he ran to was his work. He wanted to stop running, it hasn’t helped him with much of anything. He could take the first brave step by opening up to Eden. For some reason, he knew he could trust her. She won’t believe him though. Convincing a strong-willed and logical person like Eden would be difficult. Luckily, he could prove it.
“I can see how people will die,” he blurted.
Eden peered at him, not giving any thought to what he said. “What is he saying?” she muttered to the air as she beamed her flashlight at an ally.
Oliver leapt after her and held her arm. “When people touch me or I touch them, I can see the moment of their death.”
Creases formed on her forehead as she held his gaze. If he was lying, he was a very compelling liar. “You can see the moment of people’s death,” she repeated sceptically.
“Yes,” he said and let go of her arm.
She looked from her arm to Oliver. “You touched me,” she pointed out. “Did you just see how I will die?”
“You are the exception. When I held your shoulders to break your fall at the station, I didn’t see your death vision—
“Death vision?” Eden laughed at him.
“It has never happened before,” he affirmed earnestly, ignoring Eden’s mockery. “It was… different and fascinating for me. That was why I followed you back to your clinic and tried to hold your hand— before you skewered my arm,” he twitched his mouth aside.
Eden recalled his rigid face when Lessie’s hands brushed his and when Granny Wess patted his cheek. She took a few seconds to study Oliver’s expression more carefully and concluded that he wasn’t lying. She could always tell when someone was lying and Oliver wasn’t. But how was that possible?! Except he’s suffering from delusion and truly believes what he was saying.
“Let’s agree you are telling the truth,” She tried to shun the baffling and mysterious possibility of Oliver’s ability. “… that means you saw Granny Wess die when she tapped your cheek?”
He held his answer for a few seconds before nodding.
She let out an unbelieving laugh and folded her arms across her tummy. “How will she die?”
“An accident. She will be hit by a car at the T-junction close to Jefferson Bridge.”
Eden let out a doubtful chuckle. “Jefferson Bridge?”
“That’s impossible. Jefferson Bridge is at least twenty minutes from here. Her son drives her everywhere because she hates public transport. She doesn’t even go beyond this street except to visit her friend that lives at Rickerson Estate. Rickerson Estate is just about ten minutes from here.” She shrugged, “She has no reason to go to Jefferson Bridge and she will never leave Miss Roosevelt.”
“I don’t know how she got there. All I know is that’s where she will die, in exactly,” he checked his wristwatch, “fifteen minutes.”
Eden felt a thump in her chest. “What?” Her eyes bugged out. “Fifteen minutes?”
“What’s with the face?” he snickered. “I was under the impression you didn’t believe me.”
She wasn’t sure what to believe, but Oliver seemed to be telling the truth. He could see the moment of people’s death? Unbelievable. But what if he was telling the truth? It sounded ridiculous and downright ludicrous- but what if it was the truth. Her mind raced as she gazed at Oliver. She let out a frustrated sigh before her phone rang and she hurriedly answered it. “Mr Wess…. What…?”
She gawked at Oliver like an element from Mars as she listened to Mr Wess on the phone.
Oliver mouthed “What?” to her.
“…Okay,” she ended the call and started pacing frantically.
Oliver figured she needed time to process whatever she just heard on the phone call. He had a strong guess that whatever Mr Wess told her must have confirmed his vision. He loved being right, but not in times like these. He hated it.
“What time did you say the accident will happen?” she finally spoke.
“8:45 pm. Why?”
“That was Mr Wess,” she showed him her phone. “Jay traced her phone to Wilson street. Wilson street is one of the two connecting streets from Jefferson Bridge.” She paused, tapping her chin. “Hmmm, not that I believe you,” she stammered. “What you said is insane and unrealistic.”
“I know,” he nodded in agreement.
“Not that I believe you but let’s say I do, how do we stop it?”
Oliver shifted his weight to his right foot. “We can’t.”
She arched an eyebrow. “What? We can’t?”
“Yes. I have tried several times. It’s impossible. That was why I told you to spend time with her this afternoon.”
She groaned loudly, running a hand through her hair. “Where is your car key?”
“My car key?” He fiddled for it in his pocket. “Why do you want my car key?” He brought it out.
She plucked it from his hand and sped back the way they came.
“Wha… hey!” He dashed after her. “Wait! Where are you going?!” He stepped aside to avoid bumping into an elderly man with a walking stick and a lady in a cream suit.
