I remember when I was a little girl, no more then five of six, I had gone to stay with my Grandma Aggie for two weeks. This wasn't anything new, my Grandma Aggie lived close enough that I stayed with her often. My sister Jenna and I had been given the choice of going to Grandma Aggie's, or to Aunt Judith's.
I never really liked going to Aunt Judith's. See Aunt Judith had a daughter too, Bailey. She was six days older then Jenna, which meant that the two were best friends. So I, by being four years younger, frequently got called an annoying tag-a-long, and their favorite pass time was always hide from Aubrey.
So no one was really surprised when I chose to spend the two weeks, while my parents had a second honeymoon, with Grandma Aggie. She was my favorite person in the whole world at that age, and through all the years that passed we were always thick as thieves. She never treated me as though I was too young to know something. Or as if my presence was ever a burden to her, even though ill admit there were plenty of times when I was a brat growing up.
As a child I knew there was something special about Grandma Aggie, but it wasn't until I was much older that I knew what exactly that was. You see she would always tell me all sort of crazy stories about how our ancestors could be traced all the way back to the druids, and how we even survived the Salem witch trials.
“There's power in our blood, love. Don't you ever forget it. I prey I'm wrong, but one day I fear you're going to need it.”
I was a child when she first told me that, no where near old enough to understand what she was telling me, but somehow I knew, knew that Grandma Aggie was telling me something of great importance.
Thinking back now I wonder if Grandma Aggie hadn't known what was coming. She was famous in out family for her visions. She wouldn't have them often, but when she got a certain look in her eye you knew to listen. If she told you not to do something, no matter how small or silly it sounded. No matter if you'd done this thing the same way for years with no problem, if Grandma Aggie said don’t do it, you listened.
Not that she was able to save us from every hurt life could throw our way. She used to say “Some things you can not change you must simply endure them. Some are not so important that they need changed, simply a life lesson that must be taught,”
I'd asked her then, breaking down, for at seventeen I'd just had my first vision. The one where my sisters husband would cheat, and leave her heart broken. “If you can't change everything you see in your visions then why are you shown them in the first place?”
“To prepare, my child, to prepare,” she replied, and to this day I'll always remember the look of overwhelming sadness that came across her face when she said it.
She always told me that destiny was a strange thing, some things could be changed, while others were so big that no matter what road you choose to take it would always lead to the same place. I didn't always understand what she meant but in this I did. Because I had seen it first hand. She was able to save Jonah, my brother who was conceived on my parents second honeymoon, from a broken leg, but not able to save Jenna from a bad marriage. Seems strange but to have avoided the marriage, Jenna wouldn't have had Lizzy. Somethings were just to big to change.
Not that it mattered all that much now, they were all gone.
I stepped out into my room, and turned on the news. There it was in black and red letters, PROMINENT OREGAN FAMILY MURDERED : POLICE HAVE NO SUSPECTS.
What the news didn't tell was that the entire family had been wiped out. No one left alive. No one but me that is, and I'm sure that was more due to luck then anything.
Just a few days ago Grandma Aggie had helped me move into this apartment. Most of my things were still in boxes waiting for me to unpack. I hadn't even had time to put in my change of address form. As I thought of it I realized that's probably the only reason I had survived the massacre so far. But I couldn't count on that being the case forever.
I had to move. I'd read enough spy novels to know that with enough money, and connections anyone could be found.
Hell, they could already be tracking my phone I thought, scanning the room for the device in question.
I found it laying on the floor, sans battery where it had fallen last night. The battery must have come out last night when I dropped it. Another stroke of luck I thought, but I couldn't count on luck to keep me alive forever. Eventually it would run out, and I didn't want to be around when that happened.
I quickly grabbed my green back-pack I had bought for an upcoming camping trip and shoved a few changed of clothes in it. It went my flashlight, pocket knife, ATM card, money, toothbrush, and the photo of my family, taken last summer at the lake.
I was just lacing up my shoes when there was a knock on the door. I froze.
I had no Idea who was on the other side of the door, but I knew I couldn't take the chance of finding out.
I walked over to the window and quietly eases it open, planning on taking the fire escape. I had eased one leg out the window when I heard a semi-familiar female voice say "To Prepare."
My head snapped up looking at the door as if it had just morphed into a monster. I couldn't have heard right, I thought, my heart beat rivaling that of a hummingbirds at that moment. It seems like such an innocent phrase to cause such a reaction, but there was more to those word then most people would think.
You see I had gained a small portion of Grandma Aggie's gifts, and that had been our code. After that fated conversation, so many years ago.
“To prepare.” Its what we used to tell each other, when we saw an event coming that could not be changed. Could only be endured. I felt a spear of ragged pain shoot through my body that almost doubled me over.
She had known.
Grandma Aggie had seen this coming. I knew now that the new apartment wasn't luck. Grandma Aggie had come up a week ago and told me her friends daughter was moving out of her apartment near the campus, and wanted to know if I could take over her lease.
She had known that our whole family would die, and had prepared in the only way she could. What shocked me more was that she must have blocked me from seeing it as well. Must have known that whether I knew it could be changed or not I would have tried to help, and probably died trying.
In the three years since I had started getting the visions, Grandma Aggie had learned to block some of them from my mind, by taking the full brunt of the vision herself. You see these visions weren’t just flashing images, it was more like trying to run, and see through murky water. Not just fragments of images but more like a projected movie, that then split off into several other movies. Some could be changed, but if the “movies” then looped back together into one singular future, you knew it was set in stone. There were just different ways to reach that certain stone.
Say you knew someone was going to fall and break their leg no matter what choice they made that day, however one way for them to break their leg would be to trip over a skateboard, while another would be for them to trip over their future wife. You know their leg is going to break, but you can urge them to take the right path rather then the left, therefore have some good come out of the pain.
Seeing the future was no easy feat, it was complicated and depressing. You sometimes felt like no matter what choice you made it was the wrong one, and you could never be sure if the things you chose to change would be the right things. That and it took a toll and the bigger the importance of the vision the more of a toll it took. Once Grandma learned that I would likely ignore the inevitable to try and spare my family pain, she learned to keep certain visions from me. She would tell me that sometimes it was better to let the person decide their future for themselves.
I stood there staring at the door while all this flowed through my head, and pain clenched my heart. Then there was another knock.
“Um, hello, I'm was told to drop Lizzy off here, and to tell you “To prepare”.”
Once again I looked at the door in shock. I quickly ran over and threw it open, while shoving all my pain in a box deep inside my mind.
As the door swung open with enough force to shake the frame, I saw who had been speaking, and why she had sounded familiar. There on the threshold stood my sister Jenna's babysitter, Betty. With an overflowing diaper bag hanging from one arm, and balanced on the opposite hip. With a tearstained face was two year old Lizzy.