Chapter 3:

A Sudden Urge to Live


I hear rain splattering on the roof. Everything seems so warm from blankets wrapped around my body to the smell of coffee. I open my eyes expecting this all to be some sort of Celtic dream.

Nope. Nothing like that in the slightest.

I'm in a bedroom that looks out to a railway. I must be in the hotel next to the central station. It's an Ibis one I think. Not that the brand matters to me, I just want to know what's going on, then I can try again. If I fail the second time, maybe I can be third time lucky.

Todd hops on the bed beside me and stretches. "I really needed that shower." He acts like we've been friends for years. Has he been stalking me? Smiling, Todd asks, "So why did you pick Amsterdam?"

I wish he could buzz off. How and where I chose to end my life is none of his business. But for saving my life, I decide to give him the benefit of the doubt and give in. I find it hard to speak. It's not nice being put on the spot like this, especially when it aches to do simple things such as breathing.

"I...just needed somewhere cheap and as far away as possible."

"Planes are cheaper," Todd says as he rolls off the bed to grab a coffee. "And Utrecht is way nicer."

Every breathe exhausts me. I can't talk fast or loud like Todd can. "If you love Utrecht so much...why are you here?"

"Oh, Granny's escaped the nursing home again."


It's the way he says it as he sips his coffee like it's normal. He chuckles, leaning back behind the television. "She's always trying to escape. This is the furthest she's got."

"How do you know she's here?"

"She's got a mobile phone," Todd explains. "We have an app downloaded so we can track her location."

"Which nursing home?" I ask. I wonder if it's the one that was on the news a few years ago. It could be any old home, they are thousands of them out there.

"Emerald Oasis in Uddington-Crown," Todd replies, "It's near Blackpool."

"That's the one where the residents escaped from."

"That's right," Todd says with a smile as if he's proud of her. "My grandma was a part of it."

"And the home is still open?"

He nods. "She says she loves it there, but she's always escaping. No matter how much security they enforce in the home, she'll always find a way out. I think Aunt Maxine has something to do with it, she never wanted her there in the first place."

"Are you going to track her down?"

"I just did. Besides, I've had people say she's been spotted in the Red-Light District."

"Then why aren't you in the Red-Light District?"

"I would be," Todd snaps, "but you decided that you were going to kick the bucket tonight."

My eyes roll. "What bucket?"

"It's a figure of speech." He slams his coffee mug on the table. My eyes slam shut as my head shakes. He's so loud. Everything about him seems to drip in ignorance. I'm sure he's a nice guy once I know him, but I can't cope with how loud he is. "I've been looking forward to meeting you, Bobby. Kathleen always said you were kind, and lovely and that you were suffering. I want to help you. You need to know that everything is all right. Think positive for fuck's sake."

I cover my sobbing with my hands. "No. It doesn't work like that. You can't just think positive thoughts. It doesn't go away. It will never go away."

Todd hugs me, then I tense up. He hugs me like Kathleen did on the night my parents passed away. "We'll find Kathleen and we can both be happy again."

I'd love that. It will never happen though. "It will never happen." He pulls away from me and sits on the edge of the bed. "I'm sorry. I know it's not what you want to hear, but you must believe in me."

"No." Todd shakes his head. "YOU have to believe in ME."

"You don't understand. You're being deceived. The woman you've been talking to is not my sister."

"How are you so sure?"

"I helped bury her."

"She's still out there. She's been talking to me all this time. You know her email, right? and her number ending in 695?" The towel on my head falls on the floor when I press my back against the wall. I can't close my mouth. Todd smirks. "It's her email isn't it?"

"Yes. But It can't be her: somebody's hacked the account."

"Why would she be emailing me and texting me every five minutes?"

"It's a trap. And even if it was her, she wouldn't be dating you."

"Why is that?"

"Because...she's a lesbian."

"Kathleen and Ruth broke up years ago."

"That's not true." I remember Kathleen's death like I remember yesterday. The way Ruth hovers over her dead body and sobs between her heart. In those movies sometimes tears brings the dead back to life. I can visualise everything like it's happening just now."

"You've just tried to commit suicide," Todd reminds me. "You're just in a crazy faze. Don't worry, when we get back to the UK, we'll track Kathleen down. You'll see that she's still alive."

"STOP IT!" Panting, I roll over and sink my head into the pillow. My sister's dead. There's nothing Todd can do to bring her back. It's not her he's talking to. How many times do I have to tell him?

"That's her!"

I rise from the bed. "What?" By her, I thought he meant Kathleen.

"That's my nan over there." Todd throws some clothes on my face. "Come on Bobby."

"What do you want me to do?"

"I want to get dressed. You're going to help me. I can't have you trying to kill yourself with every possible item in this room."

