Time, Today, Life

Because of you, a multitude of lives are going to be saved.

They say time is constant. Unchanging. We’re to believe that a moment past is a moment we can never get back. Tomorrow will come only once.

This morning when you woke up, you had a sore neck. A hot shower didn’t help. The ibuprofen didn’t help. Massaging it did nothing, nor did stretching it. There’s nothing worse than a sore neck. You can’t turn to look over your shoulder when you back out of a parking space. You can’t look up or down. You walk around looking like a robot, your head unmoving because of the pain.

You thought about calling work to tell them you wouldn’t be able to make it in, but then you remembered you had a meeting with the president later. You’d been waiting to meet with her for weeks, so you kind of really needed to go to work. So, you went through your morning routine, then headed for your car.

On your way out the door, you remembered you hadn’t checked the mail when you got home from work last night, so you walk towards the mailbox instead of to the car. Once you have the mail in hand, you sort through it. Bills. Nothing but bills. And a Christmas postcard, which you promptly dropped. As you knelt to pick it up, you noticed a young man walking by you at the same instant that a sharp pain ran through your neck. Before you stood up and rubbed your neck, you noticed that the young man’s shoe was untied. You almost told him so, but your pain made you grumpy, so you kept your mouth shut and got in your car.

You backed out of your driveway and headed down the street towards work. Passing the bus stop, you noticed the same young man waiting for the bus. Without a second thought about his shoe lace, you made your way to work, and it must have been your lucky day because there was no traffic at all and you hit every traffic light when they were green.

The young man at the bus stop didn’t own a car. He took the bus to school every morning. This morning, while he was standing by the bus stop sign, a large truck drove by. Unfortunately for him, the night before had brought a large amount of rain, and at this bus stop, the drainage opening was clogged by debris. The puddle created from the rain reached about two feet out into the road. As the large truck drove by, it drove through the puddle, and that created a torrential wall of water that washed over the top of the young man with the untied shoe lace who was waiting at the bus stop.

Unable to go to school soaking wet, the young man returned home. He didn’t particularly want to go back home, though. His father had been out drinking the night before, so he was in a really pissy mood this morning. The young man wasn’t in the mood to deal with his father, but he couldn’t exactly go to school wet now, could he?

The instant he walked in the front door, his father appeared and started screaming at him about how worthless the young man was. The young man couldn’t stop himself and said to his father in a very polite voice, “Hey, Dad? Fuck off.”

Two seconds later, the young man was laying on the floor in the fetal position.

Because he was unconscious, the young man missed school that day, and his father stood there for the longest time waiting for him to wake up so that he could kick him again.

At the young man’s school waited his best friend. She, too, had not had a great morning. In fact, she’d told her parents that there was a chance she was pregnant. They’d immediately told her not to come home from school that day. Before leaving the house, she’d gone into her parents bedroom and taken her father’s gun from the lockbox in his closet. Being a police officer, her father knew all about gun safety.

She didn’t know what she was going to do with the gun. Or, rather, she did know, but she was hoping her best friend– the young man who lay unconscious at his father’s feet– would give her a reason to live. Being pregnant wasn’t a reason to live, and she didn’t know what else to do.

Of course, since he was unconscious, her best friend didn’t show up at school.

After a particularly awful lunch, the girl went into the restroom and took the gun out of her backpack. She stood in front of a mirror and slowly raised the gun to her temple. She took a deep breath, and her finger slowly started to squeeze the trigger. “Don’t pull the trigger, squeeze it carefully,” her father had always taught her.

Just as the hammer was released, a voice startled her and the hand holding the gun wavered. It wavered just enough so that the bullet it fired grazed the girl’s temple and ended up finding a target deep inside the chest of a girl with purple hair and black lipstick. Before the bullet even stopped moving, the gun was on the floor, dropped from the hand that had been holding it.

Within minutes, faculty and staff arrived, several of them on the phone with 9-1-1, others trying to institute a school wide classroom lock down, despite the fact that the gun was on the floor under a sink and the accidental shooter was sitting on a toilet sobbing and asking for someone to help her, that she was so, so sorry.

Before the ambulance arrived, the girl with the bullet in her chest was dead. D.O.A., as they say.

Now, wait a second. I’m pretty sure I said you saved a multitude of lives today, didn’t I? I think I did. Let me go back and reread what I wrote…

Yep, it says right there in the first sentence of this tale that “Because of you, a multitude of lives are going to be saved.”

So, what went wrong?

You see, they say that time is constant. Unchanging.

