Author’s Note: Traditionally, I publish inspirational stories with a romantic undertone on Wednesdays. This is not one of those days. I have just completed the finishing touches on a romance story that I have submitted to an annual writing contest at Writer’s Digest. In a balance of my genre specific writing, I offer you this short story. Please remember that this is a piece of fiction. The first person narrative seemed essential in order to convey a little extra emphasis to the story line.
It’s all I ever knew. I assumed it was normal. Everyone could do it in some capacity, I thought. My best friend, Joey, let me know just how abnormal it was on a summer day during my tenth orbit around the sun.
“Ready? I get first dibs. Red.” Joey felt slighted, having lost the last ten editions of this game. I couldn’t help that he chose such a heavily traveled intersection.
“Okay,” I replied. “I get orange.”
“Orange? Seriously? There’s no way dude. Might as well just fork over the buck fifty now.”
As we watched, the first car was a blue coupe, followed by two white sedans, then a red motorcycle. The next car that passed would determine the winner, or carry over the pot to the next day.
“No way, how did you do that?” uttered Joey in surprise. The orange pickup that rolled by us earned me another buck fifty, another ice cream cone or pack of baseball cards to add to my growing collection.
“What do you mean? It’s not that hard. Why don’t you ever use it?”
“Use what?” Joey replied. The look of confusion on his face had me perplexed as well.
That’s when I shared my gift, as it would come to be called by those who knew. Sometimes it was ten seconds, maybe fifteen, but it was never more that thirty. I could see the consequences of everyone’s actions in the world around me, thirty seconds into the future.
No one believed me, the ones I chose to share it with, but I had proven it over and over again. I felt as though it was some sort of cruel punishment, to see how things were going to play out before engaging in them. It sucked all the surprise and joy out of my life.
Over the course of my twenty-five years, I was never able to use it for any grandiose purpose. I figured it was the reason they closed lottery ticket sales an hour before the drawing, to prevent the system from being compromised.
I did, however, find places that I was able to use this gift to my benefit. I avoided that deer on the mountain highway, the one that would have sent my car plummeting into the ravine. And, I avoided the embarrassment of a rejected marriage proposal. The engagement ring remained deep in my pocket once I could foresee my fiancée deny one of my deepest wishes in life. I still can’t figure out whether that was a blessing or a curse, perhaps a little of both.
Joey and my parents were the only ones I ever told. All of them were gone now. It made no sense, how they simply disappeared, but I chose to keep my gift to myself from that point forward, just to be safe.
I know what you’re thinking. Why am I sharing this with you right now? Let’s just say that thirty seconds can make all the difference in the world.