Short Story: Awaiting Tomorrow

Catching the train! The “clickety clack” of the wheels hum in my mind like backing vocals in a band while the constant murmur of conversation stimulates my attention. A particular theme has captivated me. There is a common obsession with the tomorrow that awaits.

        Ah, tomorrow! Full of unlimited possibilities yet plagued by curses. Situational perspective has coloured my attitude, yet the young eighteen-year-old girl across from me seems quite optimistic. I have lost count of the number of times she has spoken about it. Nervously flipping through pages of a travel magazine, she dreams of the stunning new adventures that awaits. Her beaming smile lights up the gloom that surrounds her. Ah, to be excited for the next day.

         I had forgotten tomorrow even existed. It felt like someone had pressed the remote control on my life and kept replaying the same day over again. I wake up, catch the train, go to work, do the same reports, and know exactly when the boss takes his coffee break. The gripping conclusion to my day is catching the same evening train, surrounded by faces now imprinted in my mind. It is past the point of déjà vu.

         The train stops. A girl in her early teens, wearing her private school attire, steps into the carriage, her mother at her side. Delicately they sit down. The girl is glued to her phone, her eyes teary. I’ve seen the same fear in her eyes each day. Cyberbullying! Tomorrow is her biggest fear. What will they say next? How many malicious words can they post? A cloud of anxiety surrounds her. Her self-esteem crumbles like a termite-infested wooden structure, yet she can’t let it go. She has to check.

        Her mother knows it. Technology has been their biggest curse. While social media saps the life of her daughter, new age programs at work make her feel incompetent. What new gadget will they force us to engage with today? As the future becomes present, her skills become obsolete. Change for the sake of change frustrates her. Tomorrow, to her, is one step closer to her world collapsing.

       And then there is the pretty one. Flaunting the beauty that God blessed her with. I overheard her mention she is getting married. Probably some rich boy set to inherit a fortune. Today, however, her beautiful smile is crooked. Her calm manner is replaced by frantically fidgeting fingers interlocking at regular intervals. The carriage rocks. She looks like she is about to be sick. Then I see her hand slowly reach for her stomach. Tomorrow suggests a new beginning awaits her.

        Suddenly, there was nothing. The flashes of vision that I attempt to recall should be accompanied by an orchestra of sound, but it was silence that greeted me. It happened so fast. Nothing could stop it. We will never know about our tomorrow, the one we dreamed, feared, dreaded, or hoped. Tomorrow was suddenly taken away from us. It no longer existed.

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