It was going to be one of those days. I knew it as soon as the alarm went off that morning, don’t ask me to explain how I knew. I’m not sure if I’m just getting more sensitive to the world and phenomenon that most of the population misses, this is all so new to me. So who can say if my exposure to the O.H’s was altering my awareness; but with our limited understanding of these events and what causes them, we really can’t begin to speculate on how they might be affecting us.
To those unaware, the uninformed, today would be average for them; but it’s not and for me, it wouldn’t be. I didn’t have a clue what was going to happen when I woke up that morning but I knew it was going to make this long day even longer.
It started like any other Saturday would. Up early to take the dog to the park, have a quick shower, grab a breakfast I could eat while walking to work, make a quick stop for ice, and in the door at PRESS by 8:30 AM to ensure that I’d be set up and ready to go for our 9:00 AM opening. Just like clockwork I’d barely had the chance to put the sign out when my first customers of the day walked in, that’s what I love about Saturday mornings at PRESS that steady stream of coffee addicts and vinyl hunters.
I was on edge but as the morning passed I started to feel like I could let my guard down, that maybe it was all in my head and I was reading into The O.H.’s too much. Getting myself all worked up for nothing, and as I served customer after customer that uneasy feeling I’d had got less and less. This was my first big mistake because when the Hopkirk family walked in I was totally unprepared for what was about to happen.
I should have known that it would be the son, I always felt that he knew more than he really should for someone that age. His eyes just a little too knowledgeable for a child, almost to observant. This particularly Saturday as the family filed in I got down to making their usual order of large lattes for the parents, but when it came time for the kids’ orders things took a turn. Usually, Patrick got a chocolate chip cookie while his sister Cynthia would get either a cookie or a milk steamer, but this was where things fell apart because Patick did something that in my whole time working here he’d never done before; He changed his order.
“ Mum, can I have a pop?” Patrick’s voice carried over the cavalcade of noise produced inside and outside the shop.
“ What time is it?” Jane looks at her watch in contemplation. “It’s barely 10:00 AM, no pop before noon, it’s much too early for all that sugar.”
“It isn’t that early.” I could see what Patrick was doing here, and I could appreciate it, though his tactics could use some work. He was young still, plenty of time to bring those negotiation skills up to snuff.
“ It is too early, now is not the time for pop.” Jane had that air of finality that all parents seemed to have mastered, that tone that lets everyone know that the conversation is closed. It was then that Patrick said the words that would plummet my day into chaos.
“Curse you TIME!” he exclaimed in frustration. His voice still containing that note of youthful disappointment, not the jaded tone of those who had lived their lives only to realize at the end that they wasted all the time that they had.
Then everything stopped. Not in the sense that people stopped in reaction, no time quite literally stopped. It was as if someone had pushed the pause button on real life, I waved my hand in front of Jane’s face but she didn’t react at all, Cynthia was turned away for us frozen in mid-step arms suspended in mid swing.
I can remember coming out from behind the counter and looking out the front window and seeing the cars still whizzing by and the people still walking past; so what was happening was only in effect inside PRESS. I felt Patrick come and stand next to me as I looked down at him and met his eyes he said, “ I didn’t mean to do that, I swear! It was an accident!” His eyes held panic, fear, and more than a little disbelief, it was looking into his eyes that I realized that if we were going to make it through this I needed him calm.
“ It’s alright, we’ll get through this Patrick. Now you said that you’ve done this before, what happened that time?” I said fighting to keep my own feelings of panic at bay.
“ Well, I made time go faster at school once, so that the day would be over sooner but I’ve never done anything like this before!”
“ What happened that time, what were you thinking, what were you feeling?”
“ I was just thinking how I wished that the day would be finished faster, and then I got this rush of… of.. energy, it felt like it was rushing up from my feet all the way to my head. Then in a blink of an eye, the energy was gone, as if it went back through my body into the ground again but it felt like it comes from me, like it was a part of me that had always been there, you know?.” I could tell that he was struggling to explain this to me, that this phenomenon was so second nature to him, that he didn’t know to explain it to me.
“Ok, so now we need to figure out how to get things back to normal, do you think that if you tried really hard, and focused on that feeling you described, that you could put it back to normal?” Patrick nodded at me, and for a moment when we locked eyes, a sense of understanding passed over us, a camaraderie, we were in this together and we’d make it out together too.
His eyes slipped closed and I waited with baited breath for something, anything to happen. My gaze rested on Jane and Cynthia for a beat, and then travelled across Patrick and finally stopped out the front window watching the people and cars rushing past none the wiser to the life altering events taking place inside PRESS at that very moment.
Ever so slowly I felt a breeze swirling around my feet, picking us speed as it grew bigger, looking at Patrick it was obvious that this was coming from him. The wind seemed to be surrounding him like a tornado effect, spreading outward filling the space. The books rattled in their shelves, the napkins flew off the counter, joining the swirling mass surrounding Patrick
As the funnel grew it engulfed Patrick, Jane, Cynthia, and myself and it seemed as if we were in the eye of a storm. I heard and saw the crackling of electricity joining the storm around us, statically charging the air inside the shop. I looked at Patrick and as our eyes met everything just…… stopped, I could see the confusion on his face and I knew that mine mirrored his.
It was as if during the time between one breath and the next everything had righted itself and things were all exactly as they should have been. What cut through my shock was the sound of the front door closing, I turned and spotted Sherman walking into the shop. Nothing about his expression or demeanor gave any indication that he saw or even knew what had just happened.
What really pulled me fully back into reality was Jane, telling me to serve the next customer so that the kids had more time to decide what they wanted to order. So shaking off my shock I immediately went to serve Sherman, fighting with myself to remain calm and collected.
“Large coffee with cream please Victoria.” he said, and again I was hit with the sense that he knew something but his demeanor gave nothing away.
As I handed him his coffee and he exited again I felt a tap on my arm and looking down at Patrick he said, “I don’t know what happened, I felt the energy and I felt like it was going to work and then it just stopped. But I know that it wasn’t me, I’m not the one who put everything right again.” he walked over to where his mum was sitting and all I could do was stand there and think, what have I gotten myself into, and what is going to happen next because there is no way that I’ll ever get to be ordinary again.