The Baby BoomerFebruary 1, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Posted in Fiction | 2 Comments
Tags: fiction, flash fiction, time travel
I skipped a challenge or two–I had things going on. But I needed to get back to the writing, so this one came along at just the right time. Chuck’s Challenge this week was to write something using present tense.
Originally I thought of a story about time travel. I think it still is.
Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The Present Tense
I’m laying on my deathbed. Lying? Laying? I’m laying on it, and lying. My daughter holds my hand. “I had a good life, Sweetheart. I have no regrets.” And I’m gone.
It was what she needed to hear, but I’ll never see her again. Probably. Here I go with the peaceful calm feeling and the sensation of floating and the goddamn light again. Oooh, a heavenly choir. Angelic voices. Fuck em.
Because here I am again getting pushed out of the womb. Again. Can’t a guy catch a break? You assholes who think you’ll sleep when you’re dead have got it all wrong. Sleep when you’re alive. I’ve been dead a few thousand times, and I never get so much as a catnap.
It doesn’t hurt, but it is annoying. The light hurts, but I refuse to cry. Not this time. The midwife slaps my ass and I choke and cough a little, and I give her a single “Wah.” I’m done with this shit.
I have the same mother, and the same tired, used nipples. Ain’t life grand?
I try so hard to remember everything, but it’s no use. It just fades away. I bet I’ve tried to remember before, too…but I don’t remember trying to remember.
Everything seems like déjà vu to me, but only because it is. I get caught up living life again, swept up in the exci—
A girl. I’m twenty. I turn. She looks familiar. If only I could remember what I did before. We’re sitting in the commons at university. I don’t know what I did before, but this time I’m studying engineering. She says to me, “Do you ever have déjà vu?”
I mumble, “My life is déjà vu.”
She smiled, not understanding. “What?”
I say to her, “I don’t remember.” It’s the only time I ever tell the truth.
We date, we marry. We have kids. This time, it’s three boys. My middle son, John, dies in a car accident when he’s 17. He dies because he is my favorite. Oh, well. I’ll have more. Next time.
“He seems out of sorts, doesn’t he? Since Johnny died.” I hear them in the next room talking about me. I smile and pretend to read the paper. Ha! I’ve always been out of sorts. That’s the problem.
As bored as I am with it all, Life always throws some curves at me. This time, my wife cheats on me. Chuck is supposed to be my friend, but I guess this is what people do. I’m sure I’ve done something to him. I hope he’s had a hot wife before, and that I fucked her.
I forgive Charlotte, but not because I’m forgiving. Slowly, over the years, I make her pay. She’s such a martyr, she just takes it. What a pathetic excuse for—
Just as I’m really invested in my hatred of her, she comes home crying. She just came from the doctor. She has cancer. She’s dying. I hold her and comfort her because she gives me no choice. “It’s going to be okay,” I tell her. I’m surprised that I tell her the truth, two times in one lifetime. It will be okay. She will die, and she will suffer no more.
And I have to go on.
Charlotte hangs in there like a trooper. Or to spite me, I can’t decide which.
Looking at her tombstone, with the space for my name ominously blank, I do what passes for reflection. I get the feeling, the sensation—
You know how when you have a dream, and you aren’t told things, but you just seem to know them? Like the rules for this dream and how things are done? I have that. I have that most of the time.
And I feel like I used to think I knew why this kept happening to me. Like the Hindu reincarnation, or I’m supposed to learn something and change and be a better person, and then I can move on.
I know it’s not like that, however.
It’s 2007, again. I’m 60 years old, and I’m alone. My two remaining sons have families conveniently on the coast, several hundred miles away. If I did it right, I pushed them away. In my condo I flip on the TV, and happen to see a movie coming up. Bill Murray—“Ground Hog’s Day.”
I’ve only seen it once before but it seems like I’ve seen it a hundred times.
When it gets to the part where he realizes he can become a better person for love, I pull the trigger.
The bright light hurts, but it’s a relief to be out. Still, I start crying before I get slapped by the midwife. That’s okay, because she cleans me off and hands me to my mommy. I love my mommy.
This is going to be a good one, I can feel it. I feel love, and I feel loved. When my eyes can see better I take in my surroundings. Middle-class post war, oddly familiar décor. I can read and I can think, I just can’t talk. Such is the life of a baby. From Mommy’s shoulder I see the calendar from the First National Bank. October, 1947. I’ve been here before, I bet.
The deep, strong voice of Papa fills the room. I’ve only known him for a day, but already I love him. He comes up to us and kisses Momma and gently touches me.
He says to Momma, “What are we going to name her?”