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									I can remember everything perfectly like it only happened last night, not over a month ago.
Sure some of the details have blurred a bit, but just little stuff. The important things are clear as
the sounds, the smells, the order of things. It’s not true what they say about painful memories
becoming less vivid as time goes on. It gets worse as every day passes, becomes more real every
I was at a party – one of my friends had just graduated from university. I went with my two
best friends and my boyfriend – we share a student house and we got really close – and we went
in my
old jeep. I was the driver so I couldn’t really drink and stuff, but I was glad ‘cos I get all antsy
some-one else drives my baby. Anyway, it was a really good night – great pumping music (bit
too much
dancey pop for my taste, I have to admit), really good atmosphere, all matey like, and nothing
with drugs. I had been worried about drugs, being a twenty-something crowd, and I didn’t want
to get
involved in that whole scene. So, I didn’t drink the whole night and stuck to Diet Coke, well I had
half a
Bud (disgusting stuff, lager) but that was at the start of the evening so it was all out of my
by the time the party wound down. I had this old rock anthem pounding through my head when
we left
and I was still humming it when we got into the jeep and drove down the road. It’s just one of
songs that you hear once and never forget, but it’s been my fave since I was about five. And it’s
these blistering solos in – it one that you just belt out at the top of your lungs and play air guitar
to. I
remember feeling a bit annoyed that they didn’t play it at the party but I don’t suppose it’s
cup of tea.
So, anyway, I was humming this song quietly to myself, while the other three were talking
around me. I can’t really remember what it was about – exams, most likely – but I wasn’t in a
mood. More in a talk-to-me-and-I’ll-find-a-shotgun-to-blow-your-head-off mood, but in a nice
way. Tony,
my boyfriend, was laughing at some stupid joke or other, so I looked at him, then frowned and
him. I was still a bit hyped up from the party, but it had also depressed me for some inexplicable
reason. I saw a pair of headlights on the main road so I slowed down a bit to let them past. We
about to head up Northwood Chase, which is a pretty narrow road but great to speed down. I go
sometimes, just to drive and be alone and think. I did my college art project here and I aced it so
got good memories. I’m distracting myself again but at least this gives you a mental picture. You
shouldn’t use the road if you’re not a good driver because it’s edged by this hedge, then there’s
a sixty
foot drop down a cliff – one wrong move and you’re people jam. So I was roaring along the
Chase – no
speed cameras, see, and you can usually hear any other cars and things. You get a lot of
boys racing motorbikes up here – they aren’t worried about the cliff, can’t see it, don’t care
about it.
The flashing disco lights at the party were going round my head as well but ignored them.
Tony said something to me, asked me a question like ‘Are you sure you should be going this fast
here?’ I looked at him out of one eye and was about to reply when Kath and Jon burst out
laughing on
the back seat so any answer would be lost anyway. But I kept one eye on him and almost didn’t
the swerving headlights ahead. They belonged to a van which was being driven, probably, by a
hi-jacker. No-one really noticed it and I didn’t register the danger until it was too late. The
vehicle came
into view going double my speed and swerving madly across the width of the road.
The van ploughed into the jeep before I had time to scream.
They say that you’re supposed to become more objective and clear-headed after a near-death
experience like that. Supposed to count your blessings and look at each new day with the
wonder of a
child. So not like that. I’m the same old cynical, take everything for granted girl I always was.
Life is
life, you know. But it did teach me something – don’t try to understand everything that happens
‘cos you
haven’t got the time. Like I’ll never know why the drunk driver who crashed into us had drunk so
or why he was going so fast, or why the fates let him drive off without a scratch a minute later. I
want to know either.
