what if the words in a book could take you to another place - literally?
Chapter Twenty-Nine ~ Tasmin
Tasmin felt her pulse quicken, and suddenly felt very nauseous. She felt her whole body tremble, and suddenly realised what was happening. She was having another panic attack.
She closed her eyes, and exhaled slowly, just as her doctor had told her to do. Tasmin felt a sour taste arising in her mouth, and rushed to the bathroom before throwing up in the toilet bowl.
What did this mean? Why was she getting these glimpses of a world that didn’t exist?
Tasmin thought about this. The world where Tasmin had never used her power was like...an alternate reality.
“But it’s a reality that doesn’t exist,” Tasmin reassured herself, speaking under her breath.
She wasn’t so sure about that.
What if there were holes in her story, missing details, that made another world seep through?
What if she had never come out of the story - what if this wasn’t reality?
What if she really was going insane?
What if this had something to do with Tori?
“Tasmin?” Her brother’s voice came through the bathroom door as he knocked twice. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Tasmin swallowed. She really wasn’t. “I’m fine, Michael.”
“Are you throwing up?”
“Do you want me to get Dad?”
“No, it’s okay - don’t - ”
“Dad! Taz is throwing up in the bathroom!” She heard him yell downstairs. Tasmin groaned. What was she going to tell her dad?
“So it was another panic attack?” Her dad pulled the covers up to Tasmin’s chin in her bed. She nodded in reply. “You sure?”
“It felt like one,” she said, shrugging.
Her dad sighed and sat on her bed beside her. “Kiddo, you know you can tell me anything. Anything at all. Is there something bothering you?”
“Dad, I promise, if there was anything, you would be the first to know.” Tasmin said, smiling weakly.
“The thing is, I know you so well, Taz. I know when something is up. And over the past month or so...you haven’t been yourself. Is it Tori? Is her moving in with us making you uncomfortable?”
Tasmin hesitated. “I’m definitely not panicked about that, Dad. But...I...”
“Yeah? Taz, tell me. Please.”
“Don’t you think it’s...a little too soon?” Tasmin’s voice broke as she said it.
He didn’t say anything for a while. She noticed tears welling up in his eyes. She had never seen him cry before her Mum died.
“Dad, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything...”
“No, Taz, you’re right. God, you’re right. This must be so hard...” He rubbed his hands against his forehead, his eyes squeezed shut. “Tori...Tori is just really...important right now, okay? I’m sorry. I really am. You’ll understand one day, I promise.”
So many promises were being made in this conversation. So many promises that Tasmin knew could never be kept.
“Is there anything else? Anything you want to talk about?”
Tasmin looked downwards, and shrugged. “No.”
“Okay, darl,” her dad kissed her on the forehead. “I’m going to drop Michael at school, and then I’m going to work, okay? Tori is out, she’ll be back around lunch time. You okay here all by yourself?”
Tasmin moaned. “Dad. I’m fifteen!”
“Okay, okay,” he laughed, and patted her on the head. “See you at five.”
“See ya.”
He shut the door behind him.
Once Tasmin heard the front door slam shut, and watched as Michael and her Dad got into the car and drove out of the driveway, she got out of bed and swiftly changed into some sweatpants and a T-shirt. She then walked downstairs, grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl that sat on the kitchen counter, and made her way into the lounge room. She lay down on the sofa and stared at the white ceiling as she munched on the apple.
She didn’t understand it. Any of it. Why was she getting these glimpses? The possibilities churned through her mind, like her thoughts were being thrown around in a clothes dryer.
She couldn’t believe it - if she had never saved her, Natalie wouldn’t have made it. The thought made her feel like a hero, but at the same time, made her feel sick to the stomach.
Suddenly, she felt her phone vibrate beside her. She looked at the screen - it was Thalia calling her. Tasmin picked up the phone and put it to her ear.
“Hey, Thalia,” she said.
“Taz, how’s it going? Are you okay?” She sounded genuinely concerned. Tasmin couldn’t help but compare her tone to the one she had used the night of the car crash.
“I’m fine, I promise,” So many promises that can never be kept. “It was just another attack.”
“Another panic attack?”
“Gee, Taz,” Thalia spoke sadly. “I’m really sorry this is happening to you.”
“It’s no big deal, really. I just wish I knew the cause,” Tasmin lied. She wished she didn’t know the cause.
“So I guess you won’t be coming in to school today?”
“No, Dad let me have a day off,” Tasmin explained.
“Okay. It’ll be good for you. Get some rest. Oh, and by the way, I have some really exciting news!”
“What? What is it?” By the sound of her voice, Tasmin could tell that it was either something to do with the male species or she had gotten a ticket to some exotic Indie band that neither Nat or herself had ever heard of. That had a tendency to happen.
