Hello, and welcome to chapter eight of Before the Aftermath, the confusing story that confuses even me! I hope you enjoy it!
Thank you! He tried to speak past the knot in his throat, but he couldn't. Uncertainty filled him, making him wish, yet again, that he could talk with Tracie. But he couldn't even feel her presence, it was like he was somewhere she couldn't reach, somewhere that seperated them with more than distance. Unbidden, Tillie's words filled his mind. Different dimensions. The woman spoke. "This is our bus. Maybe you should just go to sleep on the bus. It's a long journey."
"My other... student will be waiting for us there." He must have fallen asleep, for he remembered nothing of the journey. Then she woke him, gently shaking him and leading him to the bus stop outside, which looked exactly the same as the bus stop he had started his journey at. A girl sat on the bench, all by herself and she looked a lot like...
"Bethany?" He blurted out the words.
"Bethany?"The girl replied, in a voice that was like Bethany's, but somehow not. "I don't know who she is. I'm Elizabeth. Pleased to met you."
Tim didn't miss the 'look' the girl gave him while saying she didn't know who Bethany was, a 'I'm lying, but shut up and don't mention it' look. "Elizabeth can take you back to the house. I will see you then." And with that, the woman walked off.
They sat in silence for a bit. Then...
"You look like Bethany."
"I know. Or you could say she looks like me."
"I'm afraid I don't understand." Elizabeth sighed. "Did Bethany ever tell you how she ended up where she was?"
"No... Oh, hang on, something to do with mindreading."
"Partly. But it was also because, in her words 'she kept turning into someone else'. That someone else is me."
"Um... Ok." She looked at him and he knew he had said the wrong thing.
"No, it's not ok. Not at all. How can I ever be my own person when she's always there, a part of me? It's so annoying!" She stopped to take a breath and started again, angrier than before. "And sometimes, I see part of her life, like I'm there, not her, and she's always SO HAPPY! Why can't I be happy like her. It's just not fair!" Tim was shocked. This girl really wasn't anything like Bethany. She was too... angry. He spoke softly to her.
"Bethany, if you can hear me, please come and speak to me. If she sees parts of your life, maybe you can see some of hers."
"What..? She's not here..." She broke off and closed her eyes. "Tim? It's me, Bethany. Where are you?" He was shocked, he never thought it would actually happen. But it had, and he needed to take advantage of it. "I don't know." He replied.
"She's crying." Bethany said. "She can't talk to you. She needs you... I... I can't stay here... I'll try to talk again..." With that, Elizabeth blinked, and was herself again.
Tim didn't need to ask who 'she' was. Tracie.
"What happened then?" Elizabeth asked. Tim explained, then she replied. "Why? How could she? I... I don't understand..." Her confusion was then buried under her initial calm, in control facade. "Come on, we need to go." "Welcome to your new life, Tim. You probably won't enjoy it." Bethany blinked.
"What? What happened there?" It was the next day and she was awake too early. She just couldn't sleep... Then she realised what she had just learnt. "He's fine!"
Then she went running down the stairs, jumping the last two steps.
"Tracie!" Tracie heard her name, but couldn't bring herself to care. Food surrounded her, but she wanted none of it, she had only made it to have something to do. The slight itch of her sunburnt skin irritated her a bit, and saddened her a lot more. Tim had teased her so much when it had happened and she hated him for it, but now, all she wanted was to hear his playful, mocking voice again. "Tracie?" There was no reply.
"I know how to find Tim."
Her head shot up, and tears falling freely, asked how. Bethany gently took her hand and led her to the sofa on the other side of the room.
It was here that Bethany explained what had happened and what she had seen.
"I... I tried to see his future... I needed to know if I would ever see him again... but I couldn't see him. He must have gone to a different dimension." Tracie spoke softly.
"Mine." "I wish that... that I could do something to help. But I can't. I can't do a single thing. And... and... and... I wish my baby brother was still here, building sandcastles at 3 o'clock in the morning... It's not fair! I'm the oldest, I should have gone... why does that boy have to be so... so... so... selfless?"
The small piece of glass, polished smooth by the sea, that he had given her, and she had made into a necklace, hung around her neck. He had searched for so long to find the perfect piece, never giving up.
And she would never give up looking until he was back where he belonged. "And I think I remember how to get back. We just need to take a bus."
"It needs to be the right bus though, and I know which is the right bus."
Tracie felt an unbidden surge of hope that almost overwhelmed her. That night, while Elizabeth slept, Tim sat on his bed, staring with blank eyes at the wallpapered walls, feeling empty. Then, from nowhere, he felt a surge of hope that was not his own. A surge of hope that faded as fast as it came, but still happened. "Urm... I know it's here somewhere." Annie searched for the book she needed to do her homework. She was the only person under the age of 18 that wasn't worried about Tim. Mainly because she didn't know. The others had thought that the less people who knew, the better. Anyway, Annie, forgetful Annie couldn't help in any way, there was no need to tell her. "Ah, just the person I wanted to see." A deep voice broke the silence, and Annie span around.
"Oh, Uncle, you gave me a fright! I see you have no work today."
"No. Anyway, they were asking for you down at the cafe. Something about extra hours."
"Oh, ok, I'll go down there now. Annie, as she worked there, knew that they closed in ten minutes, and it was a seven minute walk. So, she was rushing when she started to head there.
FInding and putting on her shoes took three minutes. Seven minutes left. She just had time.
