“Any Other Man” by Thomas Newman

Blank-fuzzy-TV-screen

The short story below was inspired by the piano piece above. You can find it on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDOXxa1U7Oc

It was quick. She couldn’t really remember how it happened —she could remember everything up to those five minutes prior to the crash, but then it was black. She woke up in an empty white hallway. The brightness of the color blinded her just enough to where she couldn’t see what was at the end. Coming to her senses and finding her strength, she stood up and began to walk down the hall. The corridor felt endless, until she eventually reached a closed door. She hesitated for a second, trying to decide whether she should knock, but decided against it and proceeded to turn the knob. In the room she found a chair, an old TV set, a small side-chair table, and a remote resting on the table. Slowly, as if she knew what she was supposed to do, she sat down in the chair and turned on the television. With a click the screen flashed on and began playing a familiar video. It began with a baby being brought home from the hospital. It was only when the camera turned its view on the two proud parents, that she recognized as her own parents, did she realize that this baby was her. Entranced, she continued to watch the video and the progression of her life. She sat for hours, days, maybe weeks, she couldn’t tell, as she re-lived every birthday, every first, every joy, and every despair. As the video began to catch up to her final moments, she watched in horror how she died; every aching second until the other car came crashing towards her side window and, mimicking her memory, the screen went black.

Realizing it was over, she began to stand up when suddenly the screen began flashing colors again. She watched herself waking up in a hospital, her parents tired faces expressing a similar joy as the kind they had bringing her home the day of her birth. Her body lowered back into the chair as the television began showing the life she would have had. She saw herself graduating college, falling in love, having children; she saw every person she’d ever meet, every soul she’d ever touch; she saw her biggest fears realized, she saw herself reach the lowest of lows, but she also saw greater joys then she could ever have imagined. As the video drew to a close, she saw herself returned to the hospital again; she watched herself die again. This time the screen didn’t go to black, but instead flashed a picture of the gathering at her funeral. This time she did not get up from her chair, but just sat and stared at the picture on the screen.

A voice from behind her broke her concentration and made her jump. It said, “You have the choice… is it worth it?”

“Yes,” she whispered. “Please,” she said.

She woke up later in a hospital, with no recollection of the crash (or anything after that), but with two relieved parents staring down at her. The future looked promising.

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