The Story of My Future
“The future is limited by the past and the present – unless, there is a vision.”
She hid under shelter by the entrance for the second night in a row. Shivering, rubbing her chest, secluding herself from scrutiny, one could only assume she was a vagrant; or worse, she was consumed by negative influences. Drew pulled up alongside her, despite knowing that she would be the beginning of his downfall.
Her name was Talisa; sixteen, but looked eighteen, skinny-fat, dark brown skin, she wouldn’t say much, watching the tears wash the car window. But Drew was just as quiet, without an expression on his face, staring down the dead path before him.
When they arrived at Drew’s place, Talisa’s jaw dropped, staring wide-eyed at the two-story house. She walked closer, brushing the stone gate, inspecting every tile on the walk path towards the entrance, feeling the essence of Drew’s sanctuary. Drew wasn’t moved by this, but he wasn’t despising her either, he simply was.
Drew let Talisa in, walked her to the bathroom, handed her a towel, stepped out and came back with some dry clothes for her. Left alone, Talisa indulged in a warm shower, letting the steam swell the bathroom, only to drop her shoulders and roll her head on her left side, letting her head hang, while her conscience weighed on her. When she couldn’t bother with herself anymore, she turned the tap off, took a deep breath and eventually stepped out of the shower, to find her blurred self in the mirror. She wiped the glass to see a different Talisa; one who has glistened from the kindness of a stranger. But then, she started to pick at the callus around the nail on her index finger with her thumb. It took her a while before she could stop herself.
After putting on the clothes Drew gave her, Talisa made her way to the living room, finding Drew sitting on his couch, staring at his library of books, drinking watered down scotch. In that moment, it occurred to Talisa how formal Drew was, sitting up properly, hands clasped around his glass; everything about him felt pristine and perfect, yet odd, since no one behaved like he did. She also noticed other peculiar qualities about the layout of his living room; that Drew didn’t have a TV, that there weren’t any decorations or photos, there was no hint of a history, there was just space; more space than stuff.
Drew finally noticed Talisa, “Are you hungry? I’ve got plenty of food to choose from.”
“Uh, I don’t want to…”
Drew quickly jumped in, “It’s not an issue.”
Talisa looked away, staring down at the floor, contemplating a decision.
“Do you want some pasta?”
“Pasta would be good. Thanks.”
Drew stood up and walked to the kitchen.
Talisa eventually followed, sat at the kitchen counter and watched Drew cook, tossing and turning the pasta, imagining herself eating the pasta, the taste, the idea of food filling her up. Once Drew was done cooking, he plated up and served her.
“You not hungry?”
“I’ve already eaten.”
“I can’t eat then,” Talisa stopped, pushing her plate forward. “I can’t eat alone when someone else isn’t.”
“I don’t know. I just can’t.”
“It’s not that difficult.”
Drew picked up her fork and handed it to her.
“It just doesn’t feel right.”
Drew didn’t say a word and she eventually caved in, taking the fork. She pulled the plate towards her and continued to eat.
Drew simply smiled.
After a few mouthfuls, Talisa asked, “So, what do you do?
Drew adjusted his position, “I’m a TV presenter.”
Talisa stopped before eating her next forkful of pasta.
“Get out of here.”
“What channel are you on?”
“What do you present?”
“Wow. Sorry, I didn’t recognize you.”
“It’s okay,” Drew diverted to his go-to smile.
“Is it exciting?”
“It has its moments. Would you want to be a news presenter?”
“No, I wouldn’t be able to…”
Drew jumped in again, “Don’t write yourself off like that. You can do more than you think.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Yes, you can.”
Talisa shook her head, “That sort of life isn’t for me.”
“You’d surprise yourself.”
Talisa giggled, but with disdain, rocking back in her chair, “I surprise myself every day, just not in the most fortunate of ways.”
Drew didn’t say anything, looking back at Talisa, waiting for her to continue her spiel. But Talisa didn’t continue complaining, staring back at Drew in silence.
“Sorry. I sound sad.”
