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Short Story: Timeless Words (Part 2)
The office was more like an apartment than a place to do paperwork. Two cream sofas with plush red cushions stood in a corner. A door stood ajar, no doubt leading to an en suite bathroom. Ashley glanced around, a sick jealousy weighing down her stomach.
This was her life, and somehow this woman had it instead.
“Nice place,” she commented dryly. She wandered over to the window but the view sickened her more. It was all so terribly beautiful.
“Why thank you,” was the smug reply. “Would like anything to drink? Tea? Coffee? Something stronger?” Ashley shook her head. “Perhaps a bite to eat?”
Ashley couldn’t believe how casual this woman was being. “No thank you,” she said in a rather pointed tone. Sarah merely shrugged and poured herself a glass of red wine before sitting down on one of the sofas.
“Please, sit down,” she said with a lazy gesture of the hand.
“I’d rather remain standing thanks.”
“Ashley,” the woman sighed with a roll of the eyes. “There’s no need to be discourteous.”
“And I apologise greatly,” Ashley replied quickly, “but I can’t be civil to a self-aggrandising, plagiarising, loathsome woman such as yourself.”
Sarah smiled. “No need to be rude,” she said gently as she gestured more insistently towards the sofa. Ashley hesitated before sitting down. “That’s better, isn’t it?” Her tone was sickly sweet, patronising even.
Ashley said nothing, instead casting her gaze to the bookshelf that held a copy of each of Sarah’s – her – novels. “Got a good collection going on there,” she noted flatly.
Sarah smiled. “You’re probably thinking very lowly of me right now, am I correct?”
“You’re making it hard not to,” Ashley admitted.
“You somehow steal my stories, ruin my life, and now you’re acting so casual about it. To be perfectly honest, I think you’re a bitch.”
Much to Ashley’s surprise, Sarah burst out laughing. “Oh so I’m the bitch?” She appeared to wipe tears from her eyes as she tried to suppress her giggles. “Well I have news for you, Ashley. You’re the bitch in this story.”
“You think you’re the one who is going through hell? Think again. You’re nothing more than a spoilt brat who needs to learn that there are others who go through tougher times than you without a friend who they can rely on to just drop everything and come running to you.”
“I don’t care what you think you know about me, but you’ve got it completely wrong.”
“Have I?” A beat. “Ashley, I’m from the future. I travelled back in time to-”
“Wait, what? Time travel?”
Sarah merely rolled her eyes before continuing. “-to stop you from becoming a famous author.”
“Because you changed, Ashley. You forgot about everyone you once cared about. Even me.”
Ashley frowned. “I don’t even know you,” she snarled. “How could I possibly-”
“The way things worked out in the future for me,” Sarah interrupted, “started with you publishing your first book – ‘Whispers In The Attic’. It was a huge hit and you were soon being invited to talk on radio shows, go to book signings, and all that kind of stuff. I went on to university but had to drop out after not even a year due to my mother being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.” She took a deep breath in and out. “And despite the fact that we were supposed to be best friends, you were too busy enjoying your success to give a damn about me and what I was going through.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, but I still don’t-”
“You’re not listening!” Sarah grabbed Ashley by the shoulders and turned her to face her. “Look at me,” she said. “Really...look at me.” And Ashley did look at her. She saw into the hard outer layer and into the sad soul of a young girl who had always been there with her every step of the way, who knew exactly how to cheer her up when she was at a low point, and who had asked for nothing in return.