I stood at the traffic lights staring into space as the rain pelted down from a heavy sky. With no umbrella my hair was soaked and my shoulders were already beginning to feel the damp through my coat, absent-mindedly stepped out to cross the road. A split second later I felt a tug on my arm and I was dragged back to the pavement as a bus went past. I looked up and saw myself flash past in the reflection on the windows, behind me was the woman who pulled me back.
“Oh my God!” I screamed, almost falling to the ground.
My heart was racing, I looked up, grateful of her swift reaction, but there was nobody there. Shaking and confused, I made the short distance home with legs like jelly.
“Trudi, are you home?” I yelled, peeling off my wet coat and shoes.
“Happy birthday to you…,” my house-mate sang, sweeping down the stairs holding a card and gift for me. “What’s up?”
I explained what had just happened. Trudi’s answer - as it was to most things - was that an angel had been looking over me.
The incident played on my mind constantly over the next few days. I told no-one else about it, and tried hard to stop myself from dwelling on it. Until a week later, when a headline in the local newspaper caught my eye. ‘Guardian Angel Saves Life’. My heart began racing as I read the article. A woman had lost control of her car on the motorway. She claimed that as soon as it came to a halt, a woman had helped her get out and guided her to the hard shoulder. Seconds later, a lorry smashed into her car. When she looked around, there had been nobody there.
A Chill went down my spine as my eyes widened, the accident had happened the same day I was nearly run over, and it was also her birthday.
The following week, another story appeared; Guardian Angel Saves More Lives. This time, a young mother had dozed off on the sofa, and was woken by someone shaking her by the shoulder. She opened her eyes to see her young son throwing his toys into the wood burner, glowing embers had already landed on his jumper sleeve. Once again, it had also happened on the same day, which was also her birthday.
Another week later, a third story appeared. This time, a man was saved from being crushed at work. He claimed someone called his name, and he stepped back to see who it was just as a pallet fell from a stack straight onto the space where he had been standing. This incident had also happened the same day, and once again, it was the man’s birthday.
“Right,” Trudi said, “you can’t say that is just another coincidence. Call the journalist, this is way too exciting to ignore!”
Reluctantly, I telephoned the journalist the following day and told him about the incident. Overjoyed at the prospect of another twist to the story, he told me he had an interesting theory developing. He had arranged to meet with the others involved and invited me to join them. Much as I wanted to put the whole thing behind me, I had to admit that it was very intriguing.
The journalist, Terry, introduced us all and we settled into our seats around the table. He held court well, and invited us to each tell our stories.
When we had finished, he looked at us in turn. “Shall I tell you my theory?” he said, mysteriously.
We all leaned in, Terry sat back in his seat and paused for a moment, purposely to build tension.
“Well,” he began, taking a sip of his pint, “I believe, that you four have been helped by the same ghost. And, I think I know who she is.”
We all looked at one another, each curious, but equally a little frightened.
“Sheila Bracknall.” he said.
None of us knew the name.
“Sheila Bracknall committed suicide one year ago today. Four weeks earlier - on her birthday - she was responsible for the deaths of five people on the motorway. She claimed she swerved her car to miss a fox, but it was later revealed that she had answered a call on her mobile phone. Sheila walked away with cuts and bruises, five others lost their lives. Unable to live with the guilt she took her own life. Left a note in which she said she wished there was something she could do to make right all the deaths and the suffering she had caused. I believe, this is her way of helping. From what you have all told me, you were all almost certainly moments from death on the same day - that also just happened to be all of your birthdays - she killed five people, she saved, well, four - that we know of.”
“So do you think there’s someone else that hasn’t come forward?” I asked.
“Yes, I do.” he said confidently.
The conversation continued, more theories, more speculation. Terry was most keen to hear all of our opinions, already planning his next piece for the newspaper - and he would be putting a plea out for the last person to come forward.
By ten O’clock we were well acquainted - some of us a little tipsy - and promising to stay in touch. If nothing else, we had this unusual experience in common as well as a shared birthday.
On the next table, a man sat alone with his pint, listening to their conversation. Unnoticed by the group, they passed him on their way out with no more than a glance. He knew his twin-sister had saved their lives, just as she had saved his the same day by pulling him away from the train track. The same thought went through his mind for the millionth time, if only he hadn’t made that call.