The change in her personality from a couple of months ago until now was beyond normal for a teenage girl. While she’s always been a quiet girl, her time spent locked in her bedroom has risen drastically. The teachers had spotted it and passed on their concerns to the parents; at school her homework grades had slipped and her effort in class had diminished. Mrs. Tulley, her once favourite teacher, had been told to ‘Mind your own business’ recently by Kelly, when Mrs. Tulley tried to pry a little too hard into the reasoning for such a drastic change.
‘Maybe I should take her with me,’ Kelly’s mother, Bethan, said to her husband.
‘If you try and force her out of her room,’ Bethan’s husband, Sydney, looked upstairs towards her room, ‘then she may grow to resent you.’
‘It’s worrying how much time she spends in her room, though.’
‘She’s a teenage girl; it’s probably boy-trouble.’
Sydney soon added a few more items to Bethan’s already sizeable shopping list and sent her on her way. Despite being the bread-winner, Bethan is a history teacher at a different school to Kelly’s, Bethan was also forced with most of the general household chores. She never objected verbally, instead chose to harbour those feelings inside.
‘I’ll try and talk to her,’ Sydney began as Bethan opened the door. ‘See if I can get anywhere with her.’
‘Thanks, sweetheart,’ and Bethan was gone.
Sydney closed the door and locked the two bolts. They had installed the bolts after a break-in a couple of months ago; one night Sydney had gone to sleep without properly locking the front door and a few of Bethan’s favourite jewellery items were soon stolen. Nothing of any real financial value, for those who knew, anyway, but some of real sentimental value. Sydney then walked up the stairs silently, and gazed longingly at Kelly’s door as he reached the top.
‘Kelly,’ he loudly whispered as he opened the door. ‘Your mother’s gone shopping.’
Sydney then closed the door.
The girl lying on the floor with blood scattered around her had started a conversation the wrong way with the hooded girl. She’d walked up to her and laughed at a girl of 16 swinging on a set of swings in a playground. The hooded girl slowly rose up from the swings and began beating on her hysterically.
The hooded girl walked away to a nearby playground and resumed her swinging on the swings. Recently it has become a favoured act of hers; her attendance in school was next-to-none these days and she’d given up all hope on even sitting her GCSE exams.
‘Evening,’ a mature voice spoke to her from a distance. ‘Kelly, am I right?’ He joined the second swing next to her.
‘Leave me alone.’
‘Oh, don’t be like that. I have the answers to your prayers in my pocket.’
‘Unless you have the blue pill that cures everything, I doubt it.’
‘I have something even better.’
The mature man reached into his pocket and pulled out a bronze-coloured hourglass, and extended his arm over to pass it to her.
‘What is this?’
‘It’s an hourglass.’
‘It’s pretty small for an hourglass,’ Kelly tipped it upside-down and back to normal, examining it from all angles before dropping it on the ground and facing forwards again. In the distance a mother and father tag team were treating their children to a post-school day in the park. Holding the little hands as they climbed up things before sliding and/or jumping from other things. All smiles on all faces. Kelly never knew her father, he took off before she was one; fatherhood wasn’t going to change the way he was.
‘You might want to pick that back up,’ the mature voice broke her concentration on the family. ‘You will be dreadfully sorry should I hand it to someone else.’
‘What is it?’ Kelly had a tone of angst hidden behind her monotone speech.
‘That hourglass has been around since the 19th century, brought to this planet by some outsiders but it was taken away. It was found in a burned down house in a small town called Lignum; the hourglass managed to survive the flames.’
‘it is. Because they never knew the power which the hourglass held. I discovered it and learned its secrets, and since then I have travelled around, passing the hourglass to those in need.’
‘You still haven’t told me what it actually does.’
To the right of the happy family was a small group of early-teenagers all laughing together. The usual antics of mild-pushing and light-ribbing were evident from this distance. It was a sense of togetherness Kelly lost with her friends when she was 13.
‘It rewrites time.’
Bemused, Kelly finally looked at the elderly man. ‘Excuse me?’
‘Tip the hourglass upside-down and as the sands of time flow from the top to the bottom, state a date you’d like to visit. The hourglass will take you there.’
‘Like a time machine?’ Kelly spoke with bewilderment and mild excitement.
‘I suppose so, yeah.’
‘And, if this is true, why are you giving it to me? Surely if you have a time machine you’d like to use it for yourself.’
