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Anna looked around to see families walking around the brightly lit fairgrounds, but she knew that this night would quickly turn into sorrow. She could feel that something was going to go wrong. The tension of it consumed Anna as she walked in the midst of the crowds, food trucks, and fair rides, with her boyfriend by her side. Music from the roller coasters blasted in different directions, but Anna was in a whole other world. Consumed by her own unspeakable and dangerous thoughts, Anna walked silently with Jack.

Eighteen-year-old Anna had been troubled since she was a young two-year-old girl. Her mother would often find Anna tossing and turning in her sleep. When she would play on the playground, Anna would often find herself wandering away from the other children and onto the swings, looking at the clouds. Her mother told her when she was four years old that she had been cursed by an old witch, just a few hours after being born. Her mother never found out why she had been cursed or whether she had been the only one with this curse, but Anna’s mother was the only person who knew that she had the curse. Anna’s mother told her that when she was born an old grey-haired, soft-spoken lady had come into the hospital room and a few moments after the old woman admired the baby, Anna’s mother recalled her saying, “The curse upon you shall not be mentioned. The thoughts you think will be in fruition. It is done and it is finished.” Anna’s mother told her that the woman shuffled out of the room and when Anna’s mother got up to catch her, the woman was nowhere in the busy hallway. As a young child, Anna didn’t really fully understand it, but as she grew older, she wanted to know more about her curse and why she had been cursed.

When Anna was four years old, she saw an airplane flying in the sky. As she looked up at the plane, she thought, A plane will crash into a building and it will fall down like my blocks. Two days later, two planes flew into two tall towers. Within two hours after the crash, the towers came tumbling down just like the wooden building blocks of a toddler’s tower.

Anna also knew when she would be in trouble, but there was a mystery in knowing that trouble was coming her way. Anna could often think about her parents giving her a lecture on something, but she never knew what it was. She would often question her every move. Wondering if somehow she could prevent it or avoid the action that would lead to her getting grounded. It also made her question whether she was really in control of her actions when she couldn’t even control the thoughts that would warn her that she would be getting in trouble. The mania of second-guessing herself flooded her mind and she was left alone drowning in her own madness.

Because of her premonitions and the consequences of keeping them secret, Anna was a loner throughout grade school. She would sit in the back of her classes, complete her classwork, and quietly draw or read a book. She wanted to have friends in the beginning, but thoughts would appear of how the potential friend would act or leave, so Anna felt as if there was no point to having friends when she had to question their own actions before they occurred or withhold from warning them of their own future.

Jack, her boyfriend was the closest person to Anna other than her mother. Anna met him at a small used bookstore downtown. She had walked there after school to donate a book she had finished during her study hall and was looking to buy another one. While browsing the packed mahogany shelves surrounding the walls of the store, Anna noticed a blonde-haired, tall, skinny boy sitting on the couch areas reading the same book she had just finished. She saw him glance up at her as she was admiring his bright, green eyes. She saw his eyes move towards the book in her hand, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and he nodded towards it. She returned the nod with a friendly smile and continued scanning various book titles, ever so often picking the eye-catching book up to read the synopsis. While reading the synopsis of Defending Jacob by William Landay, she felt the tall boy’s shadow appeared in front of her. “Hey, don’t waste your time on that book. Trust me. I read it and you will be sadly disappointed.” Anna nodded without saying a word. She put the book back in its place on the shelf. Jack was still standing behind her. “Have you read this or is it one of your buys today?” Anna was hesitant to answer. She never really talked to boys her age. She looked up at him and replied, “Yeah, it’s good. Definitely should be a classic.” Her eyes quickly returned to the floor as if the continuous eye contact would be their death. “Thanks. I recommend this book over here,” Jack replied, grabbing Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders off one of the high shelves, “Maybe we could talk about the books over a cup of coffee.” Anna hesitated feeling like she needed to put up a wall. She thought about her recent thoughts over the last few days, trying to distinguish whether he was dangerous or if he would be a heartbreaker. No thought seemed to be the ruining factor to this seemingly perfect guy, so she answered, “Okay, just let me get this book and we can walk over to the coffee shop across the street.” Anna’s nerves were up to the roof in the beginning of the coffee date, but she began to feel more comfortable with him as if she had known him for years, but she still remained cautious.

