I Know When I'll Die

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


Coming of Age Funny Urban Fantasy

I know when I’ll die. When I was ten, a drunk man handed me a bit of paper. I know what you’re thinking. I was thinking the same thing. I was never one to be rude to strangers though and to and the piece of paper he handed me was beautiful. Some things have an air of importance. The letter I was given was one of them. It looked hundreds of years old that day and was written in the most incredible calligraphy.

It told me five things; the date of my first seizure, the day I’d meet my wife, the day I’d go into a coma, the day I’d wake up and the day I’ll die.

For four years after receiving the weird fortune letter from the drunk it was just an odd thing I had framed on my wall. Yes, I know that’s weird, but my friends thought it was cool as well.

Then when I was fourteen and watching television with my best friend, Stargate SG1 if you must know, I had my first seizure. As it turns out it was the same day the letter had predicted. Something about a group of American soldiers finding a dormant alien colony ship was too much was too much for my brain during puberty. Don’t read anything into that, I really like sci-fi, but not that much.

My friend had to untangle me from the wire for my CD player. Yes, I’m that old. My dad took him home while I went to hospital in an ambulance with my mum, not that important now.

When I got home from the hospital having had a blood sample taken, I hate needles, I looked at the bit of paper on the wall and realised the first prediction had come true. That should have been scary, especially since the next entries in the prophecy of drunk Nostradamus were life changing wife meeting, coma, recovery and death, but no.

It was oddly reassuring to have it in writing that I would recover, meet a nice girl and live a long life. Did I mention that I’m going to live to ninety-seven years old? For my family particularly that is doing well.

The night of the second prediction there was a house party with a load of people at my high school. The letter said I would meet my wife. I think there was fine print written in invisible ink.

Everyone was drinking apart from the girl who showed up already unconscious from drinking before the party, is there always one of those? One girl sat on my lap in a dark room asking me what shampoo I used and playing with my hair. I felt awkward both because the girl’s boyfriend was outside the door having a weirdly non-intrusive meltdown and because until I moved out of my parent’s house, I was still using the same baby shampoo my mum had been buying since it was age appropriate.

It was at that party I found out the girls who knew me from primary school called me Rock Boy because I had collected gemstones, not cool. I saw a girl asleep on a couch wake up, throw up and then fall asleep in it again. It might be safe to say that no one left that party with their dignity.

After one of the girls returned from a detour with a boy denying anything happened despite her top being inside out, I tried to outdrink some older kids despite being a small bottle of vodka ahead of them. I half remember being sent home from the party after projectile vomiting.

I’m not tea total but I’ve never had vodka since. I think alcohol played the part of villain for almost everyone that went to that party. I’m single, unmarried and hoping my future wife neither took part in nor witnessed anything to do with vomit that night.

It’s safe to say my stock in dignity went up after high school. Art school was my place. Finally drawing on the furniture was not only acceptable but expected. I had gone hoping to become a world-famous painter. It turned out I was not amenable to the task of painting collections of plants and fruit in baskets. I’d done that in high school, boring.

When I was told not to join painting because I painted the still life collection exploding as the backdrop was invaded by jungle, I was told painting probably wasn’t for me. There were of course other little things. Artistic license was supposed to be used at the discretion of the first-year tutors. They laughed when I drew a Greek city in the background of one nude model instead of the rest of the class. They didn’t laugh as much during the next nude drawing session when I was running out of time after finishing the sketch of the model and decided to have her sitting at the bus stop outside instead.

I met a girl at a club, woke up at her place the next morning and spent the next three years in a very unstable relationship. During that time, I was studying photography instead of painting, layering images over each other for a haunting but easy to achieve aesthetic.

I graduated from art school and the three-year relationship, two loving relationships over.

After starting a terrible job cleaning hotel rooms, I was invited to a reunion of old friends organised by the same friend who saved me from a rogue CD player cable years before. As always, he had a girlfriend. As always, I was the awkward one.

It’s hard to underdress for a party held in a barn but I managed it. Everyone else looked like a fashion advert, not me. People remembered Rock Boy despite my insistence that I don’t collect fossils and geodes anymore. I beat a few people at beer pong because I’m competitive instead being social.

I should probably explain that the people who owned the barn ran a stable for racehorses and had a lot of money. The barn had a better sound system than most night clubs. I was in a lot of reunion photos doing my classic pose which I like to call ‘rabbit in the headlights.’

