This is the year she would die. And really, she was okay with that. Not like okay okay, but she had settled with it some time ago.
It was a realization she had come to as a child. She couldn’t remember if it had started as a dream or if it came while she was lost in thought. Either way, the knowledge solidified itself in her brain to be carried at all times for the next many years: she would not live past age 27.
Lots of rockstars met their fate at the same age, so at least that was cool! Maybe it mean she would a rockstar too? Something to hold on to, at least.
Eventually though, she traded her hometown for a college campus, and it is just really hard to live a rock and roll lifestyle when homework takes all night, and your roommate is a Bio-Nutrition Major. Garfunkel managed to pull it off, but Mathematical degrees did not require 6am labs, and her Entomology one did. Plus, she was more confident in her ability to get into a good graduate school than her chances at hitting the right note in front of thousands of people.
She made sure to have lots of adventures though! Tried to take advantage of the little more than a quarter century she had. An evening out on the town instead of a movie night in? Yes! Tag along with professional hikers for part of the Appalachian trail? Sure. Study the migration of the hummingbird-hawkmoth migration in southern France? Of course!
The strange thing she found about knowing her end was nearer than most, was this resolution to go out and do. For her, there simply wasn’t going to be a later.
When she came home from a study on crustaceans through the Barrier Reef, she was twenty-seven years and eight months old. Perhaps it was time to get some affairs settled, check in with those good friends she was sure would be disheartened by her loss.
There were long drives between her parents’ house, where she was currently staying to spend quiet time with them, and her friends spread across the states. During these drives, she mildly wished she had a pet companion. A small happy dog, or a lazy old cat to ride with her would be nice. But when she was finally old enough to get her own, she was worried such a pet would out live her, and there was no way to explain to a small creature that they had not been abandoned.
So she was alone with her podcasts and her thoughts. The podcasts told her the political world was terrible, but the artistic world was thriving. Her thoughts told her she’d done a plenty, lived a good life. For the first time ever, she pondered how it would happen. Would it be a freak accident, a popped tire on black ice this coming winter? Or maybe she’ll stand under a piano being cranked to an upper balcony- it’ll spring from its ropes and she’ll go out like many a cartoon character. Or maybe she’d just quietly go in her sleep, as if her heart had aged far beyond the rest of her, and finally decided to give in.
Those last four months were her favorites. The weather cooled, and she did look best in a nice sweater. Several of her friends got married on those last warm weekends, and she was happy she was able to see them start this next chapter. The tiny pang of wishfulness for her own was nothing in comparison with her shared joy for them.
Four months became three, and she hid letters for each of her loved ones in her jewelry box. So far she felt fine, but with this little time left- it was finally better to be safe instead of risky.
Three months dwindled to two, and she attended the first Halloween of her only niece. The small one entered the world just six weeks prior, so her itty bitty bee costume went along nice with the buzz of her small snores.
“It’s very tiring being a part of the outside world!” Her brother laughed, curling the baby into his arms.
“Yes,” she agreed, “it certainly is.”
Two months before her birthday. Her best friend, the only one she’d whispered this curse to, visited her.
“I’m going to Spain with Liam for a few weeks. Survive until I get back, ya hear?”
“I can’t promise that, and you know it. But I love you, and I hope you have a great time.”
Her friend left her with an eye roll and a quick, “you’re ridiculous, but I love you too. So you at twenty-eight!”
One month. She enjoyed her job, but it was hard to take on new projects she was sure she could not finish. But how could one explain that to their boss? “Sorry chief, but I won’t live past Thanksgiving so you’ll have to give this to someone else.”
A day, then hours, then minutes. Was fate really so cruel as to wait until the last minute? Or was it mercy that kept her fate at bay?
She’d kept a sort of vigil that night, and began to worry that it was something catastrophic coming- something that would take the whole house. Surely not, surely destiny would not take her home and family down with her own?
These terrifying thoughts spent her adrenaline, and she was only awakened by a knock on her bedroom door.
She peeped out from under a pile of pillows, saw the suns first rays through the window slats. “Haha thank you, but it’s not for another hour or so.”
“No, sweetie, you’ve been older for an hour now!” her dad tapped his watch, “You were born at 6:02am and it’s 7:04. You slept right through your alarm!”
“Yeah it was a hard choice between a shot of coffee or the epidural that night. But we thought you were allowed to sleep in on your birthday, like when you were a kid,” her mother laughed and kissed her forehead.
Ah, so it wasn’t true. Just a silly thought of a child that she’d been stuck on all this time. Could that really be true? Could she so easily give up this lifelong trail she thought so built for her?
Actually, yeah. She probably could.
“Well, then.” All 27 years hit her at once, and she was suddenly very, very tired. But very excited, too. Maybe there was time to be a rockstar after all!
Predetermined (adjective): 1. Established or decided in advance. 2. (Of an outcome or course of events) determined in advance by divine will or fate; predestined.
I believe we all have these little things that get stuck in our minds and, good or bad, are not lodged free until we are proven wrong. Personally, I have yet to find proof I won’t be a mermaid, so I’m still holding on to mine.
We cannot let these little pieces define us, or define our lives. Sure, they can guide us, lend us a hand, or spread some determination. But we never know what paths we might cross, or which ones may interfere with our own, and change everything.
I’m trying to say, we can’t let our fate to be a mermaid keep us from flying.
And in case anyone is curious, I do have a friend that once had this little thought they will not make it past 27. Their birthday is in February, but I am hoping my little writing-curse I spoke of a few stories back will reroute that string of fate. This friend is the same one who I sat with many years ago and wrote Brew, or as it’s called here Today I am Brew. I am lucky to be surrounded by so many muses disguised as friends and family!
And yes I’ll be wrapping my friend in bubblewrap for the next few months, just in case 😉