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“Come on, Jason! I’m going to die soon!” I protest, poking him in the bicep.
“Seriously? You’re going to use that card on me? I’ve been hearing it for a month, and honestly, it’s starting to get to me,” Jason says, and his eyes flit to my wrist for a second, where my LC is flashing. I try to hide it with black bangles and beaded bracelets, but, it doesn’t often stay hidden. Whenever I raise my hand, the bracelets slide down to my elbow and everyone can see the flashing numbers on my wrist. It didn’t used to bother me; it was something to brag about, in fact. I remember when I used to have more life time on me than Jason did, and I would tease him saying I’d be on this earth causing trouble for months after he died.
“I don’t want to waste my last weeks in school,” I moan.
I had woken up almost a month ago, and had glanced in the mirror as I was brushing my teeth to find that my LC, which the previous night had flashed that I had a little over a hundred and ten life years left, now sadly reported I was down to a months.
“It’s probably just an error,” Mom had suggested, gently massaging the little chip and screen in my wrist, but, everyone knew it wasn’t true. The LCs don’t make mistakes. Everyone dies exactly when their time runs out. There are no errors.
The doctor’s office had smelt chemically clean, and I had sat down on a metal table, swinging my feet over the edge. Dr. Brown entered, flashing a white-toothed, movie star smile at my mom and I. His smile faded when he checked my wrist, and he had visibly swallowed – his Adam’s apple bobbing nervously – before grabbing a chord from his computer, and plugging it into a port in my wrist. My LC lit up in recognition of another device, and Dr. Brown, holding my wrist in his hand, had pressed a button on his laptop. The printer on his desk had begun spitting out papers like it was possessed, papers yielding my entire life history and information flying around the small room. Dr. Brown told me not to exert myself, and my mother and he had stooped down to collect the papers. Once they were in a neat pile, Dr. Brown began to flip through them.
“Okay, childhood, broken arm – I remember that – the flu, and then, puberty,” He said, without even blushing the slightest at “puberty”, “And you got all your shots, yes, yes, regular diet of a teenage girl, getting good amounts of exercise, I see, I see...”
My mother had her hands clasped, knuckles white as he read out my medical life history. He reached age fifteen, and his brow furrowed.
“It seems this is where the problem is.”
Dr. Brown picks up his laptop, and leaning casually against his desk, like this was just another day in the office and my mother and I weren’t holding our breath for the results. He bites his lip – something you rarely see adults do – and places the laptop down.
“Unfortunately, there is no mistake,” He begins, and my mother lets out a small squeak from the back of her throat.
“Is it a disease? An STI?” My mom suggests, pawing at her bag for her anxiety medication.
“No, none of that. It’s a rare disease that she contracted,” He pauses to glance at my papers, “Three months, one week, and two days ago, around two in the afternoon. It’s very rare, as I said, and unfortunately, there is no cure. It speeds up the life rate by almost a hundred percent. Your daughter looks very young, but, her body is at the age of a hundred and twenty-five year old woman, give or take.”
“One hundred and twenty-five?” My mother chokes, “How can this be?”
“Like I said, the disease sends messages to the brain, and tells it to speed up age processes by almost a hundred percent. In the last few months, your daughter’s body has aged almost a hundred and ten years.”
“But, there were no symptoms, nothing!”
“Yes, thanks to recent medical technology, she will never feel the pain or uncomfortable symptoms of this disease. Otherwise, she would be suffering badly.”
“Oh,” My mom whispers, and I just sit there, watching my sneakers swing back and forth. I couldn’t even comprehend it.
“There’s really nothing we can do,” Dr. Brown says, unplugging my LC, “I can prescribe something in case you feel discomfort or pain, and all I can say is watch your LC for any changes.”
“Jason, Jason, Jason,” I say in a sing-song voice, until finally, Jason slams his textbook shuts and stands.
“Fine,” He murmurs, straightening his snap-back, “Let’s go.”
We walk right off the campus, and I fearlessly flash my LC at the security system. They will know I ditched, and I don’t care. Jason doesn’t, keeping his wrist close to his body. His still flashes a healthy hundred and eight years to go, with some odd days to finish everything up. He doesn’t understand my need to do whatever I want with my last few days.
“So, what’s first on your bucket list?” He murmurs.
I shrug, because I don’t have a bucket list, I didn’t make one. Most people who read their LC and find out they have only a few days instantly start to live for the first time. They want to climb a mountain. They want to visit their mother for the last time in Germany or whatever. They want to sign papers so that their body parts will go towards research after they’re gone. Me, I wanted to simply do whatever I want, whenever I want.
“Swallow an ecstasy tablet of each color, all at the same time? Have meaningless one-night stands with as many hot guys as possible? Tell everyone exactly what you think of them? Start a fist-fight?”
“Now that stuff sounds much more my style than this climb-a-mountain, save-a-panda s***,” I say, and Jason barks out a laugh.
“And you know,” I continue, fingering the buttons of Jason’s shirt, with a seductive charm that I didn’t even know I possessed, “You can be my first.”
I watch my LC flash dwindling minutes back at me. I’ve done a lot of crazy stuff in the last month. I spent half my time partying, drinking, experimenting, and all those crazy sex, drugs and rock & roll ideas. I had even gotten a tattoo to reflect my lifestyle: Life hard, Die young. My parents – shocked that I would dare. I had always been a good girl. I guess learning you’re going to die changes you. My friends were surprised at how wild I had become. My teachers were just tight-lipped at the fact that I had skipped almost all my classes in the last month.
I had also taken some time to do some emotional and fulfilling things. I had confessed all my crimes, feeling a little guilty, but not enough to actually be sorry for what I had done, and I had donated all my money and goods to charity and friends. I had written sweet letters to everyone, and some tongue-in-cheek ones. I had signed a waiver, saying that after I die, my heart, lungs, eyes, skin, hair, liver, kidneys, and blood could be donated to either those in need or research facilities. I had lived a good and short life. Live hard, Die young, just like the ink below my LC said.
Now, I was lying on my black and white checkered comforter, my wrist lying face up on my knee. I had flowers and cards and stuffed animals all around me. Jason lay beside me, curling and uncurling his fingers through mine. I thought I could see tears in his eyes, but, he kept his head down, hat pulled low, and I wasn’t sure. Mom and Dad sat in straight-back chairs on my other side, trying to keep it collected until after my time ran out. Dr. Brown lingered in the corner. My best friends and partners in crime – Chloe and Rio – stood at the foot of my bed, showing me pictures on their phones, reminding me of moments we’ve shared, come and gone.
I breathed in through my mouth, out through my nose, promising myself I would not die with tears in my eyes, instead with a smile on my face. My LC was almost completely full of zeroes now. Zero years. Zero months. Zero weeks. Zero hours. One minute. Fourteen seconds.
One minute, six seconds.
Jason lifts his head, shaking it back and forth, as if he was wondering: why?
One minutes, one second.
Chloe climbs onto my lap, her blue eyes full of clear tears.
Fifty-two seconds.
Rio stands beside Jason, biting her lip, one hand placed on my knee.
Forty-one seconds.
Mom and Dad move in closer.
Twenty-nine seconds.
Dr. Brown turns his attention away from the watercolor painting on my wall, and walks up to my bed.
Twenty-three seconds.
Dr. Brown presses a cold stethoscope to my chest.
Nineteen seconds.
Jason begins to mumble the lyrics to my favorite song, smiling through the tears.
Twelve seconds.
I think of what it would be like if I would grow up and marry him.
Nine seconds.
“Don’t be afraid.”
Six seconds.
“You’re doing well.”
Four seconds.
My heart is racing.
Three seconds.
I clutch the hands reaching out to me.
Two seconds.
I take a breath, and every memory I’ve ever had tries to squirm its way into my view.
One second.
I want to remember everything.
The LC lights up, a blinding white light, and everyone gasps. The clock hits zero. Hands go limp. Time has run out. I open my eyes, and everyone stares back at me.
I am still alive.



