This little duel began via text message as just something to do. “Let’s ask for prompts and choose one, then we’ll each write a story based on it.” And so Aaron Conaway and I did. We chose the prompt ‘Self Fulfilling Prophecy’ from Alison Wells and began to write. This is my story, Aaron’s is ‘Quitting’s Hard” Read both then go and Vote. I’d ask that you not vote before reading both and commenting. Enjoy!

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Self: Fulfilling Prophecy

by Jason Warden

We seated ourselves, filling the rows from back to front. Mute, we watched as the resplendent man approached. Each of us expected the other to stand, to protest, possibly even to argue the fairness of life. Instead, we only looked. Later, we only listened. As he moved, the collective ‘We’ stared holes through the interloper, internally cursing Him and all he stood for. We mourned the future we would never have and the past that defined us. We didn’t want reminders of what could have been given or what had gone wrong.  

When He looked up he pierced each of us with a glance, and longing replaced the anger within us. Such feelings, alien feelings, split us wide, and although we knew breaking the silence would lead to great reckoning, agonized cries rose from many voices.

He cleared his throat and silence returned, as if even it were awaiting His words.

“I’m saddened to see you so. My heart breaks tenfold for each of you, but… the reasons for your attendance are yours, and only you may own them.”

A small, bespectacled man in front began to cry. Behind, an elderly woman fell to her knees screaming for another chance. I said nothing, only sunk a little deeper in my seat, avoiding His eyes.

“Shhh . . . Liz, quiet now, your chances are done, but you knew that before this late date. Didn’t you?  

“I…I…I,” she blubbered.

“Yes, exactly, ‘I.’ Such a lonely word.”

“I…” he said again, tasting the word. “Self, is another example. I told you to trust in my word. That you trust and love Self at your own peril, and finally I proclaimed that you may only live when you give over Self for something more.”

“But…” she began.

“The time for barter or bargain has ended. For that, regret fills me, but you may rejoice once more before you go, for I have come to see you off and take with me the love you have for another. It has no place in the dark. I’ll use it to give comfort, and rest for your children, parents, and loved ones. It will provide them reasons to hope, seek truth, and find refuge in their loss. Although you may think me cruel, I am a kind King, loving to the very end. If, but you had only known me.”

He didn’t disappear, but faded, as did the light. His tears, sparkled on his cheeks, and held onto the last illumination, casting it back until the room was full dark. Even then, in the very last twinkle I saw the ‘We’ I had felt protected within, had been only a mirage. I was alone, as I had been in life. Forgotten friends flashed into focus and I realized my unwillingness to stand for what I believed in had cost me everything. Pride, Ego, and yes, Self, all had cast me out, as they always had, from the very light of life.

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