Written by Lilith Raymour
The sign said, “Have a vacation on yourself.” I never should have gone in. I should have known better. My ex works for Time Share for Christ’s sake. I just knew he worked in sales so I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with him. I chose my own birthday: when I was five, the sweetest time in my whole life. It wasn’t as sweet as I remembered it, but that’s OK. I still savored the day like one would savor a thousand dollar bottle of wine.
What they do is simple: they insert you inside your previous self at a preselected age. You live that day over again, a silent traveler who can’t interact just experience it all. You’re both there, but your former self knows nothing.
The tech is difficult. I won’t bore or confuse you. Just tell you it has something to do with inserting your conscience into your former self after having it digitized, signal shoved through a black hole and spun back to Earth via the curvature of the universe. That’s the most I can tell you. Ask some tech person if you want to know more.
Something went wrong. It was supposed to last half a day, at best. But it went on fast forward, stopping on the worst days. When I saw myself meet him I kept trying to tell myself all those cute “quirks” would wind up turning into something really bad. Fast forward: wedding day I wanted to yell. Then on to multiple visits to the emergency room where I screamed: “TELL THEM! TELL THEM! YOU DID NOT ‘TRIP’ OR ‘BUMP’ INTO ANYTHING!!!” But she could not hear. I felt every blow. Saw every smarmy smile as he said in front of the staff, “You should really be more careful.”
The other day, as I turned back to look at him after being knocked on the floor, I swore I saw him in there. Did you take a “vacation” too? Are enjoying this as much as your younger self did, or do you feel shame like I do? Are you stuck here too? When will they discover something has gone wrong and get me out of here?
I am reminded of a story I read when I was young by Harlan Ellison: “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.”
I am in Hell.
And there’s nothing I can do about it.
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