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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Recording the Future

(Entry for Round 10 of NPR's Three-Minute Fiction. Mona Simpson asked for 600 words in the form of a voice mail message.)
    [Sounds better when read aloud]

Hello, sixty-five-year-old me.
I wonder if you recognize your own voice. I know you won’t remember having done this. How impressed am I over this technological feat of mine? Have I hung up on myself yet?
I assume you’re standing at the front window while you listen to this message. Is it arrogant of me to assume I’m still alive? There’s no particular reason why I shouldn’t continue on this earth, in this house, at this number. But if the past five years have taught me anything, it would be how fragile life is. How tenuous our hold on it. I can see me nodding my head. We still understand each other. Good.
I was going to wish me a happy retirement. Wishing me a happy birthday might be just another kick in the pants, right? But I doubt I’m anywhere near retiring. Even if the economy has bounced back by now, I was never more than a minimum wage kinda girl, was I?
There are some questions I won’t ask, in case the kids want to hear this later. I know you know what I mean, and I hope I’m answering with a smile. If so, then I’m glad I called. I hope I’ve found some more people to love. I know it’s tough. Still, I hope.
No need to ask about the kids. Those worries are always the same, aren’t they, and they never stop, do they?
What was so important that it had to come back and bite me fifteen years later? I guess I want to make sure that I finally got my act together. After all the mortgage payments and school books, all the career moves and trips to the dentist, have I found time for me? To do what I always wanted to do? If not, it’s okay. I want to remind you that there’s still time.
Have you allowed yourself the time to create that work of art? You know you have it in you. You can still feel it, I’m sure. Have you sat down, one entire day after another, and let it wash over you, under you, around you until you can feel it move you?
Did you buy the divan I dream of? The plush burgundy one that’s just as suited to being softly ravished upon as to reading?
Did you line the hall in shelving to hold all the books, or are they still in towering columns crowding the chair and desk, waiting for the right moment to topple in and imprison me forever?
Do I still want sometimes so desperately to be gently ravished?
Have I finished the Complete Works of Shakespeare?
Am I acting my age?
Have I lost my eyesight? God I hope not. Scary thought. Sorry.
I can’t seem to formulate the questions I thought I needed to ask. I’m standing here by the window, wondering why I needed to call. I guess I want to make sure I’m okay, in case I’m feeling that there’s no one left. In case we never did get over him. In case things turned out worse than I expected. If that’s the case, I’m sorry. In that case, I do know what you’re going through.
We’ve been here before. You’ll get through it. I’m persevering.
I hope I’m still drinking. If so, have one on me. I’ll be having one on you later.
Bye now, and please take care of yourself. I’ve got another twenty good years in me yet.
Okay. Bye.

Here's the winning story: http://www.npr.org/2013/03/09/173873714/three-minute-fiction-the-round-10-winner-is

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