The Past and The Future | Issue 9
Excerpt from If I Die, Will You Die?
This month I’m sharing an excerpt from my prose series If I Die, Will You Die? in which the past and future are personified and engaged in an ongoing struggle.
This series will be included my fiction collection forthcoming with Book*hug in 2023.
On a particularly hot day in July, The Past was sunbathing on the wood deck when The Future barked: —That’s not good for you.
The Past didn’t reply because they were in that half-awake, half-asleep state they so often enjoyed.
The Future shook their head at The Past and got into a little motorboat to go fishing for pike. The Future had a bucket of minnows, a net, a rod, a fish bat, and even a little cooler for some beer and a snack. The sky was blue and the water was still. It truly was the most perfect day to fish.
The Future didn’t say when they be back and The Past had not bother to ask.
Neither The Past nor The Future had decided what they were going to make for dinner. The Past had a vague memory of some frozen hamburger defrosting on the kitchen counter but couldn’t remember if had been set out yesterday morning or today. In either case, the hamburger would likely be spoiled.
The sun was setting on the lake and the whole sky turned a beautiful orange and red and grey. When The Past finally woke up, they were burnt. Blisters had formed all over their shoulders, stomach, arms, and legs.
Every movement caused The Past to wince and cry out at the searing pain. It was so bad even tears formed.
Realizing it was getting late, The Past took off their sunglasses and scanned the lake for a sign of The Future.
But there was none.
Not a single boat could be seen along the horizon.
—That’s strange, The Past said, a little puzzled, a little shocked. —I just assumed The Future would always be there.
The Future and The Past were having a play date with their children in The Future’s new swimming pool.
When The Future went inside to get some snacks, The Future’s child, who was swimming in the deep end, started to drown.
Instead of rushing over to help the child, The Past just looked at the drowning child and went back to enjoying their fruity drink and menthol cigarette.
When The Future finally emerged with peanuts and chips and saw their child floating face down in the water, they asked what happened.
—Your child drowned, The Past said.
The Future burst into tears. —I should have known better than to leave them with you. —You just care about your own children.
—That’s not true, The Past said. —I don’t care about them either.
“Children” was previously published in 2017 in Dreamland.
“Sunburn” was previously published in 2016 Public Pool.
Kathryn Mockler co-edited the print anthology Watch Your Head: Writers and Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis (Coach House Books, 2020) and is the publisher of the Watch Your Head website.
Issue #9 of Send My Love to Anyone
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