Staring through the opaque window Meredith kept repeating the same words in her head without success. The pain didn’t fade. The hurt remained the same just as the first time her now ex-partner had spoken them. She felt a subtle shot of pain across her chest, as if an iron hand was grabbing her heart tightly.
In common circumstances, the quiet rain would soothe her worries for a while, but now, in this state, not even that worked. Her limbs were numb from having been in the same position for too long. She was probably hungry, for she hadn’t eaten all day, but she wasn’t sure, maybe the ache in her stomach wasn’t a long for food…
After a while, her cat, a small, gray one, approached soundlessly from across the room to stand by her side. Only then she remembered that she had forgotten to feed her. One thing was to not care for herself, but another, and an unforgivable one that was, was to forget to tend for her pet. She rose from her place carefully, because the rapid blood started flowing around her body desperately; she felt that familiar tickling sensation, which would normally amuse her, but now it just felt annoying. She wasn’t wearing socks, and it was freezing; her hands felt stiff from cold, so she stuck them into her sweatshirt pockets.
As she walked to her dark kitchen, the cat started meowing loudly out of hunger. “Shhh, I know” Meredith assured her friend. “It’ll be ready soon”. She forgot, or perhaps did it on purpose, to turn on the light, so almost blindly she searched for the can opener in the drawer. Her hands expertly felt their way around and found it quickly; but as she was opening the metal can, she accidentally cut her hand with the sharp edge. “Shit.” She muttered. The warm blood started coming out almost instantly, and she was surprised to see such a large amount of it, the cut didn’t seem to be so deep. It almost didn’t hurt at all.
Hurriedly she poured the cat’s food into the silver plate and tossed the empty can in the trash can. She half-ran to the bathroom to fetch a bandage for her wound, and when she turned on the light, after having stayed for hours in the darkness, everything seemed oddly artificial, like an alien glow. Squinting, she observed her pale skin and the too-visible bluish veins in her forearm. The blood from her injured hand wasn’t flowing as much as before and Meredith postponed her intention of curing it and instead just stared at the cut for a few moments, admiring the beautiful, intense crimson. Then suddenly, like an insane craving, the desire for seeing more blood invaded her; the longing was almost irresistible, for her mind was now numb as well; temporarily her worries were gone, something she wanted and hadn’t been able to achieve by any other method. She opened the white cabinet on the mirror, and the old metal squeaked noisily, disturbing the now-constant silence. Hungrily, she pulled out one of the unused razors he had once left there, and took it between her fingers. The cold silver metal felt so good, and if possible, relieving.
She didn’t need to think it through- she sliced open her forearm, carefully not missing any a second of the beautiful color running through her arm. The feeling was unbelievable, precious. Nothing like she had ever felt before, she couldn’t believe she was actually enjoying pain! It was precisely what she had been running away from this whole time. But this, this was different. This was her pain. She was in control. She decided when and how it happened. Strangely, this fascinated her.
Meredith lay down on the cold, white floor and raised her arm up to get a better view. The blood droplets started splattering and staining the tiles creating an eerie, fascinating contrast.
Who knows how much time passed but she must’ve fallen asleep. Everything was so dark, it probably was past midnight already, so Meredith had to squint her eyes to catch a better view. It had been late afternoon when she fed her cat, so surely it was hungry again. She made an effort to stand up from the cold floor, she was somewhat dizzy, but she managed it successfully. She looked around the living room for the cat, but there was no sign of it.
Groggily, Meredith dragged her feet across the thick carpet towards her bedroom, and stood for a while at the doorstep, contemplating the unoccupied double-bed. It looked so sad and empty, it was unbelievable she would never sleep next to him again. When the tears where threatening to pour, Meredith shook her head, walked forward a few clumsy steps and collapsed on the bed, nearly crushing her sleeping cat, whom she hadn’t had noticed before. She let a quiet giggle escape, then carefully slid under the covers and wrapped herself tightly hoping for a nightmare-less sleep.
Half a dozen of hours later, the sun started to rise. And despite the stubborn gray clouds that threatened to pour on the unsuspecting waking inhabitants of the city, a few dim sun rays managed to filter through the foggy windows.
The alarm clock on Meredith’s nightstand glowed 6:29am. She didn’t know this was the beginning of the day that would change her life forever.
Her absurdly loud alarm beeped as usual, waking her up with a startle. Her long, red hair shimmered faintly in the sunlight as she struggled to open her eyes. After a couple of eye rubs, Meredith climbed out of bed and proceeded with the usual morning routine. It wasn’t until she was drinking cold milk directly from the carton that she noticed the dry blood that covered her arm. The gash had healed overnight, and judging from the fact that she had completely forgotten about it, it didn’t hurt anymore. She acted as though her last night’s lack of intelligence never happened, got dressed for work, and headed out into the morning drizzle.
While on the subway, which was crowded as usual, Meredith tried hard to concentrate on something else that wasn’t Alex, her ex-boyfriend. It seemed silly, for a 24 year old to be dwelling this much on a break-up. She wasn’t some dumb high school girl anymore! She liked to think of herself as a grown woman with a job and responsibilities. But old habits are hard to kill, so she continued daydreaming about how would it be if they could get back together for a few more stations. That is, until the train suddenly stopped, making everyone jerk their bodies stupidly and exchange gasps and questioning looks. Meredith was also surprised because she almost fell off her seat, which wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t been so immersed in her idiotic fantasies; she was gifted with a good balance and coordination.
As she was recovering from this abrupt incident, she made eye contact with the man who was sitting right in front of her, and he smiled awkwardly at her, somehow apologizing for the sudden stop of the train. She returned a small smile back, trying to convey with her eyes that it was ok, that it was nobody’s fault the train stopped.