“To save my Granny!” Eden sprinted onward.
“I told you it’s useless.” He finally caught up with her and ran alongside her. “Nothing will change it. If anything, it will only speed up what is meant to happen.”
“That is what my mother calls a load of crap!” They were back in front of the clinic. “What is the point of seeing the future if you can’t change it?!” She barrelled across the road to Oliver’s car.
Cars honked as Oliver dashed after her into the street. Their steps faltered as they stopped for the road to be clear before crossing. “I don’t know, maybe to say your goodbyes?”
“I don’t say goodbye,” she unlocked the car.
As Eden opened the driver seat door, Oliver placed his palm on it and slammed it shut. “Nobody does!” He sucked in air and exhaled. “We just have to. It is life.”
“You said you can’t see my… what did you call it? Death vision? That I am the exception. Maybe I am the exception that can also stop what you see from happening. Maybe I am the variable. All I know is that I will never forgive myself if I don’t at least try to stop it.”
Oliver could understand the ‘trying’ part. She needed to see for herself that nothing could change the future or stop death once it picked its victim. His hand slid down the door and Eden re-opened it to position herself in the driver seat.
“You are driving? It’s my car.”
“You either get in or stay on the street,” she stated and shut the door.
“It’s my car. I own the car,” he assured himself as he circled to the front passenger seat.
She started the engine causing him to flinch at the headlights. He sprinted the rest of the way and opened the door. Eden would have driven off with his leg hanging outside if he had taken a second more to get it inside.
“Woah! Wow! Wow! Slow down!” Oliver screamed, fumbling to fasten his seat belt as Eden zoomed down the street.
She dashed out from behind a commercial bus and steered between it and a minivan. Oliver squealed and shut his eyes, certain his car wouldn’t fit the space between. When he pried his eyes open, Eden had sped out from between them and was now navigating the traffic like she was playing a car race video game.
“Jesus!” Oliver slammed his hand on the dashboard as she made a sharp turn, causing the tyres to skid on the asphalt. “If we die, news flash! we won’t be able to save her!” He spotted a truck about to join their lane from a junction ahead. “Truck! Truck! Truck!” he screamed, jutting fingers at the said maroon truck. “Slow Down!”
Eden tipped her head away from Oliver’s screams. “God, my ears are going to bleed,” she grumbled, unfazed and not slowing down as she sped towards the truck.
“Eden!” Oliver clutched his seat belt, pushing his body into his car seat with half-shut eyes. She footed the accelerator and drifted across the nose of the truck at the precise time. The truck driver slammed his brakes and honked before spewing profanities, but Eden was yards away.
“Oh Jesus! I am going to die!” Oliver smacked the dashboard again as though Eden’s daredevil driving was the dashboard’s fault. “I can’t die. Do you know what will happen to the economy of this country if I die?”
“I am sure nothing will happen to it.” She curved a sedan and honked as she drove past a biker. The wind almost knocked him off his bike.
“Oh, God! Slow the hell down, will you?!”
“Stop acting like a baby, will you?” she said in a neutral tone. “You said she will die at exactly 8: 45 pm, that gives us about five minutes to get to her.”
“We cannot get to her,” he spaced his words.
“We will,” she said emphatically.
“We are still at least ten minutes away. You can’t cover that much distance in five minutes.”
Eden smiled roguishly. “Watch me,” she said and stepped on the accelerator.
“Oh! For the love of God,” he groaned. It’s not like you can save her!” he jerked in the seat apprehensively.
“I can save her,” she replied, keeping her eyes on the road.
“You can’t,” he stressed. “I have told you. Everybody has their time, once it’s that time, nothing can or will stop them from dying.”
“What about those who died and were brought back by CPR or a defibrillator?” She made another sharp curve from behind a hummer jeep, bashing the right side of Oliver’s head against the window.
“They came back because it wasn’t time for them to die.” He grunted after his reply, rubbing the right side of his head. “If they were meant to die, they wouldn’t have come back.”
“That means you haven’t tried to save anybody before?”
“Am I superman?”
Eden glanced at him and huffed. “A brown-skinned superman, that will be fun.”
“Whoever is meant to die, will die.”
“Have you ever tried to save someone you saw die?”
