Contest #62 shortlist ⭐️

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Suspense Drama Fiction

The last thing I can remember upon waking up is the day that I die.

I can’t remember what date it will be, only that it’ll be midday, and I’ll be walking down a crowded wet sidewalk in the city. I’ll see a pretty blonde haired girl look at me a short distance away and smile. Then, I remember, there will be a startled look on her face as someone shoves her into the street. I remember I’ll step out into traffic to grab her and pull her back. There will be a loud screeching of tires, then nothing.

I sit up on the edge of my bed, playing that memory over in my mind. That memory of something that hasn’t happened yet. It’s a bit disconcerting. I know that I went to bed last night, but I don’t remember doing so.

I stand up and suddenly remember my lunch today at a little coffee shop downtown, and that someone will bump my table and I’ll spill hot coffee into my lap. I wince as I remember the burn I’ll get from it. I reach down to my leg where the memory of the pain is still fresh, but there’s no burn. Not yet.

I stop for a moment and take a breath, confused and a bit scared. How can I remember things that haven’t happened, but not recall the past? I know I should remember, and that I have before, but I don’t remember anything before right now. I look down at the bed behind me. Was I just in bed? Because I don’t remember waking up.

I know this isn’t normal. I start walking to the bathroom as I think. I do know my name is John and I’ve lived in Seattle my whole life, but I’ve no memories of anything I’ve done here. I know my mom’s name was Mary, but I have no recollection of her, or even her face. I know she passed away, but I have no memory of her funeral, although I do know there was one.

I finish drying my hair with my towel and toss it on the bed. I shake off the knowledge that I have no memory of taking a shower and turn to my closet for some clothes. I remember that I’ll be wearing my black jeans when I spill my coffee in a couple hours, so I grab those and pull them on. I remember the rain that will start after lunch today and how my hair ends up soaked from it, so I grab my ball cap and set it on the bed while I finish getting dressed. I turn to my dresser and grab a shirt. I pull it over my head as I walk out of the bedroom.

“Here you are, John,” the barista says as she hands me my coffee.

“Thanks,” I reply. I don’t remember ordering a coffee. She knows me, but I don’t remember her name, so I look at her name tag. “Denise,” I say and smile at her.

“See you tomorrow,” the barista says. I don’t remember that I will, so I simply nod as I step away from the counter.

I hear the coffee shop door jingle and look in that direction as a bearded man with red hair and a green shirt enters. I remember I’ll step out of that doorway later and stand under the awning to talk with a girl. I remember she’ll be the same girl I see in the crowd on the day I die.

My hands are hot from the cup I’m holding, and I juggle it between them. I walk quickly through the coffee shop to the table where I remember I’ll be sitting. The blonde haired woman with the pretty eyes at the table to my left looks familiar and I try to search my memories for her. But I have no recollection of my past. I set my cup down on the table and suddenly remember where I’ll see her. She’s the girl I’ll pull from traffic on the day I die, the one I’ll talk to outside later today.

I nearly fall into my chair at the sight and the memory of her. A man in a green shirt bumps into me hard as he pushes his way to the woman’s table and sits down just to the left of me. My coffee spills into my lap and I hiss in pain. I swat ineffectively at the coffee soaking into my black jeans and place the now empty cup back on the table.

I hear an argument at the table beside me, a man raising his voice above the murmur of conversation in the coffee shop. I look left, toward his voice, and I recognize the woman sitting opposite a man with red hair and a beard. She’s the woman I’ll pull out of traffic. She looks at me across the table and the aisle with an apologetic smile. I’m not sure what she’s apologizing for, she’s not the one almost yelling like he is.

He turns his head toward me and glares. I have a flash of recognition, but I can’t remember where I’ll see his bearded face.

“Butt out, buddy, it’s none of your business.” His voice is familiar, something I remember I’ll hear in a crowd. I shake my head and reach for my coffee, but the cup is empty. I push my chair back from the table and wince at a pain in my leg. My jeans are wet, and my leg burns, but I can’t remember what from.

A red haired man in a green shirt stands up from the table beside me and pushes into mine almost deliberately. I shrug it off as someone just having a bad day and look over at the pretty woman sitting at the empty table.

“I’m sorry about that,” she says, and I remember her. I’ll stand outside talking with her as we try and wait out the rain. Then I have another memory of pulling her from traffic and the screeching of tires.

“I remember you,” I say and feel dumb right away for saying it.

“We’ve never met, but I’m Rose.”

“Rose,” I say. “I’m John.” Rose holds out her hand to me and I stand up and reach across the aisle to shake it. My pants are wet and, from the pain in my leg, I know I have a burn from something.

I remember Rose and standing outside with her in the rain. I look toward the windows at the front of the coffee shop and see a man in a green shirt swing the door open hard. The bells over the door jingle loudly as he storms outside into the rain.

“Man’s upset about something,” I say.

“That’s my ex.” I turn and look at the girl holding my hand. “He’s mad because I’m finally leaving him.”

“Oh, hi Rose.”  I know that I know Rose, but I can’t remember from where. But I do remember I will be talking with her outside the coffee shop while it rains. “Would you like to go outside?” I ask.

“Of course,” Rose says as she releases my hand and stands up from her table. “And it’s nice to meet you, John.”

I see Rose walk toward the front of the coffee shop so I follow, remembering that I will talk with her just outside. The door jingles as Rose opens the door and I look up at the curious sound. I step through the door and see Rose standing to one side under the awning. It’s raining, so I move closer to her. I remember that the rain will soak my hair today and I run a hand over my head, remembering that I won’t have a hat on, and don’t.

