There was nothing special about the life of Luke Grant. He was fourteen. He had one brother and his parents were still together. He would be going to high school next year. He received excellent marks in class. It was awful by no means, but there was nothing thrilling about it. Luke was in such a routine by this point. He would hope and pray for something, anything exciting to happen. When he told his parents this, expressed how dull everything was, how he wanted to do something more, they laughed. Of course, following that, they would say that he was doing something with his life. What he was doing was being an excellent son or student or something of the same nature. Luke would roll his eyes and drop the conversation. Whatever this something was that he was doing, it was getting old. Fast.
His parents would give him a concerned look; it wasn’t good that a boy his age was already caught up in monotony. He should be out with his friends and only be concerned about what time he should be home for dinner and getting his homework in on time. They would also tell him to just be appreciative of what he had; he could be doing so much worse. His only problem was being bored, and they said he could easily fix that.
It wasn’t a surprise that the day she arrived was one that stuck in Luke’s mind. It was eighth grade and she was a girl, so altogether he thought her rather unremarkable. But she was someone new, something new, and with the last name of Grace, Natalie was destined to be placed right next of him for the rest of their school days together. They got along well enough; Luke was assigned to show her the ropes of their little class, and was encouraged to help her fit in at the middle school. He felt a bit sorry for Natalie; by this point everyone had their cliques and friends worked out.
But with Natalie being something new in their dull little school, people were drawn to her. They wanted to know more about her, if there was anything interesting about her, and if there was, if it would fit in—if she would fit in—with their predetermined friendships.
Meeting all the new faces made Natalie uncomfortable and she would clam up, avoid other students and their questions. People started to get bored by her passive attitude, started to leave her alone more and more. So she ended up sticking by Luke’s side. He found it annoying at first; she was like a lost puppy always on his heels. But Luke eventually grew to accept her company.
“You can borrow it if you want,” Natalie said with a shrug. It was sophomore year and Luke had been stressing out over a test he had the next day. With all of his advanced placement classes, the homework had piled up and he’d barely had time to study for it. And now Natalie held out a coin in the center of her palm, presenting it to him. Her lucky coin. It was silver and had some odd etchings engraved into it.
Luke placed his hand on top of her outstretched one, the coin pressed between his fingers and her palm. He took it from her and with a grateful smile told her, “Thanks, Nat.” He thought it was a bit silly, but instead of saying anything to the girl, he accepted the token.
After his test the following day, he searched the halls to find Natalie, wanting to return her coin and express how thankful he was; he felt like he’d nailed the exam. But Natalie was nowhere to be found.
It wasn’t until that night after classes were let out that Luke learned she never made it home, and then the next day that she was officially declared missing. And it wasn’t until the day after that that he learned they’d found her body.
Luke was just really upset over the loss. He was crazy. That’s what Delaney insisted to his little brother when Luke tried to share his story.
It had been a few weeks since Natalie’s passing. Luke was standing down by the creek; one of their favorite places to hang out. Where Natalie had been found. The police tape had been removed by now, the incident deemed an accident, that Natalie had slipped when trying to cross, lost her footing, hit her head on the stony bottom.
He could feel it before he saw it. Something told Luke to turn his head, look left. And when he did, she was there. Her thick black hair, always pin straight, was tied up in the pale blue ribbon she always wore.
Now Luke was mentally calling himself crazy, but this was no illusion brought on by his grief-riddled mind. Without saying anything, Luke dug in his pocket and then reached out to her, the coin lying in the middle of his palm. Natalie pressed her fingertips to the coin and Luke felt a cold sensation spread over his skin. She gave him a sad smile. She would never be able to accept her token of good luck back. The image of his friend faded away. Natalie’s luck had run out, and so had her time.