Today might be a great day. The sun isn’t too bright, my hair hasn’t frizzed from the stubborn wind, and I got a A- on my Chem test. Of course there’s the fact that, Ben Wong is destined to die today on McGovern Street, in front of the houses with all the rose bushes. His name screamed through my skull during biology. It took everything I had to hold a smile, especially when I passed him at school.
I brush black strands out of my eyes with shaking hands as I peek out from behind an enormous eucalyptus tree along the footpath. Ben is a few houses ahead, strolling home as if nothing matters. Sort of like the voices and visions, clawing around in my head, screaming the names of people who only have a few hours to live. This time, I’m going to stop it and save Ben. There has to be a way. There must be a reason why I see them, what else could it be?
The stink from the overflowing garbage along the curb swooshes past on the afternoon wind, and I almost gag. The way Ben is scratching his butt makes me think he has fleas. Another reason I shouldn’t sit next to him in ancient history. What a slob. It’s easy to follow his trail; empty bags of chips, two candy wrappers, two apple cores and a mashed soda can, and still he’s beyond skinny. This metabolism thing is so unfair.
Only a block away from where it happens, and the image jumps into my head just as it did back in class. Its intensity as jolting as when it forced me, shirking, out of my seat, right in the middle of Mr. Colby’s pop quiz. There’s another mark in Mr. Colby’s notebook. I wanted to explain, but how could I, and just like now, my throat felt as if it was locked up.
I move out from behind the tree, passing the brick houses, an elderly woman with handfuls of shopping bags, and a ginger cat sun baking on someone’s front lawn. My fists dig into the pockets of my skirt as I stroll, trying my best to look casual. My brain is screaming at me to run up to Ben and drag him in the opposite direction. A perfect way to confirm that I am some kind of weirdo.
Chattering voices from behind catch my attention. I glance back to see Sari and her pack of she-hyenas approaching. My stomach clenches. Oh great, just what I need, some taunting and insults from her majesty.
I call out, “Hey, Ben, wait up.”
He looks back, wiping his mouth with a sleeve. “Leev? Don’t you live on Cross Street?”
I sprint up beside him. At the age of eleven he had followed me home, then asked me out on a date to a burger joint, which I declined, but that was years ago. Now at seventeen, he still remembers where I live.