‘I’ve lived so many lives. I was born in 1864 and discovered its magic when I was 21. Imagine that, a young man in 1885 discovering the power to travel time. I spent years living in each century, learning about all the stuff I’d missed. I learned of the Great Wars, of the technological advancements, of the rise of the virus. I lived and breathed through so many eras, before my time and afterwards. During which, I grew older. I soon discovered my home would be no longer accommodating to me so I lived through more eras before settling on a personal favourite. Here and now.’
‘Why here and now?’
‘Because I know what’s coming. And it’s exciting. And after deciding to live here, I decided to pass my gift on to those who seek it. I’ve been watching you for a few weeks and you seem troubled. If you want the hourglass, take it.’
‘If you pass it on to people how do you get it back?’
‘People beg me to take it back. This power is wanted, but hated.’
The elderly man got up and began his walk away. ‘You can’t just leave,’ Kelly shouted, but to no avail. She picked up the small hourglass and flipped it upside down and watched the sands of time drop down from the once bottom to the new bottom. ‘November, 13th, 1972.’
Grey clouds covered where she was as she screamed for help. By the time the swirling clouds had dispersed, she was in a new park. With new people playing.
‘Where am I?’
She quickly sprinted off into the distance where she saw a rubbish bin; after quickly rummaging through it she came across what she was looking for: a newspaper. ‘November 13th, 1972.’
She slapped herself a few times to make sure she could still feel pain, before accepting the hand that she’d been dealt and began running.
After arriving on a street she saw an elderly lady close the front door of her house. Kelly crept up to the house and slowly opened the front door. ‘Excuse me, all,’ she declared to a frightened old couple as she entered their living room.’
‘Who are you?’
‘What do you want?’
Kelly walked straight into their kitchen and grabbed the largest and sharpest-looking knife they owned, thanked the old couple for it and left, closing the door behind her. Hiding the knife in her pocket, but not letting go of it, Kelly walked down a few streets before she came across a house she’d been taken to before: Sydney’s childhood house. She knocked on the door.
‘Oh, hello?’ A woman in her 40s answered. ‘How may I help you?’
‘Your Sydney’s mum, right?’
‘Yes I am, and you are?’
‘I’ve spoken to him a few times in the park and wanted to wish him a happy birthday. I don’t suppose you mind just giving him a shout for us, please?’
‘Okay, but you’ll only have a few minutes, he’s got plans,’ the 40-something woman pushed the door to but didn’t fully close it, and the next time it opened a small nine-year old boy answered.
‘Hello? Mum said you were a friend.’
‘Don’t you recognise me, Sydney?’
Before the young boy could answer the question a knife was driven right into his stomach. Repeatedly. She held a hand over his mouth to stop him from screaming then watched as the young body flopped on the floor, with blood pouring out rapidly. The body soon stopped squirming. The body soon stopped moving. Kelly smiled.
Kelly then dropped the knife without realising and starting feeling pain herself. As she stumbled backwards she was spitting massive amounts of water from her lungs, so much was in there she was slowly drowning. As if y magic the house and the gate she had collapsed into began growing, little by little, before she couldn’t even hold onto the gate anymore. The water still pouring exponentially.
‘He’s been out there for a while,’ the 40-something mother of Sydney said to her friends, and then walked to the front door. And screamed.
As the crowds came from the party they were all screaming together at the sight of a young boy stabbed to death, and a girl of about two with water all around her. Both dead.
‘It’s been over a year now, love,’ Bethan’s mum, Constance, told her matter-of-factly. And it was true; since her childhood sweetheart, Robert, had abandoned her and her child Bethan had been a shattered mess. For weeks at a time young Kelly was spending time away from her as Bethan was taking to alcohol more and more. ‘Take young Kelly out for a day-out, it might help.’
After her initial reservation Bethan decided it was a good idea; she hadn’t seen Kelly in 17 days (and had drank alcohol in each of those 17) and decided to lay off the booze for one day and take Kelly out to the lake to feed the ducks.
‘Look, Kelly, ducks,’ Bethan spoke childishly as she pointed to a family of ducks walking past her. After a careful look around to see if anyone was watching, Bethan broke her attempted dry-spell and drank a mouthful of gin she’d stored inside a lemonade bottle. As she drank more and more, she failed to spot the lock on the pram wasn’t on. And she turned her back as the pram drove off on its own. Towards the lake.
It was the sound of splashing and a man’s call that brought Bethan back around as she looked on in horror as a total stranger dived in the water and returned with the baby in hand. He took it to Bethan, who was crying hysterically, and waited as Bethan hugged Kelly tightly.
‘Thank you, sir.’
‘My name’s Sydney,’ and he offered out a hand shake.
‘They either give it back, or they die,’ the elderly man said. He then picked up his hourglass from the bushes of the crime scene and returned to 2017.