Dying To Live

  • 28 Oct - 03 Nov, 2017
  • Annie Zahid
  • Fiction

Heaving out a frustrated sigh, Damian pinched the bridge of his nose and sat back against the couch. The coffee table in front of him was littered with files and papers. Two weeks had passed since the numbers first appeared on Lexie’s wrist, and those two weeks were spent trying to figure out how to save her life. After making a case file of Maxine Jones, he recalled every person he ever knew whose death he had predicted using the countdown on their wrist. 23 files later, he still had no clue what to do. These files didn’t include the countless strangers whose death he had predicted; it contained only the names of people he was acquainted or friends with.

His only hope was the fact that he saw a man’s numbers change from 58 to 0 in front of his own eyes. As harsh as that sounds, he concluded that it must mean that the numbers weren’t set in stone.

While trying to figure out what to do, he had also been keeping tabs on Lexie in case something were to happen. He was being overprotective, more so than usual, and that was starting to annoy his twin sister. But Damian would rather have her hate him than have her exposed to danger of any sort.

She was sitting on an armchair, opposite to where he sat, watching TV. Being twins, they were used to sharing everything. For nine months, they shared a womb. They also shared a cot as infants. They crawled, stood, and took their first steps together; went to school together and grew up together. During all of this, they also shared a room, and when it was time to move out of that room in their parent’s house, it was only fitting that they share an apartment and live together too.

Even doing something as mundane as watching TV, she looked as elegant as ever. Her right hand was resting on the armrest, red polished nails tapping against its edge. From where he sat, Damian could see the numbers written on her wrist clearly. Bold as ever, they seemed to be taunting him. 86. She laughed at something a character on the show said, and Damian choked and his eyes welled up when he saw how happy and at peace she looked.

Clearing his throat and wiping away the tears, before she could see, he tried to get a grip on himself. He assured himself that it was going to be okay. He still had 86 days to figure out a way to save her. However, his attempt to assure himself backfired when he realised he had only 86 days left to figure out a way to save her.

She started talking to him, but he couldn’t for the life of him bring himself to focus on what she was saying. She was recalling a job interview she had a couple of days ago. He was humming randomly but wasn’t actually listening to her, until she said something which caught his full attention.

Snapping his head towards her so fast he almost got a whiplash, he asked, “What did you just say?”

Her smile faltered a bit and she looked at him warily. She wore this anxious expression a lot whenever she was around her twin brother recently, because of how weird he was acting these days.

“I said,” she continued carefully, “I didn’t know that our high school nightmare, Tanya worked at that firm, otherwise I would have never in a million years applied there.”

Bewildered, he asked, “Tanya Deyes?”

“The one and only,” Lexie replied sarcastically, and returned to watching reality TV stars do unrealistic stuff.

Damian’s heart skipped a beat on hearing that answer and he paled. Tanya Deyes was a junior when they were seniors and Lexie and Damian had both hated her passionately, and still did. What made her special wasn’t the fact that she made it a habit of regularly throwing slushies at their faces or that she overthrew Lexie and took over her place as head cheerleader, no. What made her special was the fact that the last time Damian had seen Tanya, which was at his graduation party three years ago, she had a big, bold 100 written on her wrist. Damian still remembered how ashamed he was of himself when he couldn’t bring himself to feel sorry for his high school bully.

“What did you say the name of the company was, the one where Tanya works?” he asked.

“I didn’t.”


“I didn’t mention the name of the company. It was the town bank, and yeah, she’s a clerk there. What’s it to you?”

Damian’s voice sounded foreign to his own ears. “You’re sure she isn’t dead?”

Lexie let out a short, surprised laugh. “Ian, I hate her as much as the next person, but dude chill!” Lexie said incredulously.

Soon colour returned to Damian’s face and now it looked as red as his sister’s nails. He wanted to steer the conversation back towards Tanya but didn’t want to risk making Lexie suspicious. He tried to distract her by asking if she’d like a cup of tea, and then proceeded to make his way to the kitchen without waiting for an answer.

Lexie stared after her brother left, wondering what in the world was wrong with him.

Ten minutes later, Damian handed Lexie a cup of tea and sat down on the couch. Taking a sip from his own cup, he picked up the case file with the initials ‘T.D.’ written on it. His eyes scanned over the single page inside. She wasn’t dead. He eyed the other files. He knew for sure that 15 of them were dead. The following hours found him contacting old fellows and colleagues, trying to figure out if the rest of the people were still alive – five more deaths were confirmed, that left three survivors. Tanya Deyes, Jesse St. James and Chad Covey.

He had asked his contacts for their addresses. He didn’t get Tanya’s or Jesse’s address but an old acquaintance confirmed that Tanya-the-bully Deyes worked at the bank, Jesse-the-boy-next-door St. James worked shifts at the E.R. of the local hospital, and Chad-the-white-supremacist Covey was still living off his parent’s money in his condo at the marine drive. He checked the time – 5:00pm.

The bank would have closed by now, but the E.R. won’t be. He knew Jesse from the part-time job he worked while in school. But he couldn’t just show up to the Emergency Room to visit an ex co-worker from Cher’s Café. Chad wasn’t an option since he believed in ethnic cleansing and Damian was sure he’d make a lot of racist jokes about Damian’s run in with the law enforcement, since ‘every person of colour is bound to be a criminal.’ He sighed for the umpteenth time this week, and made his way towards his bathroom. Ah! The things you do for family.

Half-an-hour later he found him in the E.R. with someone who wasn’t being attended by Jesse. “What happened?” asked the nurse, whose name tag read Cork Edwards. Damian told her that he accidentally slipped on his bathroom floor. It wasn’t exactly a lie, he actually did slip. But his original plan was to smash his fist in the mirror, so he wasn’t faultless either. He hurt himself by accident while trying to purposefully injure himself, and trying to make it look like an accident. He scoffed at himself; how ironic!

to be continued...