Oliver pursed his lips. He tried to save his father. Before him, he tried to save a friend he met while studying in London and before him, he tried to save his aunt. He couldn’t save any of them despite his best attempt. He was questioned as a suspect in his friend’s murder. Unknown to the police, he was trying to prevent his vision from coming true. With his clues from the death vision he saw, the killer was eventually arrested. That didn’t bring his friend back though. After his father’s death, it became clear to him that he was meant to merely see and not prevent it. He was an observer, taking the backseat in a shit show.
Eden swerved sharply and Oliver’s head bounced off the car window again. “Jesus! Easy! You are going to give me a concussion.” Eden sped past a square speed limit traffic sign while he rubbed his head. “You do realise you are going double the speed limit, right?” No comment from Eden. “Where are traffic police when you need them?” he rubbed his forehead.
“I guess you’ve never tried to stop the vision before then,” Eden said as Jefferson Bridge came to view. The two kilometres long, red tied-arched bridge was constructed over 80 feet above Nass River, a major river that ran through the city.
“It’s their fate, I can’t do anything about it.” Not for lack of trying.
“Fate can change.”
“No, it doesn’t. You can take a thousand paths and…” he clung to his seat as Eden drove like a phantom on the bridge, “make a thousand more decisions, the outcome will always be the same.”
“I don’t believe that. If you smoke, your fate will probably be to die of cancer among other liver-related diseases. But if you quit early enough, your fate will change. You won’t die of cancer or liver-related disease, at least not because you smoke.”
“If the person didn’t die of cancer, that means his fate wasn’t to die of cancer in the first instance. Fate sometimes is not what we think it to be.”
Eden parted her lips to respond but stopped when she saw Wilson street ahead. Even though the street lights provided enough illumination, they were still a bit far off to see clearly. She glanced at the time on the dashboard, 8:43 pm. She stepped on the accelerator and it wasn’t only the car that increased its speed, her pulse followed. Oliver groaned, praying he survived the night. Eden honked persistently as other road users drove aside for her, either thinking it was an emergency or out of curiosity to see what the hurry was about.
About two hundred metres to the end of the bridge, Eden sighted Granny Wess on the left side of the connecting T-junction. “There she is!” She’d recognise that floral print shirt anywhere.
Oliver traced her line of sight, squinting to see the elderly woman. She looked disoriented, like a lost child in a mall. He checked his watch; anytime now. He was surprised Eden made it to the bridge in time. Regardless, there was no way she could get to her Granny Wess in time, not with the building traffic ahead.
Traffic got thicker at the end of the bridge and Eden wished she could fly over the cars. While pedestrians crossed Wilson street, Granny Wess tottered around in a confused manner.
“That’s the car,” Oliver pointed to a black Hyundai on the right side of the T-junction.
“What car?” she stretched her neck to see.
“The car that will hit her.”
The car was the first in the rows of cars lined up at the red traffic light. If this was where she would die, Eden could guess how it would go down.
“When the light turns green,” he pointed at the red traffic light stopping the cars on the right, “the Hyundai will drive straight,” he moved his finger to the left, “your Granny Wess will run out in front of the car—”.
“Not tonight,” she purred the car engine, like a car racer about to start a race.
Oliver could see the desperation in her eyes as she gripped the steering wheel. “Wh- wha- what do you want to do? What are you going to do?”
“I hope you have insurance.” Eden reversed before he could respond, taking advantage of the narrow space behind them to drive over the sidewalk. She raced between other vehicles on her right and the bridge’s metal railing on the left.
“Damn!” Oliver grunted. “My car!” he shouted, grasping his head as he heard his car scrape the railings. “My- my-my car!” he frowned on the verge of tears.
Eden drove at full speed, ignoring the damages being done to the car. She bounced down the bridge in time to see Granny Wess wander into the road as the Hyundai got the green light. The driver wasn’t paying attention because the traffic light had blinked to red for pedestrians. He didn’t expect anyone to cross the road.
“Stop! Stop! Stop!” Oliver yelled with his feet off the floor, fingers clenched and heart pounding. Eden pressed her foot on the accelerator to cut off the Hyundai. She missed her aim and crashed into the rear side instead, causing the Hyundai to screech aside. The harsh bang spun heads to them. Headlights shattered on the asphalt and steam hissed from the Benz’s bonnet while the Hyundai driver managed to hit the brakes before any major damage was done.
Eden and Oliver grunted on impact as airbags deployed and puffed at their faces. Their bodies jounced forward to be pushed back by airbags and their seat belts.
“Jesus freaking Christ, you are nuts.” Oliver rubbed his neck as the airbags deflated and white particles swarmed inside the car. “Are you okay?” He coughed and opened the door for air.
