I am taking a creative writing course at Coastal Carolina University's Geezer Outreach Program. My first week's writing assignment was to write something. I did that. The amazing thing is that I didn't wait until the night before it was due to begin. I wrote the following very short story based on this picture. Don't ask:
Joshua was ten when he realized that not everyone could see the future. He had known that he had that ability ever since he could remember, but didn’t think much about it until that fateful year. He could not control when it happened. It just happened. Sometimes it was just a little thing, like knowing the phone was going to ring or that his mom would break a glass in the kitchen. Other times it was a more meaningful event, like a neighbor’s dog getting run over by a garbage truck or an earthquake in India. Though he didn’t know exactly where India was.
The mistake he made was telling someone. One night, he frantically warned his dad not to drive to the grocery store because he was going to get shot by a robber. His dad laughed and said something about Joshua’s imagination, promising to be right back with some ice cream. An hour later his dad was in an ambulance with a bullet wound in his shoulder and a confused look on his face. The police were equally baffled, when they apprehended the shooter based on Joshua’s detailed description; including the license plate number of the getaway car. His dad, being in shock, could provide little information to the authorities, but could identify the culprit from a lineup.
From that moment on, everything was different. Joshua was talked about on the news. They used his soccer team picture in the broadcast. People were calling his house day and night, wanting to know who would win a ball game or what lottery numbers to pick. No one understood. It didn’t work that way. Random Images would just appear to him, as real as life. He had no control over when or where. It could happen in a dream, at the dinner table, or in the classroom. Sometimes he would go weeks without a premonition. Other times they would come so fast and frequently that it gave him a headache.
The kids at St. Marks Elementary School suddenly steered clear of him. They called him a freak and a mutant. Even the teachers, who were mostly nuns, looked at him warily and he was sure he heard whispered devotions as they passed him in the halls. But the worst part was the way his parents looked at him. It was never the same again.
Mrs. Howard, the school counselor, was not a nun and seemed more interested in his “gift” than afraid of it. She met with his parents and it was decided that he would undergo some trials to verify his ability, though she admitted being skeptical that this type of power (she called it ESP) actually existed.
Joshua was very nervous on the day he was to be tested. He didn’t know what sort of exams he was going to be given, but he hated tests of any kind. For one of the assessments, Mrs. Howard held up cards with symbols on them; stars, circles, triangles and he was supposed to guess which figure was on each card. He knew, without even seeing the look on the therapist that he was not getting them right. In fact, he failed all the tests, but he did know that Mrs. Howard’s heart was going to stop working very soon. He decided to keep that information to himself. No one would believe him anyway. Mrs. Howard concluded that Joshua was not gifted with second sight and things at school soon returned to normal. Things at home never did. The knowledge about the shooting was explained away as coincidence or happenstance. That was fine with Joshua.
Life went on, but not for Mrs. Howard. When his mom told him that Mrs. Howard had died, he acted surprised. He had learned to perfect a look of astonishment.
That was twenty years ago. Joshua was now a successful Wall Street stock broker. Though he never learned to harness his ability, he heeded his intuition enough through the years that he had made some very successful investments for both he and his clients. He was happily married and had a wonderful ten year old son, named Jacob. Joshua never discussed his talent with his wife, Sherry, or anyone else.
Tonight, Jacob awoke from a terrible dream and crawled into bed with his parents, shaking uncontrollably. As Jacob related the horror of the dream, Joshua decided to take a personal day and spend it with his family at their home in Connecticut. He circled tomorrow’s date, September 11, 2001 on the calendar on the refrigerator. He did not tell anyone else. They would not believe him anyway.