“Remember Ashton?” Yep. The male species.
“How could I forget?” Tasmin said drily.
“I’m going to ignore that comment,” Thalia said with faux irritation. “Ashton asked me to hang out with his group at lunch times and stuff!”
“Woah, take it easy,” Tasmin laughed. “Don’t take it too far, mate.”
“Haha, very funny,” Tasmin imagined Thalia rolling her eyes. “But don’t you think that’s, like, a huge step in our relationship?”
“Relationship? What relationship? Just because he invited you to sit with him at lunch break doesn’t mean he proposed, Thalia.”
“I mean, hypothetically,” Thalia said. “I think he might actually like me.”
“That’s great!” Tasmin knew how much Thalia liked this guy. “What did you tell him about the seating arrangements? Did you agree to sitting with him?”
“I couldn’t do that,” Thalia said. “I couldn’t just leave you guys behind.”
“Thalia Jenkins,” Tasmin scolded. “How dare you waste this opportunity! This is your chance! Take it before he loses interest!”
“Okay, okay,” Thalia sounded excited. “I’ll do it. I’m so nervous! I mean, that’s where all the, like, cool people sit, right?”
“Thalia, remember - their label is not cool. They just think they’re cool. But that doesn’t make them cool. Just be yourself and don’t mess it up.”
“Okay, thanks for the pep talk, Taz,” Thalia laughed. “I gotta go - class starts in two minutes. I’ll say hi to Ethan and Nat for you! See you later!”
Tasmin heard the beep as Thalia hung up, and set the phone back down. She remembered how angry and upset Thalia had been in the alternate reality when Tasmin had asked where Nat was. The expression of utter exhaustion on her face. The tears rolling down her cheeks.
It made Tasmin feel better that it had all been avoided thanks to her - but in a strange and disturbing way, it made her feel worse.
Tasmin decided to do something useful with the time she had alone before Tori came back. She walked out of the lounge-room, put her apple core in the bin, then walked into the guest bedroom, a.k.a Tori’s room.
The guilt built up in her chest as she opened her chest of drawers and began searching through papers and documents and various items of clothing. She felt like an intruder, and she didn’t even know what exactly she was looking for. But she needed to take this opportunity to discover the origins of her suspicions about Tori.
What if Tori was the culprit, the cause of these alternate realities that keep popping up in Tasmin’s life? Tasmin didn’t know how on Earth that would be the case, but for some reason it seemed to be a realistic explanation.
After finding nothing interesting in the drawers, she opened up Tori’s closet doors and searched through everything in there. She searched the top shelf, leafed through all her clothes that were hanging by coat hangers, through more drawers, and finally onto the floor of the closet.
She looked through all the pairs of shoes that had been placed at the bottom. She lifted each shoe and looked behind them. A pair of fuzzy pink slippers, leather boots with a golden chain encircling the heel, peach stilettos, plain black shoes with a tiny heel - when she came to a pair of golden wedges that looked like they would have cost a fortune, she saw something hidden below the heel. She lifted the shoe up, and saw that underneath was a photograph.
In the photograph were a middle-aged couple, and wedged in between them was a young girl. They were standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, and beams of pure joy were plastered on their faces. Tasmin recognised the young girl immediately - she had the same blonde hair and smile that Tori still had. The photo somewhat warmed Tasmin’s chest. She knew that Tori had grown up in San Fransisco - that’s where her Dad had met her. On his travels over in the U.S. only two weeks after her mother’s death.
The warm feeling in her chest disappeared, and Tasmin felt angry. It was so unfair that Tori was able to replace her mum for her dad in such a short period of time. But that would never happen to Tasmin. No one could ever be her mum again.
She slammed the photo back down onto the closet floor, and suddenly the floor seemed to pop back up at her. Tasmin gasped. It was a pop-up door, one of those doors that opened when pressure was applied. And the door seemed to open a small compartment.
She looked inside the compartment. Inside was a box, and on top of the box was a small, leather-bound book.
She then took the small book into her hands and began to read the pages. The book seemed to be some kind of log, and as she began to read, she noticed that there were entries dating back to around six weeks ago. After that, an entry had been written for almost every day. Tasmin realised that six weeks ago was around the time that Tori had moved in with them.
She flipped to a random page, and began to read: “Day 14 - E and I try several different methods, but I can confirm that the barrier is still prevalent in all situations.”
Tasmin guessed that ‘E’ was her dad, but what did the log book mean?
She then reached into the compartment and brought out the box. It seemed to be brass, and was small enough that she could carry it with one hand. It was intricately decorated with patterns and strange symbols that Tasmin couldn’t recognise.
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