Eden felt a little stiff in her upper back from the shock her body received on impart. “Yes, I am fine.” She forced the airbag down to exit the car. She steadied herself and walked up to the driver.
The Hyundai driver opened his door as the crowd converged at the crash site. “Are you okay, Sir?” Eden asked. The well-groomed man should be in his late fifties, grey moustache and short grey hair.
“Yes.” He slowly stepped out of his car. “What happened?” he asked Eden. “Your brakes failed?”
Eden had not thought about a suitable excuse, but this seemed like one. “Yes, I am very sorry.” What was she thinking? She put someone else in harm’s way to save someone dear to her. “Are you hurt? Is anybody else in the car?”
“No, just me. I am fine,” his eyes trailed to Oliver who was strolling towards Eden, hands in his pockets. “Mr Hastings!” the man burst into a wide smile.
Oliver pointed at his face. “You know me?”
“Of course!” He opened his backseat to bring out an issue of Prime magazine which he showed to Oliver.
It was a business magazine that featured Oliver last month. His picture was on the cover page. “Oh,” he smiled.
While the Hyundai driver gawked gleefully at Oliver, Eden ran to Granny Wess. She made it to the other side of the road alive because Eden drove into the car that was supposed to kill her. “Granny Wess!” She dashed to the road without looking. A headlight beamed at her face and blocked her vision. Then came a loud honk and a firm grip that pulled her back to the pedestrian path.
“Do you want to die in your Granny’s place?” Oliver demanded with raised brows as two cars zoomed past them.
“Thanks.” She wriggled her arm out of his hand. While they waited for the next green light, Eden called Mr Wess. No sooner had she ended the call when the traffic light changed. “Granny Wess!” She ran to the other side of the road. “Granny, what are you doing here?!”
She turned to the voice with a vacant expression. “Do you know me?”
“What? Granny Wess, it’s me, Eden.”
“Eden?” She stepped back. “I don’t know any Eden,” she said slowly. “I don’t know anybody,” she grumbled, scratching her grey hair.
Eden didn’t know what was going on. How could the woman who baked for her birthday every year for the last nine years not remember her? She didn’t want to scare her off and risk losing her again, so she stayed with her until her son and the police arrived. Granny Wess didn’t recognize him either but reluctantly followed him and the EMT to the hospital. When it was time for questioning by the police, Eden and Oliver couldn’t explain why they crashed into the Hyundai. They went along with the brake failure story. The Hyundai driver agreed to send the receipt for the car repair alone without damages if Oliver took a picture with him. It was one of the easiest deals Oliver has had to agree to.
All settled, the police officers got in their cars and drove off. Their blue and red lights were still blinking in the distance when Eden started with short sobs. Oliver blinked at her, confused as to what part of the evening warranted tears. Before he could ask what was wrong, Eden crouched to the ground and increased her sobs. The face she made as she cried was funny and cute, like a pre-teen who had her cookies stolen.
“Why are you crying?” Oliver asked, half-surprised and half-amused. “Eden.” He hesitated to place a comforting hand on her shoulder before remembering he couldn’t see her death vision. That comforted him, so he placed a hand on her back and asked, “Why are you crying?” Passers-by peered at them, particularly Oliver, suggesting they thought he had something to do with why a young lady was crying in the middle of the street after dark. He shook his head, telling them he was innocent. With a deep sigh, he patted Eden’s back as he spoke, “If anybody should be crying, it should be me,” he dawdled. “Forget your Granny, I am the one that almost died of a heart attack. My car is a mess and I missed an opportunity to make money,” he said.
Eden responded by intensifying her tears, cranking them higher.
“Oh my God,” he patted her shoulder. “I am sorry. Please, stop. Why are you crying?” he pleaded.
“Jerk,” she said between tears.
Startled, Oliver touched his chest. “Me?”
“That good-for-nothing human being.”
Oliver looked around, wondering if she was referring to someone else around. “Me?” he asked with an arched brow.
Eden sniffed and wiped her tears as she rose to her feet. “That cheating, lying, vile creature.”
“Cheating?” Oliver got clarity and exhaled with relief. He wasn’t the cheating, lying creature. “Why are you thinking about a guy who cheated on you after audaciously taking a jibe at death?” He pocketed his hands.
Eden sniffed again and picked Oliver’s pocket square from his breast pocket. “It’s true what they say about someone’s life flashing before her eyes before death.”
