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Vanessa stared at her brother’s smiling face in the Nice-Matin newspaper. Just like Kevin, Olivier too had made the news. The 27-year-old pact, could it be responsible? It had happened one summer evening while Vanessa and her brothers admired the picture of a schoolmate in the daily newspaper. He wore a big smile that matched his large eyeglasses. They had never seen him so happy. He who was mocked in school for his flaky scaly skin, had been called a hero. If they too had left school on time, they would have been the ones to have saved the child. Vanessa had sworn with her elder brothers to also make the news even though she had no idea how. She was only eight after all.
Twenty years later, Kevin, a circus performer was mauled to death by his three bears. His body had been unrecognisable. The papers had read, “Man mauled by his beloved bears.” Seven years later, it was Olivier’s turn. He had been at the Promenade des Anglais with his wife to see the fireworks. A large truck driven by a terrorist had sped two kilometers along the crowded sidewalks, slamming scores of people. His remains were identified through DNA analysis. Many journalists flocked to his burial a week later.
Since the second incident, Vanessa’s life has been moving in slow motion. Many questions about the 1989 pact swirled in her head. What violent death would put her on the news? What horrible incident would leave her corpse unrecognisable?
They had made a pact to be in the news like their neighbour who had saved a four-year-old boy from a burning house. Instead, her brothers had made headlines for their brutal deaths, like the child’s drunken mother whose body had been found burned beyond recognition.