A Grave Mistake: Chapter 3

asphalt dark dawn endless

If you would like to start at the beginning, check out A Grave Mistake: Part 1

It would seem that humans may not be built to withstand magic. You might be able to harness it for a moment, yes, but at times, there seem to be side effects.

STORY 3 – NATASHA GILL
Day 2, 6:14 am

Natasha sat at the kitchen table with her morning cup of coffee and her list for the day. No one else was up yet and she was embracing the silence. She didn’t sleep well the night before, plagued with questions regarding her 5 ½ hour black-out. How had she managed to accomplish all of those things yesterday? And why couldn’t she remember it? She stared at her mostly empty list for today. Most of the things she planned to do today, she’d already checked off yesterday.

There was, however, one glaring item. Pick up car from Jason’s school. What was wrong with it that she’d left it there? If it had broken down, why didn’t she have it towed?

But the question plaguing her the most was, what if I forget today too?

Suddenly she had an idea and went down to her office and grabbed a journal from the bottom of the bookshelf. She’d only written in the first few pages a couple of years ago. She flipped to a blank page and started writing bullet points:

  • Woke up at 4:47 am
  • Drank 1st cup of coffee
  • Showered and got dressed
  • Drank 2nd cup of coffee
  • Went through list for the day
  • Started writing in journal just in case I black out again.

So that was plan. Write down everything she did as soon as she did it. If she still remembered it all at the end of the day, then it must have been some weird fluke. If she didn’t, well, she’d worry about that then.

She could hear footsteps upstairs as the rest of her family was slowly getting up for the day.

* * *

She’d just finished dropping off the last of her 3 kids off at school: one at the elementary school, one at the middle school, and the last one at the high school where she needed to pick up her car. After finding a spot to park the rental, she managed to find her car in the packed parking lot. Surprisingly, it started just fine so she drove it home and left the rental.

It would have been so much easier to have phoned a friend or asked her husband for a ride, but she was afraid she was going crazy. She wasn’t ready to share with anyone until she had a better idea of what was going on. Besides, she kept telling herself, it was probably just an off-day. No need to worry people over nothing. It was probably stress. She so badly wanted her business to do well. They didn’t depend on her paycheque so the hit they took when she quit wasn’t the problem. It was her pride. She didn’t want to fail. Not at work. Not as a mother. Not as a wife. Not as a person.

She just needed a day off. It was beautiful out, especially for February so she decided that, rather than taking a cab back to the school, she’d walk the 5km. Some fresh air and sunlight was exactly what she needed. Then, she’d return the rental, everything would go back to normal, and no one would be the wiser.

She recorded this in her journal, grabbed her new pair of running shoes, and stepped out into the cool winter sun. Not being in a hurry, she started walking a leisurely pace. After a couple of minutes she noticed that there was a man walking behind her on the other side of the street. The soles of his shoes kept scrapping the pavement as he walked, scuffing random rocks and pebbles along the ground. More the anything it was annoying and ruining her calming walk so she started to pick up her pace, hoping that he would turn down one of the side streets.

But he didn’t. He kept pace, staying the same distance behind her. She tried to slow down, hoping he’d pass. Instead, he slowed down too. When she stopped to pretend to tie her shoe, he stopped and pulled out his phone and looked like he was texting someone. When she stood up to start walking again, he put his phone away and started walking too.

Finally, she turned right at the next corner, and walked down one of the side streets. He crossed the street and followed. Now, she was getting nervous. She quickened her pace and cut down one of the walkways, between a couple of houses. He followed.

She picked up the pace again. By now, he was outright running to keep up. The walkway led down a pace and into a forested area. She was walking faster now and the trees were flashing past her, the wind blowing in her face. She veered off the path and went deeper into the trees until she came to another path that led out into a different neighbourhood. She raced down the street and turned at the first corner.

And that’s when it happened. She approached a red car that looked like it was parked in the middle of the street and passed it. Then another. Then another. Why were all of these cars parked in the middle of the road? She’d been walking for a while now and had reached the end of the neighbourhood and found herself at an intersection. The intersection as usual was crowded with cars, but just like earlier, all of the cars were stationary, even the ones in the middle of the intersection. She veered around them, surprised to see people in them. Curious, she wanted to stop, but she was afraid the man would catch up so she kept going. She was walking quickly now, not quite running: she didn’t want to draw attention to herself.

