When I woke up on the morning, something clicked in me. It didn’t feel like my usual joints popping or a sudden epiphany, but rather it felt like a part of my fate had been sealed. I didn’t really feel like delving too much into these sudden thoughts at 7 in the morning, so I brushed it aside. After cooking myself breakfast and nearly burning my mouth from eating it too fast, I walked down the street to the bus stop. My phone vibrated in my pocket, jolting me awake. “Who the heck is texting me this early?” I muttered as I unlocked my phone. From an unknown number, the text read, You have 24 hours left, make the most of it. Tomorrow will cease to exist for you. My heart felt like it was doing summersaults in my chest and my mind started to race with infinite questions. My hands started to tremble as my mind started to settle on this what the text was telling me. I had to sit down at the bus stop so I wouldn’t collapse; I didn’t need further trouble. I tried calling the number, but the call wouldn’t go through. All I got was a low tone that reverberated in my head along with my confused thoughts. I called my sister and tried to tell her about the text, but she was too tired to even process what was happening. I even showed it to a businessman who was grumpily sitting next to me at the bus stop. He just shrugged and stared straight ahead again. At this point, I didn’t know what to do, so I ignored the text and focused on getting to work on time.
At work, my mind was too distracted from the text to even process what I needed to do. “Hey Jay, is everything okay? You look out of it.” Rob asked as he rolled his chair next to mine. I stuck on a fake smile and said, “Yeah, I’m fine! I just had a late night so I’m a little tired.” He winked at me before rolling back to his desk. By the time I had an idea of what I wanted to do for the new product design, it was time for lunch. My mind started to ease a bit after a couple jokes with the boss as he teased me, “Classic Jay. Always getting his ideas at the last minute, but your good ideas tend to be the ones that you think of close to the deadline.” I laughed and said “Well, that’s how things work out for me!” My phone vibrated in my pocket and my heart dropped, but it was just a text from my sister who finally understood what I was babbling about at 7:30 in the morning. Her texts didn’t appear to be very urgent, so I continued talking to my boss and co-workers before we had to go back to work.
I was starting to outline the logo for the design when my phone vibrated again. The sense of dread was still in my chest, but I checked my phone anyways. From the unknown number, the text read, 12 hours left, time doesn’t wait. I dropped my phone on the table and it landed with a loud clattering sound. I put my head in my arms and started to shake. Rob looked up from his computer and said, “Dude, are you okay? If you’re sick, you should go home.” His concerned voice and persistence struck me and tears started to fill my eyes. After all the years we’ve worked together, it was only on my last day that I noticed how much he’s been trying to be my friend and I treated him half of how he’s been treating me. I took a deep breath and looked up at Rob. “Hey Rob, sorry about that. I’ve been pretty stressed out lately. Thanks for always watching my back. I know that I don’t usually say it, but I really appreciate you.” I said before looking away. This was way too difficult to go through without having the constant need to burst into tears. He gave me the biggest smile and held out his fist, “Hey man, no biggie. It’s nice to work with someone who’s also your friend.” I smiled and reached out to bump his fist before going back to my project. While I was working, my hands didn’t shake because I was anticipating the worse, but I was thinking of everything I needed to do and if I had enough time. I concocted a list in my head, but I knew that I didn’t want to bail out on work. It was a rare occasion that I actually liked what I was doing, so I was going to do my best at my product design.
After work, I took the time to say good-bye to everyone at work and even though it took me nearly 40 minutes, it was worth the time. Seeing everyone’s smile and watching everyone drive safely away somehow warmed my heart. I walked over to my car and looked up, the stars were shining bright tonight and I spent the next hour naming all the constellations, surprised that I still remembered anything from my astronomy class that I had to take when I was in school. “Before stars die, it starts to collapse upon itself but it becomes the biggest and brightest it has ever been before exploding. When it explodes, it leaves behinds a bunch of new elements for all of space to discover.” I whispered to myself. Instead of being in awe of the life of stars, I could actually relate with them. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and called my sister. This time, she was more receptive and agreed to having dinner with me. I went to a restaurant that we had been to and enjoyed when we were little. She remarked, “This place was great. Why did we stop going?” I flipped open the menu and said, “It was probably too expensive for us as a family, but don’t worry about it today, I got it covered.” She raised her eyebrows at me and I laughed. I ended up ordering my childhood favorite and we ate and talked until our hearts were full. As I was walking her back to her car she said, “Wow Jay, that must have been the best night I’ve had in a while! Thank you so much for that.” When I didn’t say anything, but smile, she punched me on the arm like she used to when we were little. “Hey, you can’t still be paranoid about the text message? It’s probably some kid who’s messing with you.” I pulled out my phone and showed her the second message and she shook her head. “There’s no proof of anything!” she argued. “You don’t even know how you’re going to…” I pulled her into a hug and held her tight, feeling her soft sobbing pulse through me. “If it’s just a prank, then it doesn’t hurt to live life as if it’s my last. If it’s actually going to happen, then I wouldn’t be doing anything wrong or right for that matter. I’m just doing life.” I whispered into her hair. I continued to hold her and watched the stars flicker until her sobbing calmed down. She started to argue with me, insisting that she stay the night with me, but I wanted her to rest. I truly didn’t know what was going to happen to me, but I reassured her that I was taking all of my precautions and watched her drive away in to the night, the headlights like beacons in a sea of darkness.
I headed home and started making a bunch of phone calls. I called my parents and thanked them, trying to make my voice as calm as possible. I listened to my mother’s voice, a source of all comfort and in contrast, my father’s stern and steady voice. I bided them good-bye and wiped away some stray tears that had escaped during our conversation. I continued making phone calls while keeping track of the time. I talked with past classmates, past relationships and mentors who have motivated me throughout my life. After every conversation, I would end it by saying, “Thank you and have a good life! Take all the chances you have!” My heart was full, but at the same time, it ached. I looked up after saying good-bye to my best friend, my sleeve moist with tears of gratitude rather than sadness. It was 1:00am. I leaned back in my chair and sighed, my gaze resting on the ceiling and like a movie, my life played out in front of me. My phone buzzed, but I didn’t pick it up. I already knew what it said. Instead, I closed my eyes and waited.
Published by Alice C