This is a short story that was result of a word war with +Matthew Lacey whilst he was up visiting. We picked three random words from the dictionary to include, so as to make the word war more difficult: nursery, gnash, & rationality. Though I only got the first 100 or so words written in the five minutes we were writing and in no way completed the story, I had been given enough of an idea to run with, and this was what I ended up with after working on it later. Let me know what you think!
Blackness pressed against my eyes painfully; so much so, that it awoke me from my sleep. Sleep - when had I gone to sleep? I sat up abruptly as my eyes flew open, hitting my head against something cold and hard with a resounding smack. I groaned and reached up to nurse my throbbing forehead. As I peered about the darkness in a daze, I wondered where I was and how I got there.
“Hello? Is anyone there?”
I started as my voice shouted back to me in an echo that reverberated off the cavernous walls of my prison. It seemed I was alone.
Suddenly a zephyr of wind brushed past me and a chilly voice spoke from the gloom.
“Who are you?” I asked fearfully.
“We are here to show you your life.”
With that, a sudden light filled the cavern, and I hastily lifted my hand to shield my eyes from the glare. As I squinted into focus, a screen appeared before me, blinking and shifting like something from an 80’s cinema. Then amazingly, I saw my life played out before me - my early nursery days, my childhood, teen years, married, retired – it seemed as if I were looking out through the eyes of my soul, recalling all the days I ever lived. As I stared in wonderment, the memories came flooding back: good ones that I smiled at; harsh ones at which I gnashed my teeth together inwardly at the recollection of their pain. Why was I being shown this? Had I died? Was this like my last look on life before I was committed to the earthy depths of the grave?
The tape that seemed to be running the reel of my life ended, and the room was dark again.
“What did you see?” The ominous voice asked from the blackness.
I didn’t understand. “I saw my life, just as you said you’d show me.” I answered, matter-a-factly. “What was I meant to see?”
The light flooded the cavern again, and I flinched against it.
“Watch it again.”
I rolled my eyes a little, my typical cynicism leeching back into my clouded mind. What was this, some prank before my 80th birthday tomorrow? I chuckled a little and figured it would be something my kids would do as I leaned back on the cold floor, wincing at the pain in my rheumatic joints as I did.
I looked attentively at the screen again as the film began, but this time the tape seemed different. I frowned confusedly, my rationality trying to decipher just what was different about the same scenes I had just observed. Everything was the same, yet different somehow... All of a sudden, I realized - every scene was from the perspective of the people I was with, not from my own. My eyes widened as I leaned forward to see my own memories played back to me in the way others remembered them. The truths, the lies, the hurts: my heart squeezed tighter within me the longer I watched. All the suffering I had caused people by my careless words! The heartache, and the anger that I had brought into others’ lives. How could I have not seen that? I so wished then and there that I could go back in time and erase the things that I had said and done that were so callously negligent of the feelings of others. As my life was drawing to a close in the film before me, tears slipped down my cheeks as I realized how few the good memories of me were, and how extensively the bad ones overwhelmed them. My wife, my children, my friends and family - these I considered most dear, and yet I had hurt them worse than anyone else by my self-centeredness.
How could I have been so blind, so heartlessly careless about the lives and hearts of those around me?
The light flickered ever so slightly, and then died; leaving me cold and alone in the dark, with naught but my sobs echoing off the dank walls to break the silence.
The voice cut into my thoughts again, but this time it seemed less chilling; less condemning, somehow...
“You saw what you were meant to see.”
There was a slight movement beside me and I let out a cry as I felt myself falling into a void; spinning and writhing into the plunging darkness.
I gasped aloud and sat bolt upright in my bed, heart pounding violently against my ribcage. I glanced around apprehensively, and quickly took in the décor of my room, the furniture, and the sun just peeking over the horizon; its bright rays shining into my room. I swung my legs out of bed, and I noticed that my knees were no longer hurting. Jumping up, I dashed to my bathroom and flipped on the light to look into the mirror.
A young man’s face stared back at me, slack-jawed and wide-eyed. Not a single wrinkle marked his face, and his eyes held the spark of youth. I remembered now. It had only been a dream.
Taking a deep breath, I glanced down to my bathroom bench, and spied my open wallet where I had left it the night before. The photo that was taken of me and my wife-to-be gazed back up at me; both of us smiling as we cut our engagement party cake. Something clicked inside me at the sight of it, and I knew that God had spoken to me. I had seen an alternate future, and because of it, my life would never be the same.
Have you ever had your life flash before your eyes before you even lived it? How different would your life be if you saw what I did?