Time in our hands
by Lynda Collins
Standing by the roadside, I shivered uncontrollably. My pulse hammered in my throat, as though it was trying to tell me how close it had come to stopping forever. Lying in the middle of the road was my satchel—contents scattered like leaves—ruined by the tyremarks of the car that had just missed me by centimetres, less.
The car had barrelled towards me, running the red light at the pedestrian crossing just as I was in the middle of the road.
But it had missed me. Missed me because something had grabbed me by the arm and hauled me out of the way. And I’d seen a face. That bright, glowing face. Not quite human. He—it was a he, I was sure of that—had hauled me to safety and then had disappeared.
I felt for the necklace around my neck that my Granny had given me. The pendant was a bowed and praying angel. She’d believed determinedly in them until her last breath. I never had until now. She’d told me that everyone had a guardian angel that kept them safe. I was sure I’d just seen mine.
I still couldn’t stop shaking.
* * *
The stupid chit had nearly got herself killed, her nose buried in her phone as she crossed the road. Yes the fool behind the wheel of the car was to blame, but if she’d had her wits about her I might not have had to step in. And she’s seen me. That was a mistake, and I didn’t make many of those. Still, I saw her lips curve in the shape of the word ‘Angel,’ no sane person would believe what she’d seen. And those who did believe? Ah, well, it would only increase their faith. These glorified monkeys were so blind. Not only could they not see us, they gave us such reverence as we fed off them.
I had to laugh at her. I reached out my hand and stole a year of her life. A year was much more than I would normally take in one go, but I’d just saved her life, it was less than my due. She started to shiver badly, but I knew she would simply put it down to adrenaline, not her lifespan being reduced from seventy to sixty-nine. She’d rationalise the feeling, just like all of her ancestors had, never for a moment thinking I was here.
I added her time to my own lifetime, stretching it even further beyond its original bonds.
You humans don’t realise that you’re cattle, here simply to feed us, nothing more. We only helped you down from the trees so you would live longer and propagate for us. You fly around, leading pointless little mayfly lives, never knowing that we are there with you, sipping hours and days away from you, adding them to our own time. And when you do catch a glimmer of us, you create magical stories about guardian angels, pulling you away from danger, whispering warnings in your ears. You never suspect that all along we are simply protecting a food source.
People might call us parasites. And maybe that is fair. Each second we steal from you is a second more for us. That shivery feeling of someone walking on your grave? That’s us, feeding- that’s you just a little closer to your deaths. And we’re always hungry.
Lynda Collins was born in 1986. She has been writing since the tender age of five and even has the school reports to prove it, though she would like to hope that she has improved a little since then.
Her novel writing has slowed dramatically since baby number 2 arrived, but she's recently started writing 'the Belfast Budget Blog'' a blog on Living Frugally in Northern Ireland which you can find here: https://belfastbudgetblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/first-blog-post/
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