Give Me Tomorrow

Everyone is born with the date of when they are going to die tattooed on them. Elainey was suppose to die yesterday. *This is my entry for the Oneshot Competition

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1. Give Me Tomorrow


There was no understanding to it. The numbers on someone's arm, known as Numerals, were never known to be deceiving or shifty within their nature. As far as anyone knew, they were the only constant subject in some people’s life. These Numerals showcase when that person is going to die. Everyone is born with them, no matter how much they try to alter the marking, whether it being to get it surgically removed or covered up, no one can stop the inevitable. For some, it is an easy thing to accept for they are overcome with a sense of closure. It even inspires people to live their life on the edge and to really just start living. For others, however, it sends them through a whirlwind of emotions throughout the course of their short (or long) lives. For them, there is nothing that can prepare them for the death that they will ultimately have to face.

Elainey accepted her fate the moment she heard about it. She was a precocious child and was always an easy going person; the type to roll with the punches and whatever else got in her way. At the age of five she learned what the numbers on her inner forearm meant. It was her mother who explained it to her while giving Elainey her bath before bedtime. Elainey always had an inquisitive nature about her. She never shied away from asking questions and never had a bold reaction to the answers she received. She accepted them with an open mind. Hearing of the Numerals were no exception. She evinced that she understood exactly what her mother was telling her. Where the details entailed of a mother telling her daughter of her own death would lead to questionable behavior, Elainey took the information with stride. Her youthful countenance showed no sign of fear or tumultuous behavior. It was still. It was the same face that most children make when listening to an adult drone on and on about a subject they have no comprehension on; she was unphased.

    But now, looking at her Numerals 15 years down the road, she couldn’t be more puzzled. She was sure that the date on her arm was passed since yesterday. So, why is she still alive? The night prior to this mishap, Elainey had gone to bed with a clear mind and acceptance. She was ready for the end. She was ready for her end. She said her goodbyes, she cleared her name, she made right of all of her wrongs. She started to prepare for this moment the second she turned 20 adding up how she would meet with her end only a few short months later. But as she lays in her bed with the morning sun rising, still alive, she doesn’t know what to do with herself.

She rolls her wrist over so the date and time on her watch are visible to her eyes.

“November 17th, 2017,” she muttered to herself, “How am I still here?”

She then lifted up and bent her right arm to look at the tattoo engraved on the skin.

                    November 16th, 2017

She sat up abruptly and swung her legs over the side of her bed.  She hung her head as her breathing became slightly labored and uneven. This wasn’t like her to act so unaccordingly but when something as impalpable as the manner of one's life or death situation is somehow screwed up, she can’t even stop the incredulous look from appearing on her facial features. In such a time like this, she can only think of one person she could call.

She shakily got up from her bed and headed into the hallway within her small apartment towards the kitchen where her cell phone was laying on the counter. Scrolling through her contacts she clicked on the name that brought comfort and nostalgia.

“Benny? I need your help,” the more she thought about her situation, the more panicked she became.

She has never heard anyone go through this mishap so naturally, she doesn’t know how to handle the situation. How she thinks her best friend, Benjamin, might be able to help, she has no idea but as of now, she just needs some comfort.

“Elainey? Is that you?” the bewilderment in his voice indicates that this was the last phone he should be receiving, “Why are you calling me? I thought you were…” He swallowed thickly before wanting to finish that sentence. He was one of the more reluctant people in life to accept the knowing of his eminent death and felt just as uneasy about it knowing that he had to prepare to lose his best friend.

“Dead? Yeah, me too. Which is why I’m calling you,” she took a deep breath before continuing, “I don’t know what’s going on but I can’t understand it. The tattoos never lie. And as far as I know of, this has never happend to anyone before,” she lowered her voice to a soft whisper, “I don’t know what to do Benny. I’m scared.”


Hearing the uncertainty in her voice made Benjamins throat constrict slightly. Having known Elainey for almost his whole life had made it easy for him to pick up on her outlook in life, her aspirations, and her dreams. Elainey was one of the most strongest people he ever had the privilege to meet (it was one of the reasons why he fell in love with her in the first place) but hearing the vulnerability in her voice made fear claw its way up his throat. Fear of the unknown. Fear for his best friend.

