What I Have to Do


Long stretch of open road. Sunset. The steady thrum of an engine and four wheels spinning against the pavement. I'm going too fast, but it doesn't matter. Where I am going, where I am coming from, nothing can touch me.

I got rid of my watch a long time ago. It made things complicated, and complication is the last thing I need here. But from the position of the sun and the length of the shadows of the trees that fall across the road, I'd say it's almost nine o'clock.

If I have my timing right - and by now, I always have my timing right - I should be there in time.

I sqint my eyes against the dull orange glare, trying to remember just exactly where it happened. In many ways, I hate myself for ever forgetting. It was one of those pivitol moments in my life. One day I looked back on it and everything seemed so clear.

From there, things started falling into place.

The top of the water tower rises up in the distance, and I realize that I haven't forgotten. All this time, all this space, and my hands on the steering wheel still remember the way. Just one of those things that got trapped in my subconscious, I guess. A remnant from childhood that never really faded.

I've done this before.

Tires crunch against gravel, and I find myself at the base of the massive structure, painted an ugly shade of grey that has long begun to chip away. I see him first, even though the sun has slipped below the horizon line leaving the landscape in shadow. He's making his way up the ladder, up to the top. And even from where I sit in the cab of my truck, I can hear him sobbing.

And then I see myself, and it sends a jolt of adrenaline through my bloodstream. No matter how many times it's happened, I can never get over that initial shock.

My eighteen-year-old self glances at me as I get out of the truck. He doesn't recognize me. I never recognize myself. I'm not really sure what would happen if I did.

He shoots me a questioning glance, and then goes back to yelling. "David!" he shouts, frantically. "Get down, David! What the hell do you think you're doing?! GET DOWN! DO YOU HEAR ME, DAVID?!"

Eighteen-year-old David pauses on the ladder. I remember this. I remember. And I know what I have to do.

The End

12 comments about this story Feed