Talisa started eating again, wearing less tension on her shoulders. After finishing another mouthful, “How come you don’t have a TV? Kind of ironic, don’t you think?”
Drew laughed, lightly.
“I just don’t need one.”
“You’re weird. No offense.”
“None taken.” After a moment, “I’m going to let you enjoy your meal. I’ll be in the living room.”
Drew left the kitchen.
After finishing her meal and cleaning her plate, Talisa walked into the living room, finding Drew formally sitting on the couch, speed reading, flipping through pages.
“How do you read so fast?”, interrupting Drew.
Drew stopped and turned to face her.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean…”
Talisa hesitated from moving closer.
“The trick is to read only the important passages. Every writer likes to write more than they need to; and they often fill the pages with experiences that they’ve lived through, but have nothing to do with the story. You learn to skim those parts and look for the parts that are important, where they express something that is meaningful; meaningful to you, that is.”
Talisa absorbed Drew’s lesson and walked closer to the couch.
“Do you want a book?”
“No, I’m okay.”
“Are you sure?”
“You can have a look if you want to.”
Drew stood up and approached his library.
“There’s plenty to choose from.”
Talisa walked over to Drew, stood beside him and examined the books.
“I have a bit of a confession to make.”
Talisa looked down at her hands and started to pick at her calluses again.
“I’ve never really read a book.”
Talisa took a deep breath.
“Meaning, I’ve never read a book. I can read, I just haven’t read a book.”
“There’s never a bad time to start.”
“I don’t think it’s worth it though, to start now.”
Drew turned to a section of the library, searching for a particular book and quickly landed on the book. He picked the book out and handed the book to Talisa.
“Try this one.”
Talisa gently accepted the book, opened the first page with consideration and began to feel the words in front of her. Drew watched Talisa digest the opening pages.
“This is something.”
“I knew you’d like it.”
Talisa closed the book and handed it over to Drew.
“You can continue reading. You can read anything you want.”
“There are so many books to read.”
“And you’re going to love every word of every book; even if you speed past most of them.”
Talisa smiled, cracking her negative shell.
Again, Drew diverted to his go-to smile.
A moment passed as Talisa stood beside Drew, feeling the friction of her own thoughts. She had to inquire.
“Why are you taking care of me? I have to ask.”
Drew stretched his arm out to the couch.
“Perhaps we should sit.”
Talisa hesitantly walked to the couch and sat down. Drew eventually sat down beside her.
“This is going to be hard to believe.”
Talisa didn’t say a word, honing in on what Drew was about to say. Drew took his time.
“I have this thing.”
“A thing?”, as Talisa’s eyebrows crunched.
“That’s what I’ve come to call it.”
“What sort of a thing?”
“I can see more; more than what everyone else sees.”
“What do you mean “see more”? Do you mean ghosts? Or monsters?”
“No. It’s something else.”
“What is it, then? What is it?”
“You’re going to freak out. I’m preparing you.”
Again, Drew took his time.
“I can foresee my life.”
“W-What does that mean?”
“I can see into my future.”
They look back at each other, until eventually, Talisa started to laugh.
“You’re joking, right?”
With a straight face, “I understand why this might seem funny.”
“You’re not joking?”
“Nah. No. You’re pranking me.”
“If it’s true, then what am I going to say next?”
“I say that you were going to say “Lucky guess”. But then, you don’t say anything and we look at each other, not saying anything. You then start to laugh to ease the moment and then, say “Lucky guess. That would be something that I’d say”.”
Talisa goes quiet, staring back at Drew. Drew doesn’t respond, only for Talisa to eventually start laughing.
“Lucky guess. That would be something that I’d say.”
Drew simply looked back at Talisa.
“Okay, you got lucky there, mister.”
“Or I do have this thing.”
“You have to do something else to prove it to me because I’m not buying it.”
“That has been one of the challenges I’ve faced with this, I haven’t yet been able to convince anyone that I have this thing. You’re the only one who will ever believe me.”