The simple matter of fact is that they’re wrong. It’s all bullshit. Time is a loop. The life you live today, you’re going to relive tomorrow. Or, rather, another you. Because we all live in an infinite number of time streams. They’re all identical, so it’s like living the same day over and over again, only it’s a lifetime, rather than a day. Nothing you do can be changed. It’s all fate. Destiny, if you will.

So, in actuality, nothing went wrong. You lived out your day the same way you had an infinite number of times before.

However…

When you woke up this morning, you had a sore neck. You took ibuprofen for it, then got in the shower. Letting the hot water run over it for a long while loosened up those muscles. Thank heavens because there was no way you could miss work today. You had a big meeting with the president and there was no way you were going to miss it. With pep in your step, you walked out your front door and locked it behind you. You started toward your car, but then remembered that you hadn’t checked the mail when you came home from work the night before, so you diverted your steps towards the mail box.

As you pulled the mail out, you noticed that it was mostly bills, but there was also a Christmas postcard mixed in. You tried to pull the postcard out, but instead dropped it to the ground. As you knelt to pick it up, you smiled because your sister’s baby was smiling up at you from the photo on the front of the postcard. Before you stood back up, a young man hurried past you and you noticed his shoelace was untied. He was moving fast, but you called out to let him know about it.

You then picked up the postcard, but dropped something else. You weren’t sure what it was, but you’d find it. Today was a good day.

The young man, a regular rider of bus number 67, made it almost to the bus stop before it dawned on him what you’d called out to him. He looked down, and sure enough, his shoe was untied. He stopped moving and bent down to tie his lace, taking time to retie the one on the other foot for good measure. Then he stood up and proceeded to the bus stop. Just before reaching his destination, a large truck drove by and created a wave that must have been well over six feet high. If he hadn’t stopped to tie his shoe, he would have been soaked clear through to the bone!

The bus arrived, and just before he boarded, it dawned on him that he’d left his backpack at home. Rather than getting frustrated, he just smiled and thought to himself that today was a nice day to walk to school. He turned around and headed home for his backpack.

At his house, his father had just climbed out of bed and he was very hungover. When the son entered the house, his father demanded to know why he was home again.

The young man, in a good mood for some reason, just laughed. “Sorry, Dad. Forgot my backpack. I’ll be out of your hair in just a minute.” This was funny because his father was bald. The older man raised a fist, then a strange look crossed his face.

“Out of my hair? Good one, son. I’ll let it go this time.”

And, totally out of character, the young man stepped over, kissed his dad on the cheek, and said to him “I love you, Pops,” then headed back out the door, book bag firmly in hand. The father placed his hand over his cheek, then started crying. After a few minutes, he pulled out a phone book, looked up a number, and dialed it on the old rotary phone hanging on the kitchen wall. When the voice on the other end picked up, he asked “Can you tell me when your next A.A. meeting is, please?”

At school, the young man’s best friend was waiting for him. She was on the verge of collapsing, having been kicked out of her parents’ house because she’d told them she was pregnant. When she saw the young man walking up the stairs, though, her spirits immediately lifted. He sat next to her, and as he listened with his arm around her shoulders, she told him her story. When she got to the part about the gun and that it was in her backpack, he convinced her to go to the principal with him so they could talk to the man and explain the situation, then give him the gun.

The principal was a kind hearted man, a very understanding soul. He didn’t overreact. He didn’t call the police and have the girl arrested. He merely offered her support, provided her with resources that could help her, and took the gun from her and placed it in his desk drawer. He then made sure that she had a place to go after school. When the students left his office, he called the campus police officer and asked him to make sure the gun was returned to the girl’s father. He then called the father and filled him in on what he’d just been told. The father broke into tears and told the principal that he and his wife had reacted badly, and they just wanted their daughter to come home so they could apologize and discuss her options. He asked the principal to tell the girl that her parents loved her very much and they wanted her home.

After hanging up the phone, the principal walked into the hallway and bumped into a girl with purple hair and black lipstick. “Good morning, Ruby! I like the new hair. How are you today?”

The girl smiled and told him a secret.

The secret was that she was having a baby. Thirty years later, that baby would discover a cure for cancer.

Because you walked out your front door in a good mood rather than the bad mood you’ve always gone out in, a cure for cancer was ultimately discovered.

You would never know what your impact your actions had on the world, and, sadly, you would never see that cure for cancer. The something else you dropped when you picked up the postcard was your car keys. As you stood up after retrieving them, you lost your balance and stumbled into the street, directly in front of an oncoming garbage truck.

You were killed instantly.

What a crappy ending to such a perfect day.