Finally, she saw Justin’s school and her car. Now, she’d be able to put some distance between the man and herself. She grabbed her keys from her purse as she walked. Looking around, she didn’t see him. What she did see were teens all over the yard and parking lot. It was about lunch time so that wasn’t the weird part. What was odd was that they were frozen, mid-motion. Every single one. Stunned, she stopped walking. As soon as she stopped, everyone started moving again. Had she just imagined that? She grabbed her phone to see what time it was, thinking she must have made great time. That walk should have taken about an hour. Expecting to learn it had only taken 50 minutes, she was stunned to see it took 3.

Then, something clicked into place in her mind. She grabbed her journal out of her purse and quickly logged what happened. So that was how she’d gotten so much done yesterday.

It wasn’t until she was driving back to the airport and got stuck at a red light, that she understood why she’d left her car behind yesterday. She quickly wrote that down too just before the light turned green.

She’d been driving for about 20 minutes and was almost to the airport when she couldn’t remember why she was going there. Then she couldn’t remember where she was driving. The half hour was quickly evaporating from her mind as though she was waking from a dream. A dream that had been crystal clear one moment, and the next, it was vapour lost in the atmosphere. She pulled over to the side of the road. The last thing she remembered was pulling the front door shut behind her as stepped outside to walk back to Justin’s school.

A Grave Mistake: Chapter 4

A Grave Mistake: Chapter 2

lighted happy birthday candles

If you’d like to start reading from the beginning, check out A Grave Mistake: Part 1

Magic has always existed. And, like radio waves, you can’t hear unless you have the right device tuned to the right frequency. What if someone gave you tools to tune into that frequency?

HAROLD WATSON
Day 1, 4:30 pm

Harold hated going to the doctor. In his opinion, they were a bunch of quacks who insisted on telling him he was getting old. He already knew that and didn’t need a bunch of pills each morning to remind him.

He hitched up his pants as he walked back into his house with his sandwich, his reward for going to the doctor’s office this morning. He’d been living alone for the last 3 years, ever since Elise, his wife, died. He missed her. He missed his family. He missed having people around. Today was Cole, his grandson’s, fifth birthday party and he was missing it because his son, Brad, and his family had moved across the country last year.

He sat down at the kitchen table and unwrapped his sandwich. He could imagine the party now. He’d have dressed up as the clown for the kids. He had a bunch of amateur magic tricks that Brad had loved when he was little. Cole would open his gift and as soon as he saw it he would give Harold a giant hug. Brad would smile at him because he’d be impressed that Harold knew his grandson so well. But that wasn’t right. He didn’t know his grandson at all. He’d tried going to the toy store to shop for a gift and he didn’t have a clue. All of the things he’d been interested in last year either wasn’t there anymore or it somehow seemed to young for him. Most of it, he’d never even heard of. How could one year make such a difference? After an hour of wandering through the aisles and listening to other kids screaming and crying, he’d finally given up and bought a gift card.

But if they still lived here, he’d be at the party and Cole would be blowing out his candles. He could see it as though it was happening in front of him. Cole’s friends would be gathered around him as he took a deep breath, the flames on the melting wax candles wavering.

He closed his eyes and blew as the flames flickered, then wisped out. Cole’s friends cheered, probably more because they could finally have cake than because Cole had blown all of them out. Cole opened his eyes and grinned. Then his smile faded into confusion.

“Grandpa?” Cole asked, cocking his head to the side.

The image wisped out before Harold and he was back alone in his living room. What had just happened? He sat for a moment in confused silence.

A few moments passed when his phone rang. He jumped in surprise.

“Hello?”

“Hey Dad,”

“I was just thinking about you guys today. How’s Cole’s birthday going?”

There was a pause.

“It was going really well until Cole thought he saw you.”

“What?” Harold said unevenly.

“Do you mind telling him that you are not, in fact, here?”

“Sure, sure,” Harold said, his mind spinning.

“Hi Grandpa!” Cole said, sounding excited! “That was your best magic trick ever!”

“Thanks bud,” Harold said.

“Are you coming back?”

“No, no it only worked the one time.” Could he make it happen again?