Rushing, thinking about nothing but getting there meant she almost didn't see Tillie, sitting on the steps. Almost didn't see her. Tillie wished that she hadn't, but she did. "I'm fine, thank you." She lied unconvincingly.
The conversation lasted one minute. 6 minutes to get there. She wouldn't get there.
"Oh, Tillie, look, it's Tiffany!" Tillie turned around, but couldn't see the dog. Frowning, she turned back to see that Annie wasn't there. There hadn't been time for her run away, but Tillie looked for her anyway. She was nowhere to be found. A minute later, Annie arrived. The cafe was commonly known as the 'cutest place' in the village, with its mixture of vintage and flowers, making it the most popular place to be, although it only seated eight people.
When Annie walked in, there was nobody there, not even her boss, so she sat down and waited. "I know it's a lot to take in..." Elizabeth said gently.
Sitting hunched up on the floor, he looked more than 4 months younger than her.
"But although it's a lot, we have to go, or we will miss breakfast."
She stood up and offered her hand. He stood as well, automatically, and followed her, all the while plotting, planning, a way to get out of here. There was nobody at the table when they got there, but there was food, which they eagerly ate, both feeling slightly hungry.
"So," Tim ventured, "How long have you lived here?"
"All my life. I don't know anything of what is outside these walls..." Tall walls surrounded the building, blocking their view of outside. Tim smiled, wanting to rebel.
"How about we see what is outside?"
"I have my ways..." The stone wall, higher than them and devoid of anything they could use to climb, loomed in front of them.
"We may get caught and... that would be bad." Elizabeth fretted.
"Are you scared? Because we can go back if you would like."
"No. Let's go."
Getting the key had been easy. Elizabeth had pointed out it's position and Tim had caused it to fly up the chimney, into their waiting hands.
They placed it in the lock, turned it and pushed the gate open. On the other side there was a road. Tim walked quickly across, following the green cross code, but Elizabeth, who had never even heard of a road, let alone the green cross code, lingered, looking around, until a car came her way. She couldn't move out of the way of the rumbling monster, her feet felt like lead. The car was so close to her now. The driver was braking, their face showing horror. There was no way they could stop in time...
Then they did. They looked over to the side of the road to see a small boy, his eyes closed for concentration, and the girl running towards him. The driver got out, to apologise, to check everything was alright, but they had already walked away. They stayed out all day, Tim pointing out the things he had always known, but she never had, a pond, with lilypads floating on it, the shops, though they couldn't go in, the playground. But, like all good things, it had to come to an end. The end was at 3 o'clock, when Elizabeth remembered they had guests visiting that evening, and they rushed back, carefully replacing the key. The visitors had been adults, who ignored them most of the time and talked about things they didn't understand, like "the time will come" and "we'll gather them all". However, one man, an ordinary looking man in a suit, smiled widely at Elizabeth, though she didn't know who he was and passed some books to Tim, saying "They were my daughter's. Please, I want you to have them." He thanked him, while wondering who he was.
Now it was later, and Elizabeth sat reading, and Tim studied the books. The inside of the front cover proclaimed that the books belonged to 'B.E.W.' in neat, but still quite childish, joined up letters.
"Hey, Elizabeth, do you know anybody with the initials B.E.W?"
"No, I don't think so. Why?"
"That's who these books belonged to."
"Oh. No, sorry." It was silent for exactly five minutes. Then...
"Oh. Um... I guess so, but I don't know how to... visualise swapping? Well, I sure hope you know what you are doing, I don't want to be stuck, or anything like that. Sure, sure, just give me a minute... Oh, I can just think it. Thanks for telling me that before. Not... Oh, I should be nicer... Yeah, just 'cause you can... I'm going now. Bye!" Tim stared as Elizabeth started talking... to herself.
"Are you alright?" He asked, concerned.
"Yeah. Uh, I'll be gone for a minute." And like Tim had done earlier, she closed her eyes and concentrated. "Oh, this is one... strange room. Um, hi, Tim! It's me... Bethany... uh, this is kind of awkward."
"How did you get here?" Tim asked, shocked, but pleased at the same time.
"I asked Elizabeth to swap. Wow, that girl needs to adjust her outlook on life. Her thoughts are... well... she could be more positive."
"I thought you said you would NEVER read someone's mind." She moved to sit by him.
"I won't. I've never, ever, ever read yours... but sometimes I can't block it out. Hers I can never block out, especially when I need to talk to her... Anyway, we are going to get you out. Or rather, we are coming to join you and then get you out... Well, Tracie and Tillie are..."
"What? No, they can't! I came here, so they couldn't. Anyway, why can't you?" "I can't, even though you are in my original dimension." Tim gasped, but Bethany ignored him and continued. "I would, but me and Elizabeth, I don't know what would happen if we were in the same room... we may cease to be two people and somehow become one..." "Wow! What's that?" She asked the girl sitting next to her.
"Uh, what? Bethany, what are you on about?"
"I'm not Bethany. I'm Elizabeth, what's your name?"
"Bethany, stop acting strange. I am not in the mood."
"I am really not Bethany." She gasped. "Oh, you're not... Tracie, are you?"
"Tim talks about you all the time." "Tim! Where's my brother? Please tell me!" Elizabeth: Hehe this is fun! I never realised these beds were so bouncy! Come join me!
Before the Aftermath, chapter 8
Mar 20, 2012 by banhannah
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