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Mally was trying to listen to her monotoned chemistry teacher drone on about acid-base indicators. Really, she was. But despite her efforts, she soon found herself daydreaming, as usual. There was only a week left before spring vacation – and Mally was desperate for the break.
Looking back after, it was impossible to tell exactly when her daydreams about vacation transitioned into a real dream. The dream was wrong though.
She was too aware. She sat on the sidelines as she watched the class, the usual bell-ringing bustle, watched herself jerking awake at the sound. The Mally that still sat at her desk blinked groggily before following the crowds streaming into the packed corridors.
She followed herself at a distance as she gathered her books and headed out of the back door to the student parking lot. She hurriedly scraped the thick layer of frost from the windshield, cranking the heat in her old Toyota and sending music blaring in the same direction. She joined the lineup of cars leaving the parking lot, anxious to put space between herself and the wretched brick building looming behind her.
Following Mallory Lennon at three o’clock on any weekday afternoon could provide much the same image – from here she would cross the Talon River bridge out of the city and into the suburbs, make a sandwich of ham and cheddar, and crash on the couch to watch the Indie Music Channel on her satellite TV. If it happened to be Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, then her best friend Elsa might accompany her.
All in all, not a particularly caustic routine.
Today though, the stalking form of herself followed the car with purpose as it neared Talon River. Mally the watching was calm, serene even, although she knew with great certainty that something utterly terrible was about to happen. She watched with tranquility as the logging truck that the oblivious Mally was driving carelessly close behind hit a bump as it went onto the bridge that suspended passengers above a rushing river. The logs broke loose, spilling out over the road and smashing the windshield of Mally’s car. Panicking, Mally jerked the steering wheel away from the cascading logs – and towards the gushing river.
The watching Mally sighed with desolation as the small blue car was launched over the guardrail, falling, falling…
Awaking with a start at the sound of the bell, Mally blinked a few times to get her bearings. The usual three o’clock bustle sent students crowding in every direction, and she stood to join the group clustered around the door, trying to escape.
Still groggy, she gathered her books and headed out of the student exit towards her car. She shivered in the winter air as she reached her blue Toyota, and then stopped dead. There was a thick layer of frost coating the windows like dust. Her stomach lurched uneasily as something in the back of her mind nudged her.
She shook her head, dislodging the uncomfortable feeling out of her mind, and quickly scraped the windows. Climbing inside, shivering uncontrollably, she cranked the heat. Starting the engine, she cranked the music, too.
Mally quickly joined the herd of cars headed out of the parking lot, tapping her fingers idly against the steering wheel in time with the music. It was a Wednesday, meaning that she was on her own to watch Indie Music Channel this afternoon.
As she wove her way home through the familiar streets, that feeling of uneasiness began to nag at her mind again. She felt a sudden and irrational paranoia that she simply could not shake.
She touched her foot down slightly on the gas, wanting nothing more than just be in the safe haven of her own home. This sudden tension in the air was freaking her out.
The minivan in front of her pulled out and drove on ahead as they drove onto the bridge. She nudged the gas pedal down a little more, catching up to the big logging truck that now lay ahead of her.
As the truck went over a bump and she saw the logs lurch precariously, her eyes suddenly widened in shock and terror.
It flooded back into her mind like the rushing river below. As if in slow motion, the truck hit another bump and the logs rattled threateningly on the back of the truck.
Paralyzed in fear, Mally could do nothing but watch.
Then, the truck put on its emergency lights. It slowed to practically a crawl, and at the end of the bridge it pulled onto the shoulder. Mally watched in her rear-view mirror as the driver stepped out into the chilly air and walked back to the rear of the truck to adjust the straps.
Heart still racing, Mallory Lennon drove on home.