(Prompt4) Misconceptions

(Prompt4) Misconceptions

A Story by K. L. Nussbaum
"

Prompt 4: At birth, everyone has the date they will die tattooed on their arm. You were supposed to die yesterday. for the Write me this contest

"

October 13, 2236, that is the date that was inscribed onto my forearm at birth. That was yesterday. It is also, coincidentally, the day that I was supposed to die. Now I don't mean to say that I was sick and dying. Nor do I mean that I survived something that should have killed me.

 

You see, in the last hundred years or so, humanity figured out how to find peoples date of death shortly after we are born. That date is tattooed on our arms as soon as they learn it. We are not allowed to do anything that we wouldn't normally do on that day, out of fear that we will try to change our fate and cause some sort of catastrophe.

 

Well I did everything that I would normally have done, just as I was supposed to, for the most part. I had, somehow, forgotten what day it was. All I had known was that it was the usual run of the mill Friday the Thirteenth. It was one of my luckiest days of the year. Before I go any further, I should probably introduce myself. My name is Marie Boudreaux.

 

It started as any other day would. I woke up, dragged myself out of bed, and went to work as I normally did. My coworkers were giving me a wider berth than usual. I could hear them whispering to each other so silently I couldn't tell what was being said. It didn't really bother me, because they are always doing that. So I look a little different than them and I act differently? Who cares that I don’t fit the social norms? I've always been my own person no matter anyone else’s opinion on the matter.

 

My boss stopped me before I could enter my personal office. You see I am… Well, I was a sketch artist who was the initial step to creating any type of outfit, jewelry, or costume. While I didn't have my own label, I got forty percent on any design sold to the more famous and well known designers and stylists. He told me to pack my things up, and to take them home. Said someone else would need more use of my job. He had ne escorted out of the building without giving me to say anything at all, or giving me an explanation.

 

Now that I know what the date had been it made sense, after all it wouldn’t due for my death to be work related. It’s bad for business and all that. At the time though, I couldn't understand why this was happening. I felt so confused. I could see some of the catty women I had worked with laughing and pointing at me, taking pleasure in my confusion and embarrassment. I grew angry; as I'm sure any other person would in my situation.

I was quite literally tossed into the street into oncoming traffic. That’s when my luck changed for the better. I'm sure I probably would have died, and it'd have been my work's fault, had he not grabbed my wrist and yanked me out of the street. My heart was racing as I watched my life's work tear and rip, becoming utterly destroyed beneath the passing vehicles. I couldn't help the angry, scared, tears that rolled down my cheeks as I turned to look at him.

My breath caught in my throat. The angry glare in his blue eyes bore into my own. His short, spiked, brown hair barely moved in the breezed as his frown deepened. "Are you mad woman? You could have been killed!"

"Mad? Am I mad? No, I'm angry. I'm confused. I was just fired without even given a reason as to why then was tossed into oncoming traffic without anyone, except you batting so much as an eyelash! No, I'm not mad. I'm perfectly sane compared to everyone else around here, except maybe you." I snapped out at him in anger and he let go of my wrist.

He jerked back at my tone and as the silence settled between us, seemed apologetic. He opened his mouth to speak but I cut him off. "I-I'm sorry. I shouldn't take a bad day out on you, especially because you just saved me. I owe you my life, Thank you... And I'm sorry for that outburst." I was starting to ramble feeling both nervous and ashamed at having snapped at him to begin with.

"Hey, it's alright. No hurt feelings. I'm glad you're alright though." At least he seemed to understand my situation. We shared a smile. His eyes were really quite beautiful now that the anger wasn't there anymore. I took the moment to take in how he was a head taller than me and very lean. I couldn't tell from his long sleeves, however if he were muscular or anything. Regardless, he really was quite handsome.

"You want to go get a drink, or maybe some coffee? It sounds like you are having a hell of a day. My treat, I shouldn't have yelled at you when I saw you tossed like that to begin with."

I should have done what I would normally do. I should have said no and tried to go back into the building and demand an explanation that I probably would never have received in any case. I really shouldn't have.

