what if the words in a book could take you to another place - literally?
Chapter Twenty-Seven ~ Tasmin
“Tasmin!” Ethan waved through the sea of bodies in the locker corridor. Tasmin waved back and smiled. It was Tuesday, the day after she had gone home due to her ‘panic attack.’
“Taz, are you okay?” Ethan asked with a concerned look on his face when he finally reached her. “Natalie said that you went all pale all of a sudden and that you were shaking and - ”
“I’m fine, Ethan,” Tasmin placed a hand on his shoulder. “I’m still here, see?”
“Taz!” She felt a hand on her back, and turned around. Thalia was there, with Natalie by her side. “What happened? What did the nurse say? Are you okay?”
“Guys,” Tasmin smiled. “I’m okay. The woman at the office said I had just had a panic attack - ”
“A panic attack?”
“It’s no big deal. It was really weird, though, like there wasn’t any reason for it. I wasn’t panicked about anything.” Tasmin shrugged. Better to tell a white lie than to freak them out with the truth.
“That is weird,” Ethan muttered.
“Yeah,” Natalie agreed. “Did you go to the doctor?”
Tasmin nodded. “Uh huh. He prescribed me some medication just in case it happened again.”
Just then, the bell sounded. The voices in the hallway quietened down as everyone rushed off to class.
“Better go,” Tasmin yanked on Natalie’s arm. “Come on, Nat - we’ve got History with the devil herself.”
“Okay class,” Mrs Filips said, tapping her long fingernails on her desk. “So you all know that we’re starting a new topic. You were asked to write an essay as an introduction to this topic last week, am I correct?”
There was a chorus of “yes Mrs Filips” and the room became silent again.
“Good. Now, today we are going to discuss Feudalism, which was the way society was structured in medieval Europe, no matter how unjust the system actually was. This is a...starting point, if you like, to our topic about these changes to society that occurred throughout the ages.”
As Mrs Filips continued to drone on, Tasmin stared at the clock. A minute and approximately thirty seconds had passed since the class had begun. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes.
“Taz?” Tasmin turned her head to face Natalie.
“Yeah?” Tasmin noticed that the class had begun talking again, and Mrs Filips was sitting at her desk, typing away at her computer keyboard.
“You missed that whole lecture about the assignment, didn’t you?”
Natalie raised her eyebrows shamefully. Tasmin looked at her sheepishly.
“Time isn’t going to go by any faster with you staring at the clock,” Nat shook her head. “Now, I’ll explain this assignment to you.”
Tasmin half-listened as Natalie explained the task the teacher had given them. “So basically we need to write a journal entry for each of the levels of minority and superiority in a feudalistic society, like ‘a day in the life of...’” Tasmin asked, confirmed with a nod from Natalie. “Remind me of the levels again?”
“Mrs Filips said it can be explained as a pyramid,” Natalie said. “At the top you’ve got the king, then below that the nobles, then the knights and then the peasants, which are at the very bottom. The closer you get to the bottom of the pyramid, the bigger the population of people in that category. I was thinking maybe we could do two categories each?”
“Sounds fair enough,” Tasmin shrugged. “The king and the peasants would probably be the easiest ones, so we’ll do one of those each.”
“Okay. Can I do the king?”
“Sure thing.”
“You choose the knights or the nobles.”
“I’ll go with...the nobles.”
“Knights it is then!”
They began to jot down notes about their categories into their textbooks. Natalie looked up. “Hey, I never asked you how it went with Ethan on Saturday,” she realised.
Tasmin smiled up at her. “It was great.”
“Really? That’s awesome. I’m so - ”
And then it happened again.
The flash, the flicker of what could only be compared to a parallel universe. The classroom setup changed, slightly - different people sat in different spots at tables, and again, the room was much quieter. People were talking in harsh whispers, and this time Tasmin spotted at least four pairs of eyes staring her way.
And the biggest change of all - Natalie’s disappearance.
“ - happy for you, Taz,” The flash had lasted longer that time, around fifteen seconds. Tasmin tried to regain her composure - she couldn’t panic again. “I mean, only last week you were saying how there wasn’t ever going to be a Prince Charming out there, waiting for you, and yet - there’s one here, right in this school! And, I mean, Ethan is, like, perfect for you, you know what I mean?”
“Yeah,” Tasmin tried to make her tone sound dreamy, but her legs were shaking violently. Natalie didn’t seem to notice. “He really is.”
“You have to tell me,” Natalie leaned in, closer. “Has he kissed you yet?”
“Uh...” Tasmin tried to hold her leg still, and gritted her teeth. “Not yet. Well, kind of.”
“Kind of?”
“Yeah. He kissed me before we were dating.”