‚Tony!‛ I remember screaming his name once or twice. He was mostly okay, cuts and broken
bones, but I was terrified because I couldn’t see him properly. Then I must have passed out
it’s just a blank after that. Or maybe I put a mental block on it. I can’t really remember. I
that it hurt for ages, then it didn’t hurt but I didn’t know why. There are just so many things I
don’t know
about that night that I don’t want to know, and so many questions that I don’t want to know
the answers
Now that it’s all over, I can remember it every day and it’s always that bit worse. It’s weird. I
feel like I should be forgetting this, getting on with things, but… I just can’t. It feels wrong if I
remind myself of it, like I’m trying to pretend that it never happened. It’s important to
remember things.
‚Stop thinking about it. You’ll just upset yourself again.‛ This is how most conversations start
‚What if I like being upset?‛ That’s just me being mouthy but it’s a valid question. I don’t like
being upset, it’s bad for the skin, but it doesn’t bother me to think about the crash. It happened,
there’s nothing that’ll change it. ‚I can’t forget that it happened.‛
‚You’ll never totally forget it, but you can’t keep torturing yourself over it.‛
‚I don’t. It happened, no-one got seriously hurt. I’m okay about that, I’m not about to sink into
some kind of depression.‛ Surprisingly. I thought I’d be really cut up about it, putting my friends
danger, but it doesn’t upset me that much. The others seem to have forgiven me for it because
don’t seem to hold it against me. But even if they do blame me and are just hiding it really well,
it’s their
problem. Because it wasn’t my fault. It was that drunk driver who smashed into us that’s to
blame. He
was drinking a bottle of whisky at the time but he got away scot free. I remember him, I heard
running away before the police came and they still haven’t caught the son of a bitch. I ask you,
the justice in the world? What about karma?
I guess it was a little too much trouble for my parents to ask about my friends when they came
to the hospital – I suppose they were worried about me. Maybe they did ask and I can’t
What happened after the crash gets fuzzier and fuzzier. Everything is kinda jumbled in my head,
and I
can only remember bits and pieces. I wish I could have apologised to everyone for putting them
that, but I thought they’d put the blame on me. Because without the drunk driver, I was the only
‚I just keep reliving the whole thing when I sleep. Sometimes when I’m awake too.‛
‚That’s not at all unusual after a trauma of this sort.‛ Classic therapist-speak I know, and it
doesn’t help.
‚Is it normal to keep hearing the screams and wishing you could have done something to save
them from it?‛
‚What exactly do you think you could’ve done?‛
I don’t have a clue. I mean, I had no control over that situation, I couldn’t do anything to stop
him from ploughing into us, or to avoid him. And it’s not like I’m constantly wishing it had never
happened, because wishes are birthday cake gimmicks, and I can’t turn back the clock. I’m not
bothered that I got a bit hurt and that – I’m not out for revenge, or anything like that – to tell
the truth I
didn’t feel that much and got off pretty lightly by all accounts. But sometimes I think ‘is there
I could’ve done to stop my friends going through it?’ It’s weird in a way I can’t explain.
Anyway, I was in hospital recovering from the injuries I got a week or so after, when I saw this
young girl in the corridor. She was just a kid, probably eight or nine, and she had on this long
nightdress. She looked at me once with the greenest eyes you’ve ever seen. I wish I had eyes like
that, instead of my own light grey ones. I know she shouldn’t have been by my bed – the
ward are supposed to have all the kids in bed by that time. But I felt like that was exactly where
should be, like she was reminding me of something.
And, the weirdest thing is that I felt like I knew her. I looked at her and tried to remember if,
and where I had seen her before. Then she drifted off down the corridor, or maybe I just went to
but I knew she was gone.
‚Hello, darling. It’s us again,‛ came a fuzzy voice. I managed to work out that it was my mom
speaking, but I was still a bit dopey from the drugs so it took me forever to figure it. ‚Just
thought we’d
pop in.‛ That was a joke as we live fifty miles away so unless they were going to visit some long-
relative, they hadn’t just dropped by.