"Trust me, I'll be fine."

He pulls me by the shoulder and rams me up. Then he lowers his voice and hisses, "you're coming with me whether you like it or not."

I must say ten out of ten for manners.


Todd arranges a taxi from the hotel to the Red-Light District. I don't know why he didn't call the police. It's a touristy location, I'm sure the staff speak good English. He pays for the taxi fare and we both hop out the car. The driver speeds away after saying goodnight.

An old lady walks out of a bar. She has her eyes on the floor and starts running like she's chasing something. I have a gut feeling it's Todd's grandma. I can't imagine any elderly people apart from the dirty old men willingly hanging around these joints – the kind of people like my grandfather.

I nudge Todd. "There's an old lady over there. Is that your grandma?"

He opens his mouth and starts following her. "Granny!"

How does he run so fast? One cup of coffee and he's whizzing like Sonic the Hedgehog. I bet he's been taking those magic mushrooms. I keep up with him whilst resisting the temptations by the women in the booths.

Seedy characters look at me like I'm a mad man. Sliding past motorcycles and following every bridge and alleyway that Todd and his grandmother are heading.

At this point, I'm sure we're just going around in circles. All the coffeeshops and sleazy bars are beginning to look the same. If I earn a fiver for every time we chase past a sex shop, we would have enough to spend a whole night with one of those women in the booths. The one with the blue hair and gold heels looks friendly.

This place isn't my cup of tea. The smell of weed is potent. Todd suddenly halts outside a church. He's shaky and breathless. He's pale off a sudden. His mouth scrunches around. He could be sick anytime.

"Shit!" he stammers leaning towards the wall, banging his fists.

"What's up?" I pat his back to grab his attention.

He looks at me and shivers. His lips quiver like a dangling fish. "She's... gone in the c-c-cemetery."

"Shouldn't we be following her?"

"It's just one thing, I hate cemeteries."

"Fine, I'll get her for you."

"Thanks Bobby."

I stomp my feet. "Please stop calling me that."

"Can't help it. Bobby's a cute name."

"What's your grandmother's name? I'll try and call her."

"It's Joyce Patrick." The anxiety in his voice is gone. "Just say you're my friend. Or even better, say you're a mate of Cleo's son. She'll do anything for you then. My dad's her favourite person ever."

Finding Mrs Patrick should be an easy task – we're the only people in the cemetery. My eyes are still sore from the scarlet illuminations and my body feels weak as I drag my feet around the cemetery. I trip up on of the graves.

"Are you all right there?" coos the voice of an elderly woman. A voice that reminds me of my late Granny Queenie.

"Mrs Patrick?"

"Oh, hello there." She smiles at me and offers her hand. "Do I know you then?"

I jump back on my feet. "I'm a friend of...Todd."

"Oh, are you?" she giggles. "How delightful."

"So..." I start to speak. I'm curious with this sudden urge to live and to question her. "What brings you here?"

"Oh, I'm following Empress Suzy."

"Empress Suzy?"

"Oh, she's the most powerful fairy in the world. Fairy politics will never be the same again."

I have no idea what's going on, but this conversation has just got bizarre. I sigh and relax my shoulders. My body feels so tense. "I don't follow our politics very much—let alone fairy politics."

"It's a lot like the Jeremy Kyle show," Mrs Patrick explains, "but with rainbows and sparkles."

"Where is she then?"

"She's here, right in front of us."

Mrs Patrick points to a patch of grass by an oak tree. It's just a patch of grass to me. "I can't see her," I confess. "I'm sorry."

"I forget that not everybody can see fairies. I've met so many since I was put in a home."

"How about we go and meet up with Todd."

Mrs Patrick smiles at the thought, then frowns and shakes her head. "Oh, he wouldn't want me spoiling his fun."

"Actually, he's been looking for you all night."

She widens her eyes. "Has he really?"

"Yes. He's been worried about you. He thought something bad was happening to you."

"I've told him time and time again that I'm fine. The fairies look after me well. And there's the staff at home. He doesn't have to worry about me. Oh, I forgot – he's scared of cemeteries."

That would be why he sent me to catch her. "I didn't know that." I know that's not right – he told me earlier. It's just a white lie that Mrs Patrick will forget in about ten minutes.

"His older sister pushed him into the plot on my husband's funeral," Mrs Patrick explains. "It's traumatised him ever since."

I help Mrs Patrick back to the hotel where Todd's staying. Throughout the time, she never stops talking. Often the conversations would come to an abrupt pause as she waves hello to random things. When we finally find Todd in the hotel, he's the last man standing at the bar. I stand by Todd.

"Having a drink? Why am I not surprised?