“Oh,” Cole said, sounding disappointed.

“But I saved it just for your birthday.”

“Oh yeah?”

“You bet! I wouldn’t have missed it for the world! Happy Birthday Cole.”

“Thanks Grandpa!”

There was silence as Mike came back on the line.

“Not quite what I meant Dad,” Mike said, sounding exasperated. “But thanks. I have to go, but catch up soon.”

“Sure thing. Good hear from you.”

“You too. Bye!”

He slowly set his phone back down on the table. What had just happened?

A Grave Mistake: Part 3

A Grave Mistake: Chapter 1

airbus aircraft airplane airport

Tales of magic have existed for centuries. Elves, witches, fairies, warlocks, spells, wands, cauldrons, potions. How much is of your stories are real? How much is folklore? What happens when the magic world seeps from the seams and leaches into your world?

NATASHA GILL
Day 1, 4:03 pm

Natasha Gill couldn’t remember arriving at the airport. She found herself sitting on a bench by the Arrivals gate holding a coffee in her hand that she didn’t remember purchasing and wearing different clothes than she remembered putting on that morning. She’d been planning on showing the Stevens’ house to the Marshalls that morning so she’d dressed in heels and a blazer. Now, her long brown hair was pulled back in a braid and she was in yoga pants and sneakers. New sneakers. When had she bought those?

She checked the clock on the wall and saw it was five hours fast. Her cell phone gave the same time. That meant her husband, Jason’s, flight was about to arrive and she hadn’t even dented her to-do list for the day. The last thing she remembered doing was walking out of her doctor’s office. That had been around 10:30 am that morning. She flipped her phone to the screen with her list.

Not only was “doctor’s appointment” checked off, but it looked like everything else too. Even things she didn’t think she’d get to until tomorrow. Doctor’s appointment. The laundry. Update her website. Take photos of the Hassan’s house. Grocery shopping. Clean the house. Pick up Amelia from school. Drop off Justin’s trumpet. Drop Amelia off at ballet. Check. Check. Check.

Halfway down the list: Show the Stevens’ house. Check. That one scared her. She had just started her real estate business and things were slow. She was counting on that sale. She didn’t know what was worse: not showing up at all or trying to show their home in whatever state she’d been in today. Had she been wearing these sweats?

She continued to scroll down the list and noticed that there were a number of items added that weren’t there this morning, including “rent car.” Why would she need to rent a car? She rifled through her purse to see if she had keys or a receipt. Sure enough, there was a rental agreement signed for today at the airport for a blue Acura SUV. After looking further she couldn’t find the keys and realized she must not have gone outside to pick it up yet.

She scrolled to the very bottom of her list and saw that the very last item hadn’t been checked off. Pick up car from Justin’s school.

The arrival doors opened as the first passengers from Jason’s plane began to file through, some greeting people who were waiting, others heading straight for the door or the luggage carousel. She quickly jammed the paperwork into her purse, checked her make-up, practiced a smile, then stood up on her tip toes see over the heads of those waiting in front of her. A few moments later, Jason came through the crowd. He grinned when he saw her.

“Hey beautiful!” he said, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and rolled his carry-on behind him.  as they began to walk out to the car, rolling his carry-on behind him. As they walked outside, he started to walk towards the parking lot, but she steered him towards the rental pick-up.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“I had some car trouble, so I rented a car.” She smiled like it was no big deal.

“Everything okay?” he asked.

“Uh-huh.” She pulled the rental agreement out of her purse again as they arrived at the booth and handed it to the woman on duty.

A few minutes later they were on the road. “Wait a minute,” Jason said. “How did you get here if you didn’t have a car until you got here?”

That was a great question. How did she get out here? She cocked her head thinking fast. “Taxi.”

“Oh,” he said, pausing for a moment. Then he launched into the details of his conference.

She breathed a sigh of relief. Normally, she shared everything with Jason, but she was so rattled she wasn’t ready to talk about it yet. At least, not until she understood it better. She knew he’d be concerned and would start asking questions. Good questions that scared her. Like how did she get out to the airport without a car and no sign of a receipt for a taxi. Why didn’t she rent a car in town? Had she been with someone? The black gaping hole of time in her mind scared her. What had happened to her today?

A Grave Mistake: Part 2