Déjà Vu

Chapter 1

Emily Parr began to open her eyes, nothing changing very much as all which she could see was the inside of her sleeping mask and all which she could hear was the strange, silent rumble of the inside of her head, her earmuffs cancelling all sound from the world outside of her tiny bed.

 

It took a moment or two for Emily to fully process that she was awake as usual, blinking to rid her eyes of the dried substance which would cling to the corners of her eyes whenever she would sleep. Then, letting out a light sigh, not wanting to get up, she pulled her earmuffs from her head and slid her sleeping mask over the top of her head, the elasticated fabric which would hold it in place flicking her right, index finger, causing a light gasp of shock to escape her lips as she recoiled her right hand instinctively, gazing at her finger as if expecting a cut to have formed.

 

Emily placed the earmuffs and the sleeping mask on her bedside table and clambered from her bed before gazing at the vibrating phone which had fallen off of her chest and onto the mattress with the movement. As she wore earmuffs to sleep, a regular alarm wouldn’t wake her. To counter that problem, Emily set her phone to begin vibrating at the correct time, leaving it on her chest while it would charge overnight. There wasn’t any chance of the phone falling off of her and, therefore, the vibrations failing to awaken her given that her bed was so small that there wasn’t enough space to roll over. On the left side was a wall, on the right side was a small drop to the floor which she’d grown accustomed to avoiding while asleep.

 

As soon as Emily had halted the alarm, she began to pull her clothes on slowly, letting out a yawn which she tried to stifle, unsure as to whether it would make her crave to return to sleep even more than what the urge was already demanding.

 

It took a few minutes for Emily to climb into her work clothes, gazing at herself in the mirror for a moment, wondering if she needed to put any make-up on when she would brush her long, light-blonde hair. Emily didn’t like to wear a lot of the stuff, only ever using it to conceal the occasional spot or to hide the dark circles which would sometimes appear underneath her eyes due to missing even two hours of sleep. If she wasn’t going to work, was going on a date or going to visit a friend, for instance, she’d put a bit more of an effort in, though it still wouldn’t be substantial. She couldn’t be bothered, really, something which reflected how she felt towards a lot of things. She couldn’t be bothered with school very much, passing her subjects with decent but not extraordinary grades. She couldn’t be bothered with any further education, either, having jumped straight into work which she didn’t like, something which she still hadn’t managed to escape. She was working in a fair-sized food store, one which would have a few, large spurts of customers each day, something which she found exhausting when she wasn’t prepared for it. It was a nine-to-five job, fairly standard, as she saw it, but the fact that she could get up at eight each morning as opposed to getting up at six or seven which was when her friends would usually have to get up for their jobs didn’t make her feel much better about working there. It didn’t matter how long she would have to work or when she would have to work, she would always stumble home exhausted.

 

Emily sat down at the small make-up table which resided underneath the window, just a little past the foot of her bed. It looked like there was a spot forming on her pale, left cheek. It wasn’t very noticeable, but as soon as Emily had spotted it, she wanted to hide it.

 

A quick application of concealer dealt with the problem before she took her hairbrush and began to tackle the easily tangled, long hair which she was semi-proud of maintaining, wincing occasionally as a knot would be painful to deal with. As soon as she was done, gazing at herself in the mirror, her pale, light-green eyes scanning her smooth and somewhat-pretty face, Emily decided that she was done. She got off of the chair, grabbed her phone, and began to venture towards her kitchen in search of breakfast.

 

She walked out of her bedroom and into the tiny living room which, as she miserably noted as usual, was the biggest room in her apartment. The kitchen was in a corner of the living room, nothing to really separate the two areas, the right side of the fridge and the left side of the sink being where Emily considered the room to begin, a small square which wouldn’t be able to fit more than six people in at a time.

 

  Emily quickly threw some bread into the toaster and began to lean against the counter beside the toaster, checking her phone, searching for anything interesting in the news as she waited. Nothing, as usual, prompting her to switch to scrolling through the feed of one of the various social medias which she had on her phone until the toast popped out of the toaster, the noise scaring her a little, making her jump.