 "You know, that's a pretty good idea. Sure, who knows, maybe it'll help turn this day around." As I had said before, I mostly stuck with what was normal considering this was a very abnormal day. "Oh, I almost forgot, my name is Marie Boudreaux."

"Marie... Yeah I can see that. It suits you. I'm is Scott Michaels." He reached out and shook my hand. Then suddenly we remembered where we were standing. He grabbed my purse from the ground near his feet and handed it too me. As it was the only thing that hadn't been ruined I flashed him a bright smile.

Before I knew it we were sitting at a table outside the local Starbucks drinking our preferred coffees and laughing like old friends. I don't know how it happened, but all I knew was for once I was actually having fun and I wasn't alone. Normally I was by myself no matter where I went or who with. Meeting Scott had made all of my problems fade away in a matter of seconds.

Upon seeing neither of us had plans we exchanged phone numbers and left the coffee shop. On a whim, we decided to simply walk the city and enjoy each other's company. Scott, apparently, was a video game creator and worked on his own time. It must have been an amazing thing, to make his own schedule like that. I told him about my old job and before I knew it, I was leading him to my apartment to show him some of my sketches.

As he looked them over, I opted to change into something more comfortable than business attire. Jeans and a loose fitting T-shirt was more than enough for a day like this. It was as I was changing that my expiration date, as most people referred to it, caught my eye. Sparing a glance at the calendar everything fell into place in my head. I stumbled back in shock, the back of my knees colliding with my bed frame. Scott must have heard me gasp, because he quickly rushed into the room.

"Marie? What happened?" He quickly sat on the bed looking far more concerned about me than anyone had ever done before.

"It’s... fine, I just remembered what today is. Everything makes sense now." My words were muffled as I had raised my hands to cover my face.

"What do you mean?"

Instead of answering him verbally, I raised my right arm and drew back the sleeve. The silence was deafening as he stared at the date. I didn't know what I had been expecting, but it certainly wasn't him grabbing my wrist and pulling me to my feet. 

"Come on. That doesn't matter. Let’s go have some fun alright?" Of all the things that could have happened, this was actually the best one.

We spent the day goofing off and having fun. We had lunch and dinner at two different expensive restaurants. We walked the park and roamed the city. When night fell he took me to a bar, and for the first time in my life I got completely wasted. I've never been one for drinking, let alone with someone I barely knew. I don't remember much of what happened after that, but that brings me to today.

I woke up groaning. My head was bounding and I didn't want to move let alone open my eyes. Aside from my head throbbing, I felt warm and comfortable but there was this hot puff of air on the back of my neck. That was definitely a new situation. Opening my eyes I tried to sit up, only to find a strong arm pinning me in place. I turned my head and sure enough, there was Scott. I didn't freak out, because we were both fully clothed and on top of the blankets. We weren't in my apartment so I assumed we were at his.

My movements must have jostled him, because her murmured incoherently and cracked open an eye. He looked at me and smiled sleepily in a way that I couldn't help but smile back. "Morning," He yawned still half asleep. Seeing two glasses of water and a bottle of aspirin on the desk next to his bed I handed him a glass and two pills before taking the other glass and a set of pills for myself. I'd helped my parents a time or too when they drank too much so I knew what to do about the hangover.

We laid there in bed until the headaches faded. Once my mind was working, I realized it was nearly three in the afternoon on October 14, 2236. I was supposed to be dead, and yet, I was alive. In fact I was more alive than I'd ever been before.

"Scott... Why am I still here?"

"Mm... What do you mean?" He was being lazy, choosing to keep his eyes closed as we lay next to one another. 

"I was supposed to die yesterday." 

"Oh... Right..." Scott sat up and looked at me with a thoughtful expression. He started poking me in random spots as well as checking my pulse. After a few moments of me swatting his hands away he laughed.

"I can touch you so you aren't a ghost; and you have a pulse so you're not a zombie." 

"Duh…" He ignored the look I sent him.