Some of the building materials from the most recent remodelling had been piled up in the car park. After drinks everyone decided those boards and planks would look better on fire. I agreed. It was also our opinion, as drunks, that jumping through the flames was a good idea.

It was all fine until it wasn’t. We were jumping through the flames without issues for two hours as the wood burnt low. Naturally as the wooden boards transitioned into ash they moved, spreading out. During that transition us drunken idiots were growing in confidence. We’d made several successful jumps each. It had to be me to end the winning streak.

Nails are a commonly used component in building and some of the planks from the fire still had theirs. After many successful leaps I stood on one. It went straight through the sole of my white trainers.

I know what you’re thinking now, why white trainers? The answer is I thought they’d look good with the blood pouring out of the sole of my foot. I wasn’t wrong.

The white trainers are still the most expensive footwear I have ever owned, limited edition skateboarding shoes with a colourful graffiti design, and blood.

The young woman who tended my wounds has known me since I was proudly Rock Boy, and she was the girl who pulled out her hair in chunks to impress her friends. She applied antiseptic to my wound and laughed at my pain. Despite her old party trick, she has a full head of long silky hair. Despite my stupidity I did not get tetanus.

Thanks to my injury we spent the rest of the night together. She said she had to look after me. I didn’t correct her.

She had gone into teaching which surprised me because of the terrible woman who’d overseen our first school together. When someone is so awful people only refer to them by their initials, they should fail the teacher exam. With her out there to balance the scales I’m sure the children of Scotland stand a far better chance of a decent education.

She already knew about the piece of paper which had predicted my death. She was at the party years before with the girl who wanted to know about my shampoo but had to take her little sister home after reminding everyone about my Rock Boy nickname, for which I’m still grateful.

Our first date was going to see Green Lantern in the cinema. We bonded over how terrible it was.

I suppose fate works with what it gets. I’ve always had a bad memory. If I’d remembered the date, I was supposed to end up in a coma I would never have stood in the middle of the pavement asking to be hit by a car.

The poor old man roped in by fate to knock me down apparently didn’t stop to see if I was alright after jerking over from the other side of the road and hitting me in front of my new girlfriend.

I woke up on the day the drunk’s prophecy predicted. I must now wait decades for the fulfilment of the final prediction.

I’m not married yet but I’m still in a relationship with my nail in the foot nurse. I’m planning to propose, hopefully I nail, sorry I had to. Sadly, the prophecy didn’t tell me how I would pull off the perfect proposal. I’m going for the traditional ring given from one knee kind of thing. I’m thirty-one now, I don’t want to get married in seventy-six years so wish me luck.

I don’t know what’s coming in the meantime, but I have plenty of time to get there, best of luck to you too. I know when I'll die, but not how I'll live.

April 10, 2021 09:19

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J Sagar
13:45 Dec 27, 2021

"I beat a few people at beer pong because I’m competitive instead being social" 😂 I'm not sure, but that line makes me think you're a hardcore introvert. Great story!


Graham Kinross
14:31 Dec 27, 2021

Hardcore Introvert is part of the motto on my personal crest, in Latin of course.


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John Hanna
22:50 Dec 19, 2021

So true and amusingly written! It's Seagrams 7 for me, can't touch it after an incident in a sorority bathroom. It took a couple of those instances before I realized heavy drinking wasn't fun. I have a friend that's been to that barn in Michigan. Clever concept! Maybe I shouldn't mention it, but there are a few errors, missed or repeated words that would have popped out in a careful republishing read. Great story!


Graham Kinross
23:05 Dec 19, 2021

I was rushing to get it uploaded because the deadline was close. It’s a shame I can’t edit out the mistakes now to make it easier to read. Thank you for taking a look.


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Annalisa D.
03:34 Dec 07, 2021

This was a cool concept. I liked the humor, narrative voice, and thought it had a good last line.


Graham Kinross
03:54 Dec 07, 2021

Thank you. I’ve been enjoying your writing a lot recently as well.


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Luis Medina
16:14 Apr 22, 2021

Nice! I liked how you joined all the events smoothly and how the main character didn't just panic and never leave his room, which is probably what I would've done if I knew I was going to end up in a coma lol If you have time, please read my first short!


Graham Kinross
12:24 Nov 16, 2021

Thanks Luis. Sorry it took me so long to respond. I'll have a look at your story now.


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