‚Hey, kiddo.‛ How many times do I have to tell my dad not to call me that? ‚Feeling better
I mumbled some reply, and I’m not even sure what it was meant to be, but it was lost on them
as the doctor came in and they all started talking in hushed voices like he was a top secret agent
is so not. I think I dozed off again ‘cos when I came to, they were gone and I was staring at four
‚Why do I feel it when I close my eyes?‛
‚There are all sorts of reasons why you could still be feeling the effects. Have you considered
that you may not be as over it as you think?‛
Well, that was just stupid. I’m totally over it, it’s done, I accepted it, but I haven’t quite got the
knack of the moving on bit. ‚I can’t erase it from history. But I don’t consciously think about it –
it’s just,
I close my eyes and BAM! It happens again.‛
All I ever see is the look in the drivers’ eyes as he goes into us, then everything’s a mess of
flames and screams and bitter smoke. But it feels like I’m not there, just feeling what everyone
went through. And the only thing I can hear other than the screams of abject terror is that
damned rock
song. I mean, it was the last thing I remember so maybe it’s some sort of trigger?
The girl was there again that night. You know, the one from the children’s ward with green
eyes. She feels so familiar but I can’t place. It had been bugging me all the previous night but I
couldn’t think of her. When I saw her though, I felt sort of peaceful, like she was watching over
me. It
was way strange but I felt kinda safe.
She came over to my bed and stared at me. I blinked but she was still there so I knew I
wasn’t dreaming her. Her name is Hannah Waterford. I know her. I knew she would hurt me, but
ultimately keep me safe. How did I know all this? Surprise, surprise, I don’t know – I just did.
‚Hello Seraph,‛ she said. ‚Don’t be afraid of me. I’ll take care of you.‛
She held out her hand to me and waited. A normal child wouldn’t speak like that, and I
wondered if I was hallucinating again. Would’ve explained the floating banana at the end of my
‚Who are you?‛ But I already knew who she was. ‚How do you know who I am?‛
‚Don’t be silly. We all know you. We were just waiting for the right time.‛ She had a child’s
voice but she spoke like a grown up. I thought she was just a little girl who wanted a friend so I
her hand and got up.
‚It’s time now, Seraph.‛
I remember going down the corridor. The ceramic tiles were in a blue and white cross pattern
and they were icy cold under my bare feet. It’s weird, the things that stick in your head. I mean,
hospital corridor is hardly one to go down in the history books, but y’know – screw it, I
remember it.
Also, that song I like – I’m sure I heard it playing somewhere quite quietly. There’s no PA system
that I
saw but it must’ve been coming from somewhere – another corridor or something.
‚We can’t go outside!‛ I was actually more scared than the kid, which didn’t really compute for
me. ‚We’ll catch colds. And we’ll be caught.‛ Catch cold. Lame argument, huh? Well, I was
gonna tell the kid I was scared stiff, was I?
‚C’mon. Let’s go. They won’t see us. No-one’ll even notice we’re gone.‛
I wanted to find some other argument to make us stay in the warmth and safety of the hospital,
I really did, but there was no reason. Security were in their cosy little office watching the football
highlights, and I wondered if Hannah had known and planned her one night only escape. ‚As far
they’re concerned, we’re not even here.‛
I didn’t like the idea of not being seen – I’d never liked being ignored. I wanted to go with
Hannah because I needed to get out for a while and, oddly enough, I trusted her completely, but
I still
held back.
‚I need to see my friends. I need to know they’re safe.‛ I was responsible for whatever injuries
they had, whatever pain they were in, I had to know.
‚I’ve seen them. They’re fine, no serious injuries or anything.‛ Why had she been allowed to
see them? Or, had she been having a sneak around? I didn’t really care though – I was just glad
they were alright. ‚They’re waiting to see you.‛
‚Really? Do they hate me?‛ I know now that they don’t hate me. Well, they don’t act like they
do. But I wouldn’t have blamed them – even I hate me sometimes, just knowing that it was my
fault. I
mean, I was speeding a little, I let myself get distracted. But I also think that we would have
been okay
had it not been for that driver.