"I don't know then, but I'm glad you didn't." He flashed me a grin and then I wondered if I have been killed in traffic and if this was actually heaven, but then if it were I'd have never gotten that hangover.

Looking back I realized I did die on October 13, 2236, but not in the literal sense of the word. The old me who was work obsessed, had no friends or much of a life; that Marie no longer existed. After yesterday I can no longer go back to that kind of life. Not when this life is so much better. Honestly, I guess we can say October 13, 2236 was not just the day of my death, but the day of my rebirth. I must say, life after death is sweet.


© 2015 K. L. Nussbaum



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The thought of knowing when you would die right after birth is pretty eerie. I like the narrator's juggle between tenses, giving the indication that she's already dead. Her boss telling her to leave like that was super cold, but it also makes sense in their culture. It sounds like a they are mystified and worried by death, but used to it, so to speak. There was a cool irony to her saying that he saved her, it being the day she was meant to die and all. It would be nice to get a little context about their environment and society. You mentioned it was in the future via the date but is their society the same as ours? Is it futuristic? It's endearing that she was able to find someone who makes her feel less sad/ alone on this day. I liked the ending; it was very charming and upbeat. I like that it didn't end tragic.

Suggestions:

~ “someone else would need more use of my job” This awkward. I think you meant something like 'would have more use for'.
~ “ He had ne escorted” Me.
~ “ head was bounding and I didn't want to” Pounding. Bounding is to run with big strides.

Nitpicks:

~ “I could hear them whispering to each other so silently I couldn't tell what was being said.” I would change 'heard' to 'saw' because if it was silent then she literally wouldn't be able to hear it, you know? Or maybe change 'silent' to 'soft', or something of that ilk.

Posted 2 Years Ago


What a great take on this prompt! I must say this contest has brought out a lot of good here, at the WC, and this is one of them. Normally, I'm not much into the "thought of live and love" but this story kept my interest with the simple truth of an unknown future. Couple that with the feeling that anything is possible, and the story cannot go wrong.

Well done!

I always feel like a hypocrite at this part of the review, ( trust me... I'm no expert) but we're all here to learn, so take it with a grain of salt.

1) My boss stopped me before I could enter my personal office. You see I am… Well, I was a sketch artist who was the initial step to creating any type of outfit, jewelry, or costume. While I didn't have my own label, I got forty percent on any design sold to the more famous and well known designers and stylists. He told me to pack my things up...

Maybe an En dash should be there to help the flow of the writing: "before I could enter my office — you see.... —he told me... or perhaps brackets?

2) He had ne escorted out of the building : I think you meant "me."

3) after all it wouldn’t due for my death to be work related: Someone with better grammar skills needs to examine this, but I think it's either "do" or "be due". Again...not my strong point.

Overall, this was quite an enjoyable read. Thanks for it!

Posted 2 Years Ago


This is really fascinating - I love that you've manipulated the "death" to be a spiritual one, rather than a physical one. It's very thought-provoking and I enjoyed reading it! I think you may need to check which person you are narrating from; it appears to be from first-person perspective, but you suddenly switched to third-person in the line: "She didn't know what she was expecting, but it certainly wasn't him grasping her wrist and pulling her up." I assume that was from your first draft and you forgot to change it, so don't worry! Aside from a few grammar mistakes, this is fantastic!

Posted 2 Years Ago


K. L. Nussbaum

2 Years Ago

I never noticed it I'm so used to writing in third person rather than first, but I felt that first f.. read more
Belle

2 Years Ago

No problem! :-)
An intriguing look at the what ifs and the choices we make in life, and what can happen when we find the bravery to change.

NOTES: I recommend increasing the font size. I also think this needs another pass for grammar and finesse.

Posted 2 Years Ago


K. L. Nussbaum

2 Years Ago

Thank you for the review! I will for over it a few more times, thank you for the suggestion!
MomzillaNC

2 Years Ago

yw :)

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Added on January 6, 2015
Last Updated on February 5, 2015

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K. L. Nussbaum
K. L. Nussbaum

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