Word Count 498
By Mike Cecconi
You wake up knowing you died yesterday yet here you are, safe in bed. This isn’t the first time, it’s happened often enough to lose count, dead but alive, no one else able to recall a thing. You only remember it hazily yourself, like a film you saw as a child or a story told so many times it began to feel real.
You wake up remembering things that no longer were, alive again. An illness, maybe killed by a lover or a plane crash but by next morning, you’re safe in bed and it no longer happened, at least not to you. The plane still exploded but you never boarded. History’s written you out, you never bought that ticket and now you’re alive.
You wake up quantum immortal. You don’t know why or if it happens for everyone and nobody says it out loud, only that it’s like this for you. You die then you wake up alive in a world where you never made the choices that led to your death. No one else ever remembered and whenever you talked about it, you were just sent to a shrink or a priest, so eventually you gave up trying.
You wake up quantum immortal. You imagine you’ll stay dead of old age someday but that’s a long way off. Every death you avoid, all the risks leading up to it erased. All of your ends’ past causations, now just tales no one believes. The best times of your lives, gone. For your ex to not kill you, you no longer dated her at all. The first kiss, the first time you made love, all you had with her, gone. Your life was the baby with death’s bathwater. To dodge lung cancer, you never smoked, never made friends on smoke breaks, never started that band. You were on that plane to visit friends from your semester in Europe so now you never knew them, either.
You wake up quantum immortal. You wake up alive knowing that the price paid for living is that you lived less. Risks untaken, chances unexplored, pieces of you gone. Every time you wake up alive, your past disemboweled, left with another phantom limb. It feels like it will go on like this forever until there is no possibility, no scenario left where you risked anything at all, just to keep waking up safe in bed. Someday you’ll be one-hundred-and-thirty, everyone will ask you your secret but if you say, they’ll chalk it up to senility while marveling all the same. They’ll never suspect that you lived so long because choice-by-choice and risk-by-risk and bit-by-little-bit you will have never really lived at all.
You wake up again, trying to remember what you lost this time, wishing you’d taken every one of those risks, made every one of those choices, wake up wishing you’d experienced life instead of just surviving for so very long. But hey, at least you woke up safe again, right? Right?