“What!” Natalie squeaked. “When?” She gasped. “Oh my god, Tasmin - at that party.”
“Yep,” Tasmin said, forcing a smile onto her face.
“You didn’t tell me, Taz!”
“Well,” Tasmin bit her lip, and laughed nervously. “I’m full of untold secrets.”
Throughout the week, the flashes, or visions, or whatever they were, began to happen more frequently. And each time they occurred, they would happen for longer.
There was nothing different about any of them. They all had the same thing - hushed tones, different set-ups of the situation around Tasmin, and no Natalie. It was all so strange and terrifying.
But it was only on Friday when Tasmin realised what they actually were.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Tasmin slowly opened her eyes, and stared at her bedroom ceiling. Ugh. School. Oh well, at least it was Friday.
She turned off her alarm clock, threw off her covers, and began to dress into her uniform. Once she was finished, she felt like she was forgetting something. She looked into the mirror, and almost jumped at her own reflection. What would once have been considered “hair” was now a huge mass of red knots clumped on top of her head.
She sighed, and began to brush it out.
“Bye, Dad!” Tasmin yelled through a mouth full of toast.
“Taz, wait!” Her dad caught up to her at the front door. “Darling, I just want you to know that I’m so proud of you for ploughing forward like this. I know that it hasn’t been easy, and if you ever feel like you need to come home, I’m here, okay?”
Tasmin looked at him, confused. What was he talking about? She then realised - he must be talking about the panic attack thing.
“Don’t worry, Dad. I’ll be absolutely fine. I love you.” She gave him a peck on the cheek and pushed the door closed behind her. Another day of doubting my sanity, here we come.
As Tasmin walked into the school gates, she felt the gaze of at least a dozen pairs of eyes on her back. It’s not my fault I’m having a bad hair day, okay? Tasmin wanted to say to them.
As she walked into the corridor, something seemed to be off. There weren’t the bustling, loud, rejoicing voices that usually existed on a Friday morning - instead, everyone seemed to be eerily quiet.
She saw Thalia unpacking her books at her locker. That was weird - Natalie always got here before her and Thalia, because she had to catch a bus that departed quite early in the morning. And every morning, she would wait by either Tasmin or Thalia’s locker.
Tasmin walked over to Thalia.
“Hey, Thalia,” she said, smiling at her. Thalia looked at Tasmin, and gave her a weak smile. She looked exhausted - she had probably been up all night studying or something. “Have you seen Natalie?”
Thalia stopped packing her books away. “What,” she asked, with a dangerous edge to her voice.
“Wow, calm down, Thalia.” Tasmin was confused. What had she done wrong. “Are you mad at me? I was just wondering whether Nat was away or something - ”
“How dare you,” Thalia snarled. “That’s sick. You’re sick. Are you playing some kind of twisted joke, Tasmin? How dare you.” She was glaring at Tasmin now.
The entire population of the locker corridor was staring at them, now. Some looked shocked. Tasmin, herself, was very confused. What was going on? She had never seen Thalia act this way before.
“Wha - what are you talking about? What do you mean?” Tasmin stammered.
Thalia’s whole body began to shake. Tasmin realised she was crying. Tears streamed down her face, and she made torturous sobbing sounds as she grabbed Tasmin’s shoulders.
“She’s gone, Tasmin. Gone! What’s wrong with you? Are you just trying to make it worse, trying to create some kind of world where everything went right? Where you came to the party and you drove the three of us home and, I dunno, I got Ashton’s number and we all lived happily ever after?” The tears continued rolling down her friend’s face as she shook Tasmin’s shoulders.
“But Thalia - ” Tasmin tried to interrupt.
“A world with no crash, no funeral? Well guess what, Taz? That world doesn’t exist, and it never will! And you know whose fault it is? Huh? It’s yours. If you had been there, nothing would have gone wrong! But, no. You were too busy sulking in your bedroom to come to the party, and thanks to you, Natalie’s dead!”
Tasmin sat bolt upright in bed, her breaths coming in short gasps of air. She looked around. She was still in her bedroom. It had just been a vision.
It all made sense now. Heartbreaking, terrible, horrible sense. The visions weren’t a parallel universe. They weren’t Tasmin’s future. They weren’t anything like that.
The visions were snippets of what Tasmin’s life would have been like if she had never saved Natalie from avoiding the car crash. Her dad telling her how proud he was for her ‘ploughing forward,’ the stares, the hushed tones, and how Natalie was never there.
If Tasmin had never intervened, Natalie would be dead.

Keep Reading

Chapter 28

Chapter Twenty-Eight ~ Leylina

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