01 Feb I relive every day multiple times. Today ends badly
For me, yesterday was Tuesday. The day before that was also Tuesday. The rest of today will be Tuesday. Tomorrow could be Tuesday too, but I won’t know until I get there.
It isn’t hard to explain. You, like most people, experience every day once. There’s a certain poetry in that, although most people don’t see it. It means every day is your only shot. You don’t get to try again because what you do has permanence. Beautiful, unmistakable permanence. You have the certainty that what you do today will continue to be what you did today when you wake up tomorrow morning.
That’s a luxury I don’t have. I’ve had my curse for several years – though it was just a month ago that it began.
It was a Monday in September. I woke up. It was raining outside. I ate a bowl of Cheerios. I showered and brushed my teeth.
Then I went to school. I’m in high school. I will be forever, at this rate. My first class was Algebra 2 and God, was it boring. I couldn’t pay attention to any of it. Then I had equally boring adventures in English, US history, and physics. After that came lunch. I ate with my friend Samantha. I’ve known her for at least two years. She’s only known me for four months but I like to think that because I know her so well that she gets just as much out of our friendship. We were eating lunch in our school’s library (we always eat there, it’s our tradition). Her parents had been fighting a lot lately, she confided in me. Divorce was imminent.
“Honestly, it’d be a sweet release.” Those were her exact words. I nodded. Teenage boys never know what to say when it really matters. All I could do was look around at all the other kids in the library – try-hards finishing assignments, nerds playing Magic the Gathering, quiet brains reading in the corner. We talked and ate until the bell rang; then we both went to our separate classes. I had Spanish and my “Creative Cooking” class. Then the school day was over. There was track practice after school, but I decide to ditch and go home instead. There was a dull pain developing in my stomach that made me think I was getting sick.
When I got home and I flipped on the TV and watched for a few hours, intermittently checking the internet or doing homework. My parents didn’t get home until later that evening. When they finally did, around 9 or 10 o’clock, we ate reheated hamburger and watched part of an episode of Dexter together. They were too tired to make it through the whole thing.
“Don’t spend the entire night in front of the TV. Goodnight!” Dentists always have early mornings, they told me once.
After the episode ended, I went to bed. It didn’t take long for me to fall asleep.
The next morning, I woke up. The sound of rain tapping my window filled my ears. I ate a bowl of Cheerios. I showered and brushed my teeth. I went to school. Went to Algebra 2 and it was even more boring than the day before. I already knew all this stuff – why learn it again? Then I went to English, US history, and Physics. Each one boring, repetitive, and pointless. I met Samantha in the library for lunch. “Nothing new to report” I told her, “School is as dull as ever.” Then she told me about her parents. They had been fighting lately. They were thinking about getting a divorce.
“Didn’t you tell me this yesterday?” I asked.
“No… I don’t think so…”
I nodded. Obviously she had, but it wasn’t the time to harp on her about her forgetfulness
“I kind of hope they get divorced. Honestly, it’d be a sweet release. They haven’t gotten along for years.”
A Sweet Release – that phrase sounded so familiar.
“I think you said that yesterday too.”
“When we had lunch.”
“What are you talking about?”
My gaze drifted from her to the people around us. A group of less-popular kids playing Magic the Gathering. A boy who always talked too much in class putting the finishing touches on a paper. A small mousey girl reading in the corner by herself. All of them in the same place they had been the day before.
“Martin, you okay? You’re being weird.” Samantha shook my shoulder.
Everything seemed so familiar. I told her I was fine and that I was having a strange day.
“Deja-vu.” I said.
We finished lunch together. I went to my remaining three classes. I had track practice but I felt sick to my stomach so I went home instead. My parents weren’t there when I got home. I waited for them like I had the day before. My dogs kept me company while I watched TV. The same channels showed the same shows. When my parents came home we had leftovers again – hamburgers. We watched part of an episode of Dexter.
“We’ve seen this one.”
My mom shook her head. “I don’t remember it.”
My dad agreed with her. “Netflix says this was the next unplayed episode.”
