story promptI can’t believe that as I post this, there’s barely 3 hours left of the year 2015 (well, for those of us in the UK anyway). In my 500 words today, there’s only an hour left of the year and Hayley is about to meet an unknown fate…


There was only one hour of the year left. Hayley looked away from the grandfather clock, glancing instead at the closed door of her bedroom. She was pretty sure she wasn’t the only one awake tonight. In fact, most people would be waiting to celebrate the new year as the clock ticked past midnight.

Not her. Not her parents.

Apprehension sat in her stomach like a stone. Trying to distract herself, she thought back over the last year. She remembered her previous birthday, her seventeenth. The day had been full of happy memories with her family and friends. She’d even had her first kiss that day. The thought still made her smile fleetingly, even at a time like this. She’d liked Samuel for a long time and he had finally kissed her that day. Hayley had thought the day would always be one of the most perfect days of her life.

She’d been wrong. Later that night, after the party was over and all the guests had gone home, her parents had sat her down. She remembered their faces being drawn and sad and wondering why, after such a great party.

Then they’d told her. On New Year’s Eve, her birthday, one year ago exactly – they had told her she had one year left to live. She’d been angry with them at first. Why would they spoil such a special day with such a cruel and tasteless joke?

When their faces had gotten gloomier and gloomier as she yelled at them, it slowly dawned on her that they weren’t joking. They weren’t lying to her. They genuinely believed that she had a year to live.

After a few shocked moments, she’d asked them how they knew she only had a year left. The story that followed was unbelievable, but also undeniable.

Her parents had bargained for her life. She couldn’t remember the childhood accident that should have killed her, but she still bore the scars of it. Desperate not to lose her, they had called on dark powers and saved her life. There was a price for saving her though, and it was non-negotiable. On her 18th birthday, her saviour would come for her and take her away with him.

When she’d questioned them about who he was or where he would take her, they had no answers for her. Only apologies.

A creak outside her door pulled her from her memories. Is it time? No. The clock said she had twenty minutes left.

A tap at her window drew her attention. Shaking, she twitched the curtains away from the glass, gasping when she saw a face outside.

“Samuel!” she hissed, heart racing. She cracked the window open. “What are you doing here?”

He grinned at her. “I haven’t seen the birthday girl all day. There was no party this year, and you never answered my calls. You do realise that today is our first year anniversary of being together, right?”

Hayley had to fight to keep the tears at bay. She didn’t want Samuel to see her that way. She didn’t want him to worry about her.

“Hey.” He slipped his arm through the window and cupped her face. “What’s the matter? You seem down.”

She thought she’d gotten past this, but her heart was breaking all over again. The thought of losing Samuel, of leaving him behind to wonder what had happened to her, tore at her soul. He’d been the best thing to happen to her in her whole life. Why did it have to be during the last year of it?

“You can’t be here, Sam,” she whispered. “You need to go. Please.”

“Why, Hayley? What’s wrong?”

“Please, Sam. Just go.” She kissed him for what she knew was probably the last time. “I love you.”

“I love you too, sweetling. I’ll see you tomorrow then. Happy Birthday, Happy New Year and Happy Anniversary.” He placed a small gift-wrapped box on the windowsill and slipped away into the night.

With a trembling hand, she picked up the gift and closed the window.

Five minutes until midnight. She had been born at 11:59pm on New Years Eve. That was when he was coming for her.

She opened Samuel’s gift. Tears spilled over. A silver heart-shaped locket glinted at her in the dim light. Inside, he’d put a picture of them together, with him kissing her forehead. She fastened the locket around her neck. At least she could keep some part of Samuel with her.

One minute left.

My last two have been a bit melancholy, haven’t they? I guess I’m feeling the sadness of watching something come to an end… goodbye 2015. You were amazing.

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