    “Me too Elly.”

She smiled slightly at hearing the nickname come out of his mouth. They established their terms of endearment when they were both just 11 years old.


‘Benny’ and ‘Elly’ were always “their” thing. It didn’t sound the same coming from someone else’s mouth. Benjamins mother tried calling him Benny once but she never expected such a defensive response to come out of him the way it did.

    “Don’t ever call me that mother,” he said in a curt tone, “Only Elly can…” The look of fondness that had etched it's way onto Benjamins lineaments when he mentioned Elly didn’t go unnoticed by his mother. After her initial shock of such a harsh response coming from her 13 year old son, she came to the conclusion that passionate feelings ran deep for him towards his best friend. At first she was happy for him, but then she remembered of their treacherous fate and realized that his heart would be broken in just seven short years. Most people lived a long and happy life despite the fate handed to people unwillingly by the Numerals, but there are always exceptions and Elainey happened to be one of them. Benjamins mother always felt bad for the both of them but she kept those feelings to herself, not wanting to bring that kind of attention towards her son. According to her date, she knew she would live a long and happy life. Long enough to see Benjamin grow up and according to his date, maybe even have children and watch them grow up a bit. Benjamins mother can’t even fathom what it’s like for Elainey’s parents knowing that they would have to depart with her so soon.


Both Elainey and Benjamin know that in a situation such as this, their terms of endearment are for comfort and reassurance rather than affection. They both know that the other needs it just as equally as the other.

    “I should be dead Benny,” Elainey’s voice rose with a more definitive tone as she tried to make sense of the situation but couldn’t, “What the hell do I do now? I’m scared to even leave my house! What if some freak accident happens to me because somehow Fate realized that I shouldn’t still be in existence?” Her mind was running wild now. She pulled at her hair and started pacing in circles, “I wanted to die peacefully!”

    “Hey! Elainey! Calm down, please. Don’t make yourself any more upset than you should be.”

    “I just…” Elainey’s voice was cut off by a chocked out sob, “I just don’t know what to do.”

    “That’s it. I’m coming over.” Benjamin hung up and got his things ready to leave. Hearing his best friend, the love of his life, fall apart in that way sets him off. He was determined now to make things better.

 

Entering her small apartment, Benjamin carefully took off his sneakers knowing how much any type of dirt would bother Elainey. But seeing as the situation that they were in, that minute pet peeve of hers seems so miniscule, so unimportant. It scares Benjamin knowing that feat of hers that he loves should be nonexistent by now. He didn’t want to think about it.

    “Elly? Where are you?” He rounded the corner of her living room but saw no sign of her.

    “In here!” Her faint voice called from down the hallway what he assumed to be her small office space. He found her hunched over her computer screen with a determined look on her face. The slight tracks of tears were still visible upon her cheeks but now they looked like they were long forgotten.

Her back was to him and he slowly and quietly walked up and took a seat on the small loveseat placed behind her.

    “Hey, how are you feeling?” His voice was soft and kind. He didn’t know what Elainey was going through and he assumed she didn’t even know herself either. He was walking on eggshells at this point.

    “I don’t know what I’m feeling. I don’t know how I’m suppose to feel.” With her back still facing him, she responded with almost no emotion in her voice. Benjamin carefully got up and hovered over Elainey while looking at the computer screen.

    “What are you doing?” he asked.

    “I’m looking up to see if this has ever happened to anyone else. I need to go off of something to see if I can fix this.” Her eyes were furiously scanning the pages yet she couldn’t make sense of what she was reading. Benjamin, sensing her frustration, gently put his hands on her shoulders.

    “Maybe,” he started off lightly, “you should take a break Elly. You’re straining yourself too much with this.”

He felt her shoulders tense as she sat straight up. She ignored him and continued her research.


Benjamin knew he had to get through to her in some other way so he took a deep breath before starting.