Even though none of them say it, I think they do blame me a little for letting it happen. I tell
myself that they don’t mean it and that they will forget it one day. I have to tell myself that or…
I’m over it now, it happened and I can never change it. Time to move on, yeah? Only, it took me
night to realise it. You can’t beat yourself up over it – it happened and that’s that.
‚I don’t think so. But, when I saw them, they were a little –‚
Before either us could see it, some big bloke had come from security and was watching us talk.
‚Hey, where you kids think you’re going?‛
Damn! I thought up this brilliant excuse, I remember it now. Even. I was about to say how I
was one of the wards and a friend had been taken to A and E and I had got lost trying to find it
and how
I had found this girl wandering round too. Then I remembered to breathe. See, I told you I
it all. But then some-one lobbed the ball in the back of the net so he went back in to watch.
was tugging on my hand to go, but I stayed a minute in case he came back. I really wanted to
say my
excuse, but after a minute or so, it was obvious he wasn’t coming back. Some security staff!
‚I think he’s forgotten about us.‛
I really wasn’t expecting the reply I got, and the words stayed with me forever.
‚They always forget.‛
That was creepy, like, on a whole new level for me. I started to wonder how she’d come to this
conclusion; had she escaped from hospital for a night and not been caught before? Was she just
because she didn’t get any visitors? The most important question I should’ve asked is whether
she was
really from the children’s ward. But I didn’t want any answers that might shatter the net of
safety I had
settled in. I was happy just to follow Hannah for the night – I know it sounds wimpy but I was
ready to
let some-one be the adult and take charge for a while.
‚So, tell me all about this strange girl you met at the hospital.‛ Trauma therapy is so screwed
up, man. It’s like everything’s black and white to them; everything should have definition and a
meaning. ‚Did it help you to talk to her, even though you never saw her again? Did she give you
different perspective on the crash?‛
They don’t seem to understand that things have all different colours and shades of grey. It’s
called doubt. There’s no gospel truth or anything. ‚There was lots of perspective to be had. Not
necessarily different but it made me see the bigger picture.‛ I couldn’t really tell her about
Hannah – I
can’t say ‘oh, we talked and she showed me stuff and it changed my life forever.’ ‚It’s not that
y’know. She made me see stuff I wasn’t quite ready for, but I had to see it to move on. And she
everything so real.‛ I hate therapy more than ever. You have all these thoughts and things you
want to
say, only you can’t tell a stranger ‘cos they won’t understand. They say it’s all about letting you
talk and
helping you come to terms with whatever happened but I don’t think it is. I reckon they ask you
these leading questions and twist what you say until you start telling them what they wanna
hear. See,
this is why suicides are on the up – you start to doubt yourself, then you blame yourself, then
you hate
yourself, then –
I could’ve said that Hannah knew all this stuff and she was so young. I could’ve said that she
opened my eyes to worlds I had never known. Maybe how she had assaulted every fibre of my
What about how she had made me experience everything again just so I could get over it and
home. And I should have said how she was with me through it all.
‚You felt trapped in your own eggshell reality because she had known so much at her age?‛
‚I guess so. She’d been through a lot in ten years. I s’pose I wanted to know more than I did.‛
Talking deep’s never been my strong point. I can think it okay – the words just don’t get from my
to my mouth properly.
Hannah had really known a lot and I realised how sheltered my life had been.
We were running – I can remember how good it felt to have the wind in my hair and face – I
felt like I was buzzing with energy. The hard gravel dug into my feet but I didn’t even feel it. I
took a
few deep breaths of reasonably fresh air – I’d forgotten how good it was… especially after the
stench of disinfectant and dried vomit. That’s a new perfume for your Xmas list – Eau de Sick
Person –
insults guaranteed! Man, I’m so funny, I should be a comedian. It wasn’t even as cold outside as
thought, or maybe it was and the exercise had warmed me up.
