“You are the chosen one. Tomorrow morning, prepare to meet your doom.”
As I sat on my couch, mouth agape, I tried to figure out what in the blazes I just heard. 30 seconds ago I picked up a phone call from an unknown number and now I’m the chosen one of some prophecy? I’m 28. According to the books my niece reads, I’m about 16 years too old to be a ‘chosen one.’
I wracked my brain attempting to figure out what about me would make me the right fit for this position. I didn’t have any mysterious family members. I work as a teacher, but I don’t know that the basic math I teach my 8-year-olds qualifies me for quest duties. Nothing even remotely weird happens in this town- which, I suppose, could make it a perfectly innocuous place for something fantastical to go down.
As I thought of what made me the candidate for this job, half of my brain was stuck on the last part. Prepare to meet your doom.
What doom? Why was I destined to doom? If I’m destined to doom, I don’t want any part of this. Not that I particularly would have a choice if it’s a prophecy and –
“Honey, who was that?” my wife called to me from the other room.
“No one. Wrong number.”
She couldn’t know. Not yet, anyway. I don’t want to worry her until I know what’s going on.
The rest of the night went on as normal. Yasmine and I went out to dinner- I suggested Italian secretly knowing that I’ll need to load up on carbs if I’m going to fight who knows what tomorrow or die- and then proceeded to cuddle up on the couch to eat leftover cookies from earlier this week and watch tv.
I absentmindedly popped one cookie after the other in my mouth as the television was making indecipherable noises. All I could really focus on was the feeling of my wife in my arms and how the golden rays of sunset made her look just as stunning now as when she did on our wedding day 5 years ago.
I tried to turn my attention back to the show, but it only stuck when I saw a swordfight take place on-screen.
What if I have to physically fight something tomorrow? That is what happens in prophecies and quests, isn’t it? I don’t know how to sword fight. Or box. Or street fight. I’ve got nothing. I’ve got the occasional cycling under my belt. Maybe I could ride my bike far away if a monster comes after me. That’s a good, albeit cowardly, plan. Or perhaps-
“Opal. Earth to Opal.”
I looked down at Yasmine who looked back up at me expectedly.
“I’ve been calling your name for the last 5 minutes. Where’d you go?”
“Sorry. Just thinking.”
She didn’t look convinced, but again. I’m not going to worry her with some possible ‘hey, I might be the chosen one fated for doom tomorrow’ nonsense if I don’t know what’s happening.
She gave me one last look up and down before turning back to the tv.
Later that night, long after Yasmine fell asleep, I was still wide awake. Would you blame me? It’s not easy finding sleep when it could possibly be your last night.
Finally, I gave up on trying to sleep for the moment being. Carefully, as to not wake my wife, I slipped out of bed and went downstairs. I poured myself a hefty glass of wine and sat at the counter to nurse it. As the hours grew later and the level of wine grew lower, I started to become calmer about the whole thing.
I still had some pent-up energy and what better to do with it at 3 in the morning than as many push-ups as possible on your kitchen floor?
I was able to get 10 complete push-ups in, but by my 11th, I could feel my arms start to tremble and it felt as though my body suddenly weighed about 20 pounds heavier.
Calling it quits, I let myself gently fall to the floor and grabbed for the glass I put about a foot in front of me. I raised myself up awkwardly to take a sip and lowered my head back to the floor. Thank goodness Yasmine mopped the kitchen today.
Thirty minutes later I was feeling much more exhausted and ready for sleep. I put the wine glass in the sick and gradually climbed the stairs, making sure to miss all of the steps I knew would loudly creak under my weight. Slowly, I crept into bed and kissed my wife’s forehead as she quietly snored.
After that, I was out like a light. That night, I dreamt of fighting dragons and daring rescues. The stuff of fiction and fantasy, though it was apparently about to become my reality.
When I woke up, I could hear Yasmine fussing around in the living room. I turned to look at the clock beside me.
It might be my last day on Earth but Heaven forbid I get to sleep in.
Knowing full well that once I’m up, I’m up, I begrudgingly rolled out of bed and dragged myself downstairs. My shuffling footsteps made my presence known and before I was fully in the room, I heard Yasmine say, “Up-up-up. Nope. Turn it around and go get ready. We have to go in 45 minutes.”
I turned around, confused.
“Why are we leaving in 45 minutes?”
Yasmine gave me a look I knew all too well. It meant that I forgot something that she point blank told me to remember.
After a solid minute of that stare, she finally got the hint that even after all these years, it still doesn’t actually have the power to make me remember the thing I forgot. It only reminds me that I forgot a thing in the first place.
