If someone said
You had one last day
Before you were dead
What would you say?
What would you do?
Who could you see?
Are you happy being you?
What would your last words be?
Maybe it will be yours tomorrow
But you’ll have known it all along
So there’ll be no need to feel sorrow
It won’t happen if you just pass this on
Nicole sat at her computer laughing. As if this was true. Chain letters never worked. They didn’t work when she wished Braydon was her boyfriend, they didn’t work when Bloody Mary was going to come kill her in her sleep, so this one wouldn’t work either. She quickly hit the exit button at the top of the e-mail window and carried on chatting with her friends on the instant message service.
What she didn’t realize was the time, it was already 3 A.m., although that was a normal bed time for her. Especially on the weekend. It was Friday night and she was looking forward to sleeping in the next morning. She told her friends she’d talk to them in the morning and turned her computer off.
As she started getting ready for bed, she had the feeling someone was watching her. She glanced at the window, but it was closed. Her door was closed and the rest of the room was brightly lit. There was no one there. But the feeling stayed with her, almost as though there was someone really there.
She trotted down the hall to brush her teeth. Her parents and ten-year-old brother were already sleeping, so she was careful to not wake them up.As she turned the light on, she felt a breeze against her. She twirled around, wondering who was playing this trick on her. No one was there and the window was closed. That was a given, it was wintertime. She quickly brushed her teeth and closed the bathroom door when she walked out, hoping that whatever had caused that breeze wouldn’t follow her out.
She tried to remember what her parents had told her about the house. She knew it was old, very old. That was why her parents bought it, they’d always liked antiques, so having an antique house made everything they owned old. She’d always wondered if it had a ghost in it, she didn’t think so, she would have seen it before now.
She shivered just thinking about it as she slid into bed. At first she wanted to turn all her lights on and fall sleep holding the phone, but then she realized it was probably just her imagination, and she was too lazy to get out of bed to get the phone anyway.
She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. Had she stayed awake two seconds longer, she would have saw the man in black standing beside her.
She woke up at 4:32 the next morning, but she didn’t know why. At first she wondered if it was a school day, but even for that it was too early. She glanced at her clock again wondering if maybe she’d read it wrong, but it still said 4:32. She looked around the room, but it still looked the same as when she last closed her eyes.
She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. In the back of her mind, she could hear the footsteps walking into her room, but she didn’t know it. She was in a deep slumber when he came and sat on the end of her bed. Then he disappeared.
There was sun pouring in the windows of room 217, math class. Nicole was sitting there, not really paying attention to what the teacher was saying, she was staring at the clock waiting for it to be over.
Suddenly the door opened and a man in black grinned at the class.
“How may I help you, sir?” the teacher said
The man didn’t say anything. Instead he started walking straight towards Nicole. For some reason, she knew he was coming for her. She wanted to close her eyes and scream, but for some reason, she couldn’t.
The class had all turned to look at her as he pulled something from his pocket. He held it against her head and she knew. It was a gun.
“Do you want to die, Nicole?” the man’s deep voice roared.
“n-n-no” she stuttered.
“You want everything else to be over. You’re always watching the clock. Why don’t you watch it some more. Watch it until the end of your life. You can wish that was over too, and count the seconds until it’s done” he yelled,
“Don’t kill me!” Nicole cried,
“Kill you? Oh sweetie, I won’t kill you!” he laughed
The entire class was quiet and she didn’t understand why. Even the teacher was still. She wished he would pick up the phone and call for help but he didn’t.
“Nicole,” The man continued, “You have 24 hours left. I suggest you watch the clock. Only this time, you’ll be wishing the time went by slower. Make it good, because it’s the last 24 hours you’ll have. I promise you”
Then she woke up. It was just a dream. Her body was covered in sweat and she was shaking. She swore she could feel tears, but her face was dry. She looked at the clock, it was 2:13 in the afternoon. There was no sun shining in her window, but that was no surprise, this day was expected to be pretty gloomy.
She could hear dishes clanging in the kitchen. Her family had probably just finished lunch, or maybe her mom was baking. She tore through her closet to find nothing she wanted. She was going to go complain to her mother, but then she remembered she wanted her mom to remember her as a good child, it was her last day.