 

After spreading a small amount of butter onto the toast and dropping the two pieces onto a plate, she moved to the two-seat couch, flopping onto it, sitting upright, leaning into the left arm of the couch with her legs going to the right, pushing against the arm of the couch. She placed the small plate on the space in front of her stomach as she began to flick through the few TV channels which came for free with the device, landing on one which caught her attention before she began to eat while watching the low-budget show.

 

Time passed neither quickly nor slowly. Emily found herself drifting in and out of being enthralled by the show which she was watching, glancing at the clock on the wall occasionally to make sure that she wasn’t losing track of time. It didn’t take too long for her to decide that it was time to get to work, knowing that it would take about fifteen minutes to walk from her apartment to the shop which she worked in.

 

Emily slid off of the couch, placed the crumb-covered plate into the sink, went to the bathroom to brush her teeth and then walked into her bedroom to grab her coat, pulling it on and zipping it up. It was slightly cold outside, and there were a few, grey clouds in the sky, making it fairly likely that it would rain. The last thing which Emily wanted was to get wet on the way to work and then having to spend the first hour walking around in damp clothes. She simply hated the feeling of damp clothes sticking to her skin.

 

She left her apartment, double-checking her pockets as she walked away from the newly locked door. Phone, money, keys. All which she needed.

 

Emily descended the four flights of stairs, walking through the exit and onto the street, immediately feeling a light breeze. It wasn’t as cold as she’d been expecting, but it wasn’t exactly warm, either. It was a good thing that she’d decided to bring a coat.

 

She began the walk, dealing with the annoying traffic which would always seem to pile-up on the streets which she needed to cross. Given that she lived in a city and given that it was nearing nine in the morning, there were a lot of people on their way to work, resulting in bustling roads, pavements and a constant stream of irritating noise. Emily had grown-up with the loudness and busyness of the city, used to it by now, but it still bugged her sometimes. Trying to cross the road when there were at least ten cars jumping at the opportunity to drive as far as possible before the next pile-up at the traffic lights was frustrating, Emily constantly finding herself trapped on the wrong side of the road, waiting, tapping her right foot impatiently as she so often found herself doing. It was a habit which she’d picked up in high school, of few of her friends having done it, resulting in Emily having picked up the impatient gesture.

 

A few annoying waits and about ten minutes later, Emily could see the roof of the shop which she worked in over the top of the expanding sea of vehicles. The shop wasn’t overly large, but it was big enough to see from what must have been about two-hundred metres away.

 

Emily crossed another road, having approached it at the perfect time to narrowly avoid another wait, stepping onto the other side of the pavement with a light, barely noticeable sigh. Getting closer and closer to the shop just made her feel as if she was going to have a rough day. She didn’t know why the feeling was there, what had caused it, but there was a light buzz of dread in the back of her mind. Emily tried to ignore the feeling, trying to convince herself that she would just walk in, get her shift done, then that she would go home. That would be it. Nothing extra to add. In, shift, home.

 

After walking for another couple of minutes, Emily progressed through the automatic, sliding doors and immediately made her way to the back room to clock-in. On her way, she passed a colleague as he walked around in search of something. Emily didn’t have much of a relationship with her peers, mainly only knowing their names and a handful of things about each of them as it was obligatory given that they worked together all of the time. Aside from knowing basic things like their names, ages and ethnicities, Emily didn’t know much else. She didn’t try to be very social while at work given that she was easily drained, and she especially wouldn’t interact with her colleagues much if she would be manning a till and having to talk to customers very regularly. It would just take too much out of her to do so.

 

Emily entered the back room, made her way to the break room, then clocked-in, drawing a small tick by her name on the sheet which had been pinned to a notice board.

 

It didn’t take very long for Emily to sink into the workday. She started off slowly, trying to get herself used to having to walk around, stock shelves, aid a few customers and occasionally having to take-over what another employee was doing when they would have to help in the check-out area. It only took what must have been an hour for Emily to be dragged to a till, a spurt of customers having entered the store; the first rush-hour.

