A story for the October 6th Weekly Prompt – One Day.
Twenty-nine year old Mort stood at the top of a crane, far above a deep moraine lake, with his elbows raised to shoulder height, thinking, This must be how a bird feels just before it takes flight.
“If you had a chance,” Mort asked Hal, the owner of the bungee jumping business who was securing a harness around Mort’s chest, “would you want to know?”
“Know what?” the bespectacled man asked without glancing at Mort’s face. Mort wondered if the man took his glasses off when he jumped. Or if he ever jumped any more at all.
“That you were going to die,” Mort answered.
Hal jerked a little extra hard, Mort thought, at the buckle he was working on. “You mean, like, if you were sick or somethin’?”
“No, nothing like that,” Mort said. “More like, if someone came to you and claimed they could tell you, without a doubt, when you were going to die, six months before you were going to.”
“That’s a little morbid.”
“Not when you think about it. At some point in everyone’s life, they have six months left to live. True?”
“I guess…” Hal was bending down, working on the straps at Mort’s ankles.
“So this guy came to me and asked me, ‘Mort? Do you want to know when you’ve got six months left?’ and I thought about it for a while, and I thought, I could just drop dead one day and never have done all the things I wanted to do, or I could know and spend the next half a year concentrating on all the things I want to accomplish.'”
“Like one of them bucket lists…” Hal suggested.
“Exactly. So I decided I wanted to know. The guy says to me, ‘Okay, I’ll come back and tell you when you’ve got six months left,’ and then he went away.
“I dreaded the hell out of seeing him again.”
“So, ‘d he come back?”
“And how long do you have left?”
“One day,” Mort said. “And today, assuming I leave here in one piece, I’m going sky-diving, deep-sea diving, I’m going to race a car, and then I’m going to jump off the highest cliff I can find, into the ocean.”
“Are you trying to kill yourself a day early?”
“I can’t. It’s for sure I’m going to die tomorrow. But if I’m not in a coma when I do, at least I’ll have had one day of excitement.”
Hal stood and regarded Mort. “Well, you’re safe here,” he said. “You’re sure you want to go head-first?”
“What have I got to lose?”
“I guess…” Hal took a step back. “Before you go, what makes you think this guy who told you you had six months left was on the up and up?”
Mort laughed at this. “Does it matter? If I don’t die tomorrow, at least I’ll have lived,” and with that, he jumped.