How would you live the rest of your life, she had wondered, if you knew you only had a finite number of days left? How would that change things? Would it make the sad, lackluster time sweeter? Would something shine?
Jesus Christ knew the number of days left before his death. So did killers on death row. Did it change things? Make the quality of your final days differ? She wanted to find out.
She gave herself ten days. Ten final days, and what would she make of the rest of her life?
Ten. She quit her job. Not only did she quit, but she quit with joy, with verve. She said, “I quit,” and did a little dance on her boss’ desk. She threw her head back and laughed as she was escorted out by security. She flipped the building off and stopped for a midday ice cream on the way home.
Nine. She slept in. She got out of bed to answer the door and eat the Chinese she ordered. She ordered everything on the menu that she had ever wanted to try. All of the shrimps and the sauces and everything delicious. She laid in bed with her food around her, watching lame reruns on the TV because she could. She ate trash, watched trash, and let the trash of the day pile up around her.
Eight. She spent the day throwing up trash, trash, trash. She wanted to simply forget day eight.
Seven. She showered and shaved and plucked. She powdered and perfumed. She put on that darling dress in the back of her closet that she’d purchased for a special occasion. There had never been a special occasion. Today wasn’t that special occasion, either, but she looked at herself in the mirror with clear eyes and a small smile.
Six. She called her mother. She called her best friend. She called the guy who had given her his number a few months ago. He was surprised to hear from her, but still remembered her.
“I’ve had your number in my wallet ever since the party, just in case I decided to call,” she admitted shyly.
He laughed and it was a beautiful sound. “I’m so glad you did,” he said. “What changed?”
She didn’t answer but asked him if he wanted to go to a play with her later that week. He agreed. She bought tickets and also wondered what she should wear to her funeral. Most likely the special occasion dress.
Five. She bought the grand piano she had always wanted. It was glossy and gorgeous, and they brought it right to her home. The piano tuner tuned it, and then played the most intricate music she had ever heard.
“I think I’m going to cry,” she told him, and when he played the old song her father used to sing to her, she did.
Four. She played the piano.
Three. She played the piano. She slept beneath it that night. There was plenty of room and her dreams were ethereal.
Two. She pulled on her favorite scarf and went to the park. The trees were bare and the wind bit at her, but it tasted fresh. She had always wanted to go to Iceland, or to Finland. She wanted to drink the purest water in the world and watch the aurora borealis. She felt a tight pang in her chest when she realized that would never happen. Was this sorrow? Yes, it was definitely sorrow, but then she saw a fluffy white dog and there was no room in her heart for any type of sadness. It was full of oversized paws and soft fur and a warm puppy tongue and everything inside of her heart fit perfectly.
One. She wore her special occasion dress and met her date at the theater. He was charming and his eyes squinted when he laughed. The actors were talented and she caught her breath during the play several times, but it caught most when this kind man gently took her hand and held it. He held it for the rest of the show and as they walked outside into the moonlight.
“I wish it didn’t have to end,” she said, and the beauty of the world was nearly too much. There were grand pianos and fluffy dogs and delicious food. There was art and plays and friends she didn’t even know existed yet. She wanted to see the Northern Lights. She hadn’t wanted anything in years.
“Who says it has to end?” he asked her, quizzically. “This could just be the beginning to everything.”
The beginning or the end. She would stay up tonight and decide. She blinked at him and her eyes reflected the moon.
∼ Mercedes M. Yardley
© Copyright Mercedes M. Yardley. All Rights Reserved.