“Me? Of all people?”
“It is pretty hard to believe,” with a hint of laughter.
“It is. Give it time.”
Talisa went silent, soaking in the information.
“Well, how-how does it work, then?”
“When I visualize, I can see my future.”
“Your future? You can only see your own future? No one else’s?”
“Just my own. It’s similar to how we reminisce about the past, only I can reminisce about my future too.”
“So, you know everything that happens to you before it happens?”
“Then why don’t you…you know, use it?
“It doesn’t work like that. I can see what happens, but I can’t change it.”
“I don’t remember when I first saw my future; I must have been a child. But when I was younger, I do remember having these moments when I saw the rest of my life. I didn’t think much of it, until some of my vision started to come true. I started to see myself going through school, my career, my relationships, friends, my parents passing away; it started to get to me. I then tried to change my path, but then, I knew everything that was going to happen, so I knew that I’d be stopped and what exactly would stop me. I even tried to kill myself once, to see if I could end this thing completely. But I saw a man pull me from the edge of the bridge and that’s what happened. I don’t have control of my future; it’s simply projected for me. My life is my own personal movie, where I feel every emotion without determining where I go or what I do or how I do it or even why I do it. I don’t have control.”
“It’s not terrible. It’s taught me to be grateful.”
After a moment, “So, why are you telling me all this?”
“I can’t stop this; I don’t have control. But this does have an impact on you. That’s why I brought you here. That’s why I’m telling you all this.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your life is going to change. You are going to become an activist and a public figure for equal rights. You are going to stand up against all forms of premeditated crimes; domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, war, all of it. You are going to reshape our world for the better.”
Shaking her head, “That not going to happen. That’s-That’s ridiculous.”
“Nah. It’s not…”
“As I said before, “you’d surprise yourself”.”
Talisa wasn’t sure what to say next.
“There are going to be a few moments over the next coming days that are going to reshape your life.”
“Like what? What’s going to happen?”
“I want you to prepare for the worst.”
“I’ve endured the worst. I can prepare for it.”
Suddenly, Talisa struck herself; the realization that she had gone through extremely tough times was a thought that made her believe in her own self-pity, but the sudden phrasing of words that came from her subconscious-self began to make her recognize that it was those tough times that made her stronger, preparing her for any confrontation she might potentially encounter in the future. After going through her own revelation, Talisa looked up at Drew with a deep belief that he had structured their conversation in such a way that she would come to find her own moment of inspiration and that he was telling his truth.
“What happens next?”
I woke up the next morning and found Talisa asleep on the couch, in peace; and then, I heard the trucks and media crew outside. I walked to the entrance door, locked it and peaked out the front window to find a swarm of reporters camping around the house. They couldn’t even see me, yet I could feel their judgement. Talisa woke up, hearing the commotion and quietly retreated, putting her back against the wall and away from any view of the windows.
I told Talisa, “You know what to do.”
And Talisa nodded back, keeping quiet.
I walked up the stairs to my bedroom, cleaned up, quickly changed into a suit and tie and walked back downstairs. I casually walked out the front entrance, in full view, as if it were a normal day. The reporters rushed me, belligerently throwing questions in my face, like animals, treating me like another animal. As I made it through the flock of reporters, I was able to overhear one of the reporters shout out, “Who is the young girl?”, explaining the storm around me. Without saying a word, I got in my car and peacefully drove to work.
When I got to the station, another set of reporters were barricading the main gate and started banging my car to evoke a reaction, any response at this early stage, but I didn’t budge. It took a good fifteen minutes to calmly nudge past them all. After I parked my car, I walked into the main entrance, saying “Hello”, to the receptionist only to get a hesitant, trying-to-be-polite smile in return; she really did try her best to be nice. As I walked up to the office floor, I walked through to my room, seeing all the previously-friendly faces look at me with uncertainty; it’s amazing how capricious some people can be. I continued walking to my room, closed the door behind me and sat at my desk, seeing everyone watch me through my glass walls. Suddenly, a knock at the door: my boss. I got up, let her in and she shut the door behind her.