    “Elly,” his tone was firm, “maybe you don’t have to make sense of this situation.” He was careful with what he was trying to say. He didn’t want to upset her further but he knew that he had to get this one thing off of his chest. “Have you ever thought of just accepting this fate? You were so sure of dying,” his voice was barely above a whisper, “why can’t you be sure of living?”


Elainey sighed and dropped her hands from the keyboard to her lap. “Because, it’s not suppose to be this way. It’s suppose to be that I die when I’m suppose to like everyone else. You know me, I don’t like change in my life and this was the one thing that was suppose to never change. I don’t know what-”

    “What if I told you I loved you.” Benjamin cut her off short from her rambling with a groundbreaking confession. He didn’t know how else to go about it but he hadn’t imagined he would confess it with such haste. He dreamt of the day where he would confess to his best friend but he knew he could never revel in the pleasure, given their circumstances. 


Elainey slowly turned around in her seat as Benjamin took a step back from her.

    “What did you say?” she whispered in disbelief.

    “I said I love you. And not just because we’re friends but because I’m in love with you.”

They were both just staring at each other now, challenging the other to break the heavy silence that was strewn between them. Elainey was giving him a concentrated stare with her eyebrows furrowed and eyes narrowed. Meanwhile, Benjamin took interest into the flooring and diverted his gaze to anywhere but her.

    Elainey decided to break the silence.

    “So what does this mean?” she said in a hushed voice. Benjamin fluttered his gaze to her soft face and took a deep breath before taking a gentle step towards her.

    “It means,” he started, “that maybe you don’t need to find an answer as to why this has happened. Maybe you should just learn to accept that you deserve a long and happy life as much as anyone else. You deserve that long and happy life with me; someone who is so deeply in love with you that they’d spend everyday making sure you knew that. I could show you how to live Elly. You’ve spent majority of your time thinking about the end of your life that you haven’t even begun your life,” he took a couple of hasty steps forward and kneeled down in front of her while gently grasping her hands that were resting in her lap, “Please,” he softly pleaded, “let me show you how to live.”

    She stared down at their hands while he was gently rubbing circles into her palms. She could feel his intense gaze on her this time. Her head was spinning, her heart was pounding, and the butterflies in her stomach made her feel weightless. But she was sure that these were all good signs. Before today, she never really thought of her best friend in a romantic light. She denoted it as she never had time to. Like he said, she was always so busy with preparing for the end that she was prone to be oblivious to her surroundings at times. But this never stopped her of thinking about what could have been while she had restless nights of sleep, just staring up at the ceiling. Sometimes she would find herself dreaming about what it would be like if she would live long enough to get married and have children and grow old instead of dying at the age of 20. And strangely enough, all of this included Benjamin. She always wondered what it would be like to have a companion by her side day in and day out. She was null of any romanticism in her life, however. She thought it wouldn’t be fair to herself or the person on the other side knowing that it would be short lived. She was reluctant on even having any friends but Benjamin was the exception. She realized he always would be.

    “Please Elly,” her train of thought was interrupted by his soft voice, “just let yourself fall in love.”

It was then that she decided to finally lift her gaze up to his face. His soft eyes were pleading and his forehead was creased due to the furrow of his eyebrows. Her mouth opened and closed while she kept his gaze. She didn’t know what to say. She wanted to, she really did, but there was too much room for uncertainty. And she hated uncertainty.

    “I don’t know,” she dropped her gaze and looked at the floor, “this wasn’t suppose to happen. Something isn’t right and I don’t want our hopes to be crushed.”

Benjamin, still kneeling in front of her, adjusted himself so he was closer and lifted a gentle hand to her chin, moving her head so her gaze was set upon himself.

    “I know you you don’t like the unknown, but maybe this is a sign. Maybe our fate was for us to be together. Like a second chance. Fate is giving you a second chance at living and I’ll be damned if I’m not there with you. If it’ll make you feel better, we can find someone, a doctor of some sorts who specializes in the unnatural of the Numerals. Maybe they can give us a definitive answer.”