“I’m sorry again about my ex,” Rose says, and I look over at her. She’s pretty, with long curly blonde hair and brilliant blue eyes.

“Who?” I reply as a memory that Rose will be pushed into traffic comes to me.

“My ex. He has severe control and anger issues. I’ve been trying to leave him for a year now, but he won’t let me.”

“I’m sorry,” I say, then I look out into the rainy crowded sidewalk. The corner of my eye catches the girl beside me, and I turn to her. “Rose? Are you waiting for someone?”

“No,” Rose says with a smile. “I’m just heading home. But it was nice to meet you, John. Maybe I’ll see you here at the coffee shop again sometime.” I don’t remember that I’ll see Rose at the coffee shop later. But I do remember that I’ll pull her away from traffic. That will happen on the day I die.

Rose steps out onto the rainy crowded sidewalk and starts to walk away. I shrug as I step out into the rain and the crowded sidewalk. My hair gets soaked as I walk along and look at the familiar crowd.

The traffic is heavy and loud, and I hear a man’s voice shouting Rose’s name over the noise of the street. I look through the crowd and see Rose a short distance away looking back through the crowd. She catches my eye and smiles at me. I see a man with red hair and a beard walk up beside her and look over at me. The memory that Rose will fall into the street comes to me and I run toward her.

A man with a green shirt and red hair reaches out and pushes Rose. She looks startled as she stumbles off the sidewalk and into the busy street. I remember there will a sound of screeching tires as I jump into the road and grab Rose. I shove her toward the sidewalk. I see a car speeding toward me on the wet road. I hear a loud screeching of tires. Then nothing.

Rose was holding my head in her lap as I lay on the side of the road. There was commotion on the sidewalk as several men held tightly to Rose’ ex who was struggling to get away. The back of my head hurt, and so did my leg where the coffee had burned me. My eyes were blurry, but mostly from the rain seeping out of my wet hair.

“What happened, Rose?” I asked as more people crowded around.

“You saved my life, John.” Rose said. “How did get to me so fast?” Tears formed in her eyes where there weren’t any before.

“I remembered seeing him push you and I just did what I remembered doing.” It didn’t even make sense to my own ears. Rose laughed and smiled down at me. “Am I ok?” I asked.

“You’re gonna be alright, the car missed you,” Rose said. “I’m glad I met you today, John.”

“I’m glad I remembered you today Rose,” I said as I sat up. “Will you meet me for coffee tomorrow?” I asked. I was happy I didn’t remember her answer, but I knew it would be a “yes.”

October 07, 2020 17:35

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11 comments

Clara D Berry
05:40 Oct 18, 2020

This was really well done. I love how you made him take the ballcap because he knew his hair would be wet, then throw it on the bed and forget it there. I also loved how he knew he would spill his coffee, but it still happened, as did everything else he was expecting until the climax. I got a bit confused when he was in the restaurant looking around and noticing Rose multiple times, but then I realized what you were doing with that. It was really cool. You remembered to make him forget all kinds of details that I would have missed, such as w...

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Tony Hadley
00:56 Oct 19, 2020

Thank you! So glad you caught the part about the hat! I was really trying to play on the difference between “memory” and “knowledge.” So him repeating Rose’s name moved that from something that would have been a memory (and forgotten) to knowledge. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

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A.Dot Ram
15:52 Oct 17, 2020

It was interesting to watch people and events shift from future/remembered to past/ forgotten. It happens and is immediately gone. I don't understand how John survived his own death, though?

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Tony Hadley
19:38 Oct 17, 2020

So that’s the part I struggled with writing. He really DIDN’T die. But his future memories ended at that moment, so that was his assumption. Instead, at his assumed “moment of death,” his memories reverted back to remembering the past.

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A.Dot Ram
21:05 Oct 17, 2020

I get it! So this strange day of backwards thinking was all in service of meeting/saving a special new person! Fate.

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Tony Hadley
16:18 Oct 19, 2020

Exactly!

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Ben Franklin
04:19 Nov 06, 2020

This was awesome! I knew what the prompt was, but it took me a minute to realize that John’s future vision was real-time, so he would naturally forget things that he had just done. Loved the story!

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Tony Hadley
21:24 Nov 06, 2020

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it! I had a blast writing it!

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Regina Perry
01:20 Oct 25, 2020

I absolutely loved this story, Tony! I loved how you handled this prompt. I was considering writing a story for it but didn't because trying to figure out how to handle the backwards thinking was making my head spin 'round. I love how John saw the same people over and over again, noticing the same details, and didn't recognise them from the past. You showed the future like it was a distant memory, fading the details to obscurity and focusing on the parts that would have been remembered if it had happened long ago, which was extremely well do...

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Tony Hadley
16:33 Oct 25, 2020

I’m so glad you liked it! It was fun to write! Rose’s name was done deliberately. I was working with the difference between memory and knowledge. Rose was a memory (more like remembered scenes and images) but her name didn’t become knowledge until she said it and he repeated it. Kind of like him knowing his own name and him moms name but not remembering any moments about anything. I loved the challenge of writing this one!

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Regina Perry
17:22 Oct 25, 2020

Oh, so that's why. I assumed he knew that stuff because someone would mention it to him in the future at some point, but that the exact why and how wasn't important so he didn't 'remember' it, like knowing that his name is John because that's what everyone will call him today, but not realising that that's why he knows it. I like that idea, though, of knowledge and memory being different. I'm not sure how different they really are; a lot of my knowledge has specific memories related to it to make it stick, such as the story in whatever book ...

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