September Shocks #4 – Dale Parnell

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Ava’s Life

By Dale Parnell

“What are you reading?” asked Ryan, dumping a large box of clothes by the front door.

“It’s one of mum’s books, I found it in the attic,” replied Ava.

“Well could it wait, the estate agent will be here soon,” said Ryan, before stomping back upstairs.

Ava sighed. She was already struggling to deal with her mother’s death, but the fact that Ryan had been so distant lately made it almost unbearable.

Ava had been close to her mother; growing up they did everything together, and after Ava moved out they spoke on the phone almost every day, so she was surprised that she had never mentioned the book before. It was the title that made her pause; ‘Ava’s Life’. The fact that it was printed in 1953, thirty years before she had been born, made Ava wonder if she had been named after the character in the book.

“I could use a hand!” shouted Ryan from the top of the stairs, making Ava flinch.

“I’ll be up in a minute,” she called back.

Ava realised she was still holding the book, and despite Ryan’s obvious impatience to get on with clearing her mother’s house, she couldn’t help but flick through a few more pages. It was uncanny; it seemed like whole passages in the book mirrored her own life – a sheltered childhood, art college, a failing love affair with an older man and the sudden death of the character’s mother. Ava sank down onto her mother’s worn, familiar sofa, her attention now completely taken with the musty smelling book.

The sound of creaking hinges startled Ava, and looking up she saw Ryan was standing in the doorway staring at her, his face red with barely contained fury. She hadn’t heard him come downstairs. All she could focus on was the last page of the book.

“What it is?” asked Ryan angrily.

“This book, it’s about me,” she replied shakily.

“What do you mean?”

“Everything that happens in this book has happened to me,” Ava said, frantically flicking back and forth between pages.

“So how does it end?” asked Ryan uneasily.

“It says you kill me,” replied Ava, looking up at Ryan, his face set like flint.

“I wish you hadn’t said that,” said Ryan coldly, moving slowly into the room and closing the door behind him.

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