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THE NEXT DAY

“It’s finally over,” I said.

“It is,” said Sam.

“I’m free.”

“You are.”

“It’s a new day.”

“It is.”

“You’re still here.”

“I am.”

“I can finally live.”

“We can finally live.”

“We can finally live,” I agreed.


###


When I walked out the door, I felt the rain on my face.

I let out a laugh so loud it startled Sam.

“It’s been a thousand years since I’ve felt rain,” I said.

“How does it feel?” he asked.

“Like I’m alive again.”

He smiled, taking my hand.

We started to walk down to the diner.

As we walked, a car horn suddenly blared loudly.

I shrieked and nearly jumped out of my skin.

Sam chuckled.

“That was unexpected,” he said.

As the adrenaline faded, I couldn’t help but smile too.

“It was,” I said, happily.


###


We decided to wander around town.

There was a crack that lifted the sidewalk and I tripped over it.

I fell down and scraped my knee. It bled.

“That’s weird, that wasn’t there yesterday,” I said. “I would have known.”

Sam looked around, then pointed to a large tree near the sidewalk.

“I’ll bet there are roots underneath, it must have grown and finally popped the cement. Ya know?”

I looked at the tree. I knew it well.

Yesterday, I’d saved a kid who fell out while climbing. When I didn’t save him, he’d broken his back and been paralyzed.

I could see there was a root that peeked up out of the dirt, then ran under the sidewalk.

I supposed I knew that things didn’t grow when I lived the same day over and over again.

Everything was arrested.

Except me.

I’d been able to grow and change.

At least in my heart and mind.

Otherwise I wouldn’t be here now.

It wouldn’t be the next day.

Now everything could grow…

Everything could change.

“You okay?” Sam asked.

I shook my head, as if to shake out the thoughts that nipped at my mind like a puppy chasing ankles.

“Yeah. Fine. Just thinking.”


###


We wandered into an antique shop, one I’d been to many times before.

I went straight for the vase I’d had my eye on for a few hundred years.

There was no point in buying it before.

Every day, the day reset. So everyday I would have lost it.

But not anymore.

Now it could finally be mine.

As we walked to the front to pay, a child burst around the corner and bumped into me. I dropped the vase.

It shattered to pieces.

I stared down at the bright colorful shards, stark against the aged wooden floor.

It took a moment to hit me.

My immediate thought was: Next time, watch for the kid.

But there wouldn’t be a next time.

“I’m sorry Sara," Sam said with sincere concern. “Is there something else you want?”

I breathed slowly through my nose.

A feeling came upon me that I hadn’t felt since the resetting began.

I felt frustrated, confused, and…

Out of control.


###


While Sam was getting us popcorn from the vendor in the park, I sat on a bench watching the people go by.

This bench was where I’d sat when the day had first started resetting. Day in, day out, I watched and learned, until I knew every step that every person took, knew every change in the breeze, every chance incident.

I’d gotten quite good at observing, which was why I noticed Pastor Robertson. He had his nose in a book even as he crossed the street, so he didn’t see the car being driven by Carter Bostwick. Carter was looking at his phone and heading straight for the Pastor.

I burst from the bench screaming at the Pastor but my scream made him stop…and Carter barreled into him.

As a crowd gathered around the body, I stood paralyzed.

My first thought was don’t yell next time.

It was automatic. A habit from living so long in the reset.

But there would be no next time, no second chance. Not for me.

Not for him.


###


“So what?” demanded Sam. “You’re just never going to leave the house again?”

I hadn’t left the house in over a month.

“When I go out there now…I don’t know what will happen next,” I said.

“When I leave the house I don’t know what will happen next,” said Sam.

“But I did! If I messed up, I always had a second chance…”

“What happened to you Sara was something not of this world. But you’re back in this world now and in this world there are no second chances.”

“I know it doesn’t make sense…but I felt safe in the reset.”

“If you’re waiting for life to be safe, you’ll never live.”

“I just…I can’t go out there not knowing. Anything could happen.”

“But that’s what makes life great. Yes sometimes it’s bad. But sometimes…sometimes it’s good beyond your imagination. The first time we met was chance.”

“It wasn’t.”

“What do you mean?”

“We didn’t meet on the original day. I ran into you about ten years into the reset. And I set up our ‘chance’ meet.”

He stared at me for a long moment.

“I don’t care. What matters is that we did meet. What matters is what is.”

“Before there was nothing that ‘was.’ No matter what I did, the day reset and you were gone. But you…everything can just as easily be gone even without the reset. I can’t go out there. It’s too risky. Please, stay here. With me.”

Sam looked at me sadly.

“Sara, you’re asking me to stop living. I love you…but I can’t do that.”


###


You’re asking me to stop living.

His words echoed in my mind, long after he was gone.

I’d been trapped in a world that didn’t change, in a life in which I couldn’t live.

Now I was trapped living in a world that constantly changed, in which I was too afraid to live.

The Next Day: Project
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