“Nicole, what’s wrong with you, it was just a dream!” She said out loud.
She got into a pair of jeans and her new T-shirt and headed down the stairs.
She started to pour milk into her cereal when she realized someone had put the milk in the fridge empty. She almost screamed to her entire family about it, but she could hear the man-in-black’s voice telling her, “Make it good, because it’s the last 24 hours you’ll have”.
She started wondering if her dream meant something. Then she remembered, the e-mail. Was it possible they were connected? No chance, stuff like that only happened in the movies, she thought to herself as she ate her cereal dry.
When she was done, she headed upstairs to her room. She was tempted to spend her day on her computer talking to her friends, but she knew that was wrong, especially today. She just wanted to check one thing, the e-mail.
As soon as she brought it up, she checked the time it was sent. She read the time, 2:13 a.m. It was 3 p.m. now.
‘So I have less than 12 hours left’ she caught herself thinking, ‘what am I going to do?’
She shut down her computer and picked up the phone. Her fingertips dialled the number of her best friend, Melissa, who she’d dialled so many times before, just not recently.
“Hello?” Her friend answered,
“Want to come over?” She said quickly, she wasn’t about to waste any time.
“Let’s hang out,” Nicole said, “Like old times?”
What she meant was, they never hung out, but they were still best friends. She’d always hated it and if this was her last day, she wanted to spend time with her friend for the last time.
“Come over… hurry… I can only hang out with you for about two hours” And she hung up.
When the doorbell rang, less than ten minutes after she hung up the phone, she opened it to be face to face with her best friend. She dove in and gave her a hug. Obviously caught in the moment, she stepped back, realizing that everyone else didn’t know she was going to die tomorrow. And she wasn’t going to tell anyone either; she didn’t want any tears today.
They went up to her bedroom and talked and talked, just like old times. They started talking about their boyfriends and Nicole felt sad she’d never get to say goodbye; he was up north with his family, camping, his cell didn’t work and there was no way to contact him.
Melissa brought up the future and what they wanted to do. Nicole almost shed a tear thinking she wouldn’t be here. She snapped out of it and told her dreams, knowing they wouldn’t come true. Melissa told of her dream to become a doctor and Nicole hoped it would happen.
“Do you know how much of a friend you are to me?” Nicole asked,
“Remember this forever, you’re the best friend I’ll ever have”
Melissa changed the subject to the price she had to pay on her new jeans. As they talked, Nicole glanced at the clock, it was 5:02. She stood up, surprised at how fast time had went by, but happy with how much she enjoyed it.
She said bye to her at the door and watched her leave.
Her mom called her for dinner and she ran to the table. Her father stared at her, surprised she’d come so fast. Normally, she was in no rush to eat or spend any time with her family. Only now, she knew her priorities; she needed to say goodbye.
They talked about random things and half an hour later, dinner was over. Nicole offered to help do the dishes and her Dad almost choked on his coke.
She laughed, and started loading the dishwasher. When she was done, she trudged upstairs and found a paper and pen, there were a lot of people she couldn’t talk to right now, so she was going to write a letter to them all.
As she wrote, tears streamed down her eyes, remembering all the good times, and all the bad. She thought of all the times these people were there for her and how much she loved them. Although each person only got a paragraph, it was a lot of writing. Especially when she started writing to all her enemies and people she hurt. All the apologies. When she was done with her letters, she put it in a box on her desk with a sticky-note instructing her parents to give each piece to the people they were addressed to.
She looked at the time; it was 9:30 already. She’d been doing this three and a half hours. Well… At least people knew how much I care, she thought to herself.
She felt so helpless. There was so much she wanted to do. So much she wished she could. But so much she couldn’t. Especially at 9:30 at night. She walked down the stairs and sat down next to her mother who was watching TV. Her father glanced up from the newspaper he was reading and gave her mother a look. The room was quiet. She sat there for a whole hour with her parents.