Oliver huffed. “Whose fault is that?” he muttered.
Whatever possessed Eden with wild confidence a few minutes ago had dissolved. The adrenaline was drying up, leaving her to tremble on the inside. Thinking about the accident she caused made her hands quiver. She could have really hurt someone; the other driver, Oliver or herself. She panicked at the thought of what would have happened if her plan didn’t work. Then, Jay, the cheat made an abrupt stop in her head. She was sure she wouldn’t feel it, feel the hurt. It chose the wrong time to rear its ugly head and she couldn’t stop tears from flowing down her cheeks.
“When you are faced with death, you get perspective and see things clearly,” she wiped her face with Oliver’s pocket square as she spoke.
“Oh really,” he laughed, his hands hanging in his trouser pockets. “And what did you see?”
She blew her nose noisily into the pocket square which startled Oliver. “I am going to live happily. Sure, it hurts,” wiping her nose as she spoke through a clogged nose, “but, I am going to be happy and date again.”
He chuckled, “Good for you.”
She gave him his pocket square.
He eyed it with irritation and a forced smile. “Keep it.”
Eden folded it in her jean pocket. “Thank you and I am sorry about your car. Let me know how much it will cost to fix it.”
He widened his lips in a clown smile. “I am not sure your insurance will be enough to fix it or that you have the money outside insurance to fix it.”
Eden looked over his shoulder to the wrecked car. She didn’t have a car- for reasons like this- therefore, she didn’t have car insurance. She would need to empty her bank account and it still won’t be enough to cover the repair cost. She didn’t pay much attention to it before but the car was a gorgeous work of art. How could she have been so disrespectful to maltreat it this way? Chafed and dented on three of its four sides. “At least Granny Wess is alive,” she grinned, grasping for a silver lining.
The thought ploughed into Oliver. It was true. Granny Wess was alive. “That’s true,” he remarked with deepened brows as he mused over what had happened. “What are you?” he frowned as he inspected Eden from the head down. “You saved her, how?”
“I told you fate can be changed,” she shrugged. While Oliver peered at her, weariness was settling in for her. Adrenaline was gone completely and has replaced her muscles with rubber. “Come on, let’s go,” she walked to the Benz.
“Where are you going?” Oliver asked, fixed on a spot.
She shifted her eyeballs from side to side before answering, “Home.”
“How do you intend to get home?”
She looked from him to the car and back. “Car,” she pointed at the wrecked Benz.
“What car?” He made tsk sounds, shaking his head. “After bruising and crushing it, you think it will work? Even if it will, can you please have mercy on its pathetic state and not try to drive it again? Turning my car into a crumpled paper,” he muttered under his breath and whimpered. “I called the tow company. They’ve sent someone and he’s coming.”
“How do we get home then?”
“I called an Uber. He will be here in about three minutes.”
“Oh.” Eden folded her lips.
They waited on the side of the road as pedestrians walked past them. A minute of silence passed before Oliver spoke again. “But seriously, what are you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Your Granny,” his brows went up, “you saved her. How did you do that? I mean, I know how. You sacrificed my car in her place, but this has never happened before. First, I can’t see your death vision, now you stopped one from happening.” He looked at her, puzzled. “What are you?”
“Will you stop looking at me like that?”
“Like my skin is glistening like one of those Twilight vampires.”
Oliver huffed. “You wish you were that cool.”
She rolled her eyes at him. After about ten seconds, she caught Oliver still gawking at her. “Knock it out, will you?”
He blinked and looked away just as a red corolla pulled up beside them. ”Oliver Hastings?” the driver asked.
“Yes.” He opened the back door and tipped his head towards it. “Get in,” he told Eden.
“Don’t you need to wait for the tow company?”
“I’m a regular at their workshop. They will take care of it till I see them tomorrow.” He waited for Eden to move. “I’m tired, can we go?” he said when she didn’t.
She walked to him and entered the car. Oliver closed the door after her, circled to the other side and ducked in beside her.
Oliver kept stealing glances at Eden until the Uber driver parked in front of her clinic. Among the many thoughts that dashed through his mind was how Eden managed to achieve what he hasn’t been able to achieve for twenty years. He once thought he was meant to see and bring someone else in to prevent the deaths from happening. He tried working with a third party and failed at that too. That was when he was naive and thought he could save everyone. He had since given up and adjusted to seeing the death visions, pushing them aside and moving on with his life. So, why was Eden different? And now that she saved someone that was supposed to die, what would the outcome be? Did they simply postpone the inevitable or another future, another fate had been created?
