Friday, 24 May 2013

Amber’s Unpaid Work

The place was bright with morning sunshine as she walked through the doors, looked around and picked up the Sunday paper.  Amber pulled $2.00 from her pocket, walked to the counter of the newsagency and paid William the money and turned to leave.

“Hey, Amber, it’s gonna be a hot one, isn’t it?” he smiled hesitantly. 

“Yeah.” She looked at him and noticed a black eye and that his knuckles were bruised as he took the money off the counter.  But before she could ask what happened, she felt a hard shove from behind!  Her head whacked the back of the cash register hard and she fell to her knees, dropping her paper.  Blood cooled her forehead and trickled down into her left eye as somebody turned her around and a boot pushed against her shoulder forcing her to sit up and face them.  Looking up she shouted, “Hey!  That…” her next words were forgotten as the muzzle of a berretta was pointed at her and she closed her eyes as he pulled the trigger…

“No!” she sat up in her darkened room at 2am clawing at the air as she struggled her way out of her blankets.  The freezing Winter air was a relief to Amber as she fumbled with the beside reading lamp and tears came easily.

She’d been having this very same dream of her death for two weeks now; every three nights.  It’s been a broken record she’s been recording in her Dream Journal and she’s even tried talking to her doctor about it, but he can’t find anything wrong with her; neither can her shrink.

“Shit… not again.” She looked outside at the darkness and knew she was probably not going to get anymore sleep tonight.  Lying back down, she picked up her usual read – a book on relaxation techniques – and before long, she was sleeping again; a dreamless on this time.

Amber stood in the newsagency with her Sunday newspaper in her hand and put the $2.00 on the counter… but something was different about this.  Normally, William was there to take the money, today, he wasn’t.

“Hello, Amber.” A voice said behind her.  She spun to find a tall, thin man in a black suit was standing in the next aisle over looking at her, “How are you?”

“I die on this day.” She said, “I’ve had this premonition for the last three weeks, three nights a week… how the fuckin’ hell do you think I am?”

Stepping out of the aisle, she found he walked with an ivory-handled cane, “I know.  I’m sorry, it’s not you who dies.  But it’s you getting the messages… crossed wires.”

“Then, who?”

His eyes took in hers, “Who goes and gets the paper normally?”

“I do.”

He picked up the newspaper, “Aaah, yes, but on 23rd, June, who’s going to get the paper?”

She thought forward to that date and her mouth dropped, “Oh, shit, my flatmate.”

“Yes.” He said, “She will die… but you can’t tell her.”

“You know why she’s going instead of me, don’t you?” she looked at the paper and saw the date on it.

“Yes… you’ll be resting up after an operation.  And she’ll be your carer.” He said, “Sad how things work out.” Suddenly, he locked eyes with her, “Amber… it’s time to wake up…”

“Amber…it’s time to wake up!” a hand shook her, “You forgot to set your alarm on your phone last night, we all slept late!”

“What?” she grabbed the hand before Shelley could move away, pulled her close and embraced her, “Oh, you wonderful person…”

The brunette shrugged and hugged her back, “Okay… your operation isn’t two weeks away and you’re getting clingy now?”

Amber looked at her best friend, “I know what the dreams are about, but I can’t tell you the meaning.”

“Why not?”

“I promised him I wouldn’t.” she mumbled getting out of bed.

Amber’s operation came and went.  It was day surgery but she had to rest for a week.  And during that week, the doctor came out and took out some stitches that were there for the cameras and other tiny instruments.    She was at home, on her bed sleeping on the Friday when she felt the room turn cold…

…the bed moved and she looked around to find the man sitting on the end, “You told her she was going to die.”

“No I didn’t.” she shook her head.

“Amber you said you promised him… who was him?  Me?”

“Yes, but she didn’t question that.”

Resting his wrist over the handle of his cane, he pointed his right finger, “Are you sure?”

Pain writhed and twisted through her gut where her surgery had been performed, “Aargh!  Yes!  Why are you torturing me?”

“This isn’t torture… I’m making a point.” He turned his arm and twisted his finger more, smiling a little, enjoying playing this game.”

“Argh!” she screamed and Shelley raced in as her boyfriend put a heat pack on her, “Oh, I hope this is worth it.”

“What is?” Daniel asked.

“I can’t tell you… I promised.” She murmured as she snuggled up to him.

It was around 10am Sunday morning when the police knocked on their front door to report that Shelley had been shot and killed in a robbery at the nearby newsagency.  William, the owner, was also killed as well.  Amber had kept her promise to Death and not told her best friend, her flatmate and her boyfriend what was going to happen; so they couldn’t prevent her death… she felt as though she had betrayed them, and she turned in early that night.

She was sitting outside the newsagency on the bus seat with the newspaper in her hand when Shelley sat next to her.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” her friend asked.

“I made a promise to a man.” Amber couldn’t look at her.


Amber looked to her left where the tall man with the cane stood, “Shelley, meet the man I work for:  Death.”