“You used to be so nice!” she screams.
I don’t agree with her. When have I ever been nice?
“Please stop that and look at me,” she says in a normal voice. A sweet brown voice that you can taste and see. Like a bear or a lion.
I keep plucking the strings on my guitar, pretending that I’m on tempo. Pretending that her sweet brown voice is a song that she sings for me. But her voice is not a song. Her voice is not a bear or a lion. Her voice is a lie.
“Why won’t you listen to me?”
I want to ask her the same thing. But asking that would only make me more like her. I don’t want to be like her. I’m apparently afraid of bears and lions. She’s a hypocrite, telling me I’ve been demoted from being a nice person to being this. But I’m okay with being this. This is all I am, anyway.
“So you’re just gonna pretend that I’m not here? Is that it?”
I stop plucking and start strumming.
I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. My lips are shaking. I feel my lunch scraping its way out of my eyes. I feel like I’m bleeding through them, seeing nothing but shades of dark red and silhouettes of noodles. My eyes are now dimming. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe! How can I forget how to breathe? I can only feel her now. But I don’t remember how to feel. When the hell will she shut up? Just shut up!
She does. A hunter tranquilized the bear or the lion. Her sweet brown voice is gone.
I try to open my eyes. But I can’t remember how.
Why am I not nice? I’m the nicest man alive.
I somehow manage to open my eyes. The guitar that Tom gave me before moving out is not in my hands anymore. I don’t feel my hands anymore.
“Run,” she warns. As if I’d know what that means. As if I know anything at all. “Just—”
I slowly look behind me and find the mirror that Tom left before moving out. He didn’t give it to me. I took it out from the trash. I thought it was such a waste. But I don’t remember bringing it up here, in my room. Am I even in my room? I don’t remember the color of my wall but I’m sure it isn’t brown. Why don’t I remember the color of my own room? I find myself staring at myself. I look awful. My hair has grown long. The bags under my eyes suggest that I haven’t had enough sleep or haven’t slept at all. I don’t think the bruises I see are makeup. I don’t cosplay anymore. Who am I staring at right now? Why does this person look so familiar? Who is he?
I suddenly realize everything after staring at myself for four hours.
Tom is gone.
I try to remember more vague details. Anything at all. Like what Tom looked like. Like who Tom is to me. Like why I took his mirror out of the trash. Like why he gave me this guitar. Who is he? Who is he? Who is he?
I smell terrible. I feel terrible. I don’t remember what starving feels like. I’m stuck in a room I don’t recognize in front of a mirror I took out from the trash. I want someone to save me. Why did she leave? Where did she go? Why did she ask me to run? I can’t even feel my legs.
That’s when I realize that my right leg is gone. It’s s all suddenly painful. As if I’ve been bitten by a bear or a lion. I suddenly scream and then check the mirror from the trash to see if it’s making the same reaction. But it’s not. It’s just staring at me, dead eyes with its mouth wide open. I start to get scared. But then, I start to get even more scared when I realize that I’m not screaming at all. That I’m looking at myself in the mirror, dead eyes with my mouth wide open. I think I forgot how to scream.
Both of my hands are still here. But my right leg is gone. So I can’t run. But where should I go? I don’t even know who I am. I feel weak and tired. What am I even doing here? Why can't I cry to ease this pain maybe a little? I want to forget seeing my leg that's gone. Maybe if I hadn't looked, I wouldn't have felt it at all.
I feel like I know what I don’t. I feel like I just said things that made sense. But I can’t remember.
I try to stand up but the pain is just too much to handle. I don’t want to faint but what I’m feeling right now is very close to being unconscious. I feel dizzy and cloudy. Like high college student or a pen. I don't make sense. None of this makes sense.
I crawl all over this dark filthy room. I don’t recognize anything. Are the walls wooden? Does this room have windows? It’s way too dark to see. It’s way too hard to try.
I somehow manage to get my hands on a bag of what seems to be powder and a small Glock 42. I squint my eyes to read a note next to the gun. It more or less says, “This building is now yours, Tom. I’ll be screwdriver home gut. I mean it’s 1990! Live a life. From: Jane.”
Right after reading this incomprehensible note and right before I try to comprehend it, the door suddenly opens and a tall blonde man shows up. He’s about six feet tall, almost twice the size of me. He looks worried and tired as if he was looking all over for me. His face says pity and relief. As if he cares if a wasted not so nice man’s leg is gone and is stuck here slowly bleeding to death. He hurriedly carries me out of this sick room.
“You’re fine, Tom. You’re gonna be just fine.”
I look the blonde man in the eye but the lights in this hall are blinding. He’s running away from something. I can feel the tense in his grip. He’s afraid. What is he running from? What is he afraid of?
“We have to leave this building,” he pants.
“Did you just call me Tom?” I ask him. I don’t understand. I must have misheard him. He must be lying.
He doesn’t stop running. We’re running down the stairs now, a bit slower than when we were in the halls. I think he doesn’t want me to fall off. Why doesn't he want me to fall off? Why am I so important?
“It’s worse than I thought,” he says to himself. Then, he looks at me fast with a familiar expression and says, “What’s the last thing you remember?”
The blonde man sighs and says, “It’s 2090 and you came back in the building you and your ex-girlfriend Jane lived in. It’s complicated but the Jane you cam back to wasn't yours. And the Tom that lives here isn't you. It was you a hundred years ago. This whole place was yours. Coming Back has extremely dangerous side-effects including dismemberment and severe memory loss.”
“This must be hard for you to take in but I’m Keith. We’ve been married for three years back in our time. You’re a nice man, Tom. But I don’t know why you Came Back. You owe me an explanation. But right now, I have to get us home. We just have to leave the building.”
He called me a nice man. But Jane didn’t think so. I don’t think I’m a nice man at all. I have a lover and I still went back. What for? How? Why is Tom such a jerk?
“Tell me, Tom. Have you seen Jane?”
“I didn’t exactly see her. I wasn’t looking. But I did hear her. And she told me to run. Tell me, is she making fun of my leg?”
The face Keith suddenly makes makes me want to lie and tell him I hadn’t heard her. He says, “Then it’s too late. I’m sorry. I—”
The building collapses immediately and I never get to know why I’m not a nice man.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
Great story. Time-traveling with a twist ending. Loved it.
Wow! This is an amazing story!
thank you so muchhhh!!
You earned it!
This story is awesome. Great use of the prompt!
Thank you so much!!! <3
No problem. Can't wait for your next story!