“Claire? Hey, where did you go?”
I almost jump at the sound of his voice close by my ear. One glance at Gavin’s perplexed face brings me back to reality.
Saturday night. His place. Dinner.
Has he been watching me this whole time? Has he said anything? Have I seriously not noticed?
I figure I should probably say something or else he’ll think I’m crazy. Or maybe it’s already too late to worry about that.
“You seem absent,” he says almost accusingly and he has every right to. He cooked dinner tonight and it’s a lovely gesture but I’m too freaked out to fully appreciate it.
“I was just admiring the view,” I point at his window. Should’ve come up with a better lie. “It’s breathtaking,” I tell him and it’s true, but it’s not what stole the soul from my body just moments ago.
Lately, I’ve been having these random… flashbacks. Or at least that’s what I thought they were at first.
I can sit at a table with my boyfriend or I can be in the middle of a market aisle, and the other second I’m completely somewhere else. When it happens, everything around me – the real world, the here and now – literally dissolves and I’m gone. Not gone-in-my-head kind of way. I mean physically gone.
Usually I’m thrown back into places I’ve visited before. But every time, there’s something odd about them. They’re different from how I’ve remembered them. I’m different, too.
Years ago I visited Paris with my parents. It was one of my favourite summers. But when I went back to the top of the Eiffel Tower in my head, every sensation of getting higher and higher above the city inside the narrow lift felt as vivid as the first time, but there was something odd about it. There was no sign of my parents. When I caught a glimpse of my own face in the glass, I hardly recognised it. I looked much older.
What are these visions, then? Flashforwards?
There are other times, when I’m taken somewhere I’ve never been or seen before – unfamiliar cities, dark rooms, hostile wilderness – and yet, they somehow feel even more real. These scare me the most.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” I’m pulled out of my thoughts again. Gavin studies my face from across the table.
Considering the fact that I don’t even remember sitting down, no, I don’t think I’m okay. But I still glue the biggest and dumbest smile to my face and pray he buys it.
I gulp fown the glass of wine set in front of me. His eyes never leave my face and the more I try to avoid them, the more suspicious they grow.
Act normal, I order myself. And then I feel it again.
I put the glass down so hard it almost breaks. I blink even harder to keep myself in the moment.
No, no, no, don’t you dare! I’m staying right here!
Gavin bolts from his seat, but before he gets to me the edges of reality are already a blur and the darkness is there, ready to suck me in. The last thing I manage to do is grab his arm.
Everything goes black.