 

“Have a nice day,” Emily stated with a monotone voice and a forced smile to a young girl who was very clearly skipping school, not appearing to be ill and definitely not looking old enough to be considered a graduate.

 

Emily looked down the conveyor belt and saw that there were only two more customers to deal with before she could head to the break room and leave whoever was working on the other till to deal with the rest of the customers. It had quieted down a fair amount and, Emily knew, she needed a small break. She’d been working for at least an hour and a half without any rest, and maybe half of that time had been a little hectic. She needed a small amount of time to recharge before having to return to deal with the influx of customers searching for things to buy for their lunches.

 

After dropping into a chair in the break room, Emily let out a long sigh. The room was small and there were a few other people in there who had clearly had the same idea as her: to have a small break after the hectic time which they’d had during the rush-hour. Given that she wasn’t exactly by herself, Emily couldn’t really stretch out and take fifteen minutes off as she wanted to. Instead, she just sat there, leaning forwards, her phone in her hands as she browsed social media, lightly tapping her right foot along to the beat of a song which was stuck in her head. It wasn’t the best way to spend the break, mainly because Emily couldn’t sit back and take a breather, but it was good enough for her. She left the break room after two other employees had entered and another two had left, deciding that it was time to get back to work, walking back into the main area of the shop.

 

Emily immediately returned to stacking a few shelves, replacing items which weren’t fit to be sold anymore, essentially doing chores for what felt like forever.

 

Lunch arrived quicker than expected, bringing another wave of customers, but that was dealt with within thirty minutes, leaving Emily to return to the break room, take a breather, then to head to the check-out as it was her turn to be the one who was responsible for the majority of the customers.

 

Emily sat, scanned, made light and polite small talk and was even allowed to keep a small amount of change by an older gentleman who creeped her out slightly. She could have sworn that he’d been trying to look down the neck of her shirt, but she didn’t have any proof and, even if she did, she couldn’t be bothered to report the behaviour.

 

Emily ate her lunch in the break room, taking thirty minutes away from work to do so, then returned to the floor where hours passed, though it felt as if days had passed, instead, Emily’s tasks seeming to go on and on, taking up all of her attention which, she supposed, was a good thing. It was only when Emily’s shift ended that she noticed just how much time had passed as she gleefully rushed to the breakroom to clock-out, wanting to get away from the store as quickly as possible. She wasn’t going to spend a small amount of time browsing the aisles in search of a treat to buy with her employee discount as she would occasionally do after shifts, wanting something to almost congratulate herself for getting through another day of work. She just wanted to get home and to relax.

 

Leaving the shop felt strangely blissful. Just exiting through the automatic, sliding doors felt invigorating to Emily as she felt the light breeze which had been present for the entire day on her face, almost tickling her skin.

 

Emily began the walk home, crossing through the car park and then across the road, knowing that she was going to have to deal with the same thing as that morning. That was the only trouble with leaving the store right at the end of her shift; she’d have to deal with the traffic again.

 

It didn’t take any more than a minute for Emily to have to wait for a handful of cars so that she could cross to the other side of the pavement. People were beginning to fill the pavement around her, too, showing Emily that she was probably going to have to deal with a journey which would be just as annoying as it had been that morning.

 

A few more minutes of walking, a few more times of having to wait for cars to move so that she could continue heading home, and Emily was starting to feel tired. That workday had taken something out of her. She just felt drained. Maybe it was because she’d gone for the last few hours without taking a break, having managed to find a rhythm of replacing items and guiding customers over and over and over and over again.

 

Emily closed her eyes for a moment as she walked, opening them right after letting out a light sigh.

 

Then something collided with the right side of her body, a force which shook her skeleton and sent her flying to the left. She’d been hit by a car!

 

Emily swore inside of her head, wanting to let out some type of noise, but all words felt trapped. Her brain felt fuzzy. Her body buzzed a little as if she’d been electrocuted.

 

Emily slammed into the concrete of the main road and barely had a second to process that another car was coming, the wheel progressing directly towards her already-bleeding head

Déjà Vu