The Direction of Life

six

The Direction of Life

I knew immediately that something was wrong.
“Turpentine!” I shouted to my step sister, who I kept under my bed. “SOMETHING IS WRONG!”
“Something is wrong.” agreed Turpentine, waking up and sleepily brushing the cobwebs from her silver hair. “You’re turning into a road sign.”
“Call the doctor!” I commanded, trembling.
Turpentine was only two years old but she was no fool, she shook her head sadly. I had the classic symptoms. A stretchy feeling in my elbows and red, itchy palms. We both knew I was not long for this world. I kept thinking, why me? Why me? It was a stupid question, turning into a road sign was going around, it was only a matter of time.
But what would I become? A stop? A slippery when wet? Or maybe something special like ‘Old Northern Road’? I deeply hoped so.

I decided to write a “goodbye and thank you” letter to every person I had ever met. I would write to the swimming coaches, the shop assistants, the school secretaries and the whole host of others beside. I thought of the cat that our old cleaning lady brought along with her on a rainy day in August last year. The cat was an old tabby. It lay in its basket in the hallway and slept the whole time, even while the cleaning lady vacuumed around it. Why did she bring it? I asked myself, thinking back to that strange day. Why that day and not any other? It was a mystery all right, but a cute one.
“Thank you”, I would write to the tabby cat, “for being a part of my life. A sleepy little part of my life.”
Animals count too.

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