Bob groped about blindly for the small device that was beeping him awake. His hand found plastic, fingers fumbled and formed around corners and buttons that were all too familiar, and the alarm was switched off. With his face still buried in the pillow, a soft pillow, like a cloud, like an inviting bosom, like a—
He forced his eyes open. The room was dark save for the last bits of light coming from a retiring moon. On the floor, the family cat was sitting, purring, waiting for the master to rise and conjure breakfast from the magical canister that never ceased to produce food. Bob got up, got dressed, and made his way carefully downstairs.
As he prepared his own lunch for the day, thoughts and ideas crept into his mind as mental processes came online. Another work day. Another commute. Another late return home. The hours in front of him stretched out like miles. Then, from the random firings that trigger in the brain and send the oddest things, a new thought appeared.
What if today is your last day?
He stopped, knife halfway cut through a block of cheese, and looked up. The living room was dark and empty. A happy kitty licked at its fur. The idea held and soaked into his mind like a single drop of blood soaking into a pristine piece of white cloth. What if today is the day you die?
Would it be so bad? You’ve had a good life.
He finished making his sandwiches and packed them into a blue cooler. Gathering his things, car keys and phone and various what-have-yous, the hypothetical dominoes started to tumble.
What would Catherine do? After the tears obviously. Remarry I guess. Maybe? Hard to say. I suppose if the right guy came along, someone who had a good job and loved the shit out of Brian, she’d be okay. Or not. Either way, she’d be okay. She makes things work. That’s just what she does.
He bid the kitty goodbye, immediately rephrasing the statement to something closer to see you later, and left the house. It was cool, but not cold. The conditions were clear and dry. He started his car.
God, poor Brian. He’d be one of those kids that grew up never knowing his dad. He’d tell his friends I died when he was young, that he has a few vague memories but nothing substantial. Nothing meaningful. He’d see pictures. He’d hear stories from friends. He’d have to go through that weird period where he’s mad to even talk about it, the lost father being held over him as though it could somehow be corrected. Poor little fucker.
Traffic was light as Bob merged onto the freeway. There was a strange stillness, a calm. With a leery eye, Bob wondered if things always felt like this while driving or if he was just making it up.
These cars would keep driving, he thought. Life goes on even when it stops. What kind of nonsense would they say at my funeral? I hope they focus on the good stuff, anecdotes, funny stories. Just stay away from that hero-esque BS. It’s so lame how people magically turn into saints when they die, especially if they’re young. Death is no reason to rewrite history.
Would you be okay with it?
If I died?
He looked out his window at the moon. It was full and bright and fighting against a morning sky filling with faded blue. There were no clouds, and he hoped it would rain soon.
I guess so. If you gotta go, you gotta go. I’m not special.
No regrets? Things left undone?
It wasn’t a fair question for himself. Death at an early age leaves many strings undone. Even those that appear tied tend to break free once more.
It’d be nice to realize a dream or two, he thought. But I imagine that’s always the case.
The drive continued in the same state of calmness. He found his off-ramp and made it in on time. Life continued on.