They were too tired to finish watching. As they ascended the stairs to bed, my dad turned to tell me something. I knew what he was going to say. The words left my mouth first.
“Don’t spend the entire night in front of the TV.”
“Took the words right out of my mouth. Night kiddo.”
The feeling of Déjà vu blared in my mind. That day had been exactly the same as the day before. As I laid down in bed, I noticed my phone for the first time – Monday, September 19th. Panic set in. Had I dreamt my whole day ahead of time? Were my memories of the day fake? I tossed and turned in bed, worrying. Eventually, exhaustion forced my frantic mind to sleep.
The next day was the same. And the next. Same conversation about divorce with Samantha. Same boring classes. Same half-episode of Dexter with my parents. I thought the same thing that anyone else would be thinking – somehow I’d ended up in a low-budget version of the movie Ground-Hog Day. For five days this went on. It was funny – on the evening of the fifth consecutive Monday, shortly before I fell asleep, I promised myself that if tomorrow was the same I was going to go to a hospital and have them figure out what was wrong with me.
But on day six, everything was different. We were out of Cheerios. My classes taught different lessons and Samantha didn’t show up to school (her parents had taken her out so they could talk to her about the divorce.) My phone finally stopped reading Monday the 19th and instead read Tuesday the 20th. I’ve never felt relief like that before.
That was… until the next day. The Cheerio box remained empty, Samantha was gone, and my phone broke the same horrible news to me as the day before – it was Tuesday the 20th. The next seven consecutive days were Tuesday the 20th. With every repeated day I feared that I had fallen into some sort time-loop. But on what would have been the ninth Tuesday, it became Wednesday. Wednesday repeated four times. Thursday repeated three times. Friday repeated nine times and so on and so on.
Most days repeat somewhere between three and six times. Every day resets back to the moment when I woke up. Sometimes I change the things I do – I turn left instead of right when I know there will be a car accident up ahead. I avoid people who are going to be in bad moods. I skip watching TV because I know what each character is going to say in each scene.
Here’s the thing – only the last day takes. So if I repeated a Monday four times, and on the third instance of that Monday I wrecked my car but I didn’t wreck on the fourth Monday, then I wouldn’t have a wrecked car when it became Tuesday. I know what you’re thinking – that’s a silver lining, right? I can do anything I want to anyone and it doesn’t matter because it will all be erased at midnight.
But there’s a problem – I can never tell when a day is going to be the last occurrence of that day. The most I’ve ever had a day repeat itself is seventeen times. That was the day my grandmother died.
I was in the room with her. Just the two of us, every time. We were in the hospital, where she was recovering from a bout of pneumonia. Her frame was bathed in the sterile hospital lights. The hunched figure underneath those sheets looked more like a ghost than like my grandmother. She was looking at me. Her mouth opened and she started to say something but then all of a sudden she let out this godawful scream. It froze my blood. And then she was gone. Heart failure. No one could have seen it coming.
I tried warning the doctors a few times but they were never able to stop it. After a while, I just started letting it happen – savoring every moment I had with her before they were gone. When one of your loved ones dies you get to walk away from it knowing that it’s over. But I had to relive her death over and over. Seventeen times I watched the life get ripped out her body. It never got any easier.
There is a little bit of a pattern to when the days repeat themselves. I’ve found that particularly difficult days – the traumatic, stressful days where you’re just begging the universe to move on and let that day end – they’re the ones that repeat themselves the most. Every horror that I face – whether emotional or physical – I face over and over. Sometimes it’s like being in hell.
Thus far, I haven’t had a reason to tell anyone about this. They’ll just think I’m crazy. I don’t appear to be aging any quicker and although it can get boring sometimes, I’ve grown pretty accustomed to the repetition. Plus, I’d be remiss not to mention the benefits – my grades have gotten better because I’ve always seen the test answers before, I can make a little money betting on football, and I usually get a redo when I say something stupid to a girl. It’s harder to change big things because I only get to repeat one day at a time – so I haven’t saved anybody’s life or anything.
