I probably shouldn’t be doing this, but can’t think of a good reason not to. Maybe it’s true what my parents say about a teenager’s frontal lobe or cortex or whatever not being fully developed. Anyway, I’ll be back before they’re home. I slip the bracelet over my hand and slide the switch to Future.
I’m in a restaurant with a cute girl, woman really. Splendid. Uh, oh. She has tears in her eyes. “I can’t do this anymore,” she says, takes off a ring and skids it across the table toward me. Looks like it could be an engagement ring. I don’t want to be married anyway, I think. But I hear myself say “Please don’t do this,” and a lump swells in my throat. Not splendid. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. I figure I’ll go back. I try to twist the bracelet into Past mode, but it won’t turn. I keep twisting, but it keeps not turning. Finally, the woman stands and walks away. I think about going after her, but before I can,
the woman next to me is in a wedding dress. What’s with all this marriage? “You may now kiss the bride.” The woman lifts her veil. She’s even nicer, but definitely older, than the last one. How many years have I lost? I start twisting the bracelet again, but it still won’t budge. I decide if I can’t go back, I’ll remove it till I figure out what to do. Besides, tonight might be worth sticking around for. I try to slide it off, but my hand is too big. I think the bracelet has a release, but I don’t know where it is or how to work it. I should’ve read the manual. Damn frontal cortex. “You may now kiss the bride,” I hear again, more emphatically. I can’t keep myself from filling with a sense of joy. I close my eyes as I lean in close to the woman. When I open them,
it appears we’re finishing supper. I think the woman is the one I just married. We’re at the table with a young girl who looks maybe 12 or 13.
“You’ll let me go, won’t you, Daddy?” she says to me so sweetly I expect honeybees to swarm into the room. I look at my wife, who has stingers coming out of her eyes. I don’t need a telepathy bracelet to know I better support her.
“I’m sorry, Sweetie, but I agree with your Mother.”
“Well!” my daughter says, “then I wish to be excused.” She stands, lifts her chin in an awkwardly adult way, then stomps away like a five year old. My wife and I look at each other. It’s all we can do to not burst out laughing. I want to stay here. If I can’t remove the bracelet any other way, I’ll cut my hand off. I reach for the steak knife by my plate, but before I can grab it
a woman is standing in front of me with a name tag that reads “Sally Johnson.” The prettiest girl in sophomore class. “Sally! You look great,” I say. She looks awful. She must think the same about me. I casually recede my hand over the top of my head.
“I didn’t see you at our 30th,” she says.
“That…was a tough year for me,” I say. I’m not sure exactly what I mean, but I know it’s true. I look around for my wife, but she’s nowhere to be seen.
“I remember this song from prom. Dance?” she says.
My back is killing me. “Thanks, but I think I’ll sit this one out.” We make eye contact, and
I’m seated at a long table. Everyone lifts their glass and looks at me. “So what will you do with all your time now you’re retiring?” someone says. “All my time.” The words sting me. I grab a fork, slide it under the bracelet and try to pry it off. The back of my hand becomes a bloody mess. “No more,” I shout. Everyone looks at me. “No
No, I won’t have it. It’s humiliating.” I’m talking to a woman who’s much younger.
“Now, Sweetie,” she says to me like I’m a child. “Getting your bath is important. You wouldn’t want me to get in trouble with my supervisor would you,” — Don’t you dare call me Sweetie again — “Honey?” I make for the door.
A rug bunches under my walker and blocks my escape. I shuffle over to a couch and fall back into it, exhausted. The woman looks at me with her hands on her hips and clicks her tongue in mock anger.
“The bracelet,” I pant, “the bracelet….”
The woman sits next to me, takes my hand and pats it. I look down and see the bracelet is a cheap white plastic band with my name on it. “That’s right,” she says. “The next time you forget, just look at the bracelet.”
Banner Image: By jcw (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
17 thoughts on “The Bracelet by David Henson”
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Hi David, I found this a subtle journey through time that had me wondering if this was leading the character to make some changes to his life’s choices, by knowing the future.
As the frustration mounted; it ended with honest clarity. An epiphany of sad, but honest truth. I enjoyed reading this although the theme makes me wonder about my future.
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Thanks, James, I appreciate your comment and thoughts about the story.
Five star story! Send more! June
Thanks! I hope I’m fortunate enough to appear on Literally Stories again in the future.
A wonderful reflection on the intersection between time and memory. Excellent job.
This is such a fantastic piece and I am so sorry to have discovered it so late! I particularly like how your style marks the transitions between timelines. I also really like how the symbol of the ring/bracelet persists throughout. Thank you for publishing this!
Thanks so much! I’m glad you liked the story.
This was tragic, thoughtful and one of those stories that niggles at us due to our own dread of our future.
Any story that touches everyone who reads it shows an intelligence and acute perception from the writer.
Your comment gets my day off to a good start. Thanks!
Love it! Good going with the movement of time.
Regarding the line where he thinks: “I don’t want to be married anyway.”
Cheeky! In a good way.
This is just an absolute great read, Dave, and so thick with the truth of how fast time flies by it’s both sad and funny. Nicely done.
Entertaining and well structured story, indeed time goes by like that sometimes, look back to mostly a black hole with bewilderment at the other end, even at the end of a day. Interesting what stood out for the protagonist.