And out of nowhere, like a lightning bolt, a huge load of information came crashing into Meredith’s mind, almost as if someone had unleashed all the water from an old dam into her head. Names, faces, places and all other sorts of personal information flashed through her brain. Suddenly she knew everything about this stranger sitting a few feet away: from his dog’s name to his blood type. What the hell was happening to her? He gave her a concerned look, because she was touching her temples, and her eyes were wrinkled in pain. “Are you okay, young lady?” His voice was hoarse. “I’m ok.” She managed to mumble. ”Really. Happens all the time.” She lied.
George (she knew his name now) shifted back into a standard sitting position and took out his newspaper. She (unwillingly) knew that although he was a kind-hearted person, he did not enjoy wasting his time.
The train started to move and the usual rusty noises filled the uncomfortable silence. Meredith kept her eyes closed and tried to forget George’s face and information, she felt intrusive and thought it was some sort of disrespect towards him. When he got off the wagon a couple of stops later, she exhaled in relief. She got off the train as well and walked awkwardly toward her company’s building, repeatedly glancing behind her back every few seconds.
Once she was securely inside her warm, dry office, Meredith started to feel normal again. The habitual tasks she had to perform managed to push aside today’s (and yesterday’s) events. The day promised to be a tiring one, but nonetheless, she was grateful she didn’t even have time to think.
After numerous busy hours, when the sun was about to set, it was finally time to go home; something Meredith had been dreading all afternoon. She walked reluctantly out of the tall, important-looking building where she worked and headed to the local café. She kept wondering whether she had imagined what had happened at the train today due to last night’s sleep deprivation. After all, denial was something she was very good at.
As she was standing in line waiting for her usual afternoon latte, she noticed the very attractive guy queuing in front of her. Though she could only see his back, she could tell easily he was good-looking: he was very tall, at least a head taller than her, really muscular and with beautiful black skin. He was standing in a sort of relaxed but confident way, deciding which drink to get.
Meredith was mesmerized by this remarkable person, unconsciously comparing him to Alex, who wasn’t tall and certainly wasn’t muscular. Alex Prieto was a very interesting person; not that good-looking, but handsome in a certain way. He had brown, curly hair that reached his chin, olive eyes and wore glasses. He was skinny and was constantly moving his hands around or cracking his knuckles. He was very smart and also artistic, so he had that whole bohemian look about him. “Hey.” -Throat noise- “Excuse me.” Meredith’s reverie was suddenly interrupted by a beautiful deep voice. “Could you please pass me two sugars?” “Huh?” blurted out Meredith. The attractive man exhaled a hearty laugh and said “Look, I don’t want to sound rude or anything but you’re kinda blocking the whole table.” She noticed her whole body was leaning across the small wooden table, giggled softly and was about to step aside when he stared directly into her eyes, causing her to freeze in place. Not because those were the most beautiful honey eyes she’d ever seen (though it certainly contributed) but because it happened again. The same thing that happened to her in the train earlier, but this time much stronger. Unstoppably, the waves of information crammed up her brain, and Jessie Nichols was no longer a stranger. She knew exactly which drink was in that cup, and why it was his favorite drink. How many sugars he actually used; not two, as he had originally requested, but three and a half. But he only drank the first half of his coffee because the second half was always too cold and too sweet for him. She knew the scar visible in the arm he was extending in her direction had been because he had fallen into some sharp rocks while surfing in Miami, Florida, his hometown.
With all the self-control she could muster, she tried to ignore what was going on. And without looking what she was doing, Meredith kept making eye contact and with a shaky hand passed him 4 sugars and said “Here. Two is just not enough.” And smiled tentatively. “How did you-?” He began to ask with an amused expression but then said “-never mind. Thanks.” Though her head was hurting worse than it have ever had, she tried to keep a straight but friendly face and replied “You’re welcome”.
Jesse the surfer took the four sugars, ripped them open with his white teeth and poured them into his cup; and sure enough, he only used half of the last one. He stirred his drink while humming a song and proceeded to toss the wooden shaker into the small trash can in the corner of the café. When he was on his way out he winked at Meredith and walked away gracefully.
There was no way in hell this could’ve happened again. It couldn’t be a coincidence. Why was this happening to her? Prior to this day she had never experienced this situation before. She wasn’t special, she didn’t even believe in ghosts or aliens or anything of that sort! Yet this had happened twice today, and it only seemed to happen with some people and only when she made eye contact with them. Meredith stared directly into the setting sun until her eyes watered, trying to come up with a conclusion or at least a theory that could help her. She had nothing. So she turned around toward the counter and ordered the first drink she saw on the menu, carefully making eye contact with the barista in a green apron. Her green eyes did not provide her with any information, except maybe concern, because Meredith’s eyes were very red and watering. She paid quickly forgetting to accept her change and ran into the street outside staring at every person she could to see if she could make it happen again.
Nothing. No one whatsoever triggered the same response in her. Desperately, she tried to remember what had she been doing right before it happened both times, but there didn’t seem to be anything special about the situations. First, on the train, she had been just sitting down waiting for the car to start moving again. And the second time, at the café, she had just been waiting in line for her coffee. What was the relation between the two places? (Besides the nasty metal-framed stained windows?)
Or maybe it wasn’t about the places, maybe it was about the individuals involved. Both have been males... But they were very different from each other, one, George, was middle-aged and very serious, and the other, Jesse, was 26 and carefree.
No, that couldn’t be it; there must be some other explanation. A logical one. This has to be about her; after all, she is the one that had experienced it. The other people had shown no signs of having noticed that a random girl suddenly knew all their secrets. Perhaps she already knew these people but had simply forgotten about them. Maybe she had known them her whole life and somehow forgot about them... Meredith rolled her eyes and walked to the train station to go back home. She’d have time to think it through on the train.