Until today I never seriously considered telling anyone about this. But I think I have to now. Today is the ninth consecutive Tuesday the 18th I’ve been through. It might be the last Tuesday or maybe it won’t be. I need to tell someone about what happens because no matter how hard I try I can’t find any way to prevent it.
Here’s how my day will go:
I wake up in the window seat of an airplane. Outside all I can see is the ocean and a darkened sky. My phone reads 4 AM, wherever I am. My family is on a redeye to Japan – our dream vacation. My mother is sitting next to me and I decide to let her sleep for a while. I turn on the little computer screen on the seat in front of me. We still have seven hours to go on our flight.
I read for a while from a book that I brought on the flight – Watership Down, if you were wondering. Then I doze on and off for a while. Around 6AM, everyone that I can see on the flight is still asleep. Except for this big guy sitting a couple rows in front of me. He’s a heavy-set man in a white business shirt and gray slacks. Looks like a real mess of a guy – balding, dirty, you know the type.
At 6:13, he unbuckles his seat belt and he stands up. He fills the entire aisle and some of the seat next to him. His head just barely reaches the ceiling. The heavy-set man puts a hand in the pocket of his slacks and he pulls out something black. Then there is yelling. First from the man, then from the people on the plane who are waking up.
“Everybody stay where they are!”
“Who are you?”
“What are you doing?”
“Shut up! Everyone is going to stay in their seats and be quiet!”
I can see other men standing up farther down in the airplane. They all have guns. These men are all dressed the same. They’re all middle-aged and dirty-looking. They’re hijackers.
Many passengers are crying. There’s a delirious woman in the row behind me who is hyperventilating and won’t stop screaming. The heavy-set man walks over to her.
“Shut the fuck up!”
“Please don’t hurt us!”
“I said shut up!”
“Why are you doin-“
There is a ringing in my ears and my vision blurs. Little droplets of red have covered the walls above the surrounding seats. Screams erupt from all sides of me. A baby starts crying somewhere near the back of the plane. “That’s what happens if you talk! So everybody keep your goddamn mouths shut!”
My mother grabs me tightly and the men keep their guns trained on us. There must be at least ten of them. Nobody moves an inch. Near the front of the plane I hear two gunshots. Then I feel my stomach lurch forward. The window shows an ocean that had once been perfectly flat. It’s diagonal now and growing larger every second.
The crash lasts for only a second. Down the aisle I see the plane disintegrate as it strikes the water. My last memory is my mother’s face being torn from her skull just as the words “I love you” disappear from her lips. Everything goes dark and my ears start ringing.
Then I wake up. It’s 4AM. I’m on a redeye flight to Japan with my family. I have two hours to live.
The second time this happened I tried to warn the pilots. They wouldn’t listen to me.
The third time I tried to warn the other passengers. One of the hijackers stood up and fired his gun at me before I could even finish telling them. Immediately afterwards, I woke up. I was still in my window seat and the fourth iteration of this day was beginning all around me. There was no chance of me trying to stop the hijackers – there was simply too many of them.
I’ve told the flight attendants; I’ve told my mom – I’ve done everything I could. Strangely enough, people don’t believe you when you say a bunch of middle-aged men will crash your plane in two hours.
There’s in-plane Wi-Fi – around the 5th time I woke up I snuck my mom’s credit card out of her purse to pay for it. I’ve tried contacting the government, the TSA, Air control – everything you can think of. The hijackers always win. There’s too many of them and too little time to warn everyone else.
I’m not sure how many times this day will repeat itself. Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up and it will be Tuesday again. Or maybe I won’t wake up at all. This is the second time I’ve set this message to upload. The first time didn’t take.
I want to say a few things in case this reaches anyone I know;
To my family – I love you. You were always there for me no matter what. To my friends – thank you for putting up with me for all these years, you made life worth it. Especially Samantha.
Samantha, if you get a chance to read this, I always had a crush on you. Even with thousands of repeated days, I never knew how to tell you until now. Sorry I waited so long.
It’s almost time for the hijackers to start, so I better go. In case you haven’t figured it out – if you’re reading this, that means this time took. It means I’m already gone.