Copyright © 2010 Paolo Romeo - All rights reserved
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I – Will
Edinburgh, Wednesday 18:20

They told me I was born at the vespertine hour. Since then I’ve been cursed.

“Samaritans – Can I help?”
I had the receiver of the phone pressed to my ear. But the voice was that of a stranger, not someone I could talk to.
I put the phone down.
Two seconds later my fingers were tapping on the dialling buttons again, nervously; they knew I had to talk to someone.
What I knew was that nothing was going to bring my gift back. It was gone long ago. That. Was. That.
What was I calling the Samaritans for? There was nothing anyone could do.
Mr Rosencrantz had said that I still had it in me, just buried under tons of guilt... Or something along that line. Only, he didn’t call it a gift. He said I’d find a way to unlock my talent.
As if I hadn’t tried. Every time I did go back there, to the memory of that day when I used my gift for the last time, all I got were the same old images. The girl floating in the river, her eyes open, staring back at me. Her body blotched and swollen, as if she was made of bubble wrap. It made me feel sick.
Now things were different though. Now, all I wanted was to have my gift back and use it. I needed it so badly. I glanced at the clock and hoped I had enough time.
Once more, receiver in my hand, I dialled their number.

“Samaritans – Can I help you?”
It was a male voice this time. But I couldn’t speak.
“Hello, you’re through to the Samaritans. Can I help?”
He sounded very friendly, a bit like Justin, my father’s assistant. I used to have really good chats with him, we could talk about anything and everything. He knew how to make me feel comfortable, no matter the subject, even with teenagers’ stuff. He was a real pal.
But he died in the car accident too.
“Please take your time. When you’re ready I’m here to listen,” the Samaritan guy said. His voice sounded quite young.
“How old are you?” I said. The question just popped out spontaneously. The Samaritans were known to kind of help you out if you had problems, serious problems, like mine. They always gave out leaflets at school but I never thought I’d find myself calling their number. And I certainly wasn’t expecting someone only a few years older than me to answer the phone.
“I get that a lot but I’m not that young anymore. Twenty-seven already; how about you?”
“Fifteen,” I said. “Well… Almost.”
“Your birthday coming up soon?” He asked casually but sounded interested, like he really wanted to know more about me.
“Yeah, next Thursday.”
“The eight of August? That’s grand,” he paused. “Did you know that eight means luck in Chinese? You’re double lucky.”
“I suppose.” Curse it. What a waste of time.
“Have you planned anything special for your birthday?”
Another stupid question. I wanted to hang up but I longed for the sound of a friendly voice.
“No,” I said in the end, lying.
It was meant to be my first trip to London. Mum, Dad, and I were going to celebrate my birthday on the London Eye. Not the coolest thing, but cool enough for us.
None of it will happen now, a part of me urged me to go on, tell him. But I couldn’t say it out loud.
Things can change so fast. One minute you’re making plans and the next your life is like pieces of a broken glass. Shattered, useless. Just like my gift.
“Not looking forward to your birthday this year?” He asked gently but the question got on my nerves.
I was about to put the phone down when I stopped. Toby was outside, tossing a bone around in the garden, bored. I hadn’t played with him for a week.
“I once saved Toby’s life,” I said aloud, forgetting that I’d called the helpline to tell them a story, my story.

vespertine [adjective]:


[Latin, vespertinus, from vesper, evening.]