When the show they were watching was finished, she got up and said, “I’m going to bed now, I love you” She gave each of her parents a kiss and walked up the stairs. She wasn’t really going to bed though.
She walked into her brothers room, but he was sleeping. She didn’t care, she woke him up anyway.
“What?” He said angrily when he awoke.
“I want to apologize. For all the mean things I’ve said to you, all the mean things I’ve done”
“Can I go back to sleep now?” he whined.
“I love you, little brother, good night” She walked out of the room whispering, “Have a good life”
She sat on her bed, it was 10:30. All she wanted was to cry. These were her last few hours and she didn’t know what to do with them. She’d had all this time before, and she’d wasted it. Now she didn’t have enough time for all the things she wanted to do.
Then she remembered him; her boyfriend. She’d forgotten to write anything for him, how could that have happened?
She dialled his home phone number, hoping to just leave a message that he would get when he got home.
It rang four times before saying, “Hi you’ve reached the Johnson’s, we aren’t here to take your call but please…”
“Hello,” Aaron’s sleepy voice interrupted the answering machine.
“Oh hey, you’re home!” she exclaimed.
“We got snowed out. It’s some pretty wicked stuff out there. We drove half way there, and then half way back… It was very tiring!”
“Oh. Well I love you. Can I you come over for a minute?”
“No,” He said, “I’m laying in bed.”
“Oh…” She said, disappointed, “Well… I love you”
“I love you too”
“Yes, but I love you more. Don’t ever forget how much I appreciate you, alright?”
She glanced at the clock; it was 11:00. She wasn’t sure what else she needed to do before her death, if her dream would come true. She wanted to believe it would, because she didn’t want to be disappointed if it did and she wasn’t expecting it. Then again, she realized that’s how everyone else died. She thought it was pretty crazy believing a dream she’d had in her sleep. But it was so real. It was like the man in black was really there.
She thought she was done. She would be happy dying now. Well, she wouldn’t be happy, but it wasn’t like she hadn’t completed things she’d wanted to. She’d apologized to the people she’d hurt, she’d forgiven her enemies, she’d told everyone she loved how much she loved them. She spent time with the people she cared about most. She felt like she was missing something though. Maybe it was something that she couldn’t do.
What she was never going to do started running through her head. She was never going to get a job as a teacher. She would never have kids. She would never buy a big house. She would never see all these people she loved again. Her whole life could be over and she had nothing to stop it.
If only she’d known, she would have done so much differently. She knew that. She wouldn’t have been so mean to her parents. She would have cared for people more. She would have worked harder and tried to make life happier. She wouldn’t have done stupid things and she wouldn’t have stared at the clock. Her whole life felt wasted and there was only half an hour left of it.
It was 1:45. She decided she best be getting to bed. She knew she’d rather die there than anywhere else. As she got ready, she got into her favourite PJ’s and put on make-up so she looked good in her coffin. It surprised her how much she wanted to look good, but as she thought of it, she wanted to be remembered well.
As she got into bed at 2:00 a.m., she fell asleep the second her head hit the pillow. She knew it was better that way.
She fell asleep so quick, she didn’t notice the man in black standing in her doorway. She didn’t see him as he got closer and closer. He was holding something, but she wouldn’t have noticed, even if she’d been awake. As he got closer, she would have noticed he was breathing heavy. He sat down on her bed then and stared at her with a big grin on his face.
When she woke up the next morning, she was surprised to be alive. She bounded down the stairs at 8:10 a.m., the earliest time she’d ever woke up on a weekend. She hugged her parents and told them good morning. As she grabbed her bowl of cereal, it all came back to her, the dream.
The man in black was standing there, the gun in his hand. He told her he wasn’t going to kill her. She didn’t deserve that. All he said was “You learned your lesson” and she woke up.
She knew what her lesson was. She knew it too well. She knew she had to live her life better. She knew she had to stop living her life worthlessly and wasting her time not doing anything. She learned to appreciate what she had and she learned to love her family and friends, not matter what.
The man in black was no ordinary ghost. He was an Angel that had come to guide her. It was an Angel to teach her the biggest lesson she had to learn. “Live each day like it’s your last”