My twin sister and I Lizzy have just had our 17th birthday. It should have been a joyous day where we celebrated being old enough to learn to drive and see and hear all the nudges and winks that’s is only a year until we can experience alcohol. (Of course that bit is not true; we’ve both been to the pub a few times already).
So why isn’t it a happy occasion, why aren’t we celebrating? Why didn’t we have a party and go to the pub with our friends and get stupidly drunk? Why didn’t I get to do the protective brother bit when a drunken idiot tries to snog my sister?
Because one of us is going to die soon.
Lizzy had been ill for a few weeks before mum took her to the doctor. The day before our birthday we got an urgent phone call from the hospital. Lizzy was to start a course of chemotherapy. Like grandma, she has a cancer that only women get, and it’s aggressive. Even at her young age there’s no guarantees of anything.
We are 17 for fuck’s sake. That is no age to die.
He was there when we got the phone call too – The Cold Man. He stood in stony silence just as he had done every time he made an appearance. The last time I saw him he stuck to me and Lizzy like glue. The first few times I saw him, it was dad he hung around – that was until the day he saved dad’s life. So I started thinking to myself… I know, I shouldn’t do too much of that as I’ll probably rupture an artery or something, haha.
Anyway, I started thinking about what the lady from the telly said that time we met her. She said he was associated with tragedies but also that he must have had the power to save people or protect them. I still don’t understand it to be honest, but I have a theory. If it succeeds, I will never know. If I fail… I fear what will happen.
I told mum and dad I was going to see grandad to tell him about Lizzy. I insisted I went on my own while mum and dad took care of my sister. I left grandad this afternoon in good spirits and he promised to come and see us soon. I didn’t book my return ticket to Oxford, instead I got off at Bristol.
I’m fond of Bristol and some of my friends want to come to uni here. It’s a good place.
There’s a famous bridge built across a gorge and they say a lot of people come up here late at night. It’s a long way down from that suspension bridge to the river Avon below. That’s why it had to be here… no mistakes – it has to be right.
I’m going to do it even though it scares me shitless. My theory is that The Cold Man took grandma to save dad. Yes, that simple. He takes people in tragedy and he saves others. I might be wrong about that but I have to try. If I’m right I will know which of us The Cold Man has decided will live.
It is late, nearly 2am. Mum isn’t expecting me back until tomorrow even though granddad knew I was leaving today. I’ve not seen a car for a while and from my position behind the pillar I doubt anyone can see me.
With a deep breath I climb over the railing; my pulse is hammering in my chest. I swing my legs over so that I’m perched on the edge. I’m terrified. I don’t want to do this yet I feel I must. He is there now, hovering before me; but is he here to take me or save me? In a few seconds I will know for certain. His expression as ever, is cold. He neither encourages nor discourages me.
I know I have to do this, Lizzy’s life may depend on it but if he has already chosen then it is too late.
I take a deep breath.
And a second.
I look down. It must be now.
I let go of the railing and feel myself fall forward.
Thanks to everyone who has read and commented on The Cold Man. Snippet Sunday will probably now go on hiatus until the New Year as I hope to finish DNF fairly soon. More details to follow.