“What are you doing here?”
“It’s Thursday,” as I sat at my desk.
“Didn’t you get my email?”
“I was too distracted this morning.”
“I bet you were.”
She leaned against the glass wall, to block some of my colleagues from trying to interpret our conversation.
“Who is the girl?”
“Someone on the streets. She looked like she needed help. I helped her.”
“It looks like you picked her up. There’s a video of her getting into your car. It’s online.”
She pulled out her phone and showed me the footage. The video didn’t show me through my car window, nor Talisa’s face, nor pick up on what we were talking about; it could have been interpreted in a number of different ways.
“Whatever you did, whatever happened, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t look good for us. You need to keep your distance from the network.”
She stopped herself, realizing how off-putting she was portraying herself to be.
“We’re going to help you through this, but we need to let things cool down a bit; at least for a day.”
It was clear that they weren’t going to help me; they were only encouraging me to stay away.
I nodded my head, got out of my chair and left, without saying anymore.
I got home, back through the legion of reporters, only to get some help from two detectives, who happened to arrive simultaneously. The detectives fended off the reporters, like flies and gave me a safe path to my house.
“Are you okay?”, one of the detectives asked.
“Yes. I’m okay.”
Talisa walked into the hallway and saw the detectives. The detectives saw Talisa.
“That’s the girl?”, the same detective asked.
That detective quietly walked up to Talisa, “Hey, there. What’s your name?”
The detective crouched down, while the other detective asked, “Can I get a drink?”, obviously trying to place us in separate rooms.
I walked the detective into the kitchen.
“What do you want? I have water, orange juice, apple juice, coffee, tea.”
“Water would be nice, thanks.”
I got us each a glass of water, while the detective scanned my every move.
“Do you mind if I ask a few questions?”, whipping out his notepad so that I wouldn’t have a choice.
“I don’t mind.”
“Talisa, how do you know her?”
“I don’t know her.”
The detective stopped.
“So why is she here, then?”
“She looked like she needed food and a warm shower and I asked her if she was hungry and wanted a place to stay for the night.”
“You just asked her?”
“Okay,” writing down a note.
“Why her? Why not someone else who needs food and shelter?”
“She was hiding near the parking lot entrance the night before. And she was there again last night. I felt guilty for not helping her the night before.”
“I see,” writing down another note.
“That’ll do for now.”
The detective stood up.
“We’ll keep in touch.”
The detective put his notepad away, drank his glass of water and wiped his mouth.
“Thanks for the water.”
I only smiled back.
The detective called for his partner and eventually, his partner came out of the living room with Talisa.
“Talisa is coming with us, aren’t you Talisa?”
Talisa nodded her head.
The detectives looked at me, as the detective standing by Talisa asked, “Is that okay with you?”
The detectives looked to each other, surprised by my cooperation.
“Do you have a back door? We don’t want them to interfere.”
I walked to the back window, with the detectives and Talisa following me, and peaked outside to find a few reporters staking out.
“If you walk out the front entrance and drive around back, you won’t have as many reporters to deal with.”
The detectives took a look outside.
“Okay, let’s do it.”
The detectives calmly left through the front door, while Talisa and I waited around the back of the house. After a few minutes, the detective’s car drove up the street along the back of my house, encouraging the reporters to jump into action, surrounding the car. The detectives parked just outside, ran up to my house, with a jacket, knocked on the door, grabbed Talisa, walked her to their car, covering her with the jacket while fending off reporters, got in their car and drove to the police station.
That night, half of the reporters left, realizing that Talisa was at the police station, while the other half were still camped outside waiting for a reaction, a sudden outburst of some form. I went to bed, turned off the lights and shut my eyes. Then I heard a loud crash. I sat up, turned the lights on and walked downstairs. I found a large rock, lying on my floor, around shattered glass, having been thrown through the living room window. I paused and decided to look for a broom. But as I turned into the kitchen, I saw a large shadow, standing against the wall. A shock went through my system. I then heard another shadow creek in from the hallway, surrounding me. They stepped into the dim night light, revealing that they were wearing gloves.
