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Write a short story, of 650 words or fewer, based on the image above. You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.
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Entry Deadline: October 8, 2018 - CLOSED
Winner: "Seeing Clearly"
The late afternoon sun is dipping into evening, and the market is painted with hazy light. I’m tired from walking too much in my cute sandals; I don’t know why I always forget that 40 isn’t the new anything. I’m bending over to adjust an ankle strap when someone bumps against me.
His bare leg brushes mine.
That’s all it takes. I can see his future in a flash – he’s gazing off into the distance and doesn’t see the car barreling into the market. It’s all over in an instant. I don’t want to see the aftermath, but I see it anyway.
I’ve had this “gift” ever since puberty – with skin-on-skin contact, I can see a person’s final moments. At first I tried to use my visions to save people – chasing, begging, crying – but it never worked. After a year in the psych ward as a teenager, I learned to shut up and let fate win.
Nowadays, I work from home, have my groceries delivered, never touch anyone. It works, but it’s so lonely. I’m not sure why I thought coming to the local food festival was a good idea. I thought I could come late in the day, when the crowd had started to thin, and live like a normal person for a couple of hours. I thought.
I look up at him, and I’m struck by how young he is. He’s got to be a college kid – t-shirt and khaki shorts, backpack and baseball cap, an earnest attempt at facial hair.
He’s staring at me with a look I haven’t seen in years. It’s the look that comes into their eyes when I tell them what I’ve seen: fear, dismay.
But this time, I didn’t say anything. How does he know? I step back, mumbling, “Sorry.”
He opens his mouth, hesitates, shifts his paper plate of lo mein between his hands. He’s trying desperately to figure out what to say. I recognize every gesture. And suddenly, I understand.
“What did you see?” I ask him.
Panic flickers in his eyes, chased by confusion.
“When you touched my leg,” I say. “You saw something bad.” Now my brain is catching up to what I’m saying, and a shudder of fear passes through me.
“How did you know-“ His eyes widen in realization.
“I can see it, too,” I tell him. “Any time someone touches me, I see how they…” I can’t say it out loud, so I do the one thing I never do. I put my hand on his arm.
The whole thing flashes through my mind again – his distant gaze, the out-of-control car, his backpack on the pavement.
I let go of his arm and look into his eyes, as if I can see my future in them if I try hard enough.
“You need to go,” he tells me.
“I think we both need to.”
Finally it all clicks for him; now he understands how terribly mutual this is. “I’ve tried to stop accidents, but I never can,” he says. “Do you think we really can change anything?”
“I don’t know,” I reply. ��But it’s worth trying, don’t you think?”
Hope blazes in his eyes for the first time. “Come on,” he says. “Let’s get out of here.”
I fall into step behind him. He glances back at me and smiles, then gazes off toward the parking lot.
My blood freezes as I recognize the moment. There’s a roaring sound – is it the car, or is my own heartbeat in my ears?
I grab his arm with both hands and throw myself backwards.
We land in a heap as the car sails through the space where he was standing and smashes into a food cart.
I’m alive. For the first time in my life.