Anna explained to Jack that she wanted to take things slow and she appreciated him understanding her request. They remained friends for three months before Anna was willing to make a commitment. Even after they were in a relationship, Anna was always guarded. She was waiting for her curse to ruin their perfect love. She was waiting for the thought that he would cheat on her with a more outgoing prettier girl. The absence of her premonitions made her suffer more than when she had them. Jack tried to open Anna up as they progressed in her relationship, but Anna explained that trusting someone was hard for her because she had anxiety. Jack appeared to be understanding, but he slowly introduced to doing new things. In the beginning, Anna enjoyed listening to music and reading books with Jack. As time progressed, Jack took her out to see some clubs to watch local bands play and going out with Jack’s friend. Anna felt like her heart was melting into Jack’s. She felt safe with Jack, but she wanted desperately to be honest with him about her premonitions. She hated having to be secretive with him when she was able to trust him. She felt like she was lying to him.

As they walked through the crowds of laughing children with the smell of popcorn, hot dogs, and funnel cakes wafting the air, Anna could tell that something wrong was going to happen. The thought that everyone around her was in danger filled her mind like a running dam. The idea that some of these people would not make it home haunted her as she looked at the happy families with absolute cluelessness to death-defying events. The idea of not saying anything, not warning them made her feel like she was killing them herself.

“I can’t do this,” she said, stopping Jack as they walked towards a food truck. “I have to tell you something.” Her eyes were welled up with tears. Her thoughts spilling out of her eyes as she said, “I have this problem. A problem that can actually save people’s lives out here tonight and if I say something to even you, something bad might happen to me, but I can’t be selfish. I can’t be an accomplice to…to such a horrifying thing.”

Jack looked at her puzzled and concerned, “What are you talking about, Anna?” Anna sighed as the tears streamed down her face, “I was cursed as a baby with premonitions.” She paused. “The premonitions are thoughts that something is going to happen and when I have these thoughts they always come true. I have had them for all my life and I had one as we were entering the fairgrounds. These families are going to be killed if someone doesn’t warn them. I need you to help me warn them. I could probably die for telling you right now, but it’s worth it if I can save these innocent people’s lives.”

Before Jack could respond to the inconceivable truth, “BOOM!” “BOOM! BOOM!” The sky lit up with bright colors of red, blue, and green. Families stopped to look up at the showers of fireworks. Children jumping up and down with amazement at the beauty of seeing something new. As the fireworks continued, he shouted, “Baby, I think that you are overreacting. It’s just fireworks. It is probably your anxiety getting the best of you.” Anna shook her head. The panic grew larger than her body could handle. “I’m not wrong. It is not my anxiety. Please just listen to me. These people are going to be dead if we don’t say something,” she said.

Jack grabbed her in a hug, “It’s okay, baby. I know being in a place like this is hard for you, but everything’s okay. Let’s just enjoy the……” Jack suddenly went limp. All of his weight towered onto Anna causing her to fall to the ground with Jack on top of her. Anna panicked and quickly she could hear the panic in people’s screams as the sound of fireworks became the sound of gunfire. Anna pushed Jack off of her body, “Jack! Jack!” She could feel the coldness of his body from his shoulders as the blood seeped from his head. He had been shot in the head. The first shot—her punishment. The curse was cursing back. It still had the power.

Anna looked around her—people were running and hiding behind roller coaster rides. Mothers, children, fathers, teenagers were laying on the ground with gunshot wounds. Anna ran from one person to the next, trying to see if anyone had survived the gunshot. I need to save someone. If not for me, for Jack. I have to make this worth it, she thought. She stopped and held a five-year-old boy who she had seen enjoying a funnel cake with his family just moments before. He was still breathing, but was bleeding near his heart. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! I tried to save you all! I tried, but I was too late. I’m so sorry!” The young boy looked up at her as she applied pressure to his wound. The innocent twinkle in his eyes disappeared as he took his final breath.

Tears fell from Anna’s eyes onto the deceased boy. She continued to hold him in defeat. The curse could never let her go, no matter what she did. She couldn’t even change the outcome or impact of her premonitions. She laid down on the ground feeling like there was no point. As shots continued to ring through the air, the chaos of people trying to escape pierced Anna’s heart harder than any bullet ever could. Anna laid next to the young little boy no longer drowning in her premonitions, but in sorrow, pain, grief, and blood. It suffocated her until her last breath, but without the thought, This is it.

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