“I don’t deserve this.”
“No one deserves anything,” said the large shadow.
I made a run for it, attempting to bypass the smaller shadow in the hallway. But he managed to grab me and pin me down to my floor. I tried to push him off me, but he was too big.
The smaller shadow covered my mouth and slammed my head against my floor. The headache was unbearable; my world was spinning before me. Then the larger shadow walked in.
“Do it quietly,” he said to his accomplice.
They started beating me, punching and kicking me everywhere, leaving cuts, bruises and scars, ‘til the point where I would become unrecognizable.
“Let’s go,” said the smaller shadow.
And then, they disappeared. I rolled over, spat out some blood and caught my breath.
“Help!”, I screamed repeatedly.
In time, police officers showed up at my crime scene, hurried me to the hospital, where I was taken care of.
I woke up the next day, unable to move, feeling my swollen face, my body throbbing and my heart pulsating; I shouldn’t be alive. Then one of the nurses came in, noticing that I had woken up and rushed to get the doctor. The doctor told me the damage and wanted me to know that it was going to be a slow recovery, but a full recovery and that the hospital would do everything to help me get there.
And the doctor was true to her word. I got the best of care from nurses and physios, teaching me how to walk again, talk again, move again, among other motor skills I had to relearn. Without the hospital’s help, I wouldn’t have been able to stage my come back.
The case was quickly dropped. Talisa told the police that she was just taken in and looked after. The detectives believed her and didn’t have any evidence proving that I did anything illegal, leading them to conclude that the media tried to force a story that wasn’t there. But the damage had already been done.
After a long period of time, I did make my full recovery and I decided not to go back to work because of the impression that I had on my colleagues. Instead, I went travelling around the world and finished in a small town, where I bought a house, hung out with the locals and celebrated life.
A number of years later, I was walking down the main street of the town and decided to go to the local bar for a watered down scotch; sadly, they were the only bar that served scotch. They were also the only bar with a TV and it just so happened, that I saw Talisa on the news, speaking up against violence. Her slogan was: violence doesn’t win us anything, love wins us everything. In that moment, I was filled with such warmth, that all my emotions were filled to the brim, learning that empathy always succeeds.
For the rest of my life, I would hear stories of Talisa’s positive impact on the world.
“Is that it for you, then?”
Talisa leaned back in the couch, looking away from Drew. She started to shake her head.
“That sounds awful, to go through all that.”
“It’s not. Life is what it is.”
“You can’t change it?”
“Can I change it?”
“You already have.”
Talisa’s eyes widened, hit by a revelation, a thought. She stared off, allowing the thought to form into a belief. Drew simply watched the moment unfold. Eventually, Talisa’s eyes blinked and she came out of it.
“Can I do anything for you?”
“It blows, to have to watch you go through all this.”
“Not for me. If I had a choice, I would have picked this life; my life. I would do it all over again if I could.”
Drew leaned forward and looked at Talisa. Talisa looked back at Drew.
“A person’s life doesn’t come down to a single moment. A person’s life is everything they go through: all the pain and fear and heartache and joy and love and excitement; all of it; a person’s just got to learn to embrace the beauty of it. That’s the real gift that I was given.”
Drew’s comments had an effect on Talisa, as she reached her own personal realization: that she was going to become an activist and a public figure for equal rights, that she was going to stand up against all forms of premeditated crimes, that she was going to reshape our world for the better. Talisa had finally believed in herself.
“I’ll get you a blanket.”
Drew stood up, walked to the hallway, picked a blanket from the hallway cupboard, walked back to the living room and gave it to Talisa.
Talisa was lost for words, trying to say something nice, but hesitated.
“I’ll see you in the morning,” said Drew.
“See you in the morning.”
Talisa smiled and made herself comfortable on the couch, while Drew went to bed, turned off the lights and shut his eyes; and everything that Drew claimed would happen materialized.
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