They were both looking into each other's eyes. Benjamin, searching for an answer, and Elainey, searching for the truth. She gave a deep sigh and hung her head a bit. She was mulling it over. She wanted nothing more than to spend a happy life with her best friend and love him. She knew if she weren’t so reluctant, she would have let herself fall in love with him a long time ago. Looking back on her memories, she may or may not have succeeded in doing so. She found herself more times than not, staring at him and wondering. Wondering about what could be. But now as the opportunity is quite literally in her grasp, she doesn’t know what to do with herself.


A part of her is saying to just relieve herself of any restraints and let herself fall. Benjamin has made it more than clear that he would be there to catch her. But, another part of her is saying that not even sense has been thrown into the situation and that it’s too risky to just dive into anything. This could just be a blip into her own timeline. A cruel mistake that the universe has somehow made that she unfortunately has to endure.

In the end though, she wants herself to be happy.


    “Okay,” she says with a nod of her head, “I’ll let you love me. I’ll accept that this is my life now.” The more she convinced herself, the better she felt.

A smile started to stretch across Benjamin's face as he let out a breathy laugh.

    His hold on her small hands tightened slightly as he stood up, pulling her up with him.

    “Does this mean that you love me too?” He stared at her with a look of shyness and slight fear of the possibility that his love may not be reciprocated. But as she looked up at him through her eyelashes, giving a small smile, the fear had quickly dissipated.

    “I always have Benny.”

 


    ***


It was later in the afternoon when they both found themselves in a tangle of their own limbs on Elainey’s couch. Benjamin had taken the liberty into finding a specialist who could maybe give Elainey the closure and peace of mind she deserves in her situation. Elainey had taken the position of studying  Benjamin's face. She was laying on his stomach and had her head tilted, the perfect position to admire him.

He could feel her gaze on him and averted his eyes from his phone screen to her. He gave her a puzzled look thinking that something was on his face until he looked into her loving eyes and realized what she was doing.

    “What?” he said with a smile.

    “Nothing.” Elainey hummed. She felt content. She wasn’t completely happy though, she wouldn’t be until she knew for sure that this wasn’t some mistake. That she really was meant to live longer than expected.

    “Have you found any doctors or specialists in the area that could maybe help us?” She couldn’t help but ask. She wanted an answer as soon as possible.

    “Um, yeah actually. Apparently there’s a professor at the university downtown who studies this kind of stuff.”

    “Maybe he can help. Can you pull up the address and GPS? We should probably get going now and hope he’s still there.” Elainey got up from the couch and walked into the kitchen to grab her car keys. As she was putting her shoes on, Benjamin spoke up, “Whoa whoa whoa, you want to go now?” Elainey turned around to find Benjamin still laying on the couch with an incredulous look on his face.

    “Um, yeah? The sooner I find out the answer to my problem, the more I can enjoy the extra time that I’ve been graced with.” She bent down again to finish putting on her shoes by the front door. Benjamin sat up on the couch just looking at her.

    “You just want to get it out of the way?” His response made her huff and turned to him with an annoyed expression.

“Yes. What is so wrong with doing that?”

“Nothing is wrong with it. I just figured that you would kind of want to calm down from the situation and just, I don’t know, relax for a bit?” It came out as more of a question than he intended it to be.

“I told you before, I won’t be able to fully enjoy myself unless I know a definitive answer. I’m sorry but I never had the privilege to enjoy any leisure time unlike others.” She muttered the last part to herself.

Not wanting to cause anymore tension, Benjamin let it go and joined Elainey at the front door to put his shoes on. He came up and kissed her gently on the forehead, “Alright. We’ll go see this professor. Hopefully he can tell us something good about it.” He gave her a reassuring smile and they both headed out to find some answers.

Truth be told, Benjamin was terrified of the truth. He just got the love of his life and now he might have to endure losing her all over again. He can’t go through with it. He know he can’t but he’s doing this for Elainey’s sake. Even though she’s proven to be way more level headed than himself, he still feels like it’s his job to be the stable one, for once.


