The sea is slurping at the sand, toying with small pebbles, pushing them back and forth. The smell of salt is in the cold wind coming off the sea. Children dressed in bright clothes, the only colour in sight, dig and play in the sand. I feel like I’ve been here before, like this has happened before: but I can’t remember when.
Behind me stands a young man, his chestnut hair wet from swimming. He’s barefoot, his jeans rolled up to his knees. I know him. He’s Adam. I’ve definitely been here before, I remember this! My sense of deja’vu is making this whole thing feel a little surreal.
“Of course I did,” I tell him, smiling. “You know I can’t refuse you anything!”
He smiles back, but his eyes are worried. He looks like he’s about to say something; but nothing comes, and he closes his mouth.
I feel as though I’m in a play, reading out my lines. This has been said before, done before. “Are you okay?”
He stares at me, his eyes intense and so deep I feel like I’m at the bottom of the ocean.
I feel like I know what should happen next. He’s going to smile, shrug. His line is, ‘Don’t worry, it’s nothing’. And then he will take my hand, pull me into the shallows, and we paddle and laugh and get soaked.
I’m so sure what will happen that when he blurts out, “Jenny, you’re in trouble,” I freeze.
Why isn’t he following the script? An odd feeling of fear slides into my heart; by breaking away from the script, he’s broken a rule.
The words jump from my throat without permission. “Don’t say that!” I cry. “Don’t!” If he does, if he does, something terrible will happen, this world will break down…
He speaks over my frantic pleas.
“You thought you’d escaped Dan after New York, but he’s close. He’s right on your tail and closing in. You’ve got to get out of there, now!”
This is wrong. The Adam from this memory couldn’t possibly know these things. This was Adam before any of this started, this was Adam from before New York…
The world feels like it’s spinning. The sound of the seagulls, of the lapping of the sea, children screaming; everything seems to mute. My vision tunnels so I can only see Adam.
“How can you possibly know that? You don’t even know where I am!”
He smiles sadly. “No, I don’t. And I never will. Wake up now, get up and get out! I don’t want you to end up the same as me.”
I’m so dizzy, the world is flying away from me. The bright clothes of the children are so colourful they make my head ache. Adam’s face blurs. The world is pulsing to my heartbeat.
“What are you talking about?” I cry, feeling suddenly alone. My voice echoes in the emptiness of the void.
I can’t see Adam anymore, but his voice is as clear as if he’s talking in my ear.
“I’m dead, Jenny.” He whispers. He speaks haltingly, emotion snapping and splintering his voice. “Daniel killed me. Now stop dreaming and wake up before they get you too!”
The beach disappears; I’m falling through black space, tumbling in empty air, my fingers raking through nothingness for something to hold…
I wake up with a start and tears on my cheeks. Adam’s voice echoes through the emptiness of my head.
Get out… before he kills you too.