Sands of a Lost Life

‘I’ file into the conference room, one by one. Each me takes a seat. ‘We’ line up, beginning at the age I am now, progressing up in age toward oblivion. From face to face, I see myself increasingly creased and careworn, faces aged in a way that now mine will never be, faces who experienced joy and loss that I robbed from myself. I see what would have been, what I became in futures forgotten, and I must know.

Stammering, I begin.

“You know why ‘I’ am here. Tell me. What do I miss? What do ‘we’ do?”

I feel the wind rush by. I see, in a flash, my choices come to bear.

The man next to me, still like a perfect reflection, speaks. Tears stain his face, contempt mars his expression.

“You get promoted last year. You get the chance you’ve always wanted to prove yourself worth. Just the beginning of a long and satisfying career.”

They go on down the line, aging, faces becoming haggard and sallow, but also wise, as they speak. The whistling echoes louder, but still distant, as if my fate hasn’t already been sealed, as if this conversation isn’t nothing more than an exercise in futility.

“You get married…”

“You adopt…”

“You finally finish that book. It’s a hit!”

I close my eyes, and the ground races closer.

On and on to the last, an elderly, weakened me, standing in the frame of death’s door. My face is lined with age, my eyes hardened by dismay at the path ‘we’ have chosen. His words hit hardest. They conjure another end. One I desire with all my heart.

“You die in his arms, happy. At least… you would have been.”

They pause now to grieve us, and all the possibilities we lost in my foolish youth. My guilt flows like sand. I feel that I must explain.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. But-”

A loud thud. All the ‘me’s disappear. The light fades; the room disappears in a shroud of darkness and silence.

Suddenly, I no longer hear the wind.