New short story: You have 15 minutes to live

I wrote this for creative writing class. I found a prompt online which asked what you would do if you knew you were going to die at midnight, and the time was 11:45pm. So, here it is…

My eyes scanned the email again and again, but the words didn’t change. Feeling sick, I deleted the message off my phone. But I couldn’t ignore it. I had to do something. I tore into the kitchen and grabbed a roll of bin liners. I took it upstairs. And I started peeling them open, loads of them. I stuffed everything I could into them, mentally labelling them – mum, Patty, Rob, Maddy…and I kept going until everything in my room had been bagged up. As I slowly pulled the ties shut on the last bin bag, I listened carefully. I could hear Maddy banging about in the next room. She was on the phone. I sat on one of the binbags, elbows on knees, facing my full-length mirror. I looked at my shoes. I still hadn’t got around to replacing my frayed laces. I took my own phone out of my back pocket and slid the back off. I shook the battery into the bin. As it clanged, I felt relieved. I grabbed a bunch of posters from the wall which had been nestled above my headboard, suspended by Blu-tack, and placed them into the metal bin too, on top of the battery. Now I wouldn’t know the time. All I knew was that it had been 11:45 last time I checked.

Mum rushed in. She was wearing the same dress she wore for my 15th birthday, when we went for pancakes. It had been the most boring, pitiful, awkward birthday ever. It was still too tight on her.

“Come on love, everyone’s already here! What are you doing?” She looked around. “What…what the fuck have you done?”

“Cleaning.” My expression didn’t change. She shrugged, ushered me out, and closed the door behind me. She smelt strongly of Curious by Britney Spears – Maddy’s last Christmas gift.

As I trudged down the stairs in front of her, the air got louder and louder; it buzzed. I looked into the sitting room. It was filled with people. Whenever a party occurred at my house which wasn’t my own (the usual scenario), my first instinct was to run into the kitchen, hold onto the fridge door-handle, and breathe deeply. It calmed me, to be close to the kitchen table and the always-dripping tap. Also, if anyone walked in, I could quickly jerk open the fridge and pretend to eat something until they left.

Maddy cut me off on my journey towards the kitchen.

“Dad’s here!”

She grabbed me. I saw the back of my step-dad’s head, moving from side to side slowly. Rob was indeed here. He turned around and smiled at me. Rob was weird. He wasn’t what a dad should look like. He had a ponytail.

“Hi! Took your time, didn’t you! Come on, get drinking then!” He handed me a plastic champagne flute full of whiskey and Tizer. As he returned to his previous conversation, I put it on the windowsill, behind the net curtains.

I saw a lot of people I knew from college. I was surprised; I hadn’t invited them. Kayla came up to me.

“Hey, good to see you! Nice house you got! Thanks for inviting us.”

“Uh, well, I didn’t.”

“Oh, but Maddy said you…”

Someone else butted in.

“No, I said Maddy invited us herself. He wouldn’t have.” He looked at me. I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not.

My best friend was behind him. For some reason, I couldn’t bear to speak to him. Louis. My best mate. But I was too tense. And he was busy talking to Patty. I saw that my red cap was wedged between the cushions of the corduroy sofa next to the back door. I put it on and let myself out.

The night air was refreshing, like cold, calming hands on my face. I heard squeals. I turned and looked back at the house. Through the window, I saw Rob, grabbing my mum’s arse. He still continued to do it, even though he always knew it pissed me off. I walked further until I reached the end; the fence that served as a boundary between my back garden and the alleyway full of weeds where everyone parked their cars and left their children’s scooters leaning against the trees. I opened the gate. I was surprised to see that my old bike was still there. Man, it had been ages since I’d been back here. I didn’t move it, though; weeds and flowers had grown around it in a kind of beautiful pattern, entrapping it.

A voice called out my name. High pitched, but kind of gravelly too, ’cause she smokes. I walked back up the grass towards Patty. Her hair was tied in a bun today.

“I’ve been looking for you.” She hadn’t. It was one of her stock lines. “Are you Ok?”

“Yeah. Sit.” I wondered over to two old wooden crates, now empty of their beer kegs, and motioned for her to sit down. She did. “No stars tonight” I said.

“There aren’t usually stars anyway.”

“It’s a party, they could at least do us a favour.”

Her usual polite laugh didn’t come. She was holding a Fanta can, and gave it to me.

“Davey put some vodka in it.”

Her cheeks always flushed when she said his name.

“Nah, I’m good.” I took it, and set it down on the ground. “Do you remember when I told you I wanted to be a tap dancer?”

“Yeah” she said.

“And then you told everyone? And that same day, Will stole my new trainers, and I blamed it on you, and the tap dancing thing?”

“…yeah.”

“Yeah. Anyway.”

I shrugged and decided to just be silent for a while. Patty took the Fanta can back and chugged it down. Then she turned to me, and said, “Someone’s got to tell you. You have the most perfect teeth and ears I’ve ever seen.”

Oh. Nice note to end the night on.

“Thankyou.”

What next? Would she kiss me?

She got up. As she rose, I saw up her skirt.

“I’m going to get food. Wanna come?”

“No. What time is it, by the way?”

She looked at her watch. “Nearly midnight.”

Perfect. She left. I lay down, looked up at the moon, and waited for death to take me.

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