“Thank you very much, once again,” Eden said when she stepped outside the car. She rested her arms on the car window. “You saved Granny Wess’s life. Thank you.”
Oliver scoffed, “As if.” All he did was scream and hammer it in her ears that she couldn’t stop his vision from coming true. “Goodnight.”
She stepped away from the car and the driver drove off.
Two days passed before Eden heard from Oliver again. She looked forward to Saturday because it was the day Oliver was supposed to bring Stray to the clinic for her shot. She had questions, a lot of them. She had managed to suppress the urge to go to his office several times in the last two days. I will see him on Saturday, she told herself several times.
It was just her in the clinic today. She gave Rodney the weekend off and Lessie had stopped coming to work on Saturdays since she entered her third trimester. Eden peeped at the street through the door. The sun had no intention of reducing its summer flare. While people still trooped into the scorching sun, their light piece of clothing was an indication that the heat was getting to them.
She went to her office and was about to take a seat when the front door bells jingled. She hurriedly retraced her steps, hoping it was Oliver. The disappointment on her face was so obvious that the lady who came for an anti-tick cream felt bad she wasn’t who Eden was expecting.
About two minutes later, Olive made an entry, escorting Stray with a leash— or maybe it was the other way around. It was her first time seeing him in casual wear. She was used to seeing him in a suit. Today, he wore a beige baggy hoodie, black jeans and a pair of white sports sneakers. The weather was quite hot, wasn’t he feeling it in that hoodie? Nobody would believe he ran one of the top 5 fortune 500 companies in that outfit. Eden hid her smile and finished attending to the woman looking to buy an anti-tick cream.
“Hi,” Oliver said to her, twisting the leash around his knuckles as the lady exited the clinic.
Eden replied with a smile. “Hey, you.” She went on her knees to pat Stray. “Wow! You look great!” She picked her up. The puppy golden retriever had added weight. Her fur wasn’t brown after all, it was white and soft. “Mr Hastings has been taking care of you.” Eden stroked her back. The puppy sniffed Eden’s neck and licked her hands. As though she just noticed Oliver, she said, “How are you?”
“Good.” They stared at each other for a while before Eden broke the silence. She lifted Stray to her face and spoke to her, “Time for your shot, buddy. Come on,” she said to Oliver and went through the back door. Oliver glanced at the receptionist’s desk and wondered where Mr Stripsy was.
“How long have you had your powers?” Eden dived into her questions as she prepared Stray’s injection.
Oliver chuckled. “I won’t call them powers,” he spoke quietly. “Almost twenty years,” he answered.
She stared into the distance, calculating as she tore off a piece of cotton wool. “That means, you were twelve when it first happened?”
Oliver nodded then paused. “How do you know my age?”
He lifted a brow and hummed. It was that easy to get his basic information, although contrary to popular belief, Google wasn’t always 100 per cent right.
“How did you get the ability?.” She found the right spot at Stray’s hind legs and inserted the needle. No answer from Oliver. “Good, brave girl,” She patted Stray’s head, rubbing the needle hole. She disposed of the needle and syringe and washed her hand. When she had wiped her hands, she turned to Oliver. “You are not going to answer?” She arched an arm on her waist.
Oliver was still as if thinking of what to say. “It just started,” he finally said.
“Yeah, but it’s not like you slept and woke up with the ability.”
He wasn’t prepared to dig up a horrific history he had buried. “It kinda happened like that,” he said and quickly inserted, “How is Granny Wess? What was she doing out at night?”
“Early stage of dementia,” Eden’s face sank. “We traced her steps through the traffic cams. She simply walked out of the house and took a cab. The driver dropped her at Wilson’s bus stop. We guess when she couldn’t say where she was going, the man dropped her off anywhere.”
“In the middle of the street? At night?”
“Yeah, he’s a prick.”
“Yeah, he is.” He smiled lightly.
“It comes and goes.” She organised her table. “She remembered us the next day and forgot everything again this morning. Mr Wess is keeping her in his sight. He asked for your number, by the way. He wants to thank you personally.”
Oliver cocked his head, widening his lips coyly. “Is this your way of asking for my number?”
“No,” she said pointedly.
Keep telling yourself that. “Do you want to grab a coffee? I can leave her here, right?” he glanced at Stray.