Stuck and Selfish

Submitted into Contest #89 in response to: Write about someone who is always looking toward the future.... view prompt

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Science Fiction Coming of Age Suspense

The future. It's so easy to get trapped in it, to only look ahead of you and not down at your feet where you're standing. And when you do finally reach the future you want, you're not satisfied because it isn't the future anymore. It's become the present. And you don't want the present.

I never wanted the present.

Ever since I was small, I've always looked towards the future instead of focusing on what was important at the time. When I was eight, I spent months planning my birthday party. And when the special day came at last, the excitement had worn off from all that planning. I didn't enjoy it at all.

And so the cycle continued. It was like a string that kept pulling me forward, but not standing still long enough for me to do anything. In school, I would daydream almost every day about getting top grades--but I never actually put in the work. All I did was imagine it, and when my report card came, my dreams were dashed. Then it began all over again the next year. My parents didn't know what was wrong with me.

I don't really even know what's wrong with me.

It was the same with friends. I would look forward to meeting friends, hopefully a best friend too, but for some reason I couldn't muster up the initiative to go and talk to someone. People saw me as the kid who got bad grades and kept her head in the clouds. Nobody bothered to approach me first.

I was like that my whole life.

Until I turned sixteen, that is. It was the summer after tenth grade, the summer I had been looking forward to all year. But now that it was here, it seemed melancholy and boring. I couldn't wait for school to start again.

I was sitting in my front yard, sipping lemonade and trying to imagine what my future family would look like. Would I marry someone tall and dark, or short and bright? Was short and bright person even a thing?

I finished my lemonade but kept on sucking on the straw. I wasn't even aware that the drink was gone. I was too caught up in my own thoughts.

I felt something touch my shoulder. I blinked and shook myself from my reverie, my head aching slightly. I looked up and saw a little girl standing next to the lawn chair I was sitting on.

"Hi!" She said happily. So, short and bright people are a real thing. This girl was around nine or ten, with shocking orange hair and so many freckles it looked like someone had dumped a bottle of nutmeg on her face. Her eyes were hazel and sparkling, and she wore a hot pink dress that hurt my eyes.

I blinked at her. "Do you need something?" I asked.

The girl nodded seriously. "Yes, I do, silly." she said. "I need you to come with me."

I set down my glass. "Where and why?"

"To my house, of course." The girl said as if it was an obvious answer. "And I want you to come because I have something to give you. Please?"

I blinked at her again and shook my head. "I'm busy," I rejected.

The girl frowned at me crossly. "Busy? I waited for you to finish your lemonade--you were drinking it while it was empty, by the way--and you're just staring off into space besides. Now come to my house!"

I heaved a gusty sigh. Nine-year-olds weren't supposed to talk in such a pompous manner. And why did some random little girl want me to follow her?

"If you don't come with me," the girl said solemnly, "I will kidnap your dog."

"What?" I said. "I don't have a dog."

"Yes, you do." The girl pointed to the ground beside me. I followed her gaze and saw a little black dog with curly fur laying down next to my chair. I sucked in a gasp.

"That's not mine," I said. "It can't be, I don't have a dog."

"Don't be silly, Aunt Faye, you've had him for years!"

I looked at the girl sharply. "How do you know my name?"

Aunt Faye?

The girl looked on the verge of tears now. "Stop tricking me, you know I don't like it!" She exclaimed. "Mama told you to stop, she said she'd talk to you about it!"

"Talk to me about--who are you?"

The girl looked so hurt, I almost felt bad. But what did I have to feel bad for?

"Aunt Faye, it's me, Mira," the girl said pleadingly. Mira? I didn't know a Mira.

I sat up. "I'm sorry," I said to the girl--Mira. "I have to go inside."

"Okay," Mira said sadly. "I'll put your present in the mailbox."

"Um... thank you."

"I hope you like it." And she ran off to the house across the street, jumping inside and--

Wait. That's not the right house. The house across my street was only one story tall, not two, and it's painted blue. This one was yellow. I spun around wildly and looked at my own house.

It wasn't my house.

It was tall and white, with a fancy black gate and a huge backyard with pear trees that were in full bloom. I swallowed shakily and walked up to the door, pushing it open. It was unlocked.

"Mommy! I thought you would be having your alone time forever!" A little boy ran up to me and wrapped his arms around my legs. I gaped at him and pried his hands from my knees.

"I'm not your mommy," I said blankly. "What is going on?"

"Carry me!" The little boy said, jumping up and down. "Please!"

As if in a trance, I reached down and picked him up. He planted a big wet kiss on my cheek and hugged my neck.

I looked at the room I was standing in and gasp audibly.

This is my dream house. The future house I always imagined living in when I became an adult. Fancy oriental rug, black couches, paintings that belonged in a museum... there were a few toys scattered around the floor, and a fireplace blazed even though it was summer.

A chill went across my back. I looked out the window and whimpered slightly.

It was snowing.

"Mommy, are you okay?" The little boy asked. "Mommy?"

I put him down as tears streamed down my face. I wasn't home--not in my real one. This couldn't be real, this couldn't be...

It all flooded back to me.

When I was little, I resolved to have a little black dog when I grew up. I also wanted a niece with freckles and a very fancy house. I remembered wanting a little son, a big fireplace in the winter...

I was in the future. At least, the one I wanted.

"Mommy?" My future son's voice echoed in my head. "Mommy!"

I shut him out. I shut it all out. "Let me go back!" I begged to no one in particular. "Please! I want to go home!" A rush of gratitude flowed through me for my old home, my parents, my sister. I shouldn't have spent so much time worrying about what was to happen years later. I should have been helping them, spending time with them. I was selfish. I was cruel.

The little boy's voice grew fainter and fainter as I felt my feet lift off the floor. Everything went black, and I was floating in an endless dark space...

I opened my eyes.

I was sitting on a lawn chair, with an empty glass in my hand. No dog sat beside me. I looked behind me and saw my old house, brown and boring but oh so welcoming.

I was home.

April 12, 2021 11:23

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6 comments

Hugo Millaire
23:50 Apr 21, 2021

Really good story and good job writing the dialogue!

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Svara Narasiah
03:01 Apr 22, 2021

Thanks :)

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Angelina Jeong
04:07 Apr 15, 2021

Ooh!! Love this story!

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Svara Narasiah
07:25 Apr 15, 2021

Wonderful :)

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Claudia Morgan
11:39 Apr 12, 2021

Aww, this was powerful and oddly relatable. Love it!

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Svara Narasiah
13:40 Apr 12, 2021

Awesome :)

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