It was over. He felt relief. They were walking towards the family car. Evelyn was holding his hand as usual. She was skipping along. She was probably tired but had gained a little more energy to walk, rather than being carried, when she knew it was time to go home.
As they neared the car, he felt the usual sense of foreboding. His relief was morphing into fear once more. Why did this have to happen? Why did he have to suffer like this?
His wife Marie was a little on edge, but not for the same reason. She didn’t have the same gift after all and she would never believe him if he told her anyway. She wanted to make sure that everything was packed into the car neatly. It would be a great shame, not to mention a waste of money, if anything was broken.
Marie was tall and commanding. She began to pack the boot whilst he put Evelyn in her seat. Thankfully Evelyn had outgrown her booster seat. It was much easier to settle her into the car as she was much more comfortable leaning against the soft back seat instead of a hard plastic surface. He made sure that her seat belt was secure. He touched her cheek affectionately and she smiled. He really loved her. That’s what made having the gift so difficult.
Suddenly there was a loud thump. Thankfully it was only Marie closing the boot. She moved towards the passenger seat.
Now that Marie had finished, he was crouched, looking behind the car as he always did. Marie was getting impatient. “Do you have to do this every time?” she called out. He was concentrating too hard to reply.
“I hate being ignored you know!” Marie shouted. Then, a few seconds later, “Get back here. It’s time to go.”
She didn’t understand. This was his attempt at control. He had to make sure that Evelyn was safe and secure.
He backtracked towards Evelyn. She was sitting in the middle of the back seat as always. She loved sitting there so that she could see through the windscreen while they were driving. Her seatbelt was secure. He double checked and then entered into the car on the driver’s side. Despite all of his checking, he couldn’t get rid of that awful feeling.
Marie looked at him in disgust as he settled into the driver’s seat. He just ignored her. There was nothing he could do. It was just one of those things. Of course, she couldn’t hold back. “I’m tired of this.” She said sternly. “If you’re sick then you need to get help. I’ve told that so many times now. Think about that instead of making us all suffer through your rituals.”
He said nothing in response.
“And don’t ignore me!” she shouted at him. “You know how much I hate that!”
There was only silence.
“Say something!” she screamed.
He knew that no one could help him. It wasn’t an illness. It was a gift. However, he could see that the situation was very rapidly getting out of control. What had started as a minor argument could end in a full scale punishment for him with no peace. That was the last thing he wanted to be exposed to given that he was likely to encounter an emotional rollercoaster in any case, because of the gift.
He was about to respond to Marie when suddenly he could not see Evelyn in the rear view mirror. He looked twice. Her seat was empty. Where was she?
“My god, “ he said in panic, “Where is Evelyn?”
Marie was furious and upset at the same time. She looked behind her. “You fool!” she yelled out, “You’ve left her behind again!”
He could see her all alone in the car park. She was crying uncontrollably. “Daddy! Daddy, where are you?” Her face was red. Tears were streaming from her innocent green eyes. She was alone and exposed.
He turned the car around at the first opportunity. Marie was screaming at him and he knew that she wouldn’t stop. He went as fast as he could back to the shopping centre. He kept having visions of Evelyn becoming more and more lost in the car park or perhaps even being run over. He couldn’t bare the thought of her being injured, or even killed. He had to get back there fast.
In the midst of his panic, he began to hear a dull thud every few seconds. It was coming from behind the car. He slowed down a little. It was difficult to hear over Marie’s screaming, but he could just make it out.
He was crawling with fear and panic. What was in store for him now? He knew that things had changed again. The thud indicated that they had changed for the worst.
Marie did not look herself. She had become very masculine and her makeup was too extreme. She looked pretty much like a transvestite. In fact, she was a transvestite and had always been a transvestite. She was screaming something over her mobile phone to a friend. She was no longer screaming at him. Thank God for that.
He heard the thud again. It was worrying him so much that he was compelled to stop the car. He pulled over, exited the car and looked behind it. To his absolute horror he saw the remains of a child that had been dragged behind the car for some time. This wasn’t happening! It couldn’t be! It was Evelyn. He hadn’t left her behind after all. He had forgotten her and the ribbon on the back of her dress had been caught when he closed the boot of the car. My God! He had dragged her behind the car.
He instantly felt sick and vomited on the road. He felt a huge wave of empathy and witnessed through his dead child the horror of her predicament. Her feelings enveloped his body and he fell to his knees. The gift was awful. It was the most horrible thing that had ever happened to him. He began to dry reach over and over again. How could he have done this? Why wasn’t he in control?
Marie was still chatting on the phone. He got off the ground and moved slowly back to the driver’s side of the car. He needed to sit down and wait for the inevitable.
He sat slumped and depressed in the driver’s seat, praying that this would be the end of it. He wanted to return home again. Suddenly he was brought back many light years by the sound of his daughter’s voice. It was a great relief. “Daddy, why aren’t we moving anymore?”
And so his life continued for the time being. Again he had witnessed the other, darker places in the universe in which the infinite permutations of space-time resided. He could relax for the time being, all the while knowing that in some versions of reality he was a bad father and his daughter was dead.