In Retrospect

One Take Recordings on April 19, 2013 20:55

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With nowhere else to go he instinctively took a seat. He watched as the slender man emerged from his seat in the front row, like a spider that just realized its prey was trapped in its web.

Creeping slowly across the theater, the slender man occupied the seat to his right.

“Who-who are you?” He stuttered nervously.

The slender man paused to take a long drag from his cigarette. “Names are unimportant here. Over the years we all lose our names. Eventually the mortals become known by what landed them here, and my kind for our occupations.”

“What is yours?” He asked.

“My kind ensures that the eternity of the damned is a direct consequence for how they lived their lives. For example, a tyrannical dictator will become a servant, a sex offender will become a victim, and a con-artist will be cheated.”

“Those are the easy ones,” the slender man said as he extinguished his cigarette.

“You on the other hand, are a hard case. How do you lay out a proper eternity for someone who has physically lived, but has never been alive? Say what you will about the other souls down here, at least they took a position on something in their lives.”

While the slender man fumbled for another cigarette, the man asked naively, “what are you going to do with me?”

“That is why we are here in the theater,” the slender man said.

A clicking noise came from behind them, and the screen lit up.

The slender man adjusted in his seat and said, “We are going to watch the story of your life, from day one all of the way to the ambulance ride that sent you here. From that hopefully we can decide a proper…treatment.”

Together they watched his life unfold. The slender man took notes. He re-lived his life from the third person.

He saw the joy in his mother’s eyes, as she held her child for the first time. He laughed at himself learning how to ride a bike, and watched how proud his father was when the training wheels finally came off. With such a happy childhood, and loving parents, what could have landed him here?

The film rolled, the little boy in the beginning grew into a young man, and became the only thing that his parents had in common. His father hardly ever left the bar, and his mother sought council in a bottle of pills. They became less like a family and more like awkward roommates. It wasn’t uncommon for him to be thrown in the middle of their frequent battles. He became the peace keeper, the grey area between the opposing forces of his household. He became invisible.

Eventually the inability to take sides that he developed through his adolescence led to a short lifetime inaction and neutrality. Opportunities passed by, relationships were never sought; any opposition was met with the least resistance. He watched nearly thirty years pass by with nothing to show for it. For the first time it didn’t sit well.

Instead of the usual round of self-pity and lack of action, a spark began to grow, and determination began to swell. For the first time in his life he was not going to just succumb to circumstance. He was going to take a stand for something. Even if he had battle through Hell itself, he was going to get his second chance, he was going to live.

The film stopped rolling and the theater went black and cold.

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