She sighed and said, “We’re going to your brother’s place. It’s our niece’s birthday.”
Suddenly, it clicked. Little Josie was turning 9 and we had to be there to help with set-up for the party.
But then that information mixed with yesterday’s information. According to a combination of both, I was set to meet my doom at my niece’s birthday party.
It settled deep within me what I would need to do. I would have to lead whatever is out to get me away from the children. But at least I’d get to see my family before I take on this prophecy.
45 minutes later, we had London’s present wrapped and Yasmine and me out the door. As she drove, I picked at a stray thread on my pants. They were decently nice, but still loose enough to run if need be. Paired with a sports bra and a comfortable shirt, I was set with an outfit acceptable for both a family function and fighting for my life.
We arrived at the house shortly thereafter and were promptly greeted by a bombardment of unicorns, rainbows, castles, and princesses- half of which laid on the ground, waiting to be put up.
As we walked up to the door, I could see London peaking out the window before she ducked back down out of sight.
Loudly, I said, “Oh Yasmine, I think we have the wrong house. London distinctly said that she didn’t want a party that had anything to do with unicorns. She clearly told me that they are her least favorite animal.”
The door in front of me was flung wide open and before I could react there was a small child with a lot of hair in my arms.
“Auntie Opal! Auntie Yasmine! You’re here!”
“Of course we are! Happy birthday, honey!” I said, swinging her around.
I put her down so she could go hug her other aunt as I took the present in exchange. London jumped into Yasmine’s arms and together we walked inside.
“Good morning!” I shouted.
“Good morning back!” I heard from the kitchen.
I walked into the room to see my brother, his wife, and my oldest niece, Rachael, slaving around a 3 story cake.
They looked up from their decorating and greeted me and Yasmine in turn. After our go-around of catch-up, we were put to work.
About 5 minutes into hanging streamers, I remembered the phone call from yesterday again. It was the next morning. I was ready. What was this monster waiting for?
Every so often, I would look over my shoulder, waiting to for a dragon or something to appear, but it still took me by surprise when I heard, “Ready to meet your doomed fate?” from behind me.
I whipped around to become face to face with Rachael who was grinning like a Cheshire cat.
“What did you say?”
“Ready to meet your doomed fate?”
Confusion more than fear now consumed my mind.
“What are you talking about?” I said, trying to weed out an unfortunate coincidence.
She rolled her eyes. “Don’t tell me you didn’t recognize my voice. I lowered it a little bit but I would have thought you’d figure it out eventually.”
“That was you on the phone?”
“Duh,” she said with a smile.
“But- wait. That wasn’t your number.”
“Why are you confused? You taught me how to mask my phone number with the star 69 trick.”
I could feel the puzzle pieces come together in my mind.
“Then what is my doom that I’m supposed to meet?”
“Based on a very official coin toss, you’re going to be the backside of the unicorn behind my dad.”
“…Ok, but for as little as I want my brother’s butt in my face, because honestly, who would want to see that, I wouldn’t classify that as my doom.”
“We had Mexican food last night.”
“I’m going to die.”
Rachael nodded solemnly. “Yes. I’m so sorry. I hope you got your affairs in order.”
I dramatically put a hand to my heart.
“Tell Yasmine I love her.”
“Will do. I figured it was dire enough that the dramatics were necessary.”
“Well,” I chuckled. “They certainly were dramatic.”
“It’s not like you believed you were the ‘chosen one’ of any prophecy, right?” she laughed.
I almost forgot to react, but then quickly covered it will a laugh. “Definitely not. That would be ridiculous. What prophecy would I even be involved in?”
Rachael merely shrugged with a smile and walked away.
With a shake of my head, I turned back around to finish hanging up streamers when I was met with Yasmine’s face.
“You actually fell for that didn’t you? Thought you were the ‘chosen one’?” she said with a wink.
“Shut it,” I grumbled, trying to dampen down my own smile as I walked by her.
“Oh my! Opal! The big bad dragon is approaching the house! Come save us!”
“Oh, that’s it!” I turned around and tossed a ball of streamers over her head so they landed on her like a flimsy pink veil.
She grabbed the ball that just landed on the ground and launched it back at me, thus beginning a 15-minute war with 3 balls of streamers as casualties.
At the end of the day, as I walked back to the car, my sense of smell long gone from the stink attacks that I received for an hour straight, I couldn’t help but laugh at my own foolishness. Sometimes my childlike wonder really does get the best of me.