One More Day

No-one knows it yet, but the world is about to go down the pan.
Rain will fall, storms will brew, death will rule.
And there, right in the middle of it all is Cally. A chubby fifteen year old from the Scottish Borders who's lost everything but is still fighting for the nothing which remains.

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1. One

It all starts with the blackouts.

Sometimes they are during English at school and I’m busy flicking balled up chewing gum wrappers at the back of Miss Allen’s head. Then the lights switch off and the brand new smart board crashes, the computer beeping that it needs to be plugged in. There’s the 10 seconds of shock required when the room goes dark, before everyone goes crazy. It’s weird how little it takes to make some half-asleep kids get totally high.

Other days the power cuts out at home. I’m in my room on Skype to Lisbeth who can’t come over because of a cold that’s been bugging her for ages. Dad is squished on the sofa with all his mates over, each holding a chilled beer in their hand. The football or rugby match or whatever is blaring out of our new plasma screen telly. And Mum and Becki are arguing loudly in the kitchen, Becki’s iPhone being waved violently around in Mum’s hand.

“I’ve had enough of you neglecting the family for this piece of crap!” says Mum, just as the TV switches off and our internet disconnects and my Skype call is ended.

I’m not there to see it, but I can imagine Mum turning bright red and a smirk playing on Becki’s lips. Almost every night in our house is like this, except the power lasts all night and nobody has a reason to notice what anyone else is doing.

The blackouts continue solidly for two or three months and so does Lisbeth’s cold. When we aren’t sitting in the dark, for the first time we watch the news. Besides many other stories we weren’t aware of, there is always a piece on ‘Blackout Britain’. Turns out it’s actually a nationwide issue. Dad takes a sip of his beer and a woman with a middle-class southern English accent pops up on the screen and starts to speak.

“Around the UK, power cuts are becoming more and more frequent. Nobody quite knows the cause of these commonly named ‘blackouts’ but experts say we could be heading for a crisis. Fossil fuel supplies are reaching levels of practically zero and it seems more than likely there are no more reserves to be found.  Sometime in the very near future the whole country, or even the world, could be plunged into darkness. The only question is when? Research suggests –”

And then she cuts out and the room around us goes black.

“Typical” mutters Becki and heads upstairs to her bedroom.

Dad and Mum start to discuss what we’ll do if the worst does happen. Before long, Dad’s decided ‘if we Scots had got independence from those English pigs’ none of this would be going on. Of course, nationalism is always the answer.

“I’m going round to Lisbeth’s” I say, and before anyone can stop me, I’m out of there.

Lisbeth’s house is about a bazillion trillion times more organised than ours. If I’m honest, it feels more like home. Right now I bet they’ll all be lighting candles and sitting down to play Monopoly. No doubt Lisbeth will be lying on the couch blowing her nose and eating Haribos or some kind of junk food whilst staying stubbornly skinny as hell. In the case of a food shortage she’ll be first dead. I reckon I could survive at least a week on body fat alone.

I arrive at Lisbeth’s and walk straight in.

“That’ll be Cally” I hear a slightly croaky voice say.

So her cold must still be hanging in then. And yeah, my name’s Cally. Short for California, as in where I was conceived. Lucky me, getting to be reminded of how I was made every time someone calls me over somewhere. Becki shortened it to Cally when I was young and she still loved me.

“Hey” I say.

“Well you might as well come in the living room; we’re just about to start Monopoly.”

What did I tell you?

I pull my shoes off and pad in to the candle-lit room. Shadows dance and flicker against the walls in the dim light. It’s seriously saying something when I don’t even feel safe at Lisbeth’s house.

Lisbeth’s parents smile at me and her brother Henrik gives me his usual self-assured grin. Oh yeah, and if you’re wondering about the names, Lisbeth’s parents are German. Which I guess makes her German too. She’s lived in Scotland her whole life though, no foreign accent for her or Henrik, just an easy A in German exams at school.

Lisbeth and I are just coming up to our exams; the first one is next week. Lisbeth’s 15th birthday. We’ve been on study leave a while now and back to school on her birthday is maybe not the most helpful thing.

Of course, we never do end up getting to sit those exams but I’m getting to that.

Henrik is younger than Lisbeth but only by a year. He’s totally and completely the opposite of his sister though. Not just gender wise. While Lisbeth is stick thin, he’s fully abbed up and ready to go. He’s also popular as hell, right in the mainstream but Lisbeth is grunge and rock-and-roll. All they share is a last name and that confident lopsided smile.

Then I’m left. The chubby friend with the upturned nose and spotty chin. Somehow I feel at home with these perfect people and I will never, ever know why.

 

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