The car ride to the university was filled with nerves. They could both feel the others apprehension about the situation. Benjamin offered to drive seeing as how he knew that Elainey was more wired than she let on. He wanted her to be safe and happy but knew that she wouldn’t be either of those things until they talked to the professor.

Benjamin took a quick glance over at Elainey who had her head against the window in the passenger's seat. The look on her face indicated that she was in a deep and worried thought. Benjamin didn’t like seeing his best friend in such a state of distress so he quickly turned on the radio and blasted whatever song that was playing. It just so happened to be the song “Nine in the Afternoon” by Panic!At the Disco, one of their favorites. Soon enough, they both started to sing along. Benjamin was purposefully singing off key and loudly just to make Elainey laugh.

    And she was laughing. She never felt as carefree as she did in that moment; the windows were down, her favorite song was playing, the wind was in her hair and she was sharing this moment with her best friend. The love of her life.


She finally realized what it felt like to start living. It was enjoying the little things. She never felt so infinite in one moment.


And she never wanted it to end.

 

***

 

Upon arriving at the university, Elainey’s hands started to sweat and tremble slightly. Taking notice of this, Benjamin grabbed her attention by gently taking her hand in his as they were sat in the parking lot.

    “Hey,” he said softly, “are you okay?”

Elainey was still looking out the window when she gave her response.

    “I just want this to have a happy ending Benny. I want us to be the constant that’s in our lives. I don’t want to be defined by that stupid tattoo anymore.” Benjamin didn’t say anything and Elainey continued on. “All my life, I was holding myself back from seeing the world as it is, as it should be. And now, within less than a day, you turned my whole outlook on life. You gave it a purpose, and I not only thank you for that but I also love you for it. I love you Benjamin.” A tear rolled down her cheek but he was quick to gently wipe it away with his thumb. With the same hand, he cupped the side of her face and turned her head towards him.

    “I love you too. And whatever news is told to us I just want you to know that no matter what, I’ll always be by your side.”

More tears welled up in her eyes at the raw passion that he held in his voice. They both leaned over the center console and embraced each other. Butterflies once again erupted in Elainey’s stomach, not accustomed to such affection from her best friend.


She decided it was something she had to get used to.

 


Aimlessly walking around the unfamiliar campus proved to be effective after finding a map and locating which wing professor Myers was stationed in. They walked through the buildings, hand in hand until they came across the lecture room that professor Myers was in. They both looked at each other before cautiously opening the double wooden doors. They were both surprised and relieved at finding the lecture room completely empty with the exception of who they assume to be professor Myers standing in the front of the room. They hadn’t thought everything through and it was just now that they realized that they could’ve interrupted a lecture.

Walking down the steps and past the many rows of seats, Elainey drew herself closer to Benjamin, something she did when she was slightly scared.

    Hearing all of the commotion, professor Myers lifted his head up from the paperwork sitting atop his podium and gave the pair a quizzical look.

    “What can I help you two with?” His chin was inverted as his eyes looked over the top rim of his glasses. He had a harsh expression on his face like he was offended that he was interrupted.

This made them both more nervous than they initially were but Elainey decided to speak up. She cleared her throat before starting, “Um, we’re sorry to interrupt you like this sir but we read somewhere online that said that you specialize with any problems concerning the Numerals, sir.” Her response was timid and it broke off into a shy whisper when she looked up and realized he was giving her a harsh glare.

    “You are correct with that but, what do you want exactly?” The professor was looking between the both of them now and it took them a second to come up with a response.

    “Well, you see sir, I was actually suppose to die yesterday. My Numerals say so but as you can see, I’m still here. I’ve never heard of this happening to anyone and I just want to know what happens now.” Elainey spoke with a nervous edge to her and sensing this, Benjamin squeezed her hand that was in his lightly, giving her some hidden reassurance.

    “You were suppose to die yesterday you say?” Elainey nodded her head lightly while professor Myers was still looking at her over the top of his glasses. “May I see your Numerals?”

