This story starts like all good stories start; with someone dying. That person, unfortunately, was me.
In hindsight, it was kind of my fault. I walked off through the pedestrian crossing without looking at the signal. I was wondering why the people behind me were yelling but I couldn’t hear them with my headphones on. There was a muffled horn and when I turned, the last thing I saw was a truck speeding straight towards me.
That was supposed to be how it ended. Fortunately for me, that wasn’t case. When the truck hit me, I heard my bones crack, my neck twist at an odd angle and then everything went black.
And then everything went white.
Instead of being greeted by pearly gates, what was in front of me was endless white that stretched out for eternity with the only thing in the centre being a grey silhouette. It looked like a shadow but tangible. As if it had weight in this infinite nothing.
“Is this heaven?” I asked.
The grey silhouette sighed. It was a man’s voice. A very tired sounding man. “God, I hate explaining things.”
“God? Aren’t you supposed to be…”
“No,” the silhouette said. “Look you’re dead.”
The white floor beneath me cleared out and I saw my body. Or what used to be my body. It was mangled, there was so much blood I didn’t even know I had. People were muttering around me and in the distance, I heard hospital sirens.
Seeing my body made it feel real. “But I had an exam. I… I…”
“Blah blah,” the silhouette said. I turned to him, pissed.
“You’re not a very nice person, you know? Aren’t you supposed to be…?”
“No, I’m not God,” the silhouette said. The white floor covered up my body. “I’m here to give you a mission.”
“A mission?” I said, confused. “What do you mean?”
“You, April Angi,” the silhouette said, pointing at me. “Are dead. At 24, because you were not smart enough to look at your surroundings. But the powers that be decided to give you a second chance.”
There was a flash of light on my left hand. I looked and saw what looked like a string, perfectly wrapped around my wrist.
“That’s a friendship bracelet,” the silhouette said. “Once you get to know someone and manage to capture their true essence…”
There was another flash of light. I looked down and saw a pure white crystal shaped like a clock on my bracelet.
“You’ll get a little gem on your bracelet,” the silhouette’s voice said, coming from the gem. Another flash of light and the silhouette appeared in front of me. “Simple enough right.”
With the number of lights blinking in front of me at rapid speeds I was starting to see stars, but I nodded, getting the gist of it.
“I get it,” I said. “But how am I supposed to capture somebody’s essence?”
The silhouette shrugged. “Get to know them. The closer you are, the more likely you are to capture their essence. I’ll be the little voice in your bracelet, I’ll help you out whenever I can.”
“But I didn’t have any close friends in high school,” I protested. “I only had one and she…”
“That sounds like a you problem,” the silhouette said, walking closer to me. “We’re going back to high school.”
The silhouette placed a hand on my forehead. For a moment, a blink, there was nothing and then…
I was back in my dorm room, staring at my face on the laptop monitor. Brown, shoulder length unkempt hair and tiny bits of acne that had long since faded now back on my face.
It was the dorm room I remembered. A cramped four room apartment with a bed, balcony, bathroom and kitchen. My only source of light was the moon shining in through the balcony, revealing my (very) well made bed.
“One little caveat I forgot to mention,” said a voice on my left hand. I flinched before I looked down and saw the friendship bracelet that silhouette mentioned around my wrist. “You only have a year to fill up this bracelet. You better get to work, quick.”
And with that, the voice left me alone in the room, seeming to give me space to process what happened. I got up, switching on my light and looked in the mirror. Sure enough, I was 17 again. Wearing button up, floral patterned pyjamas and looking just as pretty as I always did. I looked at my calendar and sure enough, it was the year of our lord 2018. I checked my phone and my computer, and the same year pulled up, even on social media.
Only a year to fill up this bracelet, huh? That’s all fine and dandy, I knew how to make friends. I just didn’t know how to get close to any of them.
And my closest friend, my best friend since middle school? Yeah, she was leaving this country in a month. After January, there would be scarce moments to connect to her.
I jumped on my bed and curled up. What the hell had I just gotten myself into?
To be continued…