Join the Discussion

This article has 9 comments. Post your own now!

vegetariangirl said...
Jan. 27 at 4:23 pm
I love your story, it kind of reminds me the movie "In Time" and a Nickelback song (but I forget what is called)
 
Ride4Life said...
Dec. 28, 2013 at 8:44 pm
Oooooooh i absolutely LOVE it!!!!!!!! This would make an awwsome series if you decided to continue it!! Love love love.
 
Call_Me_AriaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 10 at 9:50 pm
Hey, I took your suggestion to write a second part (thanks for the encouragement, by the way) and the second part is called Inconsistencies. I'd be so appreciative if you would check it out and tell me what you think! :D
 
KenzicoThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 31, 2013 at 12:05 pm
Awesome story! I loved every second of it! The whole idea sounds familiar but great dystopian idea!
 
mh1997 said...
Jun. 14, 2013 at 11:10 pm
Awesome story! I absolutely loved the gripping tension and anticipation as time counted down. An original story! When you first mentioned the LC, I immediately thought of the movie "In Time," and thought you captured it perfectly from the perspective of a teenager. The tension was gripping and held me on the edge of my seat. You have wonderful creativity! Keep writing!
 
SilhouettesThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 13, 2013 at 6:49 pm
Have you ever read the series "Numbers?" It's really good, and it relates to your story perfectly. I think you would like it: it's about a girl who, whenever she looks into a person's eyes, has the ability see the date they die. Not metaphorically, literally a date. Anyway, sounds kinda like your story, and yours is good, by the way. Keep it up! :)
 
Call_Me_AriaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 13, 2013 at 7:50 pm
I actually read the story quite a few years ago (I might have been a little young for the swearing and some of the mature subjects, but I still enjoyed it!) and I think it probably subconciously influenced my writing :) Thanks so much for comments and ratings!!!
 
IrenieThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 13, 2013 at 2:11 am
This was absolutely great! What a wonderful ending. It could definitely become a novel. Please write more!  
 
Call_Me_AriaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 10 at 9:49 pm
Hey, I took your suggestion and put up a second part to this story. The second part is called "Inconsistencies" and is under the Thriller/Mystery fiction section! I'd appreciate it if you would check it out, rate it and tell me what you think! :D
 
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