Elainey stuck her arm out for him. He leaned over to take a look at the numbers. He pursed his lips and let out a defeated sigh. He took his glasses off and rubbed at his eyes before speaking

    “I’ve seen this before. It’s more common than you think actually,”

    “Then why haven’t we ever heard of it happening?” Benjamin interjected. The professor looked up at him and shifted his feet.

    “The government keeps these cases hidden from the general public because they don’t want any hysteria to break out. And it’s not like these people have much time to get their stories out anyway.”

     Elainey’s head shot up at hearing the last part. “What do you mean by that?” she said with slight panic.

    Professor Meyers gave another light sigh and placed his hands on either side of the podium. He began to shake his head lightly.

    “What does it mean Professor? Do I get to live?” Elainey’s face was etched with pure worry at this point while Benjamin was biting his lip. Both were waiting for an answer.

However, the look on the professor's face said it all.

    “I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but, no. You won’t live past tomorrow. That is when you die. Unfortunately, it was just a hiccup within your genes. But, everyone that has had this problem dies the next day. I’m terribly sorry.”


Elainey felt her heart drop to her stomach and heard a pounding in her ears realizing it was the rush of blood pumping through her. She didn’t want to believe it. She didn’t want to believe that she came all the way out here to hear this news. She didn’t learn to live for nothing. She didn’t learn to love for nothing.


However, it was all for nothing.

 

***

 

The car ride back was like white noise. It was silent, but there was an energy there that you just can’t ignore. Benjamin’s grip on the steering wheel was so tight that his knuckles were white, his breathing was slightly labored, and his eyes were concentrated on nothing but the road ahead of him. Elainey was simply looking out the window. She hadn’t spoken a word since they left the lecture hall.

In that moment, neither of them knew what to say. No jokes, no empty promises, no nicknames could ever patch up the trepidation that hung between the two.


When they arrived back at Elainey’s apartment, she didn’t waste anytime in hurrying to her bedroom and slamming the door shut. Benjamin took notice that she didn’t even take her shoes off.

He hesitantly followed her footsteps and when he approached her closed door he lifted his fist up like he was going to knock but decided against it at the last second. He took a deep breath before trying again and knocked on the wood lightly.

    “Elly? Can I please come in?” He waited for a response and when he didn’t get any, he decided to walk in anyway.

Scanning the room he found her laying on top of her bed, comforter and all, with her knees drawn up to her chest. He quietly shut the door behind him and gently moved forward. Upon closer inspection, he noticed her small frame shaking and realized that she was crying.


With a broken heart, he climbed into the bed with her and took her in his arms. She turned around and buried her face in his chest and let out a loud sob. He couldn’t help but let the tears fall down his face either as he gently caressed her head against him.


For awhile they didn’t talk. They just cried and tried to enjoy the last minutes of each other's company as best as they could, knowing that in just a few short hours, their time together would be up.

Benjamin looked out the window and realized that the sun had started to set. He kept his gaze outside, studying the colors of the sky. The dark hues of the reds and purples would have made this moment beautiful. It was beautiful. Until he realized that not only was the sun dying, but his love was dying as well. He realized in that moment that he never resonated with something more than a sunset.

His revelation was broken when Elainey started to stir in his arms. He looked down at her as she started to speak.

    “24 hours ago I was in this same exact spot, ready to be consumed by a silent death. I was ready. I was so ready. Then fate or life or whatever just had to throw me this curveball,” her voice was soft and muffled as she was still facing Benjamin’s chest, “but I don’t regret one second of it because it brought me to you. You’ve always been there for me but not in this way and I’m so thankful that you showed me what life, love, and living was all about,” she sniffed and took a shaky breath in before continuing, “I love you so much Benny. I can’t thank you enough for showing me the last hours of my life could be so valuable, even if I didn’t even know it.”

    Benjamin was full on crying now. His grip tightened around her and he repeatedly kissed her forehead. Elainey could feel the tears from him accumulate on her head. She cried harder.

    “I love you Benjamin. But I just wish I had tomorrow to love you as well.”

He looked out the window and saw the sky had turned completely black. The sun was gone. He decided in that moment that the universe was unfair.

    “Me too Elly. Me too.”


   

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