‚Hurry up, Seraph. We’ll miss the show.‛
Huh? What show? ‚Where are we going anyway?‛
‚There’s something I need to show you. Then I can take you home.‛
I knew there were questions to ask but I couldn’t think of any – also, like I said, I wanted
to have all the answers for a change. Looking back on it, I’m glad I just went with her, because I
wouldn’t have gone if I’d known.
We were going quite fast – she’s got some speed, that kid – and everything started to blur as I
went past it. So I didn’t know where I was going, just letting her hand lead me along. She
stopped for
a bit a couple of times so I could get my breath back. Hannah seemed okay, though. She only
me a few seconds before she snatched a look at my watch and began to pull on my hand again.
‚We have to go now. It’s nearly midnight. It’s nearly time.‛
I ran beside her. ‚Time for what? You haven’t told me what’s going on.‛ There was no reply.
As we were going, I heard little snippets of drunken and shouted conversations. ‚I really, really
fancy you, Tessa.‛ ‚Yeah, so what?‛ ‚No, I really, really like you. D’you wanna go out with me?‛
‚Yeah, when sheep live on Jupiter.‛ ‚I’ll call NASA.‛
‚I’m not drunk.‛ ‚Jamie, you can barely stand up.‛ ‚I’m still not drunk.‛ ‚Leg. Less. That’s
you are now. Wanna know what you’ll be if you drive back? Life. Less.‛ ‚Shall we get a cab back
mine, then?‛
Still, we raced on, I’ve got no idea how my lungs didn’t explode! Pretty soon, the voices were
just smudges on my audio radar – that’s sonar, right? Whatever. I thought I recognised the
voices but
they all tend to start sounding the same after a few drinks. My student days had taught me that
I soon forgot about them.
We stopped after a while longer and I closed my eyes as I took in lungfuls of air to try and
them. Ugh, I am also so gross – how icky is the thought of deflated lungs? Ugh, again! I
opened my eyes to find us on an empty but familiar stretch of road.
My hands dropped loose to my sides as I began to take in where she had brought me. Hannah
stood by me and snuck another look at the time. She looked as if she was waiting for something.
I had that dream again last night, and I woke up crying. Serious. It wasn’t that I was upset or
shocked or anything like – it was just real and emotional. What’s the diff, right? You can’t
explain it, it’s
just a bunch of feeling I guess. Only, this time it wasn’t a dream exactly – it was a memory. And
it was
a tiny bit different.
It’s that scene where I find myself standing in my hospital gown on the Chase with Hannah.
There’s a breeze and the trees were waving just a tiny bit. The stars were all out and they’re
bright against the inky sky – like the stars you wish on when you’re a kid. Except Hannah didn’t
wish on
it and she kinda reminded me of me. I wondered if life had jaded her so much that she’d stopped
believing in stuff like that.
I hear the quiet rumble of an engine as it came down the road. It sounds fast and I look
towards the sound, even though I can never see anything. The dull thrum of that car isn’t the
sound though because now there’s a screech of brakes and the yell of a V6 engine pushed too
hard in
the wrong gear. Suddenly I see two sets of headlights, the first travelling steadily down the
proper line,
but the second set were speeding so fast and were swerving erratically all over the place. I want
to step
out and make them stop but I can’t move and I somehow know it won’t do any good. They’re
locked on
a collision course and nothing can change what’s about to happen.
Maybe I should’ve covered Hannah’s eyes or turned her away but I didn’t. I think she already
had an idea what was going on, and she didn’t need to be shielded from it. Because suddenly,
the two
vehicles – a dark off-roader, and a silver pick-up – slammed together with the most sickening
crunch of
metal. The car exploded into flames and I saw a flurry of movement. The car was burning.
‚No!‛ I screamed. I knew there was nothing I could do, and yelling wouldn’t do much good, but
you can’t help it. I’ve come to call it the horror reflex. ‚No! No! No!‛
‚It’s horrible, isn’t it?‛ Understatement of the century, or what?
Hannah was taking it all in her stride, like she saw this kind of thing all the time, but I was
appalled at what she had made me see. I didn’t understand why she had brought me to
Chase, and I asked myself if she had brought me to show me this crash. I could smell the acidy
stink of
petrol and burning metal. There was the bitter-sweet smell of searing flesh and it made my eyes
And all I could see was flames and smoke and twisted metal forming a cage of fire for the
‚How can something like this happen on a night like this?‛
‚There are beautiful, peaceful nights being shattered all over the world by people in needless
‚Why? There’s no reason for some-one to go through this so young.‛ I had a feeling that they
were young because it seemed like a young person’s car and, also, it looked identical to the
scene of
my accident. ‚Only the good die young.‛ I know what that means now – what’s the point of
having bad
people in heaven? – but it was just dawning on me then.
‚We need pure souls, good people, to be angels.‛ We? Who the hell are we?
I wanted to know why she was showing me these things, and she told me that I needed to see
it… because it was the only way to accept it and move on. It was my destiny. The calm that
around the blaze filled with the agony screams of people in pain and it made me cry – they were
so full
of pain, it was heart-breaking.
I remember it as the blink of an eye, just the merest moment, before two ambulances drove off
towards the hospital with their sirens and lights whirring. We’d hidden in some bushes while
they were
working. ‚How did this happen? Why wasn’t the drunk driver hurt more?‛ He’d gone off with
some cuts
and broken bones.
‚He’ll get what’s coming to him.‛
That thought still makes me feel better than I think it should – I like the thought that karma has
a long memory, a bit like an elephant in a way. Except, a karmic elephant just sounds so eww!
‚Did I
die?‛ I was quite certain that it had killed me.
‚No.‛ That was a surprise. ‚But you are dead.‛ Oh. It didn’t really hit me then, I just thought
Then she took me to the edge of the rock face and I looked down at a girl, injured and bent at
impossible angles over the jagged stones. She’d been driving the off-roader. She could’ve been
It was that level of recognition that made me cry. She was a complete stranger but she was so
familiar. That’s the whole point of it. It has to be something you’re connected to.
‚What’s she saying? Is she talking to us? Can she even see us?‛ I asked Hannah. I don’t
know how I expected her to know.
‚She can see us. You saw me before you died.‛
‚Did I die in the hospital that night?‛ She nodded. I supposed it stood to reason that I’d see
her as my spirit left my body. But I felt bad that the dying girl could see us because she looked
young and too innocent to die. I still don’t like it when people see me, they’re having everything
ever lived for just ripped away, but it doesn’t upset me as much.
Hannah was my angel. And now, she had brought me here to become this girl’s angel.
‚It’s up to you now, Seraph.‛ She touched my hand and began to fade away. ‚I was your
guide. Be hers.‛
So, that was that. Hannah had led me on my way, now I had to follow my path. But I felt
really good about it – I had a purpose, a destiny. Now, I had to help Luci, I just knew that was
name, cross over and find her way. Some call it the circle of life, others say the circle of death.
‚What do you call it?‛
I’ve never really thought about it to be honest. I didn’t need to think about my answer though
because I just knew what to call it. It felt right to say the words. ‚A circle of love.‛
‚And how do you feel about being a part of it?‛
‚Alright, I guess. I don’t love the fact that people can only see me when their lives can’t be
saved, but I like that I can save their souls.‛
Her eyes turned towards me and her lips carried on speaking silently. Only it wasn’t silent any
more – the notes carried on the, now still, night air. I knew those words. It was my rock song.
chords and drum beats mixed with a delicate and emotive piano. Lyrics of love and death
provided a
haunting song that would be all the more poignant for me. The tears carried on rolling down my
‚Who are you? Where is everyone?‛
‚I’m a friend. I’m Seraph.‛
The song plays on.

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